Milkweed and Monarchs

Paulette’s Milkweed with Monarch Caterpillar

After the excitement of the wedding, things have settled into a routine. We are down to four. We have the geriatric couple and the proto-geriatric couple. I am of course the youngest of the bunch. My Zen this year seems better than normal and I feel happier here than I have in years, not that it was ever all that bad.

After laundry, we hit Wicked Sister for lunch. It’s close proximity to the Cisler Center, where the MUP riders are staying, guaranteed that we would run into cyclists. We met Bob, who is both a regular on the MUP and based upon his interactions with Bob the bartender, also a regular at the Wicked Sister. Bob the biker has been doing the MUP for eight years and I remembered his face from our 2015 iteration. When he started telling jokes, I knew he was a regular, from Bob the bartender’s reaction. I think that I gave as good as I got. Bob the biker did have one funny story. He said that he had once picked up a hitchhiker. While driving him, he asked the rider if he was ever frightened about being given a ride by a serial killer. The hitchhiker said no, because he thought that it was statistically unlikely to ever find two serial killers in the same car.

I have been formulating outings. both to keep my sanity and to have something interesting to blog about. There is an artisan bread bakery is the last place you might expect to find one, off the grid, on the road west of Tahquamenon Falls. It is Brick Oven Bread. We discovered it, when our 2015 MUP ride stopped there for a little something. I wouldn’t recommend that you visit it the one day out of the year when 150 hungry bicyclists have descended upon the place, but any other day should be fine. Anyway, it is on our list of places to visit.

PS – The Milkweed and the caterpillars are courtesy of Paulette. She hosted Jay and us at her beach house. I was so glad to hear that her grand-nephew Archer has gotten the state mediation so desperately needed. This little guy has had the toughest of lives, but with his support network, we can hope for the best.  

Sushi Go Party!

Sushi Go Party!

Candyland is so passé. What’s happening is Sushi Go Party! I especially love the tiny little tables. Dan and Jay both arrived and in that order, In between them the tent was erected. Three burly roustabouts put up the giant white mushroom in the parking lot. Plus, there is now a clean port-a-potty next to the outhouse. There is little chance of any wedding rain, but waves are a concern. Personally wet feet wouldn’t bother me, but some people (you know who They are) are so fussy. Anyway, the tent is a good insurance policy. I’ve heard no talk of stealing the matrimonial get-away car, but there is still plenty of time. All of the usual suspects are now present.

I would never be so immature to try to duplicate what was perpetrated on us at our wedding, but I do have truly evil idea for a wedding prank. When we got married the weather was not nice enough for a true beach wedding. We got married in the then parking lot, in the lee of the cabin. Since then and now, the front steps to the cabin, where we took our vows, have been moved and where we stood is now where the toilet sits. I was thinking that if we do have to use the tent that when the roustabouts return on Sunday afternoon, I could ask their help and before they collect all of their wares move the port-a-potty to where Rey and Becca stood, for a photo-op. It’s would be tradition and good luck too. Anne would never let me do it. She is so fussy about things like that and wet feet too.

Harissa

Badlands Sunset Panorama

We went to Café Natasha’s Persian Cuisine for dinner. Our occasion was a thank you to Joanie for looking after the house this summer. Dave joined us too. It was a lovely dinner, with good food and good company and an ulterior motive or two. Just the day before, I had got a text from Nink, asking for restaurant recommendations in Saint Louis. Her colleague and family are moving from Rochester to Oklahoma and wanted a place to dine, while passing through town. She asked for either Indian or Middle Eastern and Natasha’s came to mind and was one of three that I mentioned, but I think that I favored it over the others. It had made the Post’s annual top 100 list, which is always a good sign. Anyway, this recommendation put me in mind to take Joanie there too.

Harissa and my hunt for it was my other ulterior motive. We’re going to a 4th of July potluck and I wanted to bring my Moroccan carrot salad. I’ve been making this dish for potlucks for years and it has always been a big hit. I’d always used a Whole Foods recipe, until for our last Kaldi’s potluck, I switched to something spicier that used harissa. Our other Rochester friends had first turned us on to this spice and had given us some, which we had husbanded until that Kaldi’s potluck. The rave reviews that I had received motivated me to get some more. 

Harissa is a Maghrebi hot chili pepper mix of Tunisian origin. The first place I tried was Penzeys Spices in Maplewood, but had no joy there. They knew what it was, but were adamant that they didn’t stock it. I next tried the Vine, which is right across Grand from Natasha’s. Last time I checked this establishment was a restaurant and market, but a call educated me that the market has closed and is now a juice bar. That left Jay’s International Market, only 2 blocks down Grand.

My previous call had elicited that they had harissa, but upon arrival finding it was a challenge. We first found a number of harissa infused products, but with the help of eventually three people, I found pure harissa. Small jar in hand and after rounding up the girls, I eventually headed for home, a happy man.

PS – Anne and I took over 9,000 photos on our western excursion. So, you can expect to see a lot more of these pictures for quite a while. This one is another pano from our sunset photo expedition in the Badlands, during the big wind storm that eventually blew us out of the park. The Prius is parked on the road’s shoulder and if you look closely, you can see Anne in the middle of the field. 

When Pigs Fly

When Pigs Fly, Pork Chopper, Dale Lewis, Sioux Falls, SD

We picked Dave up at the airport last night, at nine o’clock. Old Lambert was a happening place at that hour. Terminal 2 was slammed. Traffic was so backed up that it impeded our progress to Terminal 1. We drove up to the departures deck and began waiting for Dave to appear. I picked the farthest spot, the one behind another car and a van to lay low in. Dave’s plane had arrived earlier than scheduled and was having difficulties at the gate. Will someone please move the damn jetway, please. All too soon a roving security guard appeared to shoo us away, because we were loitering in a TSA controlled area, don’t you know.

First, he spoke with the occupant of the van and then the car next to us and then he walked up to us. I lowered the window and he said, “I’m going to give you the speech…” To which he quickly went off script from. Conspiratorially, he explained that we were being monitored by closed-circuit surveillance cameras, so he had to put on a good show. He told us that he would be making another circuit of the concourse and then it would be another ten minutes before he got the radio call to tell us to move along, which should be more than enough time for our passenger to get here. We both thanked him vociferously for this indulgence and then I asked him what was the deal at Terminal 2?

He told us that six planes had just landed and 1,500 people were all trying to leave at the same time. It was then that the commotion at arrivals, directly below us made itself known. There was the chirping of sirens, honking of horns and a cop car’s PA blaring for people to move along. Taking notice of this the guard commented that it was a good thing that we were up here at departures, because it would have taken us 45 minutes to wade through the congestion below us. We thanked him again, he did his circuit as promised, but paid us no more heed and Dave arrived soon afterwards and we were off for home, lickety-split. 

The Boys of Summer

Campground Elk

One if by land, two if by air, the boys of summer are coming to town and the gathering of the clan is about to commence. Dave flies into town first, followed by Dan, who will drive up the following day. Our little family will be reunited, for the first time in six months. This summer, we have a wedding to celebrate. We pray that all will be in attendance. I’m looking forward to seeing relatives again that I haven’t seen in years. I’m also praying for good weather, because this is supposed to be a beach wedding, don’t you know. They say though that wedding day rain makes for a good marriage. It has certainly has been true for Anne and I. It was our Teton waitress that proclaimed this fact, I believe. We were watching over the ongoing matrimonial proceedings that were occurring on the lodge’s rather damp lawn, all the while sitting safely ensconced at our warm dining room window table. If into each life a little rain must fall, maybe it is best to get it over and done with at the start? Personally, I prefer the sun.

This pictured fellow is one of three elk that hang out all summer at the Bay Bridge campground in Yellowstone and that the rangers have dubbed the boys of summer. This one was sitting fifty feet from where Anne was setting up our tent. Well within the proscribed exclusion zone. After a while, he got up and although he never entered the patch of real estate that was our campsite, he circled it and visited the neighboring sites, all the while checking us out. If it looks like he has a lot on his mind, the ranger told us that his antlers can grow up to an inch a day at this stage, not to put too fine a point on it.

Speaking of the boys of summer, Dan called me four times yesterday. The first three times he butt dialed me or as he prefers to call it pants dialed me. The fourth time, he called to apologize. He had been doing some sweaty work and his phone was in his jeans. TMI? He said that he was working with the ghosts of Christmas past, moving last year’s Macy’s Christmas window sets or maybe this year’s sets, if you live in Chicago or even next year’s sets, if you live in Philly, DC or San Francisco. It will be good to see the boys again this summer.