Thursday, August 28, 2014

Yellowstone National Park

En route from Glacier to Cooke, we explored Yellowstone for a couple of days, seeing the highlights along the Park’s figure-8 loop.  Since Yellowstone is, at this point, a bit old hat for me, I enjoyed playing tour guide rather than photographer.

The Grand Prismatic Spring, my favourite Park feature.


Moonrise over Yellowstone Lake


Terraces at Mammoth Hot Springs


The Lower Falls of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.


The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone


Bill the Bison


Onward to Cooke City!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Glacier National Park: Iceberg Lake

On day three of the trip, we woke up wondering what had happened to our young and strong 30-year-old-ish bodies.  They didn’t feel quite that young and strong anymore.  No matter, there were trails to hike, mountains to climb, glaciers to explore, and I wasn’t about to let cramping muscles stop us.  Jack didn’t have a choice in the matter.  So upward we went, again, this time on a 10-mile round-trip trail up to what must be the most beautiful lake in the lower-48 States: Iceberg Lake. 

Before arriving at the trailhead for the day, this was the Lake Sherburne scene that greeted us on our entrance into the Many Glacier region.


Like the Grinnell Glacier trail, the route up to Iceberg Lake included a significant elevation gain.  It felt a whole lot harder than the day before.


Unlike the Grinnell Glacier trail, however, the trail up to Iceberg Lake didn’t have the same diversity of terrain and views along the way, but the scene at the end made up for that lack.

Iceberg Lake, in all its glory.


A man of some European variety (simple deduction, folks) throwing an iceberg chunk into the lake.


Some people were crazy enough to swim out to a floating berg, Jack was brave enough to stand in the water for a few seconds, and I was happy to take pictures from the warmth of the rocks on the shore. 

You decide who’s the smartest of the three.


Jack’s eyes are the same colour as the water. Some people are just lucky.


The following day we drove over the Going-to-the-Sun Road from East to West Glacier.  I may or may not have taken this photo while driving on the narrow road with a 1,000’ drop-off on the edge. Ahem.


And this one…


Gorgeous views. 


The mountains were gorgeous, too!


The water in the rivers at the base of the mountains was as bright and blue and beautiful as it was at the tops.  Glacier National Park definitely has the cleanest water of any National Park I’ve yet seen in my travels.  If only it wasn’t so cold!


Our time in Glacier was short lived, but I’m glad we included it in the trip.  Next up, Yellowstone and the Coolest Small Town in America!

Glacier National Park: Grinnell Glacier

On day one of the trip we drove 17 hours to Havre, Montana, including a tour through Roosevelt National Park. On day two, I dragged Jack on an 11 mile round-trip trail with a 1,600’ vertical ascent up to Grinnell Glacier.  At the five-mile-mark, having been 5,000’ lower in elevation only the day before, he was reconsidering his decision to join me on the journey.   

Swiftcurrent Lake


Lower Glacier Lake nestled below the granite peaks.


Jack the Explorer above Lower Grinnell Lake




A number of waterfalls line the highline trail to the glacier.  This one required a bit of rerouting.


Lower Grinnell Lake, in all its aqua beauty.


Indian Paintbrush, the Wyoming State Flower.


We hiked past a number of Bear Grass patches along the way.


And, finally, with more than a few heave-ho’s along the way, we finally arrived at Grinnell Glacier…


… or what’s left of it.  The National Park Service predicts that many of the Glacier National Park glaciers will be nearly completely melted by 2020.  That’s not long, folks.


The Grinnell Glacier trail was definitely a highlight of the entire trip and one I would gladly do again, with or without a glacier at the summit.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

I’m Back!

Per usual, two months have now passed since my last post here.  This time, however, I have a new excuse:  password problems.  Thankfully, they’ve been resolved and I’m back on the blog. I would have hated to think that I’ve strung you along all these years just to drop you this close to the PhD finish line.  We’ve come so far together. 

I’ve been back on U.S. soil for seven weeks now—seven weeks that feel like three.  Since arriving here, I’ve done unsurprisingly little work on the dissertation (don’t tell my supervisor). After this winter/spring, the break was necessary. 

Rather than spending the days thinking of Romans 8 (aka the entire biblical narrative) this month, I’ve spent the days fishing, boating, tubing, canoeing, baking, running, climbing towers, riding tractors, motorcycling, hiking, dancing, watching fireworks, playing at waterparks, exploring towns, chatting with friends, loving on family, learning to crochet and, most importantly, meeting my new nephew, Kashton.

It’s been a fabulously full summer of fun, most of which was spent with this good looking chap:


But that was all in the first month at home, at the end of which Jack and I departed on a three-week Wild West road trip. We headed West, first to Glacier National Park, then South to Yellowstone, and then to the Coolest Small Town in America: Cooke City, Montana.  Last time I was there I swore that I wouldn’t return unless the ground was blanketed in ten feet of snow.  Minimum.  But some things just can’t be helped.

I realise I’ve been negligent in posting photos this summer, but I’m going to limit my catching-up photos to those from the trip.  Somehow Glacier, Yellowstone, and the Beartooths seem more worthy of display than the Zumbro River or the suckers I’ve pulled out of it.  Only slightly more worthy, though.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

of deadlines reached and dreams at the doorstep

The deed is done. The battle is won. Rest now knocks at my door.

Scratch that…

Summer now knocks at my door. 

How in the world?! has April turned into May, and May into June, with July stealthily encroaching?  I barely remember any of it. For the first time since my one-day outing to the Cairngorms at the beginning of April, but really since my return to Scotland from Minnesota last January, I’m finally coming up for air.

Last Friday I reached my hard-earned goal of submitting my 106,000-word-dissertation draft to Professor Wright for review. Those 106,559 words are 2 3/4 years in the making.  Collectively, they represent the thoughts that have consumed me for at least the last two years; whether in waking, walking to work, working, writing, walking home from work, or wearied from another day, these  thousands of words are representative of my life in Scotland.  (In case you’re unaware, ‘living in Scotland’ does not equal ‘every day’s a new adventure’. On the contrary, ‘living in Scotland’, at least for me, means thinking and re-thinking, examining and re-examining the same thoughts and ideas day after day after day after day after day after day in an incredibly mundane day to day existence. Somehow I feel like I know too-well the cow’s subjection to a monotonous life of chewing its cud. [Part of the subjection of creation (Rom. 8:20), I wonder?]) But, alas, Friday came and ‘SEND’ was clicked; thanks be to God.

Moreover, due to Professor Wright’s intense travel schedule these days, the turn-around time for submission-review-feedback was lighting fast. Yesterday played host to a 3-hour marathon meeting, where we talked through the strengths and weaknesses of the draft as it currently stands. His feedback was highly encouraging, and definitely confirmed my suspicion: there is definitely a light at the end of this long and winding tunnel.  While there are seemingly thousands of bits and pieces to alter here and there, only one chapter (which I already knew) and a handful of smaller chunks of chapters require substantial revision.  This is to say that, while there is a lot of work yet to do, none of it will be particularly difficult.  The so-called ‘hard work’ is done.  My original contributions to scholarship are in place, and my argument is clear and (I think) persuasive. I’m 25,000 words over the limit, but removing words is a whole lot easier than generating new ideas and research. It’s a good place to be.

It feels good to reach a milestone such as this, and even better to know that the work I’ve produced is quality. It also feels good to know that a Minnesota summer is quickly approaching, being at this point exactly one week from knocking at my door. Though I don’t yet dream of humidity and the Minnesota mascot, the Mighty Mosquito, I do anxiously await warmth, sun, and one of mankind’s greatest inventions—the hammock.

Move over mom, I’m coming home!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Springtime…





and bloom.


Thursday, April 10, 2014



I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.


The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed--and gazed--but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

William Wordsworth