Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Day 14: Minneapolis Institute of the Arts

The Minneapolis Institute of the Arts
If you think touring a museum is a slow and plodding process, then you have never attended a museum with Dan. We literally raced through the European and American paintings. Minneapolis Institute of Arts is a major museum with collections from Asia, Africa, and the ancient world, but Dan breezed right by all that stuff as if it didn't exist. He knew what he wanted, and it quickly became apparent that the four or five hours we had to spend there would barely be enough to see and document it all. The more good stuff we saw, the more excited we got, until we were in a frenzy of taking pictures.

The collection at this museum is extensive enough and the quality is high enough that it gives a pretty fair survey of the history of art in the west.

16th Century

El Greco, 1541-1614
Christ Driving the Money Changers from the Temple, c. 1570
 17th Century
Hendrick ter Brugghen, 1588-1629
The Gamblers, 1623
18th Century

Elisabeth Vigee-LeBrun, 1755-1842
Portrait of Countess Maria Teresia Bucquoi, nee Parr, 1793

19th Century, American

Thomas Moran, 1837-1926
A Scene on the Tohickon Creek: Autumn, 1868
19th Century, European

Gustav Courbet, 1819-1877
Deer in the Forest, 1868
Maximilien Luce, 1858-1941
Notre Dame, 1899
Early 20th Century, European

Andre Derain, 1880-1954
London: St. Paul's Cathedral seen from the Thames, 1906

Robert Delaunay, 1885-1941
Saint-Severin, 1909
 Mid-20th Century, American

Georgia O'Keeffe, 1887-1986
Pedernal--From the Ranch #1, 1956
Mid-20th Century, European 

Leonora Carrington, 1917-2011
Dear Diary—Never Since We Left Prague, 1955
Last half of 20th Century, American

George Morrison, 1919-2000
Collage IX: Landscape, 1974

21st Century, American
Kehinde Wiley, b. 1977
Santos Dumont – The Father of Aviation II, 2009
21st Century, European

Damien Hirst, b. 1965
The Death of Saint John, 2003

Lunch was a pleasant break. The cafe on the mezzanine of the new wing has a pleasant environment, with views of art in the museum. I had a nice poached salmon salad; Dan had beet and spinach salad. Then we resumed tearing around with renewed vigor.

When they closed the museum, we came straight back to the motel. We ate dinner early in the motel's restaurant, the Normandy Kitchen. Dan had the walleye, a new fish for him; it comes from upper Red Lake in Minnesota, the local fish. I had a veggie salad. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Day 13: Fargo to Minneapolis

235 miles; estimate 3 hours 30 minutes

One of the advantages of traveling is that it serves as a sort of enforced fitness program. For instance, though it embarrasses me to admit it, I find it hard to climb even one flight of stairs. While we were carrying our stuff from our room at the Howard Johnson down one flight to our car, I made innumerable trips up and down those stairs—and carrying heavy stuff, as well. Dan did the same. Loading the car is much more motivating than hanging around some clanky old gym pumping iron.

The sky was heavy and dull much of the way, and I found it hard to take an interest in the beautiful farmland, especially as it was so flat. One thing that impresses me in traveling back and forth across the country is how much land is devoted to production of grain crops in this country. Two or three routes across the country go through hours and hours of corn. It's astounding. And a great bounty. Everything looked very good this year, especially compared to the drought-shriveled fields we saw on last year's journey. Population was sparse and mostly Caucasian.

Coming into a city as intense as Minneapolis was shocking at first. There seem to be many more gleaming high-rise buildings downtown than we remembered, and, as our taxi driver said later in the evening, the population is a melting pot. And, you know, the style of big city people sometimes shocks us suburbanites. The effect was compounded by the fact that there was a Twins game last night, and our hotel is convenient for the stadium, so there were lots of folks in town and our Best Western Normandy Inn was full.

The hotel is large and has a kluged-together floor plan, requiring three elevators for three different sections. The desk clerk omitted to point out this fact, so Dan pushed our laden cart into the first elevator we came to. Up to the third floor, all the way to one end and back—our room isn't there. Huh? Must be another wing. We got downstairs and a hotel person conducted us to the appropriate elevator. More exercise. Long, long hallways in this dumb layout.

Everything else about the motel is swell, especially after the Howard Johnson. Automatic doors at the entry. Large carts. Nice appointments. Spacious room. Good bathroom with a door. Osmosis filtered water on tap at the end of the hall. I really appreciate stuff like this. And the price isn't bad, either, which makes Dan happy.

The last time we were here, it was so cold that I never left the hotel after we returned from the museum, so this year I was eager to use the pleasant weather to explore downtown. It wasn't quite what we expected. We had to walk several long blocks past big buildings with no people services at all before we found a section with restaurants. These were all so trendy and expensive that we reeled out the doors. It was good that we had stopped for lunch. Finally, we discovered Mason's, a new, family-run, only slightly trendy restaurant with an interesting menu and tolerable music. The owner said he was trying to bring that neighborhood feel back to downtown. Dan had a pork shank prepared in the style of osso bucco that was delicious (I sampled). I had a good beet and spinach salad. We took a taxi back to the motel.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Day 12: Culture in Fargo


So we thought we would just have a rest break in boring old Fargo, maybe spend an hour or two at the Plains Art Museum. This is how it turned out.

First it was necessary to make a stop at Target. As we were unloading the night before, the handle on one of my suitcases broke, so I wanted a replacement—plus soda and other stuff. We found a cheap suitcase plus a small plastic crate to hold Dan's hats in the car, as they were endanger of getting crushed by other things.

From there we drove straight to the art museum. Our route was important. On the way from the freeway to the motel the previous night, we drove a long boulevard lined with auto repair shops, machine shops, various light industry and construction, and lots of pawn shops—unrelieved utilitarian ugliness for miles. What an awful town, I thought. Good place for a movie like Fargo. However, when we drove from Target to the museum, we took a parallel street through a very pleasant, tree-lined residential area, so I was relieved to see a real town.

It was nearly 1 p.m. by the time we got to the museum, so we started with lunch. The lunch counter was small but the food was tasty. We enjoyed the architecture: an old brick warehouse has been converted to a museum.

Dan at Plains Art Museum
The big deal at the Plains Art Museum was a retrospective of the work of George Morrison. Morrison has some respect in the world of New York abstract painting, but his real strength is in using wood, and he is a hero among Native American Artists. His most beautiful works are flat collages of small pieces of wood, rather like some work by Louise Nevelson, except that he uses woods with different colors. He also makes small totem-like structures out of pieces of wood fit together like a jigsaw; they have a fine finish like furniture. Morrison tried to escape or transcend his Indian heritage in his youth, but as he aged he bought property in his ancestral homeland and accepted Native influence in his work, without ever crassly exploiting obvious symbols. Absolutely no photos allowed.

There was also a photography exhibit by Wing Young Huie—images of the residents of Fargo and adjacent Moorhead. What made it interesting was that he gave them small chalk boards on which they wrote statements about themselves to include in their portraits. I managed to steal a couple of examples, despite the reflections.

Wing Young Huie, photographer

Exhibit called "Hidden Fargo"

The regular collection was mainly of regional interest.

As we were leaving we ran into the curator of the museum, who had just returned from the local farmers' market with paper bags of fruit for his lunch.

Curator of Plains Art Museum

Fargo is on the Red River, which marks the border between North Dakota and Minnesota. Just across the river in Moorhead is Hjemkomst Park, a lovely place with a broad green lawn and huge shade trees. The Hjemkomst Center includes recreations of a Viking ship and a Norse church as well as various historical exhibits.

We started with a documentary about the Viking ship. A fellow named Aslo decided he would build a Viking type ship and sail it to Norway. He lived long enough to see the boat launched but not to make the voyage. His adult children and several other people united to make the craft more seaworthy and then to complete the sail to Norway. They had quite a hard time and they developed a serious crack in the hull, but they completed the trip in pretty good health. The building had been designed for display of the ship, and a tent-like ceiling extends above the masts.

Recreated Viking Ship made voyage to Norway

The ceiling is shaped to accommodate the sail

Then we had a guided tour of the Hopperstad Stave Church replica. The guide explained how it employed the Roman basilica style of architecture, and what the various symbols meant.

Hopperstad Stave Church Replica

Although the construction is nail-free, the style emulates a Roman basilica.

The museum had an interesting exhibit on two women artists from pioneer days in the Red River Valley, Annie Stein and Orabel Thortvedt. Both tried various art forms, from writing to painting to crochet to photography. Here's the theme of the show: "It was said that men broke the sod but women settled the frontier. With women came homes and schools, churches and manners, culture and art. In our community, painters came not long after the plow."

Annie Stein, 1872-1923
Annie Stein, "The Stein Farm"
Orabel Thortvedt, 1896-1983
Grandma Tone, 1965, by Orabel Thortvedt

When we got kicked out at 5 p.m., I had had it. We drove a few blocks across the river to our motel. I had a quick meal at the Sidestreet Bar and Grill in the hotel, then hit the hay. After Dan uploaded his photos, he also went down to the hotel grill, once again having steak. After dinner he walked down to Broadway, the old-time center of town, and enjoyed having a look around.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Day 11: Medora to Fargo

328 miles; estimate 4 hours 32 minutes

Today was one of mild misfortune and minor mishap. To start with, strong winds kept us from taking the one mile nature trail at the Painted Canyon Visitor Center of Roosevelt Park as we had intended. We hung around the view point for awhile enjoying the sweeping canyon below, but the sky was gray, and the chilly wind damped our enthusiasm.

Then we had some dull landscape beneath a dull sky as we drove, so I wrote up my blog for the previous day, but some internet glitch caused my precious words to fly into the ether.

So we plodded along. Had a salad at Subway. Plodded some more. Stopped for gas in Bismarck and…I accidentally locked the car with both our fobs inside, plus all of our money, all of our ID and data, inside. What a blow! What to do? Call AAA, of course. The gas station guys were nice about getting the number and letting Dan use their phone. The AAA person identified him and said she would send someone out—in an hour or so. What to do for an hour, with no money to buy refreshment, no iPad, no iPod, no phones, no books. Also, no jacket, and the wind made standing outside uncomfortable. I prowled around inside the station, Dan prowled around outside for awhile. Then he came in and sat with me in a little snack bar area. A couple of ladies were there chatting, and they took an interest in our problem. They sympathized and chatted with us to help us pass the time. After about an hour a young man came and broke into our car with an alarmingly simple tool. We thanked the friendly ladies and sped away.

One thing about our conversation with the locals should be mentioned. They emphasized that there was an extraordinary amount of rain around here last spring, so the park was much greener than usual. One woman said it is usually a desert experience, and usually hot, as well.

For the next couple of hours the landscape became prettier, sweeping fields of grain, and the sky grew lighter. We stopped briefly in Jamestown because Dan wanted to photograph a monumental sculpture of a buffalo that he had seen in a brochure. It was located in front of the Buffalo Museum in a recreation of an Old West town called Frontier Village.

Moving into Central time zone we lost an hour, so it was after 8 p.m. when we checked into our Howard Johnson motel in Fargo, though the light was still high. This property is in a steep decline. One whole wing is unusable because the rooms smell so strongly of mildew; we couldn't even walk into the one we were showed. Thus we took one in the other wing, on the second floor with no elevator. We carry a lot of stuff, so getting it all upstairs was our exercise for the day. I would have had a swim in their pool, which was invitingly long, but someone had puked in it that morning, and the clean up chemicals were so strong that people were not even allowed to stand in the pool room.

You could say our luck changed at dinner. A popular bar and grill is associated with the motel. Bar food is not usually our thing, but we were too tired to be picky. Much to his surprise, Dan got a fabulous steak for $20; he couldn't quit raving about it. My salad was also quite tasty. And so we got through the day.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Day 10: Theordore Roosevelt National Park

Miles City to Medora, N.D.: 138 miles
Theodore Roosevelt National Park

You say there is nothing to see in North Dakota? Check your map. On the Western edge is a lovely wilderness called the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. It is right on the route from Montana across North Dakota to Minneapolis, and it offers a few tidbits of history along with a satisfying banquet of scenic treasures. We got the history at the Visitors Center, which has the log cabin where Theodore Roosevelt spent a few summers in his mid-twenties. The ranger explained that Roosevelt came out here as a callow young man wanting to hunt buffalo, and while roughing it in this country he became a conservationist.

Theodore Roosevelt's cabin, the Maltese Falcon

As a young man of means, Roosevelt had bought himself a hobby ranch the first summer he came. The following winter his both his wife and his mother died on the same day, and the next summer he returned to mourn their loss.

Roughing it in a custom-built cabin with an attic
The young woman gave a very lively and interesting tour, pointing out that the cabin was bigger than average and had a pointed roof, which created an attic where the ranch hands could sleep.

The ranger gave a lively talk
After the tour we made the loop drive through the park. The land is formed of a pale, sandy rock like that at Yellowstone. It swoops and curves up into great canyons with occasional strata of red or black rock. Lines of cottonwoods, some of them huge and spreading, brought a cool green color into the scene, with patches of green bushes and tall yellow grasses. We stopped at the turnoffs that were in good light. The temperature was mild and the breeze was pleasant. The overall mood was comforting and serene.

View point on loop road in Roosevelt Park

We were rejoicing in our good luck when we started spotting buffalo. Just one in the distance at first, but then we came to a rest area near one of the herd's regular routes and quite a few of them passed fairly close, plenty close enough. They had been drinking at the river and then they headed across the road and up a hill where some of them rolled around and gave themselves a dust bath. Buffalo—actually, American bison; buffalo is an African animal with no hump, but everyone calls bison 'buffalo'—are very impressive and fascinating animals, and I began to understand why Western artists were fascinated by the problem of depicting them.

Our motel, the Americinn, was right near the entrance. After we got the car unloaded and freshened up, we went into Medora to find a place for dinner. Medora is basically a tourist trap—or a family recreation and entertainment center, depending or your point of view. It was founded by Marquis de Mores, a French immigrant, who ran a big meat-packing plant there in the early 20th century. After a long period of decline, the town was rebuilt as a tourist center by some enterprising developer. The government helped out by declaring the home of the marquis, and that of his wife's parents, historical landmarks and offering tours, and also developing a museum of local history. Various businesses offer shooting galleries, souvenirs, and the usual tourist crap. For the past several years the leading attraction has been a free enterprise musical production. It was described as having deer-feeding on the hillside worked in between the musical numbers. Dan and I had had enough fun and excitement for one day. We just wanted a nice meal.

At the town's moderately priced family style restaurant, the line to the reservation desk was about 10 deep, so we marched down the street to Theodore's restaurant at the Rough Rider Hotel. We got right in, no problem, and the reason for that is that steak was $40. Several entrees were around $40, some were around $30, two were about $20. Dan opted for pasta with bison meatballs, one of the cheap ones. I had a fabulous beet salad. So we ate in a nice place, and had a university-educated waiter from Argentina, but we didn't break the bank.

Theodore's Restaurant at the Rough Rider Hotel

Friday, July 26, 2013

Day 9: Great Falls to Miles City

327 miles; estimate 5:22 hours

The reason Dan and I can make these cross-continent journeys—this is our fifth—is that for Dan, driving is something like a sport. He is good at it, and he enjoys employing his expertise. Our route through provided plenty of challenges because because Montana is all ups and downs. Our elevation went up and down between 3000 and 4000 feet all day, but there is no way to count the number of tight curves the road made. For driving it was like an Olympic event. To complicate matters, the highway had only two lanes, and it was crowded with semi trucks and RVs pulling cars.

After a couple of hours, we came to a point where we could turn off the two-lane road, US 87, and head toward I-84. We considered this easier option. It was really nice to be out in the country, seeing the vast wheat fields alternating with patches of forest at higher elevations, and occasionally rock formations. Then it occurred to Dan that most of the big rigs would turn toward the freeway, and traffic might be light the rest of the way, so he stuck with the country road. We pretty much had the highway to ourselves for the rest of the afternoon, and then he could really enjoy the changing scene.

We got into Miles City around 6 p.m., having taken some time to shoot photos of the Yellowstone River. Our Best Western War Bonnet Inn was something of a let down after the upscale places we've been staying, but we were able to park right by the room, and the room is pretty functional. For dinner, Dan decided to eschew the local in-spot; instead, we went downtown and found the oldest bar in the state, the Montana Bar and Steakhouse, which was established in 1908. It has pleasant old-fashioned decor, and a pretty steakhouse next door. Dan's steak was only okay, but my steamed veggies were exceptional—cut into small pieces and served in a light butter sauce.

Dinner in Miles City

Traditional Bar

Steak house

Afterward, in an impressive burst of energy, we picked up a few items at the supermarket and gassed up the car. The gas station had a 24-hour drive-thru car wash, so we made a final push to run the car through the machine and dry it off ourselves.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Day 8: Charlie Russell Compound

When Dan was a boy in Spokane, Washington, his father was a traveling salesman whose territory included Montana. When he came home from trips to Montana, he sometimes brought prints of paintings by Charlie Russell that he purchased at the Mint Saloon in Great Falls, where the artist had lived for most of his career. These prints were Dan's first exposure to art. One of our earliest trips together was a pilgrimage to Great Falls to see the Charlie Russell Museum.

The Russell compound is a square block park containing the museum plus the Russell's home—which Charlie built with money he inherited from his mother—and Charlie's log cabin studio. Charles Marion Russell was born into a prosperous St. Louis family, but he couldn't conform enough to have a conventional education and career. What he wanted was to be a cowboy, so he undertook to support himself as a wrangler in Montana while in his late teens. When he began to succeed as an artist, he had an idea about how to be a gentleman artist. His log studio is spacious with room to store the collection of artifacts of cowboy and Indian life, especially the garb, that he used in his paintings. You never think about Russell posing his humorous scenes because they are as convincing as snapshots.

Studio of Charles M. Russell

The artist's painting gear
The studio included a cozy area around the fireplace where Charlie could trade yarns with his friends or deal with clients.

Cozy fireplace in the studio

Historical artifacts that the artist used as props in his paintings
Russell was able to build a home early in his marriage thanks to an inheritance from his mother. It is rather confining and conventional.

Home of Charlie Russell
There were some interesting toys in the nursery. Notice the miniature desk.

Toys for the Russell children
The museum does not have a huge and revelatory collection of Russell's works. The stars today were a few canvases from the Mint Bar collection which are now held in the collections of a pair of collectors who have ranches in the local area. There were about a dozen other Russell paintings. I enjoyed the detailed caricatures in some of the scenes. In "The Holdup," for instance, every passenger lined up outside the stage to have their pockets emptied—the schoolmaster, the rich landowner, even the Chinese cook—has a unique reaction. I also appreciated Russell's convincing depiction of animals in the wild, especially a couple of ferocious bears. Photography was not allowed.

Again it was about 2pm when we started looking for a lunch place. We went downtown to try to find a diner he remembered from his teenage visit. We found Tracy's Diner, which had been open since 1953, and it had a look that he remembered. We got a perfunctory lunch.

The highlight of the day for me was Giant Springs. Water bubbles up through a limestone formation to form a beautiful pool and a little rapids that flows into the Missouri River. This sight is inexpressibly beautiful. I took movie footage from every angle—the flickering light, the clear, upsurging water, the intensely green underwater plant life, the dark rainbow trout flitting beneath the reflective surface, the view from the footbridge between the spring and the river, the banks of the river, the fluttering trees. I couldn't stop shooting, but I didn't take any still shots.

When I finally consented to leave, Dan said, "What we need now is a cold beer!" So we went back downtown to the City Bar and Casino. Sports played on an array of TVs while we drank our beer and looked at the video I had taken. Perfect end to a lovely day.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Day 7: Fairmont Resort to Great Falls

Fairmont to Helena: 83 miles
Tour Montana Historical Society and Cathedral of Saint Helena
Helena to Great Falls: 88 miles

Spectacular scenery alternated with art, history and architecture today. What more could you want?

Soon after we left the Fairmont resort, we passed Butte, and we could see the huge Berkeley Pit, a mining operation which is obviously even bigger than when we toured it some years ago.

East of Butte I-15 follows a natural pass through a sharp wall of mountains, climbing as high as 6368 feet and crossing the Great Continental Divide at Elk Park Pass. A divide is a geological term referring to a place that divides rivers that flow toward the Pacific ocean from those that flow toward the Atlantic. The Great Divide runs along the whole continent.

The highway descends to about 4100 feet, then goes up and down a curvy route through lower mountains, sometimes wooded with conifers, sometimes bare. I took a lot of video footage from the car but no still shots.

In Helena our first goal was the Montana Historical Society, known as Montana's Museum. Dan was interested in photographing the McKay collection of Charlie Russell paintings. The collection is a little disappointing because it is mainly his early work, not the best stuff. The best of his work is at the Amon Carter in Fort Worth and the Gilcrease in Tulsa, but it is good to see the development of your favorite artists. Dan photographed just about every painting—perhaps 30. I concentrated on the few works that depicted women or were not on the Western theme.

Here's an unusually intimate portrait by Charles Russell. The portrayal of a Native American woman is very convincing, but the model was actually his wife Nancy.

Charles M. Russell, Keeoma, 1898
Here's a Valentine that Russell painted as a prize at a charity auction at Nancy's suggestion, before the were married. To me, this model also looks like Nancy. It shows that Russell could have painted in a more traditional style if he had wanted to and that he was aware of the art around him.

Charles M. Russell, Valentine
In addition to the Russell collection, the museum has exhibits on various aspects of Montana's History. I was interested by wedding dresses for three different ethnic groups among the early settlers: white Europeans, Chinese, and Native American.

Three styles of wedding dresses in 19th Century Montana
One display had historical wedding garb—or modern versions—that kids could try on. Here are a couple of girls trying stuff on.

Playing dress-up to learn about history
Lunch almost turned into a crisis. It was late, maybe 2:30. Should we do fast food or something interesting? Research showed a trendy place called No Sweat CafĂ©, which had no website. We decided to check it out. It was nearby in Last Chance Gulch, which turned out to be the main street of the historical town, which now has several restaurants and shops. We had a hard time finding the place and a hard time parking, and it was so hot that it was befuddling. It turned out the restaurant closes at 2 p.m. By then I was too hot and hungry to be particular. In the next block I could see Bert and Ernie's Bar and Grill. I said, "We're eating there no matter what they serve." The air conditioning gave us immediate relief. The wait for the food was painfully long, but Dan got exceptionally good homemade vegetable beef soup, and I had a delectable poached salmon salad. So we were happy that we persisted, though it meant we had to skip the Capitol, which has a large mural by Russell that Dan wanted to shoot.

Late lunch
Just a few blocks up the street was the Cathedral of Helena. In case you've forgotten, a Cathedral is not just any old Catholic church, but the administrative seat for a huge area. This one is the most elaborately and tastefully decorated cathedrals in the late Gothic style west of the Mississippi river. Two levels of excellent stained glass windows and all the carving and gilding you could possibly hope for. We really enjoyed being there and shooting the windows. The only fly in the ointment was that two people were tuning the organ so there were long keening notes playing.

Cathedral of St. Helena
Outside it was so hot I could hardly walk. In the shade it was bearable, but in the sun it was like standing before a roaring fire.

The drive to Great Falls on I-15 north was very scenic going through the narrow canyons of the Missouri river. High cliffs, alternated with beautiful meadows and cottonwoods along the river. We spotted a few trout fishermen trying their luck.

We arrived in Great Falls around 6:30. The Best Western Heritage Inn is huge and sprawling. It has a restaurant, lounge, casino, and an espresso bar. It was great not to have to go looking for a dinner place. And the restaurant was actually quite good. The asparagus was freshly steamed for each order, and it never tasted so delectable. Dan enjoyed his flatiron steak.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Day 6: Coeur d'Alene to Fairmont Resort

273 miles

Our drive from Coeur d'Alene was interesting and scenic most of the way. One last look at Lake Coeur d'Alene and then we encountered the Bitterroot mountains which are very steep and heavily forested. For a break, we stopped at Lookout Pass (4724 feet). We used the rest rooms at the ski resort and set our watches ahead one hour to Montana time. In the summer, the ski resort at Lookout Pass rents mountain bikes for riding the Hiawatha bike trail. It goes 13 miles downhill (into Idaho) on the route of an old railroad line. At the bottom a shuttle bus brings you and your bike back to the top. It looked to be great fun.

After lunch in St. Regis, MT, we got back on the I-90 Freeway which now followed the route of the Clark Fork of the Columbia River all the way to its source. The scene was green valleys and logged over mountains. We made many crossings over the river.

From a rest stop near Anaconda, MT we could see off in the distance a very tall brick smokestack. It is all that remains of the Anaconda copper smelter that once was the economic engine of the area. In the summer of 1955, Dan and his buddy Harvey tried to get jobs at that smelter. They would hire 18 year old Harvey, but Dan at age 17 was too young, so they got back in Harv's 1948 Ford and drove to Great Falls. We got back in our 2012 Chrysler Town and Country and drove the short distance to Fairmont.

One of the great treats you can give yourself in this life is a night at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort. They have every sort of recreational option from golf to video games, but the attraction for me is two Olympic-size, heated swimming pools, one indoors and one out.

The Indoor Pool

The Outdoor Pool
You can't beat the feeling of walking straight into a huge pool without any temperature shock. I had the whole deep end of the indoor pool to myself, about 4 times the size of a normal hotel pool. The outdoor pool is more lively because it has a twisting and turning water slide. It was fun to watch the kids playing, and the mountains in the distance were pretty, but I preferred the lazy dark calm of the interior.

While I was swimming I enjoyed noticing how the pool building had been upgraded. The last time we were here, it was functional green and echoed shrilly. This year the walls and columns have been tiled in tasteful shades of brown and tan, and the cathedral ceiling has been painted a pale color and decorated with hanging sound baffles in contrasting colors.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Day 5: Kennewick to Coeur D'Alene, ID

Kennewick to Tekoa—154 miles
Tekoa to Coeur D'Alene—49.3 miles

Here's a lovely and soothing way to spend the day. In the morning we drove from Kennewick to Tekoa, both in Washington, through some of the most beautiful farmland in the country. The narrow road meanders up and down over rolling hills blanketed with pale gold fields of ripe wheat, interrupted by dark strips of fallow ground. There was mostly wheat, but also hay and lentils, a crop that mottled some green fields with gold. I took lots of video on the iPad, my knees scrunched against the dash and my arms stretched out to get the best perspective. At critical junctions, I switched from the camera to the mapper to confirm the directions.

The Hardy Place in Tekoa, WA
We arrived in Tekoa about 1 p.m. There we visited our old friends Anne and Wayne Hardy. Anne is an honorary member of the local tribe of Coeur D'Alene Indians and gave us an interesting report on how the community is using its gambling income, in particular how they are supporting health and education. It was inspiring. She served us a tasty lunch. After lunch we sat in their back yard and Dan took some photos.

Anne and Wayne Hardy
The afternoon was hot. It seemed okay to me at first, but after eating a lot of nice food, it became unbearable. I couldn't wait to get back in the air-conditioned car.

The ride from Tekoa to Coeur D'Alene, Idaho was equally beautiful to the morning's ride. At first there is more rolling farm land, but then the land rises and enters a rich green conifer forest, a wonderful contrast after hours of pale fields. After an hour or so, beautiful Lake Coeur d'Alene came into view.

We had hoped to swim in the pool at the Coeur D'Alene Inn—the Best Western, not the fancy one—but it was too crowded. So we had a drink in the lounge and viewed the video I had taken during the day. Later we transferred to the restaurant and had dinner. Dan enjoyed an excellent little steak, and I nibbled at the salad bar.