Monday, June 23, 2014

Many activities

DAY TWENTY-FOUR: I have some catching up to do, since I have not entered a post since last Wednesday and now it's Monday!

Today, Max started soccer camp. Yesterday was Alpine Mountain Days, and also the U.S. vs. Portugal World Cup soccer game. Saturday was a trip to Idaho Falls. Friday was a trip up into Grand Teton National Park. Thursday, Max stayed home from Camp Jackson - he just didn't feel like going - so we did things around here, like going to the Library for a craft workshop and playing at a stream near the house.  The weather was great, for the most part. It typically got very cool at night - it the 30's, then warmed up into the high 60's or 70's during the day. Perfect weather.

So,  Thursday was sort of a rest day. Max went to the Alpine Library for a craft workshop and made a catapult out of tongue depressors, rubber bands and a plastic spoon. It very effectively lobbed pieces of marshmallow:

Marshmallow catapult

We also went to a stream that is just a bit up from the house. It is a great place to wade in the water. It is also close to an osprey nest and there are other waterfowl in the distance, like pellicans - a great place to use binoculars. Max got a pair of binoculars from his grandpa and grandma Elmore for his birthday.

Max wading - with a collection of feathers in his hand

Friday was Max's last day at Camp Jackson. Ellen and I had our usual latte and baked goods - this time I had a delicious Morning Glory Muffin - and then we headed up to Grand Teton Park. Our goal was Two Ocean Lake but we took the wrong road for that and had to give it up. But we had a lovely time at Christian Pond, which is a really great place to watch a wonderful variety of waterfowl - coots, ruddy ducks, cinnamon teals, etc.  There are lots of little islands in the pond made up of tufts of grass where the birds can hide and nest. But many of them were in the water, diving for food. Occasionally there would be a great flapping of wings as one or two took off. I don't have a telephoto lens with me (the only camera I own with a telephoto leans is a film camera, which is pretty much obsolete now), so I can't get closeups of the birds anymore, but here is a picture of the pond:

Christian Pond in Grand Teton N.P.
On the short hike from the road to the pond, Ellen counted 18 varieties of wildflowers.

Buckwheat, one of the many wildflowers we have seen
And on the trail we ran into a family - father, mother and five kids -  and quite quickly learned that the mother's uncle is Roger Turner, who lives just down the road from us in Dummerston. Small world!

And, of course, the Tetons were beautiful, as always.

Part of the Grand Teton range

Saturday was a trip to Idaho Falls for Paul, Ellen, Max and myself. Jenny stayed home to get some things done around the house. Idaho Falls is about a 1 1/2 hour trip away - short by Western standards. Paul had shopping to do, but we made a stop at  iJump - a place where kids and adults can use a trampoline or jump into pits of foam cubes. It's a pretty fun place, and Max loved it. Paul got out there with him and did some jumping too. But for adults, unless you are used to it, you can really feel it in your knees the next day.

Max jumps while Paul watches

You can literally disappear into the foam cube pit.  Fortunately, you can crawl out again!
We had a good, reasonable, lunch at Chuck-O-Rama, I got some whey powder at GNC, and we got back to Alpine in time to watch an exciting soccer game between Germany and Ghana that ended in a 2-2- draw - an upset for sure, since Germany is highly ranked.

On the way out of Idaho Falls, Paul pointed out a big billboard that sort of illustrates the mentality of this part of the world - at least one segment of it. The billboard comes just before a huge wind farm on the Idaho plains east of Idaho Falls, and it is "agin" wind power. 

An Anti-wind power billboard in Idaho Falls, ID
Here's a sample paragraph from the website of the organization sponsoring the billboard:

"It was only two years ago that anyone who publicly opposed wind turbines was considered a social pariah and practically ostracised from society as if they were modern-day lepers. Things have changed. Not a day goes by without a new story slamming wind energy or highlighting increasing wind farm opposition .  . . . Just as it was once popular to support wind energy, it has now almost...almost...become fashionable to oppose wind turbines."

Wind power is not without its issues. A recent article in the local Jackson Hole News reported that The American Bird Conservancy is suing the federal government over a recent ruling that allows wind turbine companies to kill eagles for 30 years without fear of prosecution. Many eagles have been killed by wind turbines and one study predicts that by 2030, a million and a half birds, of all species, will be killed by wind turbines annually. This is hard for someone like myself, who favors wind power, to deal with. Every form of energy has its downside, but that is a huge one.

Sunday we had a quiet morning and in the evening, Ellen and got in a nice walk on the loop near the house. But during the day, we took in Mountain Days - an annual event in Alpine, and then in the later afternoon, watched the exciting U.S. - Portugal soccer game. Paul played soccer in his teen years, and is an avid fan. At one time he even seriously considered going to Brazil for the World Cup - but that was before he started working for OSM, which makes a trip like that almost impossible now - hard to get away. Portugal is ranked fourth in the world (the U.S. is about fifteenth), but the U.S. played well and was winning 2-1 until just 30 seconds before the end of the game, when Portugal's star player, Rinaldo, scored. If the U.S. had won, they would have automatically advanced to the next round no matter what the outcome of a game against Germany next Thursday. Now, with a draw against Portugal, they can still advance with a win or draw against Germany, but that is a tall order. Germany is good. But it is within reach. This is the best the U.S. team has done for quite a while.

Part of Mountain Days are vendors who sell unusual products like a wooden cross-bow which caught Max's fancy. It shoots rubber-tipped arrows - fairly safe if responsibly handled. He has played with it a lot outside.

Lethal weapon??
While we watched the soccer game, Max put together another LEGO set - a "Cole's Earth Driller" machine in the Ninjago Series. He put this together entirely on his own, without any adult help. That takes some real concentration!
LEGO Earth Driller
Monday. This morning, Max started British Soccer Camp, which is held at Thayne every morning this week. This program exists all over the U.S. - also called Challenger  Sports - and has over 110,000 kids enrolled this summer. He'll get 3 hours of soccer instruction and practice each morning. We got to watch the opening introductions. Max came home happy - he'd had a great time!

The six young British soccer coaches introduce themselves to the kids.

Max, the soccer-player!

On our lovely evening loop walk, Ellen and I caught this sunset:

Sunset over Palisades Reservoir

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