Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Betsey, Katie and Larry at the restaurant in Rocheport, MO

It’s been a while since my last blog post and I have some catching up to do! On Thursday, June 3rd, I flew from Jackson, WY to Kansas City, MO so that I could be at my granddaughter’s Katie’s graduation from high school on Saturday. Ellen stayed in Alpine so she could be there for Max’s 2nd birthday on Sunday. It was wonderful being with Betsey, Rob and Katie: in addition to the commencement itself, the four of us had a special graduation lunch at a nice restaurant in Rocheport, MO, we had a little party for Katie, and we went to a family party at her boyfriend’s home, we did some shopping, etc.

Commencement was held in the Mizzou Arena (basketball); the families of the 560 graduates of Rock Bridge High School almost filled the lower bleachers – I’d guess 3000 folks easily – or more. It was a joyful and noisy affair, organized very efficiently so that every name was called, there were speeches and tributes and music and we got out in 2 hours!

The grad and her dad

One of the things I gave Katie for her graduation is a bound copy of her grandmother Shirley’s poetry. This is a project I have been working on since we left on this trip, but I haven’t said anything about because it was a surprise. A year ago I had found a note among Shirley’s papers asking me to publish her poetry for our friends if she were to die before I did. This seemed like a good occasion to honor that request. There are 52 poems in the collection I gave Katie, written between 1945 and 1976. Here is one Shirley wrote after spending five wonderful days on an island in the Bahamas:


We’re black or grey and spikey

and fearsome if you catch us by surprise

We live best in warm water

among sand and coral lie

And if perchance you catch us

and bring us to the land

We are playful and delightful and

wriggle shyly in your hand

But when we leave the water

and find death upon the shore

a lovely, lacy, fragile shell

remains at our core.

Sea urchins are a paradox

And I know because I am one.


I flew back to Jackson on Monday and Ellen met me at the airport and we immediately started a trip to Idaho and Oregon. Of course the first hour or two were filled with me telling Ellen everything I had done and she telling me everything she had done – especially the birthday party which Max took in stride beautifully.

Monday evening, we had a glorious experience at the Camas National Wildlife Refuge which is about 30 miles NW of Idaho Falls. We were the only humans there. But we saw ibises, western tanagers, ruddy ducks, cinnamon teals, scaups. shovelers, coots, mallards, redheads, willets, a sandhill crane, lots of yellow-headed blackbirds, and some type of merganser we couldn’t identify for sure. It was awesome.

Camas National Wildlife Refuge, Idaho

We spent the night in Arco, ID – I think we found the last room in town at a very humble motel, but it was ok. I got up at about 6 am and explored Arco. The early sunlight on the snow-capped peaks around the town was stunning. Arco is beautiful if you ignore what’s under your nose. It was the first town in the world to be lit by atomic energy, back in 1957. Today it seems to be a haven for junked cars, and also a paradise for ATVs – lots of rentals and trails. Could be fun, I suppose, but we passed on that and after breakfast at an RV park across from the motel, we drove on to Craters of the Moon National Monument – an amazing lava and cinder strewn landscape created by volcanic activity over the millennia, and as recently as 2000 years ago. We climbed a steep cone of cinders called Inferno Hill and got great 360 degree views. Then we headed for Ketchum and Sun Valley, big ski resort areas which I was not impressed with, and then on to Stanley and up to an old ghost town, Bonanza, ID, where gold created a thriving village back in the 1880s, all gone now, but the cemetery remains, a haunting reminder of how difficult life was then. Ellen counted at least 26 wooden grave markers with the single word, “Unknown.”

After leaving Bonanza, we had a beautiful evening drive along a very mountainous highway through the Sawtooth mountains, with lots of curves and switchbacks, and arrive in Boise a little after 9 p.m. at our friends’ home, Susan and Christian. Then today, we met with the Boise Hospice Singers, which Susan leads, for an informal “workshop,” which turned out to be quite moving. Ellen and I had met with them 16 months ago, at their inception, and it was wonderful to see how they have grown and matured. We have another day in Boise and then will head for Salem, OR.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Larry and Ellen,
    This is great! I love reading about your adventures though I am a bit jealous. One of my favorite things is meandering along and not just zipping to the next place on the agenda.
    We sure miss you guys and await your return with great anticipation. We all love getting cards from Ellen, especially Brendon and this blog is just wonderful for keeping up. I'll keep reading.
    Love, Savanna