The Big Horn Mountains and the Medicine Wheel

August 4

The Bighorns from I-90 On the border between Montana and Wyoming, rising to the west of Interstate 90, are the Big Horn Mountains. Referred to locally as “The Bighorns”, and source of the Little Bighorn River, I still haven’t really figured out whether they are the Big Horn Mountains, or the Bighorn Mountains.  Either way, bighorn sheep live in these mountains and they do have big horns.

Living near Spokane and Coeur d’Alene for nearly three decades, Interstate 90 was my most often traveled route east, and many times I passed these gorgeous mountains wishing I could see them up close.  I once knew someone who traveled there yearly for hunting, and a very long time ago (in 1971) I traveled across the southern part on the way from Yellowstone to Rapid City.  The memories stayed with me, and as we planned this trip I knew that I wanted the Bighorns to be part of our explorations of this part of Wyoming. 

day 14_022DSC_0060 There is something mystical and mythical about this mountain range, considered sacred to the Sioux, the Crow, and the Cheyenne for millennia. The centerpiece is the Cloud Peak Wilderness, with a network of hiking trails to remote areas and alpine lakes.  On this trip, I knew we wouldn’t have a chance to explore the roadless wilderness, but I planned for three nights in Buffalo so that we could at least explore the three scenic byways that traverse the range, US Routes, 14, 14a, and 16.

view west toward Dayton from the Big Horn Mountains Scenic Byway 14Unlike the Black Hills, created when a pluton of magma pushed up through the earth, the Bighorns were created during the Laramide Orogeny, the same geologic event that built the Rocky Mountains. Thousands of feet of sedimentary rock laid down when the landscape was covered by an inland sea were uplifted to build these gorgeous mountains. 

The highest peaks are in Wyoming, and Cloud Peak itself is 13,167 feet high. Although there are many evidences of past glaciations, Cloud Peak is home to the only remaining active glacier in the mountain range.   Much like the east side of the Sierras, the east flank of Steens Mountain in Oregon, and the east side of the Rockies, the east facing side of the Bighorns rises abruptly from the plains with dramatic, breathtaking views.

one of my favorite parts of Wyoming...Geology signsWhen we embarked on our Saturday morning journey, we were thrilled to see that the skies were completely clear all around us except for a low gray-brown pall far to the east. From our route north on I-90 toward Sheridan, we could see Cloud Peak sparkling in the morning sunlight.  Highway 14 leads west across the northern part of the range from the small town of Dayton, climbing directly up from the foothills at Dayton, and the views were breathtaking.  I discovered one of my favorite parts of Wyoming travel were the clearly marked signs documenting the name and age of each of the geological formations as we crossed them.

a photo of Cloud Peak, as close as I will get on this tripBy the time we reached the Bighorn Visitor Center near the junction of 14 and 14a I felt thoroughly educated in the geology of the Bighorns. The visitor center was well done, with my favorite 3D maps of the mountain range, and many educational exhibits telling of the human and natural history of the mountains.  Hanging over all, in the center of the dramatic timber frame building, were photographic panels of Cloud Peak, majestic in her isolation.

The Medicine Wheel in the Bighorn MountainsSomehow, in all these years, I had never heard of the Bighorn Medicine Wheel, and yet after talking about it I have discovered that many of my friends have been there.  Having never even heard of it before this day in the mountains though, made it all the more special to me. 

We drove the high winding road to the summit before finding the side road to the Medicine Wheel site and the head of the trail to the structure.  There is a road that goes out there, unless you have a documented disability, you must walk the short 1.5 mile trail to the site.  Later we laughed with friends who had been there, since it is one of those trails that seems to be uphill both ways!    Maybe it is because of the elevation, who knows. 

the Bighorn Medicine Wheel is at the top of the mountain in the center of the photo The walk is beautiful, with views in all directions to the plains to the east, the Wyoming desert to the west, and the canyons to the north. The Medicine Wheel is at nearly 10,000 feet near the summit of Medicine Mountain.  It is built from stones gathered from the surrounding area, with a circular rim, 28 spokes extending from the rim to the center, and a series of seven cairns. It was built between 700 and 1200 AD and has been used since then by many local tribes for prayer, fasting and visioning.  To this day, Native Americans come to the wheel to pray and for ceremonies, and the enclosure is hung with prayer flags of all sorts. 

day 14_064DSC_0106An astronomer studied the wheel in the 70’s and published his discoveries, showing that the cairns were aligned in the direction of the summer solstice sunrise and sunset.  He also found that the rising points of the stars Sirius, Aldebaran, and Rigel are marked by other cairn pairs. More information about this interesting study of the wheel can be found here.

Walking to the Wheel, standing in the high place where so many others have stood, was an experience I won’t soon forget.  I felt much as I did when standing at the Mnidra paleolithic temple on Gozo, and in the Grotto of St Paul on Malta, and in the Hagia Sophia in Turkey.  Sacred places are made sacred for so many reasons, but this one felt as sacred as any I have visited.

playtime with Roger and Jackson in the Bighorn MountainsTalking with the ranger at the site was fascinating.  She enjoys her stint on the mountain, living there for the summer months.  She told us that the day before had been fogged in completely in the morning and then smoked in completely in the afternoon.  One more time we were blessed by the wind and weather gods for incredible views of an incredible place.

Shell Falls on the Big Horn River  We lunched near the summit back on the highway, and then drove down the steep canyon to the dull brown of the Wyoming badlands before reaching Worland and the eastern route, Highway 14, back up over the mountains. The road climbs up the canyons to Shell Creek Falls, with paved trails and overlooks, lots of interpretive signs, and a visitor center.  Much to our dismay, however, our dogs couldn’t even walk on any of the trails, and we found it hard to find a place where they could relieve themselves.  Again, we appreciated traveling in pairs so that one pair could go see the falls while the other took care of the dogs back at the cars.  By this time in the afternoon, the sun was hot! 

getting ready to go, Nancy and Roger are a great teamContinuing over the mountain back to our junction near the visitor center gave us views of the rolling summits of the Bighorns, with broad areas of dark conifers accented by green high mountain meadows.  We even saw a bit of the Cloud Peak Wilderness to the south.  By the time we drove back down the steep east face of the range, it was late afternoon. All of us were too tired to even think of stopping in Sheridan, a town that according to everything I have read is a place worthy of its own visit.

Instead we ambled back to our camp in Buffalo, appreciative of the grassy open spaces, the big shady trees, and the comfortable sites that were far enough from the highway that we didn’t have a lot of road noise.  I can highly recommend Deer Park Campground in Buffalo.  Our three nights there were perfect for the time we had to explore the surrounding area.  The Bighorns were on my bucket list, and I finally got to see them.  There are a lot more photos of this great day including the Bighorn Mountains and the Medicine Wheel here.day 14_194DSC_0237

 

“Custer for Buffalo and Buffalo for Custer”

August 1

day 13_045DSC_0045 This was the refrain I kept repeating as we traveled toward the Wyoming town of Buffalo after leaving Custer State Park in South Dakota (where we saw all the buffalo/bison). The Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument (site of the infamous Custer’s Last Stand) is just a short 110 miles north of our base camp in Buffalo and we knew it was something we wanted to see. 

Map Buffalo to Little Bighorn 110 miles When we woke in the morning, the skies were even smokier than the night before, and the beautiful views of the Bighorns still eluded me. 

On this day we traveled I-90 north through a dreary murky world, trying to get an idea of what the surrounding landscape  might have looked like on a clear day. There isn’t a lot to see along this stretch of I-90 without the views of the beautiful mountains and broad vistas.  Instead I kept checking the iPhone for InciWeb reports of the fires, reading that smoky skies north of Buffalo from the Rosebud Complex firesthe worst fire was actually just a few miles north of us, right near our destination.  I could see road closures, and hoped that at least the interstate was still open.

New name in 1991 Arriving at our turn up the hill toward the monument, we were worried when we saw the “road closed ahead” barriers, but thankfully it was just the road past the monument, and  not ours.

The more amazing thing about the day, however, was that as we neared the source of the fires, the smoke thinned and thinned and eventually was completely gone except for the big, dark plume at the fire just northeast of us near Rosebud. To the east, south, and west, the Montana skies opened up in all their Big Sky glory, filled with wild clouds flying to the southeast and brilliant sunshine. Sometimes I think it is more than just luck that follows us around on these roads.

day 13_032DSC_0032 Often, when traveling in this part of the world, as when working in the wilderness in the past, I find myself slipping back into thoughts of what it must have been like to be an Indian living here before the white man arrived.  I look toward the skyline and imagine being on a horse overlooking a ravine or follow an old track with images of a heavily laden travois trailing behind me. Somehow this morning, as we drove north through small valleys along rivers lined with cottonwoods, I found myself wondering what it must have been like to be a young boy of 18, from somewhere in Illinois, riding along these meandering streams in hostile country, scared and trying to hide it, wondering what in the world his commander must be thinking.

I grew up with Cowboys and Indians, with the Indians most often being the “bad guys”.  I lived through the awakening of our culture to the true atrocities of what was done to our native people, day 13_024DSC_0024highlighted again on this trip as we visited Wounded Knee. I read the book as so many others did, and turned with so many to the belief that we were the “bad guys”.  But somehow on this smoky morning, I felt sadness for those young boys who followed their leaders into the wild west and tried to be good soldiers and do what was expected of them.  Maybe it is because I have had two of my own young boy grandsons led into war, two boys who tried to be good soldiers and do what was expected of them and suffer the sad consequences.  Of course, that is another story.

markers for Indians who fell at the Little Bighorn Battlefield Imagine my surprise to find out that at the Little Bighorn Battlefield Monument, the story of the clash of both these cultures would be presented with such insight and authenticity.  No one was the “bad guy”. Well, almost no one.  I can’t help looking at photos of Colonel George Armstrong Custer and thinking, “That man was crazy.  He looks crazy!” 

Little Bighorn is a special place.  The history has been well documented, the story studied and written from so many angles, you can find it anywhere.  However, the actuality of walking this sacred ground is something that can’t be written about very well.  It is a gut reaction, and no matter what your personal slant on this part of history, you will be moved if you have a soul.

day 13_010DSC_0010 The four of us wandered through the incredibly well done Visitor Center, and landed in a small theater to watch an Oscar-worthy documentary about the battle, the players, the strategy, and the politics.  Yeah, it even made me cry. The movie used animated arrows to describe the movement of both sides toward the fated conflict, and the soft voices of Arapaho, Lakota, Cheyenne, and Crow told the story of what this battle meant to them.  Then a small quiet voice of a young solder talked about how it felt to be in this place on the fated day.  It sounded just like that 18 year old boy I imagined wandering on his horse along the cottonwood lined streams.

We then took our time to walk through the museum and I was mesmerized by the famous photo of Sitting Bull, a life sized reproduction.  Can you see brilliance and intelligence and compassion and resolution in a simple old black and white photo?  I did!  Can you see crazy insanity in a photo of a man?  Looking at Custer’s photo, I wondered what made him tick, as many other historians have wondered and researched as well.

the original marker with the names of the white soldiers who died The book and gift shop was a treasure of history, with sections devoted to each part of the conflict and its as yet unresolved problems.  What still stays with me is the way that the entire story was presented so beautifully, so fully, and with so much cooperation between once warring tribes and the invading white men.  I bought a shiny new copy of “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” and a small slim volume documenting the Cherokee “Trail of Tears”.  It is irrelevant, or almost irrelevant that my great-great grandmother was Cherokee, but I still wanted that book.  A tiny part of the few family roots that I can actually track go back to the hardwood forests of the Carolinas when the Cherokee were still there.

at the Little Bighorn Battlefield After being thoroughly moved by the stories, the exhibits, the movie, the photos, we wandered off to drive the five mile narrow road that follows the famous ridge above the Little Bighorn River.  We saw the markers that were placed after the battle, another story worth seeking out.  We saw Custer’s marker, and pictured him behind the six horses that he killed in a futile attempt to make some kind of barrier between him and Death. We saw the new markers for where the Indians fell as well, testament to the fact that this place is sacred to the tribes as well as the white man. 

What struck me most of all was the understanding that the Indians won this battle, but it was the marker of the end for them.  Here they lost the war.  There was such a huge outpouring of outrage at the time that congress enacted all sorts of programs to once and for all eradicate the “bad guys” from the rich west they wanted to exploit.  Manifest Destiny and all that.  It was a day for contemplation as well.  I stood on those golden hills with that gorgeous Montana sky above me and wondered just what our country would have looked like if Manifest Destiny had failed. What it would look like today if we stayed where we belonged, but then how far east would that line go? The thirteen colonies?  Ohio? Or maybe the Mississippi River?  What kind of country would we have been in the world if we had treated our native people with true respect?  the Bighorn Mountains are waiting for us

Time travel isn’t possible, you can’t go back and change anything, and even if you could, what kind of other messes would arise if you did?

It has taken me a month to write about this place.  At the moment, it is 5 in the morning on September 10th in Rocky Point.  Little Bighorn affected me profoundly in ways that have been meandering around in my soul for awhile now, and I wasn’t sure I could even come close to conveying what it was like to be there in any kind of way that mattered.  You can view it as simply history, you can enjoy the beautiful scenery, visit the lovely center, or you can stand there and feel the place.  However it strikes you, it is a place not to be missed.

Another gorgeous sunny day on the Oregon Coast May 4

Still have no good internet access, so am sitting in the Mojo Café in Brookings.  Managed to upload three days of blog fun but the photo upload is crawling along and I am going to give it up and head back to camp.  The rest of the photo links will be posted sometime when access is a bit better. (Photos are all posted now both on Picasa and Smugmug with a link at the bottom of the post for this day!) Good a time as any to catch up on a very few of the 200 plus blog posts in my reader list accumulated since we left Monday morning.  Gee, you are all so prolific!!

lots more photos of the beach and ocean follow this onemorning hike on the South Harris Beach trailI woke up as the sky was barely lightening to see a shroud of fog hovering over the ocean, but by the time we got up at 6:30 it was completely gone.  There was barely a breeze and the skies were completely clear.  We planned to kayak again today, this time on the Pistol River and estuary about 17 miles north, but first we decided to begin our day with a hike down to the beach. 

This time we took the South Beach Trail, another well maintained route down the cliffs to the ocean.  South Beach Trail takes off just a couple of sites east of ours and meanders through deep green forest before approaching the view parking lot and cliffs to the beach. The path down the cliffs is steep, but not too much so to manage easily back up without stopping.  It is even paved with asphalt, so no slipping and sliding on loose rock and gravel makes it really enjoyable.

morning hike to south beach (20)morning hike to south beach (26)

Once on the beach, the sun was so warm Mo had to take off her jacket and we walked as far south as the incoming tide allowed, throwing the ball for Abby and enjoying the warm, windless morning.  I haven’t experienced the beaches of Oregon without wind very many times, so I thought it was wonderful.  Abby even wore out after much fetching, and once even stopped to rinse her sandy ball in a tidepool before picking it up again and bringing it to Mo.  Did she do that on purpose??  It seems so, but who knows.  Abby IS incredibly smart.

morning hike to south beach (31)We are unhooked from internet and telephones, but still have the morning news with the cable here at the park.  It’s amazing how one thing after the other gets all the focus.  The killing of Bin Laden and the decision about whether or not to release his death photos have completely superseded the tragedies in the south.  I don’t understand why news can’t actually be news of what is going on everywhere, instead of what happens to be the “big story” of the moment.  The flooding and tornado damage in our country is more important to me that all the political posturing about the Osama thing.

sunny skies, incoming tide, wind 40 mph  Pistol River launch siteWe spent a bit of time relaxing in the morning sunlight before taking the baby car north on 101 about 17 miles to our planned launch site on the Pistol River.  Once we passed through the beautiful forest and started the descent to the ocean, the difference in wind speed was intense.  Parking first at the maybe too windy for kayaking the Pistol Rivernorth side launch, then at the southern approach, we walked out to the river to asses the situation.  I think the winds were close to 40 mph and the tide incoming.  We thought it would have been ok going upstream, but were a bit worried about getting back downriver.  Driving upriver to some other listed launch sites didn’t yield anything more promising, so we once more traveled back to the Pistol River State Park day use area and saw that even with the incoming tide, the connection between the river and the south arm estuary was completely dry.  It was cold and the wind was intense, so we looked at each other and said, “Maybe not”.  Time for Plan B.

the float plan catapulted off the submarine.  Truly amazing stuffIn some of the literature we gathered for the area while driving about town, Mo found information about a little known historical site.  In the Brookings area, you can hike to the only spot in the continental US where enemy bombs were dropped during WWII. Nobuo Fujita, a young Japanese warrant officer, flew his small pontoon plan off a Japanese sub on the Oregon coast near Cape Blanco on September 9 1942. His assignment was to drop incendiary bombs into the forest, start a huge fire and panic the nation.  Only one bomb out of five detonated, and it ignited the woods up in the hills near Mount Emily. Due to wet conditions and the fact that the bomb only partially detonated, the fire only spread 75 feet.  It was quickly put out by four forest service workers. 

Twenty years after he dropped his bombs the  Brookings Jaycees invited Fujita to visit during the Azalea Festival.  He came to ask forgiveness, and presented his sword to Brookings.  You can read more detail about this amazing little piece of history here.

WWII Bomb Site Hike (15)We drove several miles east along the Chetco River before turning off on the dirt and gravel road to Mount Emily and the bomb site.  The trip reminded me of the many years I spent driving remote forest roads like this one exploring wild areas.  The nice part about this trip is that I was only going to hike on trails and I didn’t have to climb these steep slopes with a shovel and a pack through thick brush.  In this area, the conifer forests have been burned, and the canopy is often dominated by second growth alder.  While a coniferous forest is often lovely, they are also very thick and dark, and a bit forbidding.  I really enjoyed the fluorescent lime green light filtering through all the leaves of the springtime alders.

excellent sign stories of the history of the bombingAfter almost 14 miles of winding road, without seeing another single car coming or going, we found the trail head.  The hike was perfect, some ups, some downs, about a mile each way through beautiful forest to the bomb site.  The signs were wonderful, telling the story with photographs of the Japanese sub, the pontoon airplane, Fujitsu and his son, and the people responsible for putting out the fire. As usual, the hike back to the trailhead seemed to go much more quickly than the hike out, and the ride back to town also seemed to pass much more quickly.  We again passed our special stops found on the way in, the lovely little campsite along the creek, and the amazing very tall waterfall hidden among the alders.

 

nice trail, some ups, some downsOn the way back down the road, we were discussing how little wildlife we had seen.  In the bomb site brochure, it was mentioned that the remoteness of the road often allowed for seeing a bear or two scampering across the road.  Literally minutes after we had this discussion, we suddenly saw two bear cubs scamper across the road.  It was much too fast for us to truly catch anything with the camera, but then one cub ran up a tree right next to the road, and obligingly waiting for us to take his photo.  Once again I am we saw two baby bears running across the road and then this one ran up a tree right by the roadreminded of how much I want a real SLR with a real telephoto lens when I go to Alaska!  The baby bear was sure cute, and Mom and sibling were no where to be seen down the incredibly steep slope.

Back in Brookings, we decided it was time for some coastal fish and chips.  Funny thing, being a harbor town, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of fish places around. We both remembered a place south of town where we once had a great dinner with friends, but couldn’t find it.  Finally found it with the help of the phone and the place was closed up tight.  We then drove back through the 101 strip, but nothing appeared, and we decided to go down to the Harbor to see what was there.  I had heard about the Oceanside, and after much dinking around, we finally found it.  It was also closed up tight!

seagulls like the white cars By this time we were both pretty tired and hungry and grumpy, but neither of us was quite ready to give up and go home and eat soup.  We passed a funky little restaurant called the Chetco Seafood Company, with a blinking beer sign in the window, and a couple of people leaving with go bags in their hands.  Tired won out, and we parked Abby where her barking wouldn’t get attention and went in.  First sign of a good choice was the decent glass of chardonnay for 3 bucks.  We ordered fish and chips, and kept asking each other, “Is this really this good or are we just hungry?”  I decided it really WAS that good. The fish was light and incredibly fresh, the breading thin and light and delicately spiced and not the least bit greasy.  The fries were perfect and the cole slaw perfect as well. We shared a cup of chowder filled with fresh pink? clams to start and it was perfect as well.  Maybe we were just hungry, but it may have been the best fish and chips I have ever eaten.

More photos of our day are located here.

September 29 To the basins and ranges of Nevada

DuckCreek to Ely (1) I woke this morning to the amazing smell of aspen leaves that are sending out their last breath before they fall.  Sweetened by high mountain air and spruce it was one of the better fragrances on the planet, maybe only surpassed by rain on dry dust in the desert. As we drove west, however, the skies were darkened by smoke from the huge fires in the mountains of central Utah.

Today was another travel day, as the rest of the trip will be until we are back in Rocky Point on Friday.  Again we took back road, avoiding the major interstates and trying to manage a blue dotted road at every opportunity.  Our route today took us through Cedar City and rather than the fast route north on I 15, we went farther west to the Scenic Highway 93.

 DuckCreek to Ely (10) The landscape of Nevada and several other states is the west is dominated by alternating basins and ranges formed by tectonic processes that trend generally northwest.  When traveling directly west, as we did a few years ago when returning to California from Utah, the road was a continuous grade, either up or down, with just a bit of basin between the mountain ranges.  These Nevada mountains aren’t small, either, and the grades can be dramatic. 

Highway 93, however, follows a dominantly northern track through the state, and as a result the grades are few because the road usually follows the edge of the basins.  We took time to stop and enjoy a surprise state park, Cathedral DuckCreek to Ely (17)Gorge, and met some interesting travelers from England who have traveled 49 states in our country, and were showing the west to another couple from England. We took a side road to explore the historic mining hamlet of Pioche, sitting high on a fan above the wide open basin. 

We reached Ely in early afternoon, partly due to the change to Pacific time, gaining an extra hour.  We decided that electricity was on the list of desires for this night with the possibility of cable seductive enough to pay a ridiculous high price for the Ely KOA.  Our pull- through site was too short to keep the baby car hooked up and still reach the utilities, but once I quite grumbling, and we settled inside with the air going, I felt better about it. 

DuckCreek to Ely (53) Before supper we took a little tour of the area, checking out the Ward Charcoal Ovens about 18 miles southwest of Ely on a long gravel road.  It was worth the trip, and the ovens are some of the best preserved we have seen.  The story of converting huge amounts off local wood to charcoal is interesting.  It took 35 cords of wood to fill each huge oven, and then it was burned for 12 days to provide charcoal for the smelters in the nearby mining towns. Until the coming of the railroad and the availability of coke for smelting, the surrounding hills were nearly completely denuded of timber.

Once back home, I poached a chicken breast in spices and chilis, and made quesadillas for supper.  Yum. I was happy for unlimited water for cooking and dishes, and the thought of a hot shower this evening is enticing.  Boondocking and dry camping are great, but it’s fun to hook up and forget about conserving every little drop of water for a night here and there.

The rest of the photos for this day are linked here>

 

September 15 The Ohio River Scenic Byway

Cassstown_to_Henderson (19) I learned about the Ohio River today, as we traveled from Ohio, and across the southern boundary of Indiana. The Ohio River Scenic Byway covers three states along 967 miles of natural and cultural history.  Leaving Casstown this morning, our route took us south toward the river, and we chose to follow the blue dotted line, curves and all, in order to see the countryside.  The first part of our route wasn’t too impressive, and I wondered what the “scenic” really meant.

We had been on winding roads so much of the time, and decided to take a bit of a break around Louisville, and followed the Interstate for a time before dropping back down to the river again.  It was a great decision, because from the town of Sulphur on state route 66, through Evansville, we followed the river through forests and farmlands  and river towns rich with history.

Cassstown_to_Henderson (10) The town of Madison was especially inviting, with 1500 buildings and all 133 blocks of the town listed on the Historic Register.  A point of frustration for us, especially on a scenic byway, was the lack of places to stop and park and actually see the river.  The road was incredibly narrow and winding, with no shoulders at all, and no place to stop.

But finally at the tiny town of Derby, we found a lovely park along the river, and a big barge happened to pass by at just the right moment.  I love the signs telling about the history of what we are seeing, and as silly as it seems, these sign photos really help me to remember the stories of where we have been. This sign was especially good, with a clear panel that made my photo look like something framed rather than an actual scene.  Made me laugh.

Cassstown_to_Henderson (24) We followed the barge along the river until we came to the Cannelton Locks, where again there wasn’t any place to park or pull over.  High on a hill above the locks, however, is the Eagle Ridge park, and as we walked out to the overlook, we got to see our barge going through the locks.

Today was my 65th birthday, and it was great to spend it exploring some part of the world that is new to me.  Sometimes birthdays are strange, and I find myself waiting for the band to come marching through.  Most of the time, there is no band, but in this case, since I was traveling, it didn’t matter!  I talked to my children and to my dearest friend back in California, and the chance to connect with family and friends was a good thing. Cell phones are an amazing thing.

The rest of the photos for this day are linked here.