That Thermopolis Junket, Part 4

Sunday morning in Riverton, Wyoming. My work here is complete. It’s time to head back to the Command Center and hope I don’t have a full-on feline insurrection on my hands.

But first, a nine-hour drive home awaits. Unlike Friday’s journey, I get to see the rest of western Wyoming in daylight. I’ve been looking forward to this.

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Jackalope museum? Now we’re talking!

My first stop on the return trip was the hamlet of Dubois, unfortunately named for a rabidly anti-Mormon U.S Senator from Idaho after the post office vetoed the preferred local name, the much more entertaining “Never Sweat.” The jackalope museum doubles as a convenience store, offering plenty of swag lampooning the Forest Service, but unfortunately no Oberto Bacon Jerky. Oh well, the A.1. Steak Sauce flavor will have to do. The helpful clerk apparently hadn’t heard of EBT before (hey, I’m a starving artist type), so I dutifully paid cash.

Grand Teton National Park looks much, much better during the day. Even if you’re not particularly impressed by mountain views, you really should check this one out someday. It’s quite stunning. You’re also not going to encounter a herd of bison grazing along the roadside in Center City Philadelphia, that’s for damn sure. Like in the dinosaur museum in Thermopolis, I sent Beachy pictures.

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“Daddy, pet them!” Um … no.

Once in Jackson, I managed to correct the navigational mistake I made on the way out Friday evening. While the Teton Pass offers a more direct return to Idaho, it isn’t all that much quicker than the more circuitous route I inadvertently took Friday night. Being tailed by a Jackson cop all they way to Victor didn’t exactly expedite things either.

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But then again, there’s no speeding through here in a 2004 Ford Focus to begin with.
Image credit: Dana’s Rocky Mountain Excursion

After a quick bite to eat in Idaho Falls (which never seems to be quick enough there), I passed through increasingly familiar territory. Although I drove with the “check engine” light on from Carey onward, the staff car didn’t appear to suffer any ill effects. It’s done that before for no good reason, some sort of cryptic transmission complaint which mysteriously clears itself up after awhile. Anyway, the Pyramid Brothers were particularly glad to see me upon my return.

And thus concludes my Wyoming saga. My next trip of note is scheduled for late July, when Beachy and I head to the Vancouver, Washington, area to see Rush. That’s just as well. Frankly I’m a bit tired of feeling my inner Rick Steves for the time being.

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And no, that’s not a pot reference.
Image credit: Andrew Bossi

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Friday Crap Roundup XIV

It’s Friday, and I’m tired of writing about Wyoming. I’d much rather share this giant, larvae-filled ant colony Beachy and I found in Grandpa’s backyard this evening. It was pretty awesome.

The ants were not amused. They’ll be even less amused when Grandpa goes to spray them.

How’s that for an intro to this week’s FCR?

It Shouldn’t be THAT Difficult

My good friend Trevor Dodge, a fellow 2T refugee and an accomplished snarkologist in his own right, came across this little slice of heaven this week.

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At the library, no less.
Image credit: Trevor Dodge

Now while I suppose there’s a market for such privileged information in case of a rapture (or more likely, an eruption of the Yellowstone Supervolcano), I really don’t see how one could write a whole book about it. After all, if what happened in Europe after the Black Death is any indication, all you’d have to do to prosper is show up.

Oh yeah, you might want to avoid Wyoming too. Just saying ….

Service With a Sneer

I normally don’t pay attention to reality TV, but when someone genuinely makes the likes of Gordon Ramsay look as calm, rational and unbiased as Walter Cronkite, it’s hard to look away.

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“Non-stick. And that’s the way it is.”
Image credit: Blofeld Dr.

Of course, I’m referring to Ramsay’s now-infamous encounter with the Scottsdale, Arizona-based Amy’s Baking Company as depicted on his series, Kitchen Nightmares. The utter lack of civility, decorum and common sense demonstrated by these restauranteurs – whom Ramsay declared beyond help – is breathtaking.

While there’s a great deal of speculation regarding Ramsay’s work in reality TV, specifically as to how much of it is actually “real,” that’s beside the point here. Among other things, no one in their right mind opens a sit-down restaurant and refuses to let servers keep their tips.

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I don’t know about Arizona, but in Philadelphia that would get real ugly, real quick.

Sadly, the YouTube clips I watched were taken down. Still, I encourage you to find and watch the full episode rather than just the highlights. Absolutely stunning.

Track of the Week

While martinis can be made with vodka, purists argue this classic cocktail should always be made with gin.

Yes, I’m sure. Even in Wyoming.

That Thermopolis Junket, Part 3

At some point after passing through Shoshoni, it dawned on me that the highlight of this trip wasn’t going to be in Thermopolis after all, but in Riverton. Yes, Riverton. A town I didn’t even consider until I checked out the hotel rates in the area. The small-town weirdness I was looking for on this trip was there.

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A place where they take their building materials VERY seriously.

With a population of approximately 10,000, Riverton is the largest city in Wyoming’s expansive Fremont County. It looks larger than that, as it reminded me somewhat of the 2T back in the 80s. The downtown area near my hotel proved to be very walkable. Shortly after returning from Thermopolis I came across a secondhand store known simply as the Flea Market. It had all the stuff you’d expect to find at such a place, and the pricing policy seemed to be very simple. “When in doubt, it’s 20 bucks.”

Nothing really caught my eye until I wandered into the back of the store and came across a complete 1970 Fisher-Price Play Family Garage, with its original box no less. I had one of these as a kid, but unlike the Sesame Street play set – which after me was owned by my sister, my cousins, Beachy and now by my twin nieces in Portland – the garage is long gone. I seriously considered picking this one up.

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But alas, I don’t have enough storage as it is.
Image credit: Judy’s Vintage Fisher Price Toys

Eventually tiring of picking through brick-a-brac, I noticed it was approaching twilight on a Saturday. Although my hard partying days are well behind me, I remain a sucker for a good craft beer. There are plenty here in Boise, and even the 2T is beginning to produce some good local stuff. I figured Wyoming couldn’t be too far behind.

I figured … incorrectly. I don’t touch the ubiquitous American style pale lagers such as Coors and Bud, and trying to find anything more highbrow than a Michelob Amber in Riverton is an exercise in futility. I came across a single bottle of Guinness, but it was so old it must have been brewed by Arthur himself. Blech.

While on this wild goose chase a woman came in and ordered a martini. Despite it being a long-established standard, I could tell right away the barkeep wasn’t familiar with this particular cocktail. I was a bartender for a short time in Center City Philadelphia, so I cheerfully offered my assistance. First, use the right glassware (which they obviously didn’t have).

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Eh, close enough.

Second, if you’re going to make a gin martini Bombay Sapphire is the way to go. “Tanqueray will be fine.” Well, whatever.

Finally, use just a little bit of dry vermouth. “Vermouth … vermouth …. We don’t have that. Would you like some gin in a glass, ma’am?”

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Wait, seriously?
Image credit: fortinbras

And thus this junket’s moment of Zen was attained. Me, the kid from the 2T who lives in the teeming metropolis of Boise, Idaho, is now the big city asshole. With that, it was time to call it a night. Oh, how I looked forward to seeing that teeming metropolis again.

To be concluded on Saturday ….

Idaho Has an Accent?

I spent my entire childhood in the 2T. I didn’t live outside of Idaho until I was well into my 20s, when I spent almost a year in the Chicago area. I suppose that means I grew up with an “Idaho accent.”

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It also probably explains why I have recurring dreams about wind.
Image credit: Wagner Christian

I personally don’t think the Idaho accent is much of an accent at all. For what it’s worth, corporate America seems to agree. Purportedly they base call centers in Boise and other cities in the region because of our friendly, “neutral” speech mannerisms.

That said, I’ve always been intrigued by the differing accents and dialects in the English-speaking world. Indeed, there are obvious differences in accent between the 2T and places like Chicago and Philadelphia, both of which I lived in at one point. I lived in Las Vegas too, but I didn’t notice much of a difference there.

During my time out of state I began to pick up on several different accents I wasn’t exposed to as a kid, notably the Boston and Long Island varieties. In my estimation the Philadelphia accent wasn’t as “strong” as those, but it was stronger than the accent heard in, say, Washington, D.C. As I noted when I lived in Philadelphia, it seemed like the further northeast one went up, the thicker and more unintelligible the accents became.

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Until one eventually hit Francophone Quebec.

Earlier today I came across a terribly interesting site created by linguist Rick Aschmann. Aschmann has exhaustively researched and mapped the various English accents and dialects spoken in the United States and Canada. It’s an impressive work. Unfortunately, like many other works of a national or continental scope, it’s a bit lacking when it comes to Idaho-specific material.

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A Mike Crapo speech sample? C’mon, people, we can do better than that!

Now I could sit here and complain about it, because that makes for good blogging material. However, I could also do something about it, which … makes for good blogging material. On his site Aschmann asks for voice samples from native American and Canadian English speakers like me who spent most or all of their childhoods in a particular place. I was happy to oblige, especially since the ever-so-slight Chicago and Philadelphia accents I used to have are long gone.

Naturally, I pointedly informed him there is no “Z” in “Boise.” I’d be horribly remiss if I produced something like this and failed to do so.

I also read him a bedtime story. You’ll probably fall asleep too.

This turned out to be a fun afternoon project. I encourage others to try it as well.

Solitude, Owyhee Style

This week marks the third anniversary of the opening of the Command Center here in the City o’ Trees. Before that, I lived in a small town near the Oregon border called Homedale. Although in the Boise metro, Homedale is arguably its most remote settlement.

And that’s why I liked it, at least at first.

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This is actually over the border a few miles away in Adrian, Oregon, but yeah, like this.
Image credit: Gary Halvorson, Oregon State Archives

Immediately after my separation and divorce, I found myself about four months behind on my bills and living with my grandmother. After getting my head above water, I wanted to not only move out, but get away from things as much as I could. Although I love her and we got along well, being well into your 30s and living with your grandmother is just as awful as it sounds.

So, upon perusal of the local classifieds paper I came across a one-bedroom apartment for $400/month in Homedale. At that point I had never been there before. Turns out it was a 45-minute commute to work, but that didn’t bother me. I’ve done worse.

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Like the SEPTA Warminster Line, the whole freakin’ way.
Image credit: jpmueller99

Before I made the commitment, I wanted to visit and see if everything would be to my liking. Specifically, I wanted to be sure the Internet worked, as I had one of those Verizon air cards at the time. So one weekend I went down there and stayed in a hotel, which was one of those old-school stucco and plaster buildings I occasionally saw as a kid. The air card worked, although I could tell I was on the edge of the service area. Meh, close enough. I’ve never been into the MMORPG stuff anyway.

So I moved into my new apartment on Montana Avenue. Although recently remodeled, the building dated to the 1920s and it showed. The carpet was a garish purple pattern which I suspect was ripped out of Cactus Pete’s circa 1965. That was all OK though. I had a place to myself at last, one where I was unlikely to be bothered.

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But with no homicidal intent.

The commute was a fun drive. It went past apple and pear orchards, rivers, farmland, canals and, um … Nampa. I even made a point to travel down Chicken Dinner Road every day. No, really.

Over time I got over it all. I didn’t even make it a year before I wanted to be back in Boise again. Then the Command Center came up for sale and here I am. Still, it would be nice to have a property in Homedale to go back to on occasion.

What’s the Word?

I don’t have my daughter this weekend. There’s nothing on my social calendar either. While this gives me plenty of time to write, it doesn’t do a whole hell of a lot for inspiration.

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Besides, Djoser is a terrible copy editor.

And so once again thoughts drift back to a simpler time. A time when I was still young, vigorous and under the impression a college degree actually meant something in this economy. I was also broke.

I think you see where this is going.

The legend of Thunderbird dates to well before my time. Even so, I never actually got around to trying it. That’s probably just as well. However in my 20s I became somewhat familiar with some of its cousins, especially after I started to seriously question my college degree. Primary among these was a concoction called Olde English 800, also known as OE or 8 Ball. For lack of a better description, this is what you drink when you no longer give a shit.

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And look where Eazy-E is now. Oh wait ….

By the time I got to Philadelphia on those nights when I only had quarters from the change dish I occasionally got St. Ides too. What’s the difference? Um, a different label as far as I could tell. Yeah, I was a straight-up gangsta’ outta south-central.

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For those who don’t get the reference, the 2T is in south-central Idaho.

The real nastiness didn’t hit until I moved to Las Vegas in late 2000. When I was living in an apartment behind Palace Station, I made the unfortunate decision to hit a 7-11 to try this:

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It still gives me the jibblies.

This was without a doubt the worst drinking experience I ever had in Vegas or anywhere else. And this coming from a guy who several years earlier walked back to the hotel from a strip club goosestepping down a high crime area on Las Vegas Boulevard whistling the Hymn of the Soviet Union at the top of his lungs.

I don’t plan on dying boring.

If you want to learn more about this subject, check out Bumwine.com. It’s yet another valuable Internet resource on a subject not many people think about. And for good reason I might add.

Mmm. Devil’s food cookies.

ED NOTE: We here at Superfluous Bloviations no longer engage in these activities. We don’t recommend anyone else doing it either. Seriously. Listening to right wing talk radio or beating yourself with a shovel accomplishes the same thing much more efficiently.

Fat Tuesday, Eh?

I was going to write an entry on HVAC and home improvement, as Dad is in town today to help with such things here at the Command Center. It wasn’t as funny as I wanted, but I was bound and determined to force the matter. You know, like the later seasons of Night Court.

Fortunately, the Catholic liturgical calendar (something I don’t normally pay any attention to) saved you from all that. It also gave me an excuse to post this. The link is probably NSFW, but you knew that:

“I’ll have the lot.”

Back when I lived in Philadelphia this was the single worst day of the year to go to work. The publisher I worked for was only a couple blocks away from the Fat Tuesday on South Street. If you’re unfamiliar with this concept, it’s kind of like taking 30 Slurpee machines, filling them with tequila and turning the entire college-age population of a major American city loose on them. The results were expected and consistent; South Street looked like the Gaza Strip for days afterward. Not even the Philly cab drivers could get through that mess.

Today I’m sitting at home with a cold, my tequila days long since past. NyQuil, however, may be a different matter ….

Oh yeah, here’s the rest of that scene:

“It’s only wafer thin.”

Bon appétit!