Friday, August 12, 2005

Montana: Day 1

In less than a year, Celeste has managed to visit 14 states, including the District of Columbia. Today, she bagged numbers 13 (Montana) and 14 (Wyoming); it was also the first time Evelin or I had been to either state, too.

Another first for Celeste today — jalapeño. That was an accident.

We had a very early flight from BWI, 6:00 a.m., which meant leaving the house at 3:45 a.m. Celeste wasn't sure what to make of being awoken (it's usually her job to wake us at such hours), but she was game for the adventure.

Celeste in Her Britax/Go-Go Kidz Combo at BILTo make the airport easier, we picked up a Go-Go Kidz wheelie thing, which turned her Britax carseat into a stroller of sorts. It couldn't wheel down the aisle to our cattlecar seating, but it did work well in the airports.

Celeste did really well on the BWI to Denver flight, sleeping about an hour and otherwise playing nice and quietly. On the Denver to Billings flight, however, she was hungry. Evelin and I had grabbed burritos at ¡Qué Bueno! during our layover, but they started boarding before we could eat them, so, while the plane was loading and taxiing, I started feeding Celeste part of mine. I tried to be careful and to give her only bites of the rice, black beans, and guacamole, along with the occasional bit of onion and/or tomato from the mild salsa, she apparently she got something with heat.

She just started bawling, but still wanted food, and it took me a moment to figure out what the issue might be. At first I thought she hit a bit that was too hot (Fahrenheit/Celsius hot, not Scoville hot), but water, even though she gulped it, dinna help. I figured it out when I licked off the spoon before starting a jar of Gerber Tender Harvest Tropical Fruit Blend babyfood; there was quite a bit of spice.

I think what happened is that although I asked for mild salsa, the burrito maker started to splash the spicy/hot salsa on the tortilla. I guess some of that worked its way into a bit I fed Celeste. It took almost the whole jar of tropical fruit to cool her tongue.

[ASIDE: Is a term comparable to barista for a person who makes burritos? If I were coining one, I'd probably go with burristo, but that probably is an unfortunate slang expression or something ...]

After getting to Billings, picking up the rental car (a Hyundai Sonata) and making a quick stop at Target for diaper (we figured it made more sense to buy a pack out there rather than pack a brick in our bags), we headed to the hotel ... and Celeste promptly fell asleep about three minutes from the hotel parking lot. We tried to move her into the room without waking her, but no luck, so after an hour or so of trying to get her to nap again, we headed out to start seeing Montana.

Our goal was fairly modest, Pictograph Cave State Park, just the other side of the Yellowstone River from Billings. It was about 5 miles from our hotel ... and Celeste fell asleep before we got there. Apparently, she can sleep in the car ... when exhausted.

So we decided to just keep driving. We stayed on I-90 an headed south through the Crow Reservation, past Little Bighorn and into Wyoming. Celeste woke up when we took the exit for Ranchester, about 15 miles inside of Wyoming. We'd seen a billboard for a dinosaur museum (turns out it was closed for the season), and we figured we'd better start heading north at some point.

After a quick snack, we turned back to the Crow Reservation to visit the Little Bighorn Battlefield and to see the site of Custer's Last Stand. It was really interesting to see the sweep of the land, which seems almost unchanged since the 1870s, and to figure where the various skirmishers were during the battle. It was also really easy to see why that one hill is where Custer and his men ended up (and met their end). The nearby Indian Memorial was an interesting counterpoint to the older memorials for the U.S. Calvary.

Back at the hotel, Celeste went down for the night, and I headed out to find us something for dinner. At first I thought I might find a grocery store or something else with a salad bar, but after about an hour of driving around, not being inspired by Taco John’s or Del Taco or Burger King or anything else I found, I ended up at the Conoco station next to the hotel, buying some apples, cheese, and other knosh along with a Moose Drool brown ale for myself. It was pretty tasty.

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