so like two or three weeks ago i went on the pioneer trek in Wyoming. so basically on this trek what you do is put 3 days of stuff you need into a 5 gallon bucket...so you cant fit a whole lot but i got it all in there. so then you ride a 6 hour bus ride that's not fun at all...but when you get there you get a cool nifty hand cart thing and you and about 10 other people put your buckets in there and then you start the trekin. and basically you keep trekin for three days...but it was way fun i was very glad i went...and would go again if i could
(Me and Fritz Pulling the handcart)
(Me and Fritz doing a leg pull)
(This was our stop for lunch after we visited Martens Cove)
While Steve has been in Vienna I've been trying to keep myself busy. I can either get stuff done or wallow in misery because he's not here. So here is some of the projects I've been doing thus far. I've painted the banister. It looks a lot better than the plain wood. At least the kids think so. I also cleaned and painted Nathan's old room. It looked like a war zone with holes in the walls and so much clutter and garbage that you couldn't even open the door.
I also cleaned up the downstairs. It still needs help......more like bookshelves but it is getting there. When I'm done with it, it may look half way decent.
And I also cleaned up the bedroom downstairs. I painted my grandma and grandad's old full bed and put it down there.....with Nathan's help. I still have over a year to work on this till Jaron gets home.
And my last project I've done is making and canning salsa. I made 6 batches and the kids have eaten 2 batches so far. I have to hide some jars so there is some for Steve when he gets back and I promised Jaron a pint of it.
Tomorrow I start painting Emily's room. I think when Steve comes home for good in December I will be really, really ready for a break. But at least the house with look good.
Steve Hawks arrived Sunday. It will take weeks to recover from the adventure. Our last trip together was in China in which we gained 20 lbs. It will likely be the case here as well as we ate often and well. We ate like a couple of emperors from the Hapsburg dynasty--but I'm getting a head of myself. Sunday he arrived and I picked him up at the airport. After dropping off his stuff at the apartment we hit the town and almost immediately we got in trouble. Since coming to Vienna, someone has asked for my ticket on the Ubahn only about three times. Never on a Sunday. But it is a 60 Euro ($100) fee if you get caught. But we were only riding one stop. I'd forgotten he needed one and when he asked I told him he did but we would get it at the next stop. No worries I said telling him how infrequent it was to get stopped. But right after the subway started there was a lady demanding to see our tickets. I was horrified. But being the quick thinking, resourceful person I am, I started digging trough me wallet saying in English, like one of those lost tourists, "I know I've got one in here somewhere." She stood there patiently while ever so slowly dug through my wallet. It was slowing down. "It's in here somewhere." Slower. "I know I have one." It's coming to a a stop. I'm digging through all the papers crammed in my wallet. It stops. I push Steve out of his seat to join the people filing out of the subway and I stand up and immediately pluck my ticket from my wallet (knowing exactly where it was) handing it to the Lady. She looks at it carefully while Steve makes his escape. We are free! Ha Ha! A fitting start to a week full of adventure. The first evening we just wandered around the holdings, statues and magnificence of the Emperor's grounds.
You know same-old-same-old:
Then next day after an Austrian breakfast of a tomato and meat sandwich for me and a pastry for Steve we headed to the the Museum of Natural History. We'd found advertisements that the Venus of Willendorf was on display for just a short time. I was so excited because this is something I'd talked about in my classes for years. This one of the oldest works of arts in the world, 25,000 years old. Very old. I could not believe I got to see it for real. Here are actual pictures I took. In fact to get these pictures I accidently touched the glass with the camera and set off the alarm. I could swear the guard was the same lady taking tickets on the Ubahn. But I give you an actual picture obtained at great personal embarrassment:
Also they had very high quality exact reproductions for sell and bought one! You can't even get these on Ebay. Now that's rare! I thought it would be good to share with my students at BYU, but then Steve pointed out that they did not allow nudity there, so I suppose will have to get a little swimsuit, appropriately modest, made for my statue so it's within BYU standards.
We also saw these things at the museum:
This is one of those bog mummies. He was thrown there by the village apparently as a punishment. But of course he's still around (sort of) and they are all gone.
Me and ancient spear thrower.
In Austria they don't just show you a skeleton and leave it at that. No! They turn it into a scene of a very interested skeleton feeding a mouse out of a metal bowl and a monkey skeleton watching it with him or her. In the US they would have just of hung the skeleton there, but not here! It gets turned into art! Sort of a three dimensional still-life.
And here was my second favorite thing (After the Venus of Willendorf). The skeleton of a dodo. A real skeleton of a dodo. I'm not sure why it wasn't arranged watching a canary eat from a wooden bowl with parrot skeleton looking on or something. But maybe a dodo just is art!
And lastly, I think we've gone down hill in women's fashions since the paleolithic. You just don't see things coming out of Paris like this anymore. Pity.
Well in the afternoon we went to the Albernina where we saw Monets, Piscassos, Chigals, but we could not take pictures. Steve didn't like much of the modern art and kept saying, "If my kids brought me this I'm not sure it would be worthy of the refrigerator." I attribute this to his being from Moab and not used to the finer things in life. If you can't appreciate a blank canvas that someone has carefully cut six slashes down its length I say what can you appreciate?
Then next morning we got up at the crack of dawn and took the train to the Alps. Yes it was as cool as that sounds. We took a cable car to the top of the Raxaple. Had a toasted cheese and ham sandwich at a little guesthouse at the top then, hiked some beautiful alpine trails surrounded by wild flower bedecked meadows. We were trying to find a rumored hike down the mountain. I asked several people where the trail was. No one knew what I was talking about. We had to take the tram down they told us. Everyone was very friendly and tried to help us. A German family even gave us their map realizing that we were probably doomed to wander lost in the Alps if they did not. Finally we met a family that had serious topo maps which they pulled out and showed us the only trail down was a steep and dangerous path that would take six hours and would drop us ten miles from the bus stop we had to catch to get back to the train station. The daughter spoke a little English and helped us realize that it was in our best interest to go back down the tram. Then the mother of the group pointed to the running shoes we were both wearing and said in no uncertain German, "Your shoes are completely inadequate for hiking in these mountains. Return to the tram." So we did. Me worried that we would not get a ticket because it was too late in the day, and Steve worried that his hiking companion was in a panic and likely on the verge of a breakdown in his rush to get down. But he had not heard what I had heard in the tone of the mother's voice: "You two greenhorns are about to die. Get back down where you belong before it's too late."
But we saw some great things up there:
Steve waits for his sandwitch
A place to pray in case you are found high in the alps wearing only running shoes:
The beauty of the place:
At last we got down. We took the bus to a little town called Payerbach. A crystal clear stream ran through it. Our feet were quite sore and hurting (apparently the lady was right). So we soaked our feet on a dock in the icy stream. It was so cold it hurt, but for the first time in years that night my feet did not burn like they usually do.
The next day we trained to the Monestary in Melk. I visited here with my family when they were here and for the first time in months Nathan found Skittles. In his honer we toasted his memory with a box:
The monastery which is still a working high school and stunning medieval library takes your breath away.
The austerity with which the monks are forced to live also seems so without ornamentation as to be almost unthinkable (who are those guys in the mirror?).
We then took a boat down the Danube's Wachau Valley. And yes that was also as cool as it sounds:
And Then! . . . Then we passed . . . Willendorf!!!! The home of the Venus of Willdorf! The very place it was found. I am quite moved in this picture, obviously moved beyond the ability to speak or hold my stomach in:
I'm still reeling.
Then we docked in the medieval town of Dürnstein. Here Richard the Lionhearted was held prisoner in the castle high above the town. We hiked up to its ruins (in our inadequate shoes no less) and looked over the valley (picture at the top of page).
And yes if you blow up this picture that IS Hogwarts in the distance.
I had to return to work on Thursday, so Steve explored the old town himself. But all in all it was a great visit. We saw the classic Orson Wells film "The Third Man" and "Get Smart." We ate at Italian, Japanese, Chinese, Arabic, and Austrian Restaurants. We saw countless topless bathers on the Danube Island as we went for a walk and we were pushed around by people in a hurry on the Ubahn. We had a waiter regale us with stories about his '67 Mustang which the best thing that ever came out of America. Steve gave change to beggars. We ate lots of ice cream and took several runs along the road that rings the inner city. I think Steve liked Austria.
Yesterday my office mate, a visiting scholar from Great Britain, invited me to visit the back rooms of the Art History Museum. He had a student who was now working there and so was going to give us a tour. He is a chemist and his student worked there analyzing art using the latest chemistry techniques. However, this is the same museum where Lori pulled the knife on me and where she and the kids escaped on the Ubahn. I wasn't sure if I wanted to go back. But I agreed seeing as how I would likely never get into the back rooms. of such a place so I jumped at the chance.
We met at the side entrance, which I was cool in itself because I felt privileged and elite. The back rooms of the art history museum turned out to look like a biology laboratory. Here is my colleague and his student in front of the mass spectrometer. He gave me run down on the cool things they were doing to track down what sorts of materials the artists of 500 years ago used (linseed oil, walnut oil, turpentine, pine oils).
It's facinating how science is used in support of art. And it's very serious science: Check out the data!
So then it was into the regular museum. I did see some things I didn't noticed before.
This was entitled: Joseph Smith ponders the head of a small Bart Simpson:
Here we see an early Roman mess kit proving that Boy Scouts started much earlier than we thought:
Pit Bulls and rottweilers were also a problem in the early Roman period and often treed people's crocodiles:
As in every age, space aliens were a major art motif as this beaded Egyptian necklace attests (see how many of my arm's shadow you can count):
Blow this up and see if you can figure out what the big machine on the right hand side of the tower of Babel is. The one that looks like a gourd:
Even hundreds of years ago, the scientist was worth painting (And I often drum my fingers on a skull while reading):
And lastly I can't help but wonder if this poor woman was completely mortified at the angle at which she was immortalized. I imagine she was ever after somewhat embarrassed (one can't help but wonder if this expressive word (sound it out) was coined with this unfortunate woman's fate in mind).