Home (Plus Portland, Idaho, Glacier, Medora)

Arrived home a few hours ago. In the final 30 minutes of the trip we finished our Odyssey audio book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, saw the sun setting behind us as Pirsig spoke of the Greek conceptions of time envisioning the future as that which comes behind you, and witnessed an extraordinary rainbow. IMG_5297

After laundry and unpacking a few final memories with shorter and shorter prose.

After Ashland we headed up to Portland area to stay with Andy’s graduate friend Catherine and her new baby Ike (and Baby Daddy John). IMG_5247

We spent most of Saturday at a combination of a wine tasting and then zoo:

followed by dinner with our old neighbors Nick and Emily and their son, Nat, at a set of micro-restaurants.

Idaho (Sun. June 12th)

Sunday we headed out to Coeur d’Alene to stay with extended family Maja and Mrko IMG_5249IMG_5250

Glacier Park: (June 13-16)

Wish I had more prose energy to stay with this park. For now, pictures worth many thousands of words: IMG_5252

First evening: IMG_5257IMG_5256

Rainy day hike


Hike with MamaIMG_5269

On the ride home we stopped at the Dinosaur museum.

Featuring the interior of a covered wagon:IMG_5291

OK folks that’s all we’ve got for now!





Ashland, Oregon (May 31st-June 10th)

Ashland is the research portion of the trip, largely involving attending amazing thought-provoking productions at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival with opportunities for playdates, day trips to water parks, to Crater Lake and to a local farm.

We had several playdates with Minneapolis actress Sarah Agnew and her two sons. But discovered “Charlie the rat” at the Ashland pools on our own. On our way back from the pools Harris wanted to “take a break” at a fountain.


Andy and I also had a date night out at Alchemy IMG_5213

Harris played at home with a babysitterIMG_5216

A trip to Crater Lake!

Cherry picking at the farmIMG_5232

Ashland creek with Daddy: IMG_5235.jpg

Deer on the Ashland Green!IMG_5236

Special fashion sense:


In the store:IMG_5240


LA: Long Beach and Venice May 26th

We stayed with my college friend Christo in Long Beach and his wife and 5-year old Hudson who became Harris’s frenemy. IMG_5161IMG_5164

After a morning of fight/play and a walk through the Naples canals we headed to Venice Beach for brunch and a walk with Tim Miller. IMG_5151IMG_5154

Harris enjoyed burying his sunscreen soaked face in the sand with predictable results. After enjoying the Venice beach scene for awhile we found a Santa Monica water park that led Harris to strip to his undies in glee: IMG_5155

The evening closed with a fantabulous dinner with friends Matt and Val at a funky diner with great bourbon drinks and brussel sprouts.

Road to Santa Cruz (Fri. May 27th)

We drove up 101 and the Fremont pass–between ocean and mountain–to visit my friend Aleks in Santa Cruz. She took us out to a sunset lit beach and met Harris’s imaginary friends Oliver and other Oliver before preparing us a fabulous fish dinner. IMG_5165


Felton to San Fran May 28th

Saturday we took a journey to Felton to tour through the Redwoods witnessing an “albino tree” (with no clorophyl) whose neighbors let it draw clorophyl from them. Aleks and I discussed what our “9 avatars” would do if we were to live different lives. Unfortunately we arrived at the park on Civil War Reenactment Day so had to witness people applauding real gun powder and fake dying. IMG_5185

we did get to ride a 100 year old steam train.

Back at Aleks’s Santa Cruz home Harris pronounced his conclusion that fairy dust is invisible sugar. We ate fish and toured the backyard replete with hammock, tree house, and a fully furnished Ringling Brothers circus trailer. We swung on the hammock looking up at the sky and listening to wind chimes. Aleks has been working for several years on a film about bells with her partner Eric. They interviewed Thich Nhat Hanh who spoke of the bells of mindfulness awakening us the present. That was my experience in the garden and hoping for more daily.

Meanwhile, Harris referred to the following napkin holder as a banana holding a hairy stick.


On the way to SF we stopped in Los Altos for another gorgeous fish dinner and fresh lemonade with Uncle Veljko, Teta Vlatka, Helena and her new dog. Dinner prepared in the newly remodeled kitchen and consumed in the lovely backyard. Onto San Fran stay with Andy’s former boss and fraternity brother, Dan, and his family.

San Francisco- Memorial Day Weekend 

Saturday Harris and I spent the day at the zoo by the ocean.


Here’s his meerkat cave home again: IMG_5200

And lunch with flamingos:IMG_5195

Back home we had a family barbecue concluding a day of animal encounters with Sponge Bob Square pants.


After breakfast of strawberries and waffles, and a coffee stop, Harris and I walked to Golden Gate park where he slide down a steel hillside slide on cardboard like some 1920s little rascal street urchin. He also rode the carousel. IMG_5203

We headed on to Tartine and Dolores Park past Haight street. A glorious park afternoon with Wolf Pack friends and a former student of mine.

Harris made friend with the tree tighrope walkers. IMG_2565IMG_2564IMG_2563

The next day it was off to Ashland where we have now been for a week! Updates forthcoming.



Mesquite, Mojave, Joshua Tree (May 25)


Early morning sun in Mesquite… to Joshua Tree. I awoke at 5am to walk towards the rising sun. Birds in abundance and few people as the sun peaked over the mountains lighting up the mountain crags (And golf course). Mesmerized by the repetition of housing design and odd ornamentation of metal bars over a concrete rectangle. Was there a purpose of any kind to this? On my walk I encountered an elderly man sitting in his garage to take in the view.

We then gathered the trips to head through the Mojave Desert (partially on Route 66!) to Joshua Tree. Scrub and cactus for hundreds of miles until we hit the jumbo rocks of the park. We hiked through Hidden Valley–an enclosure so complete with light overhead that made the whole experience feel as though we were moving through a movie set.

That evening we had dinner with my friend Brent and his almost-adopted kids. I could talk with Brent for hours and hours on end. He is someone whose heart is always in the process of expanding and its grown to include two kids. One of whom, at age 7, pronounced the important lesson to him that “life is for learning.”

For most of the trip Harris has been reflecting on what he’s been learning. But a lot of the time he’s just learning. And we learn with him.


We spent a lovely weekend in Salt Lake City with cousins and friends. Harris continues to be the “fastest” at getting dressed. We all attended a cultural heritage festival and Buddy narrowly beat me at bocce. I taught Buddy and Mia “hide the blocks”–a game my brother Steve and I (re)invented in our summer house in Northwood, NH. We also dined with our friends Micah and Kirstie in their Park City manse and learned about their youngest son’s entrepreneurial ventures in making dog chew toys out of recycled climbing rope. I also learned the term “upcycle”. Monday morning we departed for more national park adventures in Bryce and Zion–two extraordinarily beautiful and distinct geological landscapes.

Bryce and Zion

Andy was less enthusiastic about the hiking the rim of the canyon part. But we found a beautiful trail below by a running stream and “mossy cave.”

Then drove on through Zion towards Mesquite after a sunset meal at “Meme’s Cafe”.

We arrived late in Mesquite with an almost full moon. Harris brought wolfie out to howl at the moon until midnight.

Zion May 24th

After a leisurely morning we drove through canyons of Arizona back to Zion (land of sanctuary…). Mommy and Harris had a stroller hiking day together while Daddy had a long coffee break. We saw rock climbers far above, weeping rocks, and a squirrel chasing Harris at the “Temple of Shanawava”. Harris insisted that the hole in his pants (which had been there for several weeks) had been created by a lizard who had bit him.

After visiting the park museum Harris insisted we go to the “outside show.” This is what we saw: IMG_5141

And on the drive back to Mesquite… sanctuary. IMG_5142

Yellowstone (May 18-20)

Sunrise walk through Wyoming just outside of Yellowstone Park:

Weird pagoda-like unfinished log structure outside our motel. Apparently the builder-owner engineer died from a fall while continuing to build his Jenga Temple.


Onwards to Yellowstone: IMG_5043

Harris saw his first bison: IMG_2420

We suggested he “keep an eye out” and we turned around in the car to see him with his hand over his left eye noting “I’m keeping an eye out for the bison!”

We went on a woodland hike through some snowy fields.

Harris was saying “hi” to everyone on the trail commenting “I think I made them feel better.”

We then headed out to the Yellowstone Canyon. (Daddy stayed close to the car). Before retiring to our condo suite in West Yellowstone.


The next day I awoke to another sunrise, this time in Montana. IMG_5004

We journeyed into the park and got stuck in a “bison jam” before proceeding to some geyser viewing: IMG_5016IMG_5079

The threatening sky unleashed itself into a thunderstorm so Mommy and Harris spent the afternoon in West Yellowstone’s fascinating History Museum, telling the story of the tourism from the 19th century to the present. (Including a Henry-Ford produced film about the Miracle of Motoring). It was really fascinating to consider the ways that tourism proceeded from group stage coach and railroad rides to the more autonomous automobile. (which had to be backed up steeper hills because of the lack of a fuel pump).

After the museum Mommy took advantage of the condo hot tub and we found a restaurant in an old school house that served up craft bourbon drinks and fine dining experiences. Harris sleep ate some fries.

Drive to Utah through Tetons

Our final day in Yellowstone was cut somewhat short by Harris’s virus / car-sickness. We drove slowly through to Grand Tetons where Harris projectile vomited in the Visitor Center. After some lengthy clean-up we had a lovely walk through the woods to the Murie ranch. The Muries were early environmentalists and the caretaker of their lodge eagerly showed us around (we got the feeling he didn’t get a lot of visitors). He turned up some John Denver tune (written in honor of his friends the Muries) and invited us to pose around various stone features and homemade chairs:

We finished our drive through glorious Logan Canyon and made it for dinner with cousins Buddie, Mia and Uncle Steve and Aunt Lisa in Salt Lake City.


Summer Roadtrip 2016

Tuesday May 31st Writing from San Francisco

Well we are two weeks into our Summer road trip and finally getting around to updating the blog, on our way from San Francisco to Ashland, Oregon. So far we’ve been through 6 national parks through 8 states and encountered bison, wolves, mule deer, elk, chipmunks, prairie dogs, and ants–which Harris insists are wild animals. All that not counting the San Francisco zoo where Harris was most entranced by the meerkats. He crawled into a kid cave and called it his home:

We’ve also stayed with a variety of friends, relatives, and other accommodations including a working ranch in South Dakota, an RV park in Wyoming and a 2-bedroom condo in Montana (with hot tub and pool). Harris has slept in beds, on air mattresses, on the floor, on the sidewalk (“taking a break”) and (thankfully) at times in his car seat.


Harris at the Badlands farm collecting eggs.

We started the journey by setting some intentions (Fun party game—guess which family member had which intention!) Variously, to work towards presence and sunrises, PMA (positive mental attitude), and less crying and accidents. Other than trying to replace some metal keys into a live circuit in Nevada, charring both my hand and the key, we’ve had relatively few of the latter. There have been gorgeous drives through golden light, spacious sunrises over buttes, mountains, woodlands, and desert foothills, and only a few rainstorms.



The hours in the car have been spent listening to music, telling jokes (Harris has now almost perfected the banana/orange knock-knock joke), listening to the Muppets adventure story (ten times and counting), and—when Harris naps—listening to our philosophical text of the journey Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Andy and I have both read this several times, but it’s a different experience listening to Pirsig’s words as he travels from Minneapolis to California through Montana on a motorcycle with his son and friends. We’ve been thinking about his parenting style and the role of the unreliable narrator as much as his proposed critique of rationality as an underlying system of thought and existence.

We’ve also sustained our fascination with folk art and shabby museums, commencing with a short side trip to South Dakota’s Corn Palace. Each year, the mural composed entirely of seeds and grain changes. This year’s theme, Rock of Ages, featured Willie Nelson.


Badlands May 15-17th

Our first stop was the Badlands of South Dakota. Previously, our visits had featured thunderstorms and double rainbows.


2007 trip


2012 second trimester pregnancy trip

This time we had crisp but intermittently sunny temps. Which is actually a gorgeous background for the buttes.

Harris also got to ride his first horse:IMG_5029

We stayed at the Circle View ranch bed and breakfast, arriving after a meal of Indian taco and iceberg lettuce at the Cedar Point diner (basically the only open restaurant in Interior, SD other than the bar that serves frozen pizza and corn nuts until 2am). The ranch owners had set us up in the family suite next to the “play room” which they had decked out with a working kids stove. Harris insisted on wearing the oven mitt for most of the time we were there.

I awoke around 5am on our first full road trip day to a glorious sunrise: IMG_5094IMG_5093

I crunched down a gravel hill to explore the cabins and cows below, accompanied by a muddy collie, Hank the deaf dog. Below the cows all ceased their cud-chewing and just … looked at me with placid eyes. All turning their heads and just watching calmly. There is little as oddly disturbing as a herd of cows watching you.

The cows are neatly penned together as are the chickens. With some rusting appliances and tractors parts nearby managing to blend into the landscape perhaps by virtue of the railroad ties stacked among them. “It ties things together” Robert Pirsig had noted of the blackbirds taking wing in a cluster in the opening pages of Zen... He meant a set of thoughts about presence—in particular about the being in versus watching the land enframed from a car container. The difference between being among and passively attending to the land as scape. The railroad ties work to knit the objects to the scene here (with slightly less philosophical undertones). Though there is something here of that as well. Of an 1880 homestead cabin built of mud, clay, and sweat by the side of a silty river. And above the “Circle View Ranch” homestead constructing, one imagines, at least in part by the labor of its owners, Amy and Phil. (At least this is suggested by the binders of the ranch building as a kind of adult 4-H project).

After a hearty breakfast Harris helped to bottle feed a calf, scatter food to the chickens in the hen hotel, and collect eggs for our next breakfast. This is ranching and subsistence carved from a landscape at once desolate and awe-inspiring.


We then went on a hike where Harris was most interested in the ants and “taking breaks”. IMG_5037

We also had a false start on a steep trail that Harris figured out how to get down the easy way:IMG_5035

Mommy followed his lead: IMG_5036

And Daddy helped out with the flatter portion of the hike:IMG_5038

Later on we went to Daddy’s favorite stop of the trip Wall Drug:

We returned to a gorgeous sunset over the hills:

Then the next morning Mommy and Harris awoke for sunrise: IMG_4977IMG_4978


And a little time on the play set:IMG_4981

Before we set off towards Yellowstone with a stop in a gorgeous Wyoming canyon and sunset bistro dinner in Cody: IMG_5108