My blog about knitting, teaching, and being a mother to two energetic young boys.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Wisconsin Ho!!

2,000 miles from Sacramento, 6100 road miles (give or take....) from Anchorage, and we've made it to our farthest destination: Wisconsin!!

We arrived in Milwaukee, WI around 5:00 pm on July 13. Our great friends, Jen & Steve & their little girl Maddie recently moved here for Steve's medical residency in Anesthesiology. They are Orion's godparents & moved away from Anchorage 5 years ago so Steve could attend medical school. The original reason to drive to Wisconsin was to attend the Heimbold family reunion. As luck would have it, this is where Steve is going to do his residency program. How crazy is that?

We left California on July 10th (Happy Birthday to me....) to drive East. Wow - I don't think you can really appreciate how large the United States is until you traverse it by automobile. And to think - we aren't even all the way across!!

The trip to Milwaukee took us four days & three nights - Here are some of the highlights...

Day 1: (July 10th) Bridgeport, CA (north of Mono Lake) to Salt Lake City, UT (~610 miles)

Here is the grand Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City. Very impressive building (took 40 years to construct). Everyone we met here was just so nice!!

Now - we really didn't visit the temple until the morning of July 11th. It took us ALL DAY to drive across the Great Basin of Nevada. Not much diversity in scenery across the Great Basin...which provided plenty of time to work on this:

This is the instep of Cleopatra's Stocking - the May kit for BMFA Rockin' Sock Club. I'll tell you what, while I'm liking how the sock is turning out, the feel of the yarn, the construction, and the color, I'm still not feeling the love. Knitting the sock has proved to be quite fiddly - lots of knit 2 together through the back loops for crying out loud. I normally love my Addi Turbos, but during this project they made me feel like I was knitting w/spoons. I would have used my newer Knit Picks needles, but I wanted to match the needle size the pattern called for. Argh, for a fraction of a millimeter in needle size, I think I should have gone ahead & worked w/the Knit Picks. I've finished sock #1 & think I'll take a little break from sock #2. Perhaps it will be finished as we drive from Washington back to Alaska.

Day 2 Salt Lake City to Cheyenne, Wyoming (~420 miles)

After crossing the mountains right outside Salt Lake City, the scenery becomes vast & somewhat monotonous once again. Lots of open sky & rolling plains as far as the eye can see. The trick to surviving a long road trip with children (hmmm - topic for a book????, well - with high gas prices, I don't see a demand for that sort of book right now), is to stop often to allow them to 'get their ya-yas out'. We happened to find the perfect stop in Rock Springs, Wyoming:

Yes - at first glance all you see is the standard playground. True - a good place for two young boys to burn up some ya-yas. But - take a closer look....

A swimming pool!! Even better - a free pool w/a slide. The boys (all three of them) were in heaven..
Hard to tell if they're having a good time, huh? There was also (not photographed) a soccer field within the complex - the trifecta for a perfect rest stop along our journey.

Day 3: Cheyenne to slightly west of Des Moines, IA (~610 ish miles)

In between Cheyenne & Des Moines - you cross the great state of Nebraska - home of Cabelas, my father's favorite outdoor gear shop. Lots of rolling plains, corn, and big sky. Again - lots of time to knit (more on the fiddly Cleo's ). When I took a break from knitting, Wade & I would decipher cloud shapes. Take a look:

We thought this looked either like a chicken or a cat. What do you see?

The scenery became much more green along this part of I-80. Lots and lots of corn... I also give high marks to their visitor rest areas - top notch!!

The usual lunch de jour - peanut butter & jelly sandwiches w/crackers, chips, cheese & moosaroni. (pepperoni made from Moose)
Day 4 - West of Des Moines to Milwaukee, WI (~378 miles)

The home stretch took us about 7 hours to complete. Thanks to the wonders of MapQuest, we were able to locate chez Sivils without trouble. Steve happened to be outside chatting w/a neighbor & did the ultimate double-take when he saw our white van coming up the street.

As we crossed the border between Iowa & Illinois, we crossed over the mighty Mississippi River:

Pretty cool piece of North America geography.

Okay - that's all for now - I'll do some back posting later about our attempt to visit Yosemite, our visit to Mono Lake, and a scavenger hunt & rock concert in San Francisco.


Birthday Monkeys

Monet Monkey #1, originally uploaded by Arctic Knitter.

After three failed attempts at different patterns, I finally decided fall back to a reliable pattern: Cookie A's Monkey sock. I finished these on my birthday while we were driving east toward Wisconsin.


Pattern: Monkey sock by Cookie A

Yarn: Colinette Jitterbug

Colorway: Monet

Needles: Knit Picks Size 2

Cast on: June 27, 2008
Cast off: July 10, 2008 (Happy Birthday to me!!)

Modifications: Since Colinette Jitterbug is notorious for short yardage, I decided to knit only 5 repeats on the leg & do a short row heel instead of the traditional heel flap w/heel. Turns out I had plenty of yarn left over that I could have added another repeat or have done a gusset w/heel flap.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Fantastic Fourth

Happy day-after 4th of July!! I hope however you celebrated, you enjoyed a splendid time with friends, family, good health, and prosperity. Throughout all of the celebrations, it's often easy to forget the freedoms we enjoy and take for granted. We may disagree with all of the decisions the governing body of our country makes, but overall it's the freedom we celebrate on the 4th that allows us to disagree openly without fear of retribution. How fantastic is that?

We spent our 4th celebrating with the neighborhood of my in-laws. One of their neighbors has organized a 4th of July block party for the past 3 years. It's great fun - one couple opens their backyard for the BBQ, there's a pinata for the kids, tons of side dishes, salads, desserts, drinks, and great conversation. Our boys loved it because of the plethora of children who were present - such a nice treat when their only companions have been their parents & each other for the most part over the past month.
The piece de la resistance is the fireworks display after the sun goes down. Each family is asked to bring one firework for everyone to enjoy. Two ladders are set up in the middle of the street, a board is placed on the rungs between the ladders to use as a platform for the show. Wade & a former high school acquaintance, Josh, were the MCs of the display. The rest of us camped on the front lawn to enjoy the show. This was new to our family since we can't legally discharge fireworks in Anchorage. Sure, you can buy them about 45 minutes north, in a town called Houston, but you can't bring them back to Anchorage for a private show.

The fireworks lasted about an hour. The boys kept saying This is the best 4th of July - ever!! A block party is a great way for the neighborhood to come together - I wish we lived in a neighborhood with such camaraderie. Wade & I discussed the advantages of moving here - Great neighborhood, variety of activities, 'built-in' friends/acquaintances who are our age, grandparents who live close (like across the street)... It just so happens a house is going up for sale.... hmm.... However, it would be difficult to leave our Alaska friends, the boys' great school, the house & teaching jobs we love.

So - it looks like we'll remain in Anchorage. So - happy 4th to all - here's a taste of last night's festivities: