Back to work and a little fun in the Tetons

First off, I just want everyone to know that Makena did gain some “freedom” on the Fourth of July!   We took her out, off leash, for a walk on the 100 acre ranch where we are working for the summer, Luton’s Teton Cabins.  She was ecstatic, and did very well running around.  Then she spent the rest of the day napping!  The next day she was walking just fine, no pain from her running around.  So that is a good sign, although we do keep her in the kennel a/k/a “jail” when we go to work. Hopefully the vertebrate in her back are fusing together and she will continue to improve!!

Woo-Hoo!!!

We have been working at Luton’s Teton Cabins since mid-May.  This is our third summer at the cabins.  As we watch the rest of the country suffer with the high heat and humidity, we are happy to be running a space heater at night, when it dips into the upper 30’s, only to warm up into the 70’s during the day.  Although this week it has been in the 80’s for three days now.  We had to turn the air conditioner on for the first time yesterday!

I continue to split my time between the office and cleaning the cabins.  Dan has added the job as “laundry guy”  on to his cleaning duties.  One day a week he is in charge of doing all the cabin laundry.  He enjoys the variety, and has mastered the art of folding fitted sheets – Grandma Joan will be proud!

Our friends Karen and Al are back for their fifth season, and Shawn and Erin returned for their second season.  We have two new couples this year and all together, we have a great, hard-working, drama-free crew.  It makes for a pleasant working environment!

Since this is our third summer, I don’t plan on spending much time talking about our jobs.  You can do a search on our blog, under Luton’s Teton Cabins if you want to learn more about what we do.  Or you can always write a comment or send an e-mail.  The owners, Brad and Joanne, are wonderful people who reward their employees for doing a good job.  It makes it easy to keep coming back.  (and the weather and view is nice too!)

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View from the cabins

We have been trying to get out on our off days to do a little bit of hiking and sightseeing.  Last fall, the park service in Yellowstone added a new overlook to the Grand Prismatic Spring, one of the prettiest and largest hot springs in the United States.  We made an early trip up to Yellowstone to check it out, before the park became overrun with tourists for the summer.  It was spectacular.

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We also hiked over to nearby Fairy Falls, about a four mile round trip hike from the Grand Prismatic.  When we arrived, there were eight people already at the Falls.  When we left, there were over three dozen people arriving, so we time it perfectly!

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We did some hiking with Karen and Al on another one of our off days.  It’s hard to take “bad photos” when you are in the Tetons.  Al was quite jealous of the people on the boat!  The rivers are a little murky and very fast right now, so Dan and Al have only tried fishing once and they had no luck – although they say the conditions should be improving very soon.

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It’s hard to believe it’s July already.  This summer is going by fast.

ONE PIECE OF ADVICE

I do have a very simple piece of advice for anyone staying at a hotel/cabin/B & B, or any place where there will be housekeeping done.  Do not leave your toothbrush right next to the sink!  No matter how careful we are, the odds are pretty good that your toothbrush could end up with a small amount of overspray from a cleaning chemical, if you leave it uncovered near the vanity/bathroom sink.  Just something to think about next time you are traveling…..!

 

Quote for the day:  “Summer is the annual permission slip to be lazy.  To do nothing and have it count for something.  To lie in the grass and count the stars.  To sit on a branch and study the clouds.” – Regina Brett

 

 

I’m still in jail, awaiting freedom!

Hello everyone, it’s me Makena, your favorite dog blogger!  It’s time for my update on the dog’s life on the road.

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Keeping my peeps informed!

For those that are new, I injured my back last fall (too much playing I guess!).  I was shut down and had to spend several weeks “in jail” inside a big crate (thanks Dave and Angie).

By January I was feeling better, and had my freedom back, but then I tweaked my back again.  In April, my mom took me back to the vet, and they did another x-ray, and my vertebrae has not completely fused together yet.  So Dr. Alex put me on some steroids, and said I needed to remain off my paws until I can heal up some more.

I’m starting to feel better, and hope to be able to walk off leash again out here in Wyoming.  After all, what’s a dog to do with 100 acres of land to explore?  My parents mentioned the 4th of July as my target date to gain my “freedom.”  In the meantime, I spend my days back in jail…oops, I mean the kennel, while they are busy working.

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It has been raining a lot this past week. I really don’t like being inside the 5th wheel when it rains, as it is just too noisy. But my mom always says “no rain, no rainbows!” She always looks for rainbows when it stops, and she did get this photo the other day right outside the RV.

Before we came out to Wyoming, we stayed at Camp Meyer (Doug and Linda’s house, Dan’s sister) in Hortonville, Wisconsin. I had my first face to face with a rabbit that was caught in a rabbit trap.  I was a little afraid at first, but when I realized it was stuck in jail (I could sympathize) then I moved closer to it.

Don’t worry, it was released unharmed. I told it to stay away!

On our way out to Wyoming,  we stopped in Minnesota so I could visit with my cousin Simon.  He’s 13 months old now.  Here we are last year, when he was about 6 weeks old.

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And about 6 months later…

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Last year, I was not impressed with him, as he really didn’t do anything.  But now that he is 13 months of age…

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I think this picture thing might become a tradition. Hopefully Simon is the only one that puts on weight over time! At least that is what my Mom hopes.

He’s finally in the “trainable mode”.  I was able to teach him how to drop food during lunch time!

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We worked on scratching my ears…

And I taught him how to watch for squirrels from the upstairs window at Gary and Julia’s house, Simon’s grandparents (Dan’s brother).

It was a busy day with my cousin, and we were both exhausted after a long day of playing!

Yes, he’s now one of my favorite cousins!  Food, scratches, and naps.  What more could a dog want?!

 

Quote for the day:  “Dogs have boundless enthusiasm but no sense of shame.  I should have a dog as a life coach.” – Moby

Little Rock and Branson

We enjoyed our brief visit to the City of Little Rock, Arkansas.  Although we did not have time to tour the state capitol building, we did a quick drive-by.

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The downtown area is very nice, very pedestrian and bicycle friendly.  There are two pedestrian bridges that cross over the river, which makes for a nice walking/bicycling loop through the city.

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A large park along the river has an amphitheater for concerts, as well as a weekly farmers market.

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The Little Rock police department has this cute little car for patrolling the downtown area.

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There are numerous craft breweries, and one whiskey distillery that offer tours (all within walking distance of the campground!).  We did take a tour and tasting with a large group at the Rock Town Distillery.

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DSC04952And we did stop in for a sample (or two) at the craft breweries, many of them in old warehouses.

DSC04964After our time in Little Rock, we started heading north back to Wisconsin.  We did make a quick two-day visit to Branson, Missouri, just to see what the city was like.  In one word:  touristy!  It rained the entire time we were there, and most of the attractions had not yet opened for the season.

The city itself is well-organized, as the map covers red/blue/green/yellow routes.  We thought this was a great idea, and made finding attractions very easy.  You didn’t need to know what street it was on, just the color of the route.

The main attraction of Branson is the musical shows, and they have something for everyone:  Oldies, country, gospel, comedy and many tribute bands for Abba, Fleetwood Mac, Temptations, etc.  We had time for one show, and, at the recommendation of the person at our campground, we went to see “Six.”  It was very good.

We even talked about the possibility of doing a work camping job in Branson sometime in the future, and looked into a couple of the campgrounds.  Many of them offer complimentary tickets to the shows and other attractions as an incentive for working there.  It would be a great way to catch a lot of shows, and save a lot of money at the same time.

While we were sitting in the theater before the show started, Dan spotted a former co-worker/teacher/coach from Lancaster High School, Dan’s first teaching job out of college.  He had a great time catching up during intermission on the past 30 years.

The two of us really enjoyed our “touristy time” traveling from Florida to Texas, and then back up to Wisconsin via Oklahoma and Arkansas.  We were able to see and do many things, and we especially enjoyed our visit with my sister LuAnn and her family (and congratulations to our niece, Alicia, who just graduated this past weekend from high school!!!).

It has made us think about what we want to do in the future, as far as traveling and working.  We need to find more of a balance between the two, and may look into some short-term volunteer positions, which would allow us to travel more frequently.

Quote for the Day:  “A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.” – Lao Tzu

USS Razorback (SS-394)

About 1/4 mile from the Downtown Riverside RV Park in Little Rock, Arkansas where we were statying, is the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum, which has a submarine, USS Razorback, and a WWII Tugboat, USS Hoga, on display.  The USS Hoga is not open for tours at this time, as they are trying to eliminate/contain the asbestos that is present on the boat.

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The USS Razorback was commissioned on April 3, 1944 and served in World War II, the Cold War and the Vietnam War.  She received five battle stars from WWII and four from Vietnam. On November 11, 1970, the US Navy decommissioned the sub, and sold her to the Turkish Navy.  In 1971, the Turkish Navy commissioned her as TCG Muratreis, and she remained in service for the Turkish Navy until August 8, 2001.  The submarine became the longest-serving submarine in the world.    In 2002 a group of submarine veterans and the City of Little Rock began the process of acquiring the sub to bring it back to the United States and open up a museum.  Here is a view of the USS Razorback from a nearby pedestrian bridge.

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Guided tours are available, and you learn a lot about life on a submarine, both from the guide, and a small museum on the premises.  Ten officers, and 70 enlisted men served on this 311 foot long submarine.  Entry to the submarine remains the same way since 1944, right down the hatch.  And if you don’t like tight spaces, you should probably skip the tour.

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The front and back of the sub contain the torpedo areas.

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The enlisted men’s quarters.

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Shower facilities. Yes, it’s a closet without a door.  And from what our guide told us, showers were limited to one per month!

DSC05046To save space, the dining room tables had built-in board games for their entertainment.
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The center of the sub contained the operations area.

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The museum has a display of patches from other WWII submarines.

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The grounds of the museum contain a memorial to the fifty-two submarines that were lost during World War II, and to the men that made the ultimate sacrifice to our country.

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Quote for the day:  “When I lost my rifle, the Army charged me 85 dollars.  That is why in the Navy the Captain goes down with the ship.” – Dick Gregory

The Little Rock Nine

Prior to our arrival in Little Rock, Arkansas, I had made a reservation with the National Park Service to visit Little Rock Central High School, which is both a historical landmark and an operating high school.  During the school year, tours are only offered twice a day, and only while the school is in session.  Reservations are required.  Across the street from the school, the Park Service has a visitor center with exhibits, and many audio recordings to listen to from the students, teachers, and residents of Little Rock that give first hand stories about the events that happened in 1957.  For us, this was one of the most impressive and informative National Park Service tours we have ever attended.

Little Rock Central High School was built-in 1928 at a cost of $1.2 million (yes, that’s million…in 1928!)  It is the most impressive high school we have ever seen.  At the time our of tour, there was a group of students from Chicago on a field trip, and they were amazed at the school.  Since it is an operating school, the tour is very limited to the main entrance, the auditorium and the cafeteria.  We would have loved to roam the halls of the building.  You could just feel the history.  Other than security cameras and elevators, it seems to have been left in its original state.  The staircases had wooden banisters, and the auditorium still had the original wooden seats.  It has a current enrollment of 2422 students for grades 9 – 12.  The school continues to thrive today, and is considered one of the 16 best schools to prepare students for college with over 177 different courses offered, 30 advanced placement classes, and five foreign languages taught.

The school is so big, I had to do a panoramic shot to get the entire front of the building in the photo.  There are over 100 classrooms in the building.  There were about 60 people in our tour group, and I think all of us said “wow” when we first saw the school, except for the one student from Chicago who remarked ‘our school is trash compared to this!’

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Here is a close-up of the middle section of the school, where the main entrance is.

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So why is this the only high school in America designated as a National Park?  Time for a brief history lesson.

“We the people” are the first three words of the Constitution as it was written in 1787.  But who does “we” represent?   White male landowners.  Over time, through amendments to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights,  the definition of “we” has expanded.   Some of these rights came as a result of protest, and the visitors center has details about how the rights of people have expanded as a result of individuals protesting.   Through protest, comes change.

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In 1954, the US Supreme Court outlawed segregation in elementary and secondary schools in the Brown v Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas case.  The schools in the Southern states were slow to begin the process of integrating schools, which would allow students to go to the school in their own neighborhood, instead of getting bused across town.

The Little Rock school board quietly discussed how to integrate students at the high school level, and announced it would accept African-American students at Central High School.  But they only wanted a limited number of students, and would only accept those who had straight A’s and perfect attendance.  Over 200 students applied, and the school board realized that was too many.  So they continued to raise the bar on the standards.  No African American student would be allowed to participate in any athletic or club event.  No after school activities.  The students were only allowed to attend school, and must leave immediately at the end of the school day.  Eventually only 10 students were left.

This integration did not sit well with Arkansas Governor Faubus, and he ordered the National Guard to bar the African-American students from school.  On September 3, 1957, a mob gathered outside the school, along with the National Guard.  One of the parents of the 10 students, after seeing the angry mob, decided against sending their daughter to that school.  Nine students were left, but they did not attend the first day of school.

On the second day of school, the Arkansas National Guard barred the students from entering the school.  These 9 students were harassed, spit upon, and shoved around as they walked towards school.  Not by fellow students, but by the parents and community members that gathered daily around the school.  By September 20, a Federal judge rules against the use of the National Guard, and the Little Rock Police were responsible for the students safety.   On September 23, the Little Rock Nine (Terrence Roberts, Elizabeth Eckford, Ernest Green, Thelma Mothershed, Minnijean Brown, Jefferson  Thomas, Carlotta Walls, Gloria Ray and Melba Pattillo) finally entered the high school.  But the local police were overwhelmed by the angry mob and a riot broke out.  The police removed the students from the school.

By this time, media from around the country were broadcasting multiple times a day from the school.  A local gas station, which had a pay telephone, was set up for the reporters.  That gas station, across from the school, has been preserved as part of the history. (gas was 22 cents a gallon, by the way!)

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People around the country were both horrified and supportive of what they were seeing coming out of Little Rock.  But President Eisenhower had seen enough, and federalized the Arkansas National Guard.  In addition, he sent in 1200 soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division to restore order and protect the students.  The soldiers escorted students into the school, and remained inside the hallways of the school to protect the nine students.  The soldiers were not allowed inside the classrooms or bathrooms of the school.  As a result, the nine students were physically and verbally abused in the classrooms and bathrooms by fellow students.

In 1957, there were around 2000 students attending the high school.  About 200 of the students were constantly harassing the nine students.  In listening to the audio recordings of the Little Rock Nine detailing their experiences, it wasn’t the action of the 200 students that bothered them, as much as the inaction of the 1800 students that just stood by and did nothing.  They called them the silent majority.

One of the nine students was expelled, after she was physically assaulted by a group of female students.  She did not physically retaliate, but called them “white trash.”  After her expulsion, students passed out cards stating ‘one down, eight to go.’  By November, the Airborne Division leaves, and the nine students continue to endure verbal and physical assaults for the remainder of the school year.

On May 25, 1958, Ernest Green became the first African-American student to graduate from Central High School.  In attendance at his graduation, was a man who wanted to watch this historical event, Dr. Martin Luther King.

But that’s not the end of this fight for integration.  Governor Faubus shut down all the schools in Little Rock for the 1958-59 school year, in order to block the integration of the school district.  A Federal Court ruled the closing of the schools was unconstitutional, and the schools reopened in August 1959.

All of the Little Rock Nine not only graduated from high school (not all from Central), but went on to college and had very successful careers.  Jefferson Thomas passed away in 2010 from cancer, but the other eight are still alive.

If you are ever in the Little Rock, Arkansas area, please try to do this tour.  Even if you only have time to look at the exhibits in the visitors center, it is worth the time.  What these students had to endure was truly heartbreaking, but their will to persevere is inspirational.

 

Quote for the day:  “Any time it takes 11,500 soldiers to assure nine Negro children their constitutional rights in a democratic society, I can’t be happy.”  – Daisy L. Gatson Bates