Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Union Pacific Big Boy 4004

Big Boy 4004

On our vacation, we stopped in Cheyenne to see Dad's engine, the 4004. Of course it's not his engine, but he worked on it. That engine belongs to every Union Pacific Employee who worked on it, who wanted to work on it. That engine belongs to every rail fan there is. It belongs to everyone. That engine is on display at the Holiday Park in Cheyenne, Wyoming. It is one of eight remaining Big Boys.

When Thomas and I were visiting my dad last week, we went through all his railroad stuff -- from the 1940s to the 1980s. As he stated, we went through his life. He had all of his log books. We divided the books into decades, and then distributed them into four piles, so all four of dad's kids would get log books from each decade. That was the best way we could figure to distribute them.

I was going through my (dad's) log books tonight and found one from 1958. Because this blog gets a lot of search hits for Union Pacific Big Boy and steam locomotive, I'm going to share something very special: A page from dad's log book that includes the 4004. October 12, 1958. Dad was the fireman, so his name is not listed. It's the 14th listing on the page. The 4004 is the engine on display in Cheyenne.

The other photos show this gigantic engine. Thomas was happy to pose in front of "grandpa's train."

Click on the pictures to enlarge them.

Thomas is IN this picture. Click on it to enlarge it so you can get a grasp of how huge this engine is!

Bear Country USA

Warning: This entry has "graphic" photos that may not be appropriate for children. (Unless, of course, they're homeschooled and watch nature shows on TV, then they've seen it all before.)

Bear Country, USA
Rapid City, South Dakota
Late June 2007

We had a lot of fun at Bear Country. When I lived in Rapid City, it was one of the tourist traps I actually recommended.

This was Thomas's first-ever visit. He was excited to see the bears up close and personal.

We weren't expecting to see the bear up close and personal being up close and personal. Every direction we looked, there were bears humping. Thomas laughed hysterically only because I got a little flustered and embarrassed. I wasn't at first, but I'm not kidding when I say everywhere we looked, the bears were busy.

Yeah, this will be a tourist activity that Thomas will never forget.

What's bad is that I'm the one that snapped all the photos.

Wall Drug Revisited...

When driving through western South Dakota, one simply must stop at Wall Drug. And we stop every time we go see grandma. And Thomas gets soaked every time we stop.

This year we took a change of clothes in a bag, because I knew he'd get all wet. Heck, it was about 100 the day we went -- it felt good for him to cool off.

What was very interesting was watching passersby. All the children looked at Thomas longingly, wishing they could go get wet. Their parents wouldn't let them.

All the parents gave Thomas the evil eye. I sat back far enough trying to hide so I could make my observations. When a parent did figure out I was the mom, I got a dirty look!

The grandparents/older generation were the most fun to watch. They all laughed. One couple sat down and watched Thomas play. All the "older" generation could appreciate Thomas having fun.

Yup, the parents were the uptight bunch. I take great pride in the fact that I don't fit in, that I think out of the box, and that I let Thomas get soaking wet on a hot day. I march to the beat of my own drummer. Perhaps that's why homeschooling is such a great fit for us??!!!

In all fairness, Thomas got this wet last year, too, and he had a pretty miserable ride out of Wall. Jean shorts are uncomfortable when wet. But he survived and talked about it all year long. It's called happy memories, freedom to be.

Monday, July 09, 2007

When the bed bug bites...

After itching all day, rubbing these welt-type things on my legs, and noticing that there are a couple on my stomach as well, I did some googling.

I think I was bitten by bed bugs.

There is a website here in which the bites on the lady's arm are identical to the bites on my legs. I'd take pictures of my legs and share them, but, um, well, I didn't shave my legs this morning because of the welts, and who wants to see my ugly hairy legs covered in welts, ya know?

Oh joy.

I hope to h-e-double-toothpicks that I didn't bring any into my home. I will watch for little "blood" droplets on the sheets for a week. If we find any, we'll contact an exterminator. If not, we got lucky.

It's quite funny that THE most expensive hotel I stayed in during this entire trip (Holiday Inn Express) is where I got bed bugs...but I hear they don't discriminate. And it's not that a Holiday Inn Express is expensive, for that matter.

How lucky that Thomas didn't get the bug. He had two bites on his shoulder, but that was it.

Now I'm off to Walgreen's to get some anti-itch cream. These itch, and they itched before I figured out what they were. However, now that I know that it was BUGS, they itch all the more.


And another thing (Yes, dad, I really do complain all the time) why on earth is blogger not letting me put titles into these posts? Not one single title out of the three entries I posted today. What's up with that?

Mitchell Corn Palace

In South Dakota, along Interstate 90, is a town named Mitchell. Its claim to fame is the Corn Palace. You may learn more about it here and visit their live webcam here.

When we're driving through South Dakota, we just want to get where we're going so we've never driven into Mitchell to see the Corn Palace. (Okay, I always wanted to but Bob didn't.) Since Bob wasn't with us on this trip, we decided to stop.

It's a building. It has corn murals on the outside and inside. It's a mini-sports arena inside, with the court doubling as a big tourist gift shop.

I think it would be more fun to see it after the harvest when the outside murals are new and fresh.

It's one of those places that you can say: Oh, yes, I've been there...ONCE -- and keep it at that, ONCE. lol
Monday afternoon thoughts.

1. MIL's house appears to be safe, thankfully! It looks as though the fire came within one mile of her. The fire is not contained, but we have our fingers crossed things will continue to go well in fighting the fire.

2. I have bug bites -- huge red welts -- all over my legs. They itch. No one else has them. What a PITA.

3. I need a vacation after my vacation. I am still in my jammies. I've been online all day trying to catch up with blogs, groups, emails and I'm not close to catching up. I've also been reading about the fire. Forget the fact I have unpacking to do, floors to vacuum (Dear Bob, love you, hon, appreciate the house being picked up when we arrived home and that you bought me my Fat-Free half and half for my coffee, but remember we have two cats and one dog -- have you ever heard of a vacuum, man?)

4. I need to start Weight Watchers again. The photos taken of me on vacation are SCARY.

5. My legs itch. Oh, I already whined about that.

6. My dad says I complain all the time. Who in the heck does he think he is telling me that I complain all the time? tee-hee-hee I can't help it that I cannot stand Denver traffic -- I actually have nightmares about it. Really, that's all I complained about, but apparently it was all the time.

7. I have seen very little of Thomas today. I have no idea what he is doing. Bad mom. I think he's unwinding, just as I am.

8. I am so thankful to be home and that our trip was safe. I was so sad to leave dad, though.

9. Kansas is flat. Very, very flat.

10. Nebraska isn't much better. Neither is eastern Colorado.

11. Driving through Omaha (yes, I was nervous about that) wasn't nearly as bad as I thought. It reminded me of driving into Denver 20 years ago.

12. Although there is so much to do in big cities, I will never live in one again. Too many people and cars.

13. I love doing genealogy. I love walking cemeteries, even when it is 95 degrees. I loved putting my 85-cent flowers that I bought at Walmart (Memorial Day clearance items) on the graves.

14. I love my dog. I did not, however, miss his constant farting. What a rude awakening to come home to that. We were joking with my dad about Denver's brown cloud, and Thomas spoke up and said that Jerry has a brown cloud of his own. So true, Thomas.

15. When you have a fear of driving in Denver (basically the interstates) such as I do, old highways are your friend. I drove for one hour on Colfax all the way through town so I could avoid the interstates when leaving. It was lovely. It was stress free. It was SOOO worth it. Just ask Thomas -- I didn't complain during that drive at all.

16. I am proud of myself. Even though I fear Denver interstates, I faced my fear coming into town. I was going to get off I-25 as soon as I hit the outskirts of Denver and head over to Wadsworth, but I didn't. Something deep inside me dared myself to face my fear. I drove I-25 all the way in. Yes, I had sweaty palms. Yes, I was astounded at the amount of traffic on a Saturday. Yes, I was freaked out when there appeared to be six lanes of traffic on a few occasions. However, I learned to be a right-lane driver. I learned the right lane is my happy place. I did it. And I set an example for Thomas: Face your fears.

17. My legs still itch.

18. My animals love me and went crazy when I got home. All came to greet Thomas and I, even the finicky cat.

19. My husband loves me. He went crazy when i got home. He greeted me, hugged me, had purchased my favorite dinner-in-a-box for me and my coffee creamer. He changed the sheets. He even did the majority of his laundry while I was gone. (I know he didn't vacuum and I have to check to see if he paid the bills -- but he's a good man.)

20. I love my home. It's a small, unpretentious place, and I am glad to be back.

21. I love to procrastinate. I have work to do and yet I sit at the computer...

Sunday, July 08, 2007


We got a call from my sister-in-law tonight. It seems my mother-in-law has been evacuated due to a wild fire. News reports state 20 - 27 homes have been destroyed, one person has died. MIL knew the man who perished, but his name has not officially been released, so I won't mention it. Apparently he was calling his dog as he was evacuating and his propane tank exploded, killing him.

We're assuming no news is good news on the state of her home, but we don't know yet. We're just very thankful that MIL is safe, in a local motel with her new kitties and her daughter who was visiting at the time of the evacuation.

This is so sad and so scary. We were just there a few weeks ago and it was very dry. She worried about lightning all the time, and that is the apparent cause of the fire.

Please keep her in your thoughts or prayers.

We're Back

We're home.

I am so completely exhausted I can't see straight.

Will blog (lots) later. Right now I'm going to take a nap!