Week in Montana, back in Illinois

Tuesday, May 4, 2004: Went geocaching today with Spessa & Co. Then after her kids got home from school we went to another geocache so the kids could participate, which they really enjoyed. Unfortunately there aren’t a lot of caches in this area. Maybe a total of 5 of them that are within an hour. Had some pizza for supper.

Wednesday, May 5, 2004: Went Geocaching again today, this time without the kids. Managed to find one but failed at another since the road ended up being blocked. Turns out we were supposed to take a completely different road but it was getting late so we just went home and decided to maybe try again tomorrow.

Thursday, May 6, 2004: At some point, we all decided that I’d be spending the rest of the week in Montana instead of just one night. So I’m thinking I’ll probably leave tomorrow morning before noon or so. It’s still another 30 hours from here to Alton, Illinois and I think I’d prefer to do all that driving over a weekend instead of during the week. Last night was fun – we stayed up until 1am making calls to various Motel 6’s, posing as the front desk by doing wakeup calls, making sure their clocks were set right and asking guests if they wanted some more towels. Getting woke up in the middle of the night for things like that doesn’t appear to set well with most guests. This will be useful information to have if I ever get a job as a hotel front desk clerk so it was a good learning experience.

Friday, May 7, 2004: Left Montana at about 9:30am and drove all day. Stopped somewhere past Casper, Wyoming and slept until 7am. Or 6am. Or maybe it was 8am. All of my clocks are set on different time zones so I’m all confused. Spessa wrote “Don’t cry for me Argentina” on my back window before I left. This entertained me for most of the drive because everyone who passed my car was staring at me, looking confused. As soon as I would look over, they would quickly look away.

don't cry for me, argentina

Saturday, May 8, 2004: Finished driving back to Illinois. Finally got home at 11:15pm.

Kids – April 2004

Tuesday, April 27, 2004: Picked up the kids at 4pm and we went Geocaching for several hours. This is the first time I’ve ever taken them and they really enjoyed it. Our first was in a cemetary which was hidden inside a hollow tree and Emily found it within a few minutes. The kids traded in some of their own useless toys for some new & improved useless toys. The next one was in the middle of nowhere by a creek, hidden within a few trees. They traded in even more toys, then we walked down to the creek and played under the bridge for awhile. We tried one last cache but failed to find it after about 30 minutes of looking. Hung out at a park for about 30 minutes, stopped by McDonald’s for supper and dropped them back off at their mom’s. After that I hung out in Fred Meyer’s parking lot and played on the wireless internet for about an hour.

emily and payton looking at a cache

Wednesday, April 28, 2004: I pick up the kids at 4pm and ask them what they want to do. “Treasure hunting!” is the answer. So we go geocaching again. Only this time I don’t research the first hunt too good and I just pick the first one on the list. It ends up being a 1.3 mile hike through the woods. They had a pretty good time anyway, though, even if they got a little tired, hungry and whiney at points. At the end of the trail, there were some areas to sit around the river. We looked for the cache for awhile but couldn’t find it so that was a little disappointing after such a long walk. So we walked back and then went to Burgerville for some supper. Then we went to Baskin Robins for free scoop night but the line was going around the building so we went to a different ice cream shop instead. No free scoops but we didn’t have to wait for 45 minutes to get inside.

Thursday, April 29, 2004: Worked all day until 5pm. Then went to Taco Bell for some supper, walked around K-mart for awhile and then went to Emily’s school to watch her do a singing program with her class. After that I drove to Corvallis and walked all over downtown for a few hours. I really should have brought my bike to Oregon with me so I’d have something to kill my free time with.

Cellular coverage SUCKS in Albany. I can’t use my cell phone anywhere indoors. And when you try and talk while you drive around Albany, the calls always drop. The motel manager told me it’s not just my cellular carrier, it’s all of them. So if I want to make a call, I have to go stand out in the parking lot. But from about yesterday evening until the afternoon today, my cell phone wouldn’t work at all. The signal looked normal but when I tried to make a call I would always get a “network busy” error. I was reduced to buying a prepaid calling card to make a few long distance calls with. I guess in Albany they’re not worried about the cellular phone system when they’ve got the modern convenience of CB radio everywhere. To top it off, my internet connection at the motel is running anywhere from 14.4 to 19.2kbps. I’m spoiled with high-speed access, this sucks.

Another weird thing I’ve noticed about Oregon is that phone booths are everywhere. You don’t see that anywhere else in the country (that I’ve noticed, anyway) but it was one of the first things I noticed when I crossed the Oregon border and stopped at a truck stop for gas. I know in Alton there’s only one phone booth. And when the movie Phone Booth came out, an article I read said there’s only 2 phone booths left in New York City. But for some reason, every single city in Oregon seems to have them everywhere you look, even in Albany. I wonder why Oregon is so stuck on keeping them around. I’m not complaining, I think it’s pretty cool.

Friday, April 30, 2004: Picked up the kids at 4pm and we went to see Home on the Range. What a dumb movie. And Rossanne Barr sucks. But yeah, it was still fun. I think I might be going back to Illinois after this weekend so I’m trying to figure out something fun to do with the kids around here tomorrow.

Saturday, May 1, 2004: Me and the kids went to a theme park near Albany called Enchanted Forest. Spent a lot of the day there and had a really fun time. Emily had already been there before when she was 5 but she still seemed to remember everything. This was mine and Payton’s first time there. It’s kind of like a Six Flags for younger kids. Payton was scared to death of the log ride but I made him go on it anyway. He was crying in line and then shaking while the log drove around. But once we started going down all the hills, he loved it. On the car ride home he said the log ride was his favorite thing. Although I couldn’t get him to ride it a second time while we were there.

emily & payton at enchanted forrest

Geocaching, Laptop mount, Jersey Girl

Friday, April 16th, 2004: Worked until 11am, then went to the dentist. After that me and Tricia went to Red Lobster for lunch with her mom. After lunch, me and Tricia printed out a few geocaches and went hunting. Our first attempt was at the Elijah P. Lovejoy monument. We searched for about 30 minutes and found nothing. A couple of guys were at the cemetary mowing the lawns and we think it may have been hidden behind where all their lawn equipment was sitting so we’ll have to go back to that one some other day. Then we went to Commons Park and wandered around a forrest looking for another one, which we found hidden under some logs. A few hours later we went to a theater in Saint Louis to watch Jersey Girl. And since the air conditioning broke down at the theater, they gave us free tickets for another show as we left! Too bad that can’t happen went I end up seeing crappy movies. Here’s a few pictures – one of my new laptop mount and one of Tricia signing the Commons Park cache logbook:

laptop mounttricia signing a geocache logbook

Babysitting, Laptop mount, Geocaching

Saturday, April 10th, 2004: Watched Kristine’s kids for a few hours this morning. I’ve pretty much abandoned the downstairs of my house since my kids have left so it’s gotten pretty messy down there. I hardly ever leave my room anymore. So I got up about 6:30am and started cleaning the house. Cat hair is everyplace. I really need to get rid of my cats. I’ll have to talk to my kids about getting rid of them this summer because I think the cats are really bored without the kids around. Last night I rented Matrix 3 so I watched that today and man, was it stupid. I didn’t think it’d be possible for it to suck more than Matrix 2 but it sure did. I sat through over 2 hours of utter crap for maybe a total of 2 minutes of good stuff. And by good, I mean it didn’t suck nearly as much as the rest of the movie. What a disappointment. I’m glad I didn’t waste my time seeing it in the theater this time.

Today I’m building a laptop mount for my car. Yesterday I bought the plans for a mount on Ebay for $2.00 which I realize is kind of stupid because how hard can it really be. But the plans helped me pick out the parts from the hardware store rather than just guessing what I would need so it was worth it. I got the whole thing done except for drilling the holes in my floor to mount it. I was going to do that but it started raining out so I decided to wait until tomorrow. Emily called me today and I ended up talking to her for about 40 minutes. I got to talk to Payton for about 5 minutes but he ended up giving the phone back to Emily since she kept telling him what to say to me.

Went to visit my brother and we ended up doing some Geocaching. We printed out 5 searches and managed to go on 3 of them. We found all 3 stashes. One was at the Piasa Bird caves where me and Tricia tried the other day. It was a little easier to find in the daylight even though it was raining. We drove up to the security booth again just to see if the cop would do anything. He came out to our car and we said we just made a wrong turn. Turns out that it’s the city’s water supply. We found another cache at the Alton Federal Prison Memorial and then one on a bike trail in Wood River. Here’s a couple pictures:

my brother signing a geocache log at the Alton Federal Prison memorialcontents of the piasa bird geocache

After this we went to Slackers to look at PS2 games, Applebees to eat and then Saint Claire Square to look at more PS2 games.

My first Geocache

Wednesday, April 7th, 2004: Found my first Geocache today! Me and Tricia went out to find it and it was a very easy one. It was at the House for Miss Lucy, something I’d read a lot about in my Alton history books but never actually visited. It wasn’t a very interesting find, just a small film container with a paper full of signatures inside it. We signed it and put it back. We wanted to do some more searches but I’d only printed out the Lucy cache so we went to Hayner library and printed out a few more.

Our next stop was to the Piasa Bird caves. The GPS took us around the side of the cave in the car. We were surprised to see concrete barricades staggering the road that I had to zigzag around. When I got to where the GPS stopped, I noticed a security guard booth and a policeman (a policeman, not a security guard) walked out of it and stood there looking at us. Tricia says to him, “We were, uh, just turning around.” and I leave. I have no idea what’s over there that would require that kind of security. We went back to the Piasa Bird and looked around for awhile. The cache was supposed to be under some rocks. We kind of wonder if the whole thing was a scam just to get people to drive up to a high security place and be harassed by the police.

After a quick stop at Taco Bell, we went to our last search on Smallpox Island, right across the bridge from Alton. By this time it was completely dark outside so it’s a good thing we brought my Mag Lite. This one was interesting because you had to go to some coordinates, read the smallpox memorial to get clues to NEW coordinates. Then you went to those and counted the number of stairs to the top. After that it was kind of a letdown. I’m supposed to email the number of steps to this guy and I’m not sure what I’ll get in return for that. Probably nothing. But we had a lot of fun doing all this. There seems to be a lot of caches in the Alton area so I’m going to print them all out and do a lot more this weekend.

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