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NF-Lee's Gildor and Frodo

Montana loses to Hawaii....*sigh*....

Posted on 2006.02.25 at 17:14

That's right. Over two thousand miles of driving (round trip) and a lot of moolah later, our daughter still wants to go to college in Hawaii, not Montana....

On the way home she told me apologetically, "You know how Erin said, she was a 'mountain person'? Well, I guess I'm just an ocean person, Mom."

"Who is Erin?" you might ask. Erin is the young woman who spent an extra couple of hours snowboarding with Rachel, after her beginner's lesson at Bridger Bowl was over. Erin is the daughter of one of my husband's best Minnesota friends. Erin went to this college in Montana, married a fellow snowboarder, and never came back. She's an expert boarder. She also very enthusiastically talked up the university (as did total strangers whenever they overheard that we were looking at the place).

But, no. Hawaii is what she wants. But she did like snowboarding. A lot.

~ Here's Rachel being instructed in the basics at Bridger Bowl ski resort in Bozeman, Montana:

This is Rachel with Jeff, the instructor for the beginner's group that morning:

Here's a long shot of the Bridger Range, where the ski place is, just twenty minutes out of Bozeman:

This is a shot of the main "ski hut" where a person buys lift tickets, passes, food and so forth. Another couple of lodge buildings had more food places, equipment rentals, lessons offices, etc.:

Here's Rachel making one of her first runs down the beginner's hill:

It was later on that Erin drove up from town and spent a couple of hours teaching Rachel more, encouraging her to venture up the lifts to the intermediate part of the mountain. Rachel would not have left the "baby hill," otherwise. Erin normally snowboards from the very high runs near the top where the powder is deep and fresh. Seen from the lodges, people up there looked like mere specks, like ants descending a giant sugar spill. From the tops of the highest lifts, up near the summit, it's another twenty-minute's hike to get to these pristine runs. They carry their boards with them.

Ah, youth.

Below are shots of the petite but athletic Erin with Rachel. Here they are getting into the lift line:

Going up to the intermediate level:

After about twenty minutes of waiting at the upper lodge, I finally spotted them coming over the last rise. Woo hoo!

Here they are for a moment, before they go back up another lift to try another run:

Really, friends, I am very sorry Rachel doesn't want to go to this school. The campus was smallish but looked really nice. Their nursing program looked excellent. We met loads of nice people, the town had good movie theatres (they were showing Capote and Matchpoint, which our own much bigger array of theatres are not), there were good places to eat, and plenty of cafes and bistros. Lots of live music, too. The scenery was awesome, of course, and the distance drivable.

Speaking of driving (and I do love this drive), I got a speeding ticket in Montana. Driving west, we were heading uphill and into the wind (Duluth on the shore of Lake Superior is at 620 feet; Bozeman sits at 4,957 feet). Our Honda Element was just making the 75 mile-an-hour Montana speed limit without stressing. But, driving home, going essentially downhill and with a tail wind pushing the boxy rump of our car, I was constantly finding myself speeding without realising it. Finally, a very nice state trooper whirled his lights at me and pulled me over. I was clocked at 89 miles an hour. Still, speeding tickets in Montana are not too costly, so I looked at it as a friendly warning.

When we arrived at our stop-over motel in Bismarck, North Dakota, the rosy-faced man behind me in line at the desk said he had seen me being pulled over and had felt for me, having been speeding himself. That was about two hundred miles back. That's how empty the roads are, that he should remember the one Honda Element travelling it. It also turned out that he, too, had been in Bozeman. "There were three feet of new snow at Bridger Bowl last night," he commented, impressed.

"Wow! We were just there, too."

"With that big group from Duluth?"

(Quite coincidentally, a big ski club group - 60 people? - from Duluth was in Bozeman for the week. All of them were at our hotel, too. Small world!) No, I told him.

"Did you get a lot of skiing in?" I asked him.

"No," he sighed, "I never made it to the slopes. I had a heart attack and was in the Bozeman clinic. We cut the trip short, now I'm heading home."

Poor fellow, to miss his skiing, but lucky to be alive.

Just to show the difference between the mountain areas and the flatter parts of the high plains of the upper midwest, here are a couple of shots from eastern Montana.

I actually love this sort of land, especially where it is broken by rocky outcroppings and buttes. The skies are unbelievable. In otherwise undistinguished Billings, Montana, the land was hilly but still wide open, with huge skies set off by magnificent, dramatic weather as we drove through. Blue patches were on the horizon, with sun beaming down in shafts. But in other directions dark towers of clouds loomed over us. Smudgy veils of what turned out to be hail swept down and across the road in front of us. In the uncanny light it looked like black particles, as if hoardes of locusts were hurtling out of the sky.

Even where it is mostly flat, it must be fabulous on the high prairie in the spring, when it is covered in wild flowers and teaming with birds.

~ Mechtild


(Deleted comment)
mechtild at 2006-02-26 05:02 (UTC) (Link)
Ah, Mews, thanks for the encouraging words. She really does love playing in the snow, but it's a tropical paradise she really hankers after. I can't blame her. I had an intense tropical island fantasy going on in my late teens and early twenties. I was sure I wanted to go be an eccentric and live in Bora Bora. I had to make do being an eccentric in North American cities, instead.
maewyn_2 at 2006-02-26 01:16 (UTC) (Link)
Beautiful pictures! Tell Rachel "well done" for her new snowboarding achievement!

It seems that Rachel probably had her mind made up that she wanted to go to Hawaii before she got to Montana. However, it's an experience she won't forget.

Sorry to hear you got a speeding ticket. You certainly have higher speed limits than we do in Australia. Our highest allowable speed is 110 km/h (68 mph). The fastest I've driven was on a country highway, and I was passing a slow car. I was already committed when I saw another car approaching from behind a rise in the road ahead, and put my foot down. I reached 135 km/h (84 mph) and got a real rush out of it! But I didn't really feel safe at that speed.
mechtild at 2006-02-26 05:08 (UTC) (Link)
Actually, 75 mph is the highest speed limit I've ever seen in the United States. North Dakota's major highway was 75 in its western half, too. I guess it's because the state is so vast, the roads so empty and so straight. In Minnesota the highest speed limit is 70 and that's only on the few major interstate highways, all with limited access (that is, ones which are only accessible by special exits and entrances - no roads crossing over them, no stop lights, etc.).

I will tell Rachel "well done" from you. Actually, she would have been keener about the school, but, unfortunately, she never really read the information in detail. It said clearly (it turned out) that while nursing students spent their first two years at Bozeman, they had to do their last two years, their "clinicals" (years with practical training in hospitals), in other Montana cities with bigger medical centers. When she realised she couldn't spend those two years in Snowboard Heaven, she lost all interest.
sayhello at 2006-02-26 01:47 (UTC) (Link)
Sorry to hear Rachel's not going to the more local school.... but I've got to say... Hawaii... Montana.... I'd've probably chosen the same at her age!

Looks like you had a lovely trip, though.

mechtild at 2006-02-26 05:08 (UTC) (Link)
Well, you can't blame Rachel. Look how much Frodo enjoyed Hawaii when we took Rachel there this time last year, to see if she really would like it?

sayhello at 2006-02-26 07:03 (UTC) (Link)
Now *there* is some serious enjoyment going on! How could anyone resist returning to THAT??? ;-)

mechtild at 2006-02-26 19:11 (UTC) (Link)
Yeah. What was I thinking? *clunks head with snowboard*
elasg at 2006-02-26 02:08 (UTC) (Link)
Oh, that is too bad! I fell in love with Montana on my first trip out west and always wanted to live there. I applied for a job with the BLM that would have put me there but didn't get it. Had to settle for PA instead, but it has worked out in the long run.

Lovely pictures, Mechtild! Thank you for sharing them with us!
mechtild at 2006-02-26 05:10 (UTC) (Link)
You might have lived in Montana? It really is gorgeous, isn't it.... On our cross-country travels, I already had decided it was my favourite state. Boo hoo that she is going to pass it by.

What's the BLM? My guess is, "Bureau of Land Management". Is that even close?
elasg at 2006-02-26 12:01 (UTC) (Link)
LOL! Sorry for the abbreviation! Yes, Bureau of Land Management. Though now I am sort of glad I didn't get a Fed job - look what kind of BS I'd have to deal with? Still, it was beautiful country.
mechtild at 2006-02-26 19:06 (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for the clarification. :)
ellinestel at 2006-02-26 06:17 (UTC) (Link)
(((Mechtild)))))) The pictures are lovely. I'm sorry your daughter chose Hawaii, but I suspect that most would do the same thing. ;)

mechtild at 2006-02-26 19:06 (UTC) (Link)
Ha! Ellin, I believe you are right. I certainly would have. I adored beaches when I was young, the more beautiful the better.
Estë   (or ST for short)
este_tangletoes at 2006-02-26 11:06 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you for sharing those delightful photographs – the scenery looks wonderful.

Good luck to your daughter in all her future projects.

mechtild at 2006-02-26 19:08 (UTC) (Link)
The scenery is wonderful, Este. JAnd the "feel" of the place and school was really good. I just wish any of it could compete with tropical paradise. :D
maeglian at 2006-02-26 18:22 (UTC) (Link)
Welcome back and thank you for treating us to such an interesting illustrated travel report!

I'm sorry Rachel is choosing what you'd rather she didn't. Perhaps she'll yet change her mind.
mechtild at 2006-02-26 19:10 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, Maeglian. And I hope you are feeling a bit improved.

I have planned a comic "BBM" version of the Montana trip. Rachel and I looked purposely for likely things to take pics of, to use for it. Maybe I will have a chance to prepare it later today. :)
maeglian at 2006-02-26 23:32 (UTC) (Link)
I have planned a comic "BBM" version of the Montana trip.

Pity about those non-available BBM action figures, then! :-D
mechtild at 2006-02-26 23:45 (UTC) (Link)
Wouldn't it be great it there were BBM action figures? What fun we could have with them. "Super-bendable-posable" Jack and Ennis. Hot dog.

P.S. I just posted the Brokeback manip spoof. I think it is one of my better efforts. How I love to spend my time on silliness!
taerie at 2006-02-27 14:05 (UTC) (Link)
Well.. I sorta thought Rachel might stick to wanting to go to Hawaii. She reminds me of me when I was her age and I have always been an ocean person.. as opposed to my husband who is a mountain person. I suffocate here in Kansas but when I go home to the sea I feel all of the tight strings in me relax as soon as I can smell the seaweed and hear the sound of the waves. My husband feels that way in Colorado. (sigh)
Your pictures are lovely. I hope I can try skiing before my bones get too brittle with age! Thanks for sharing your vacation!!! I enjoyed it a lot.
I have read that young people going to college if they are very well raised and confident are ready to really strike out on their own and test their new Independence wings to the max. I can only imagine what that feels like. A mixture of scary/exhilaration that must be wonderful and exciting!!!

I liked your super poseable Frodo so much I got one! We picked him up at the post office on the way of a long drive and I had so much fun playing with him and having him harass the driver that I accidentally broke one of his feet off!! The driver (My husband) very kindly offered to fix him. He knows how to do that sort of thing because he is into miniatures. He said he will make him better, stronger than he was before. So soon, I will have the Six Million Dollar Hobbit.
mechtild at 2006-02-27 14:46 (UTC) (Link)
You? An ocean person? Stuck in the middle of the U.S.? That's a shame.

I love the ocean, too, but when I saw the high plains, the sweep of the wind, the roll of the hills and noise of the grass reminded me of an inland ocean. It made me think of the novel title, "Sea of Grass."

Skiing is something I don't plan on trying. Not unless I work out at a gym for six months (which I never do). A lot of quite aged people were at the resort skiing, but they must have got proficient at young ages when it didn't damage them to fall down. They seemed to ski effortlessly.

You got a super-bendable-posable? Isn't he great? I love how well he "works," the fidelity of his face to the movie original and just having him around to model for me. I just wish you could get his clothes off. No, not just to ogle him, but to make him some other clothes. He's a much, much better likeness, a better toy, and a better action figure than any of the other Frodo's I've seen, including the twelve inch doll with real clothes that Toybiz sells for about 25.00. I have the Gimli and Aragorn from that series, which I also don't think much of. I would never have spent the money on them myself; they were gifts.

It's the cheap plastic action figures that really look like the characters the most, in my opinion. And that matters more to me than any other criteria.
Starlit Woods
starlit_woods at 2006-04-22 14:18 (UTC) (Link)
What amazing photographs! I can see why you wish your daughter had gone there! I love the ocean but I'm a bit more of a mountain person...of course that mountain looked *very* cold! O_O

That's so sad about the man having a heart attack, I hope he's ok now!
mechtild at 2006-04-22 18:18 (UTC) (Link)
I think the man looked as though he was very fit, a life-long skiier. You would never have guessed he had been ill at all, much less in the hospital over the weekend.

I wish Rachel would go there, too. Ah, well. Actually, for a snowy mountains place, Bozeman is not that cold. Here in northern Minnesota, the local little ski place (we have hardly any hills much less mountains) might have a high in the single digits (Farenheit). Bozeman's typical high temperture in winter is much "warmer," just under the freezing mark (32 degrees Farenheit). That's a lot warmer to the body, although they both sound terrible to a warm-climate person.
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