Monday, January 08, 2007

Back from Vacation - And Tagged

Boy, a real vacation. Wonderful. Too bad it had to end. But we did get a brief reprieve after our flight was cancelled out of Great Falls, Montana on Friday, permitting an extra day in Montana. Seems the weather in Denver was bad again on Friday.

Great Falls was interesting, to say the least. It gets its name from the series of falls and cascades of the Missouri River, around which the Lewis and Clark expedition had to spend some time portaging. But unfortunately I never saw any falls, instead our family counted 30 casino's in a 5.2 mile stretch of Tenth Street (their main drag through town) - a mini Las Vegas without the glitz and much of the blight - with pawn shops and places to trade in your car title for a little extra cash. It was easy to see how casinos had turned into the major industry out there. Sad really. Gone are the farms and the cattle ranches - at least most of 'em. I guess this is how the rural West has been "won."

Anyhoo, I got back in town and discovered that I had been tagged by the ever-loving and affable Moof about 5 things that most people don't know about me. So, in the spirit of cooperation and sportsmanship, here they are:

(1) I like to sail catamarans on Lake Michigan with the family.

(2) My favorite sports are racquet sports - but my all-time favorite is Platform Tennis, or some call it "paddle tennis." For those of you not familiar with this sport - it is typically played in the WINTER, OUTDOORS - rain, snow, or shine. You see beneath the "platform" are heaters with blowers that melt snow and ice that might accumulate on the very rough scaled-down tennis court-like surface. It is typically played as a "doubles" tennis would be played (with a partner), and the difference between it and tennis is that you only get one serve with each serve and you can play the ball off the chicken-wire screens that surround the court. It's a huge growing sport here in the Chicago metro area. Players are typically ranked from levels 1 (pro) to 15 (beginner). I'm a 7. But my favorite part is the "apres paddle" time where guys can socialize and share a beverage together.

(3) I like to cook and, after salt and pepper, my favorite spice is rosemary.

(4) I used to raise chickens (our township would only allow you to have hens -- roosters were too noisy). Our favorite hen was a bardrock variety shown above. Its amazing how much of life can be shared with the kids in raising these animals. They are certifiably the least intelligent animal with which I have interacted, but also some of the most entertaining. The egg-a-day produced by the hens was the envy of the neighborhood - egg shells really ARE harder from free-range birds. But the funniest realization of all was how many people think that the rooster has to be present for the hens to lay eggs...

(5) I'm a morning person, just bring on the coffee...



Anonymous said...

I can heartily recommend going catamaraning in the BVI.
Spent a week island hopping on a 42'Catana (rigged for racing) in 2002. It was heavenly.


Anonymous said...

Dr. Wes! Welcome back, and thanks for being such a good sport! >;o)

I'd never heard platform tennis ... is it a local variation or something?

You must be close to Lake Michigan, if you like to catamaran there. I was on lake Michigan while I was in the Navy, in Great Lakes, studying to be a medic. It's a nice area!

Missed you! Glad you're back!

Anonymous said...

"Gone are the farms and cattle ranches-at least most of them." What an absurd statement. There are 28,000 farms and ranches covering over 60 million acres of land in Montana. (www.ceic.mtgov/MtByNumb.asp) Great Falls is totally surrounded by farm and ranch land. Check google earth and you can see the wheat fields bordering the city limits.

DrWes said...


You are correct regarding the lands AROUND Great Falls. But the city itself has an inordinate number of casinos, no?

Anonymous said...

As far as casinos I totally agree with you. My point was that the farms & ranches are not gone. There never has been farms or ranches in the city itself.