Friday, August 26, 2011

The Adventures of Captain Cool

Every year when we go on vacation I look for some fun t-shirts for Stan and the boys. Superheroes, cartoon characters, whatever. This year I found a couple of tie-dyed shirts for AJ and Stan, and a particularly "groovy" one for Stan that has a peace sign on the front.

When we were at Elitch's I saw several kids walking around wearing a cape that was tie-dyed with a peace sign on it. I thought it would be perfect for Stan. When I pointed the capes out to him, he found out that they could be won at the game where you test your strength. Later when we reconnected with the boys, he took AJ over and asked him to win the cape for him. He was successful! And ... Captain Cool was born.

Captain Cool showed up at various points on our vacation and we took pictures of him. He's a pretty groovy guy. We got some interesting looks and comments, and Kevin tended to leave the area when Captain Cool showed up, but we had a lot of fun.

 Captain Cool at Wall Drug in South Dakota.
He spreads peace and "cool" wherever he goes!

 Captain Cool pays homage to Superman.
This is the phone booth at Wall Drug.

 Captain Cool at Mt. Rushmore.
Captain Cool is nothing if not patriotic!

Captain Cool at Devil's Tower in Wyoming.
He's a bit of a devil himself!

If you see Captain Cool out and about, feel free to flash him the peace sign.  He could show up in your neighborhood, or ... well who knows where he'll turn up next!

Thursday, August 25, 2011


One of the highlights of our vacation, well ... for Stan and the boys, was a trip to Cabela's in Rapid City. It's a big, outdoorsmen type store, selling hunting, fishing, mountain climbing, etc. type of stuff.

One of the things that really tickled the three of them was a man who greeted them at the entrance whose job it was to disarm them before entering the store. Since they don't tend to walk around packing, they thought it was fun. When I heard this it disturbed me. Really? Are there that many people who go there to shop carrying weapons that they need someone at the door?? Scary.

Anyway, they took pictures. They don't have any of them in the store, but you can see where Cabela's interest lies.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Devil's Tower, Wyoming

How many of us remember 1977's iconic Close Encounters of the Third Kind? Remember the scene of Richard Dreyfuss building the mountain out of mashed potatoes? We can all hum the classic notes that summon the Mother Ship, can't we?

It's one of our family's favorite movies, and since we were up in that neck of the woods on vacaation we took a side trip over to Wyoming to visit Devil's Tower were the climax of the movie takes place. There were no signs of Steven Spielberg or his cast of Richard Dreyfuss, Fran├žois Truffaut, Teri Garr, Melinda Dillon, but we had a ton of fun checking out this classic piece of rock.

Devil's Tower is a National Monument, if you can believe that. Part of our National Park Service, Devil's Tower was once thought to be an extinct volcano, but they now know it's what's referred to as an igneous intrusion. I think that's scientific talk for tall rock!

 The old American Indian legend is that a group of children were playing (seven sisters and their brother) when the boy suddenly turned into a bear and began to chase his sisters. The girls ran to the stump of a great tree which bade them to get onto it. As they did it began to rise into the air. The bear came to kill them, and as the stump rose up the bear clawed it, scoring it all around as it rose up. The seven sisters were borne into the sky, and became the stars of the Big Dipper.

When you look at Devil's Tower, you can see how this story came to be. We saw mountain climbers making their way up, they have Junior Ranger programs that hike around the base, and many trails to enjoy the area. And, if you are looking for signs of those aliens, just down the mountain are several places where you can find all kinds of fun items to satisfy that itch as well.

Here are some photos of our visit!

 Even from the highway at a distance, it's impressive.

 There are so many exciting and beautiful things to see in our country.
Glad we came here!

 Kevin and AJ with Devil's Tower behind them.
It was a hot day too!

 Stan and I enjoyed the chance to bring our family here.

A final look at Devil's Tower before we take off.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Mt. Rushmore National Memorial

We spent some time in South Dakota for our family vacation this year. What a beautiful state. I kept saying that if not for the harsh winters there I would love to live there. Maybe a summer home?

We visited Wall Drug Store which is an adventure in itself, and also Mt. Rushmore National Memorial. What an inspiring site. Here are some of the photos we got while we were there!

Friday, August 12, 2011

A Summer Rerun

The movie The Help opened this week. It is based on a book that I just loved. Little nervous about seeing the movie, but others have told me that it doesn't disappoint. In honor of the movie coming out, I thought I would repost my review of the book, first posted in April 2010. It's a summer rerun!

The Help, Kathryn Stockett’s debut novel, is one of those books where the characters stay with you long after you put the book down. The story of three ordinary, yet amazing women, in Jackson, Mississippi in the early 1960s, The Help bring to light the life of two black women working as maids at the dawn of the civil rights movement.

Aibileen and Minny have stories to tell of what life is like for them, and Skeeter, one of the privileged young white women of the time who is trying to listen to those stories and write them down into a book all the while having her eyes opened to the cost of the life she has known. Taking on this project, this book that describes what life is like for a black maid in the Deep South, the chances they take and the consequences of it, you see how much was sacrificed to move us forward.

As these three women come together an incredible story comes out; a timeless story that transcends race, age and time…that we are all the same. We are all women with a heart, a mind, dreams, fears and joys.

Their stories are scattered among the chapters, each written in their own voice. Stockett’s ability to do that is so good, you feel as if the book truly were written by three different women.

While the book is sad at times, there is a triumphant feel to it. These women show a courage and a tenacity that is inspiring. In some ways it was reminiscent of A Thousand Splendid Suns by revealing how little really is different between us as women.

A favorite line from the book sums it up best: Wasn’t that the point of the book? For women to realize, We are just two people. Not that much separates us. Not nearly as much as I’d thought.

Pick this book up. You won’t regret it.

Note: Here is a link to film critic Roger Ebert's review of the film: