Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Bozeman Montana...

So I know I have mentioned Bozeman a number of times in prior postings, as if it was some kind of destination, which it really wasn't,  just another whistle stop on the Boise express, where we will end our trip where we started, in a week or so spending the last 3 or 4 days there for Rosh Hashanah.  In fact, my only real acquaintance with the place prior to this was in an episode of The Big Bang Theory in which Sheldon Cooper chooses it as the perfect place for him to move after their apt was broken into.  He was right, and for that reason, Bozeman turned out to be not all that photogenic, it being a well manicured, upscale college town with nice bars, nice restaurants, nice sporting goods shops, a really nice, in fact great food coop with great prepared food right by the bus station,  everything clean and well kept, which did not fit well into my photoparadigm, but even so, I reluctantly admit that I had a great time, even if I was old enough to be a professor emeritus.   Here's me at Wild Joe's Coffee Place, a great place to set up your laptop, or put your feet up.

That's Jackie holding the coffee cup and taking the picture.  I can't keep up with her anymore.  One of these days I will be turning in my camera.  Lately all I've been been reduced to taking pictures of signs.  Like shooting ducks in a barrel.  Talking about signs, we were quite hungry when we hit town and saw the sign for Ted's Montana Grill and Jackie thought it sounded like a great place for a burger.  It is in the historic Hotel Baxter and it looked perfect...

While we were checking out the menu, they put out out a ramekin full of these freshly made pickles that were indeed fresh and delicious.  Those are some coriander seeds on top.

Loved them so much that when we got home, I adapted my pickle recipe to recreate them,  nailed it, and everyone loved them.

Two quarts of water that has been boiled to remove the chlorine, let cool
Two tablespoons of kosher or sea salt added to water while still warm
Three tablespoons of white vinegar
One and a half tablespoons of coriander seeds
One tablespoon of mustard seeds
Two or three tablespoons of roughly cut fresh garlic
Ten or so medium sized pickling cucumbers

Place cucumbers whole in a bowl with the brine for two days.  Then cut them into one inch chunks and return them to the brine for 2 days or so.  Then refrigerate to stop the pickling and eat.  Didn't add dill here because the ones at Ted's had none, but you can if you want..

Everything about Ted's was great.  Great food, burgers were perfect, historic, rich, well maintained surroundings, a nice waitress, no complaints.  Thought we had stumbled onto a truly unique Montana experience.  We wondered if the Ted was as in Ted Turner, a big name, land holder, and buffalo rancher in these parts, so we googled it to find out, and that's where the disillusionment began.

Ted's Montana Grill is one of a chain of 44 restaurants which first opened in was first opened in 2002 in Columbus, Ohio by Ted and some entrepreneurs as a "for profit effort to stop the extinction of the American Bison".  While on the brink not so long ago, with the help of many including Ted Turner, bison have been back in reasonably large numbers for some time now, so at this point, I'm not sure how selling a few thousand bison burgers are needed to stop their extinction.  Also in the very short entry, Wikipedia also mentioned that  part of the restaurant's eco friendly approach was "the re-introduction of paper straws", wow!!!.  Now if Ted could just use the connections his billions bought at the UN to do something about all the raw coal smoke and toxic waste the Chinese and Indians are spewing into the air and pouring into the water every day to the extent that their citizens are literally choking to death, we would have something environment friendly.  It's true what they say, that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, although it didn't change our experience.  Great burgers, Ted.

But as always, I digress.   Ted's really was great in every respect, so much so that we made it a point to return there once more before heading to Helena, Montana.  The motel signs along Route 7 leading into town are a part of Americana that are also heading slowly toward extinction, so...

And if your name is Ellen, you are in luck in Bozman... 


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Black Thunder Mine...

Mystery solved!!!

Traveling through Nebraska as much as Jackie and I do, we are continually seeing long trains full of coal heading east, and equally long freight trains heading west, empty.  Knowing that there is no coal mining that we were aware of in western Nebraska, we always just figured the coal was coming from Wyoming, and never thought much more about it.  Well, it was true, and while heading east on the 450 to meet up with the 116, there it was, Black Thunder mine, "The Largest Surface Coal Mine in North America".   Didn't know whether to applaud or cry.  But here we were...

Along side of the road, was the machinery by which they fill each of the coal cars with just the right amount of coal.

In as much as I have never been inside of a Walmart or a sausage factory, I decided not to opt for a tour of the facility, but from what I could tell from the side of the road, the strip mined coal is somehow transported to a station at the bottom end of the long white tube which contains a conveyor belt carrying the coal to the silo, and one by one, the coal cars stop in a little tunnel under the silo where just the right amount of coal is dispensed and so on ad infinitum/naseum, depending on your politics.  Not rocket science, but we never really gave any thought as to how the process worked.  Quite efficient.  On to the 116 to Hulett and the Devil's Tower, our last stop in Wyoming.....