Tuesday, July 28, 2009

USA Trip - part III - Missoula, Montana

The trip out to Missoula was uneventful except for me feeling like doo-doo. We skipped breakfast at the hotel and opted to eat at the airport after checking in. I stupidly decided to eat only fruit salad and drink coffee, forgetting that they weren't going to give us anything at all on the plane. And they didn't! Not even pretzels. I was weak when we arrived in Missoula, but it was lunchtime so we went to this great Burrito place immediately. Tom, Barb & Sam had come to meet us at the airport, so that was a treat, getting to see the whole family right away. Tom had to go back to work after lunch, though.

I hadn't been to visit my brother since they'd finished the addition. The last time I was there, it was just the raw building and they were still living in the old part of the house. Now it looks fantastic with a wonderful 2 story Great Room and the master bedroom upstairs above the new garage.

Our first evening there we made a production of making homemade pasta with a fish Alfredo sauce, which was just divine. We tried to use the KitchenAid pasta making attachment, but the recipe was too sticky so we ended up using the hand-cranked pasta-maker. It's basically the same as the one we have, but we have a motor attachment. It was fun, everyone got involved.

I celebrated my 40th birthday on July 8th and Tom, Barb & Sammy got me a pedicure treatment at a local fancy spa. We managed to get an appointment on my birthday, so I had beautiful feet and bright red toenails for the rest of the trip! We went out to dinner with Barb's sister, Nancy and her husband, Shawn. The boys (who are of an age) stayed with the babysitter. We went to The Silk Road an interesting restaurant which serves an eclectic collection of international dishes in tapas size. You are meant to share and it was wonderful. You can even vote on the coming month's offerings on their website. After an extended dinner we headed back to Nancy and Shawn's and had cake and fireworks. They bought me a grasshopper cake. Let me just say that mint and chocolate are just about the perfect combination. Peanut butter and chocolate ranks up there too though. :-) I decided that the first day I don't have any of my birthday cake is the day my birthday is officially over. We ate cake for the next 4 days at least. The boys were so excited about doing the small fireworks they'd saved just for this occasion. We adults played with the sparklers.

We took a drive one day to a Mountain Fire Watch tower on a mountain south of town, the name of which is escaping me. It was a beautiful drive with views of Missoula and the surrounding countryside. We were able to drive all the way to the base of the tower, which is a tall wooden structure with a room at the top with windows on all sides and a walkway all around it. The stairs to the top are more like a ladder, but I had surprising little trouble with them, considering my pregnant condition. Just took it slow - the climbing gets me out of breath in a hurry! At the top we had a view of the entire area and the ranger (who lives in the tower 24 hrs a day 10 days on, 6 days off) pointed out all sorts of things.

On Friday after my birthday, we had a cook-out in the backyard and many friends and their kids came over. We had fish on the grill, including Tom's famed 85 lb. paddle-fish caught a few weeks earlier. There was also salad fresh from the garden and pizza. We played Sam's version of Croquet with the kids. It was a hoot.

On Saturday, we drove up to Seeley Lake, which is only about an hour away. We were going to go all the way to Glacier Nat. Park, but decided the drive was too long. Tom's friends the Pryor's have a cabin right on the lake that we could stay in and it was beautiful! We went on a hike to Morrell Falls, a huge waterfall after an easy 1 and a half hour hike. Afterwards, some of us went for a swim and some of us couldn't get into the glacial waters past our knees! As reward for the hike we went to Lindey's Steakhouse right in town. You go there to have steak, steak or ground steak, with salad, sauteed mushrooms, potatoes and homemade bread. There are no other options. Since the steaks were just huge, Barb and I opted to share. It was the perfect size and a beautiful meal. Magnus' craving for a really good steak while in the US was more than satisfied.

Unfortunately, the evening was slightly marred for me when my insulin pump started acting crazy. Just before dinner (after I'd ordered my virgin strawberry daiquiri) the buttons started acting funny. Barb even drove me back to the cabin to get a fresh battery, since that was the error that came up at one point, but that didn't help one bit. I finally had to leave the battery out and use my emergency set up (my old pen that I used before I got the pump). After dinner I used the one functioning mobile phone among us (Barb, the mother!) to call the Minimed Customer Service. After waiting on hold for an hour (!) the rep told me it sounded like "Severe Static Shock" and I should leave the battery out for at least 2 hours and try again with a completely new battery (not the one I'd already tried). Unfortunately, it was the only spare I'd brought to the lake with us and it was already past 10pm. I decided to make do for the night and buy new batteries in the morning. Needless to say, I didn't sleep very well, but my blood sugars were pretty good over-night anyway. The rest for the pump did the trick. Thank God! I was not looking forward to 3 days of the old system before getting back to Germany. Apparently, the Medtronic pumps are susceptible to static shock, which makes the buttons stop functioning. The explanation was that Montana is so dry and we had been on a hike for 4 hours that afternoon. Ugh.

The flight home on Monday consisted of 3 flights (Missoula-->Chicago-->Munich-->Hannover) and 16 hours of travel. We had the worst seats ever, but after having originally declined to trad with us for his window two-seater that he had to himself, a man offered to let me sit there for a couple of hours, so at least I could stretch out and get a little sleep! I was dead when we arrived home and it took me several days to recover and more than a week before I felt at all normal again.

If you'd like to see pictures of this portion of the trip please go to my Facebook photo album.

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