July 24, 2014

Omne Trium Imperfectum

After doing the caverns the day before, we lazed around the campsite the next day.

That front cot was one of the best things we ever got for Ludwig. E sleeps--and sleeps in--up there like a champ.

There's not a lot of shade at any of the sites. Lacking that reason to choose one, we decided to take the one closest to the playground. 

I was glad we did. This situation is so rare, so easily spooked, that I was wary of even taking a picture: E (left) playing with a kid she doesn't know, with Mom and Dad more than 15 feet away.

Earlier Melissa asked if we should put up the WalMart awning and I grumbled, but it was easier to do than I remembered and a very good idea to boot. Stinkerton was thankful.

Later, putting the awning away, I found the receipt in the bag and saw we had purchased it five years earlier to the day! Then I threw the receipt away. Who needs a dumb five year-old receipt anyway?

Having spent my 20s in a restaurant kitchen and now living in honest-to-god bear country mean I usually try to keep our camp kitchens as organized and clean as possible. This campground had a dishwashing sink with hot water at that building over there, which was almost like cheating.

Who is this WAKING ME!?

Youngest awake, camp pulled, we went back to the top of the mountain for ice cream. Why not.

A little cheapo monocular sits in Ludwig's parcel tray. I wondered what would happen if I took a picture through it. This is what happens...not bad. Those are the Gallatins with the snow back there.

Here I was trying to get a shot of some mountains but instead got a photo of how I load stuff on the luggage rack. Thanks for the firewood, Shadows.

Camping business finished, ice cream eaten, and kub ranger badge acquired, we lazily set off for home.

Around halfway home: "What's going on back there?" she's thinking. "Ludwig's sure running funny."

Indeed, Ludwig was running funny. He had had that very brief hiccup on the way back from Craters of the Moon. Since nothing else happened on that trip, or on the way to L&C Caverns, I didn't invest much thought or worry in it. But past Whitehall the hiccupping returned with a vengeance. By the time we were climbing Homestake, he was undriveable. No power.I was terrified I was cooking a pretty-new engine to death (always my first suspicion), but there were no signs of excessive heat. Thinking maybe we had a clogged fuel filter--it did perhaps seem like he was just running out of gas--I finally crawled under and took a look.

Aye, there's the rub. That brassy box thing with the hoses coming out of it is the fuel pump. As you might imagine, it's not supposed to ride on the cv joint like that; it had previously been living atop the transaxle. And the fuel hose isn't supposed to rub against the rapidly spinning bolts like that either. Luckily this is a fairly easy fix. Knock on wood.

Having said that, I'm not particularly inclined to relocate a fuel pump on an interstate shoulder with a kid and a baby and a wife standing by, especially when we're only thirty-some miles from home and especially when we pay $160 a year for AAA. Onto the flatbed Ludwig went. (Extra-grateful special thanks to Leia for coming and picking up the girls.)

Hope you enjoyed your ride home, old man.

July 22, 2014

The Caverns

Taking decent photos in a cave is probably difficult enough when you have a decent camera. When you have a crappy camera with a battery door problem and are dividing your attention with an engaged 6 year-old (and making sure she doesn't slip on the rocks), I assure you it's next to impossible. These are the best I could manage, and don't do the formations any justice. Come see them for yourself.

This one was really eerie. Looking at the picture on the computer, it appeared completely black. Melissa said to use the 'enhance' feature in iPhoto and an image of this ghost emerged.

Some of these stalactites ("stalactites hold tight to the ceiling; stalagmites might grow up") broke when they dynamited passageways in the 1940s. Some others were snapped off by visitors for souvenirs, with the park management's blessing (!). You can see the growth rings in that one at top center.

The stalactites at top center and just right of top center were curved by a steady breeze during their formation.

More snapped-off souvenir stalactites.

It's really hard to see, but that's a clear pool of water.

To use the flash or not to use the flash?

So that step's about eight feet lower than our house.

Back out into the heat! The whole tour took about two hours, maybe less.

While in the caverns you're mostly going down (did I mention it includes negotiating a small slide?), making for a nice level walk back to the parking lot.