Umpqua: #atozchallenge, Day 24

Have you ever given an animal a very strange name? Ever have a very unique pet?

My mother once named a cat Hudson Falls, for the village where she was abandoned, so maybe my story has some genetic element to it…

When we first moved to Oregon, I found the place names exotic and wonderful, setting my imagination afire. There was the Suislaw River, and the Willamette. There was Sisters and Sweet Home and Coos Bay and Depoe Bay (the world’s smallest harbor)….

And then, there’s the Umpqua River.

I was so captivated with this name that I decided it would be the name of my next kitten years before the kitten was even born – because it was just such a fun word to say. The name eventually landed on a little shorthaired tabby whose stripes went straight across her belly.

At the time, I didn’t know that Umpqua was the name of a band of Coquille Native Americans – but our little Umpqua was feisty – with a capital, bold-faced FEISTY! She was best friends with the Bunko-dog, and, although she was little and they were established adults, she put our other two cats, Mutant and Lithe, in their places -which were beneath hers, naturally! Fortunately, they both liked her, and didn’t need to be in charge.

Once, when she was very small, I purchased some ice cream from the Umpqua Dairy. It was easy to get her in the empty cardboard tub, but less so to get her to hold still!

Umpqua Kitten Cream? Photo By James B.Burton (My Accomplice)

Umpqua often found her way into trouble. She would not stay in – if there was an open door, she wanted to be on the other side of it, and she was fast (as befit her feistiness). Once she came home with a torn ear. Another time, it was with what seemed to be a missing toe, but turned out, once we could get a closer look, to be a laceration.

She and the Bunko-dog had a game they played. He would pick her up in his mouth – by the head, in fact – and run full tilt with the kitten swinging from his mouth. The first time this happened, we were mortified. We commanded the dog to drop her. He did.

What did that crazy little cat do? She purred, rubbed against the dog, and cried until he picked her up again. Eventually we came to accept that this was OK with them both, and he never hurt her – but I never really got used to it.

Best Buddies! Bunko and Upmqua at play…Photo by Shan Jeniah Burton.


Because of that connection with the dog, it was very odd that, after we moved our travel trailer from its summer site to the winter one, she was suddenly snarling and taking an offensive posture with him. It wasn’t until I was holding the cat and she scratched me that I realized we had the neighbor’s small tabby, and not our own. Umpqua didn’t have front claws. We returned the wrong cat to her rightful home, but had to check hack twice more before being able to reunite our little Umpy with the rest of the family.

Shortly after we moved back to New York with one dog, three cats, and a newborn son, Umpy came in one day with a broken leg. We took her to the vet I had worked for years earlier, hoping for a simple casting.

But Umpqua had done it again. Not only had she broken her leg – she’d broken it in half. When we went back to visit her the next day, she had pins and hardware, in addition to a cast….and a bill that ran far into the hundreds.

A mass cuddle: Lithe, Mutant, and Umqua – a non-glaring of cats. Photo by Shan Jeniah Burton.

We couldn’t afford to pay it. We had a three-month-old baby, and we’d just moved cross-country and were in the process of buying a house. We were offered a time payment plan, but even that was too much.

It broke my heart, but we gave Umpqua to the vet that day, so that she could get the care she needed, have a home with lots of action, and, on occasion, donate blood to another cat who needed it.

We saw her there once or twice, and she seemed happy. But I’ll always have a soft and regretful spot in my heart for that quirky little trouble-magnet we named Umpqua – and, every time I hear the name, I can still see her, in all her feisty glory.

This post is part of the #atozchallenge. For more unique, untouchable, unparalleled “U”posts, click the banner.

Have you ever named a pet after a geographical location? Known an animal who was accident prone or had a unique characteristic? By now, I’m sure you know what to do!

Baby Umpqua! Photo by Shan Jeniah Burton.


Thermal Features and Tourons: #atozchallenge, Day 23

Have you ever walked through the steam of a geyser on a cool, crisp fall day, when there’s the tang of frost in the air?

If so, you know that I’m not going to come up with the words that capture the sensations of that moment. It’s deeply personal, that instant of being shrouded in the steamy cloud. The hot breath of the earth, filled with minerals and rich dark secrets beyond human ken, warms you as it curls around you, then wafts away, leaving the chill – until the next breath of sulfur-scented steam caresses you…


“My Liquid Laugh” A Magnetic Poem for thermal features, by Shan Jeniah Burton, October 2014.

Then there’s the color of the hot pools, the vibrant blues, greens, blue-greens – the way they pull your focus to their centers, and maybe, like me, a part of you longs to dive in, to learn the secrets of the world beyond that funneling aperture…and yet, you know that you can’t, because the attempt would be hugely damaging to the fragile ecosystem – not to mention fatal. Hot pools can scald from outside in and inside out.

You might be sad to see the creeping-in of bacteria, the fading of colors caused by careless and disrespectful park visitors who throw garbage and coins – and now, a drone! –  into the pool, clogging the vents, and upsetting the delicate balance – the brilliant colors of pools like Morning Glory and Grand Prismatic Springs come from the bacteria and minerals – an intricate ballet of growth, heat, pressure, and purity.

Not all guests in wild places come equipped with enough knowledge to be safe, and protect the environment as it is. Those who park in the middle of winding mountain roads because they see a grizzly bear and want to get really close to take pictures, or those who chase herds of elk with snowmobiles, might never consider that bears are predators who can sprint three times faster than a human, or that the energy those elk expend to outrun the snowmobilers might mean the difference between survival and death – because what’s a game to the humans on their machines is a matter of life-and-death for animals who have to live every moment in this wilderness, year-round, even when their food is buried under feet of snow.

We had a private name for these types of guests, at Yellowstone. We called them tourons, and, yes, it was a slur against their intelligence. Maybe it wasn’t very charitable – but is it really that difficult to learn a little about a place before your visit, or to read warning signs or literature printed in several languages, stop at the visitor center, or speak to a ranger… or just use common sense?

Tourons sometimes get themselves killed with their reckless actions, or get someone else killed. Children and untended dogs have fallen into hot pools and died. When a person dies in the park, it’s treated as a tragedy – and often followed by lawsuits and outcries about how dangerous this place is.

More often, though, it’s the place they’ve come to see, and the animals who live there, who suffer. It’s not just the clogged hot pools or the traumatized elk giving their precious and hard-earned energy plowing through the snow. It’s a general lack of understanding of how our world works, a disconnect with nature and its processes. Too often, these tragedies are unnoticed by other humans, and there’s no outcry, not even a whimper of protest.

But the implications, for the natives, can be devastating. 

Please, go to the wild places. Learn about them. Marvel at them – they are awe-inspiring, and can shift our understanding of what it means to be human, or an Earthling. So much of our more “civilized” world inflates the importance of humanity at the cost of – well, everything else, sadly. Wild places can center and ground us. They show us that the world can get on just fine without us.

Just one thing.

Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, the Everglades – all the few wild places we’ve left in this world – they aren’t Disneyland. They aren’t amusement parks, or playgrounds for humans. They are wild, places where others live. Not human others, but fellow Earthlings.

Please respect them, and behave as a good guest in their homes.

Don’t be a touron.

This post is part of the #atozchallenge. For more tempting, terrifying, or theoretical “T” posts, click the banner.

Have you visited wild places? Seen bad behavior there? Learned, perhaps too late, that some of the things you’ve done there were unintentionally harmful or dangerous for yourself or others? Why not clear the air here? OK, here’s a primer on how NOT to interact with wildlife and wild places…how many “Touronic” mistakes do you see?


“You WILL Answer Me”: WIPpet Wednesday

Welcome to WIPpet Wednesday, a weekly blog hop which encourages writers to move WIPs (works-in-progress) to publication by posting excerpts related to the date. It’s hosted by the lovely K.L. Schwengel, maven of bad boys, stock dogs, and flying monkeys! She may be less physically present for a bit, but she’s still our fearless shepherd…or something like that, anyway.

Before I get on with the WIPpetty (it’s a word; I just made it up!) business of the day, I have an announcement:


This is the 1000th post on this blog! And here we are, all here together! How cool is that? Because now, I can invite you over to my 999 party for fun and refreshments and the chance to meet some new friends, and say hi to older ones. C’mon over and party with me!


Today’s WIPpet is brought to you by CampNaNoWriMo

I’m sharing, from Generations (name may change); the second novel in my Kifo Island Chronicles series-in-the-making. The Kifo Island stories takes place at a resort that’s a little like hospice meets Fantasy Island

Generations Premise:

Can Kifo Island help three generations of a wounded makeshift family coexist despite the forces and secrets that tear them apart, or will time run out for the dying grandmother, the abusive stepfather, and the brilliant, traumatized little girl caught in the middle?

WIPpet Math:

  • Today is April 22, 2015 – Earth Day, in America.
  • I‘m giving you the first 22 sentences, plus one to remind us that we all share one world (and because the last sentence rounds things out).

Today we meet Gladys, an elderly woman with Parkinson’s Disease; Howard, her grandson; and Iris, Howard’s young stepdaughter. Gladys is in her kitchen, with a window cracked open, when she hears Howard and Iris arriving by car.

Iris. Photo by Shan Jeniah Burton.

Disclaimer for language and possible triggers…I want this story to offer a positive message; but not to shy away from the topic of child abuse and its impacts. If you’re especially sensitive to fictional mistreatment of children, please don’t read this, because someone is not going to be very nice to a child, right from the start.

And listen here, you little bastard brat. You will answer me when I speak to you – and you will call me Father Howie, and nothing else. Got that?”

There were times when Gladys Marieta wished that her hearing had gone the way of her agility. But, then again, her not hearing wouldn’t stop the verbal blows that her grandson lobbed at the huddled little lump of a girl who stared at him with wide and stunned eyes.

There was no sound from the child. There never was. Gladys wished that she could reach into Iris’s mind, and tell her that if she could just bring herself to answer, things would be all right.

I expect you to do as you’re told – and that means that you will answer me. Say it, brat. ‘Yes, Father Howie, I hear you.’” A car door slammed, and Gladys took as deep a breath as she could manage, in a futile attempt to prepare herself for the onslaught to come. She was thankful, at least, that she had had enough warning to take her medication – she shouldn’t be especially shaky. For some reason, Howard was always edgier, and far less pleasant, when her Parkinson’s was very evident.

There wasn’t a peep from the girl; she slipped out of the car, dark head bowed and shoulders hunched; and Gladys, watching them come, wished that she could still run outside, scoop the girl into her arms, and whirl her around in a dance, the way she had Howard, when Estella would dump him with her.

Then, she could whisper that as long as he was here with her, everything would be all right. There would be enough to eat, enough to do, enough hugs and kisses and laughter –

But she’d been wrong back then. It had been enough when he was here, but not enough to hold him through the long months and years of boarding and prep schools. And there was even less to give to this motherless little waif who had the manner of a puppy who’s been kicked its entire life.

She couldn’t make it all right that Iris had lost her mama- her ‘hahaoya’, whom she still called out for in the night. Those pitiful whimpered cries were the only time Gladys had ever heard the child speak; the only reason she knew Iris could speak.

If only she would speak to her stepfather, say the words he demanded…

Looking for cheerier WIPpet Snippets? Well, hop onto the little blue froggy; assorted genres, styles, lengths and moods of WIPpet lily-pads to choose from! =D


Nine-Ninety-Nine WAHOO Party!: April 22, 2015

ROWin’ on through April – and into the Party Zone

So, I’ve got a question – what’s YOUR favorite number?

Mine happens to be three. Love love love that number (see what I did there?).

And this happens to be the nine-hundred ninety-ninth post on this blog – yup, that’s three hundred thirty-three times three!

I also completed the rough draft of Transitions, the first novel in my Kifo Island Chronicles series while at a write-in with fellow members of my National Novel Writing Month local Albany chapter…and passed my CampNaNo  goal of 60,000 words with the opening of Generations, KIC Book #2. I’m still giggling over the adventures of Lizette’s rubber tree plant (you maybe had to be there!).

With all this goodness going on, there seems only one logical thing to do – so…

I’m throwing a party!!!

Balloons Afloat. Photo by Shan Jeniah Burton.

Now, I know some folks would get more excited about the thousandth post – but those folks probably don’t understand the magnitude of my three-love (and, anyway, the thousandth post will follow this one by a matter of hours, so those who like tidier milestones can celebrate that, if they like). And yes, finishing that first draft isn’t the same as publishing the book – but it’s hard to publish a book that doesn’t yet exist. I also know that having written over sixty thousand words in a month gives no assurances whatever about the quality of the story produced – or even that it is a story…readers can judge that for themselves, with a variety of snippets from Transitions. 

So, Shan, what’s this bit about throwing a party?”

Well, I’m glad you asked! Here’s how it works:

  • After you read this post (feeling free to skip the ROW80 update below if it’s not of interest to you), drop a comment and a link to one of your posts – please make it an upbeat one, because, after all, this is a party!). If you feel inclined to share a virtual beverage or snack, or an image, feel free to do that, too!

Help yourself to a cupcake – but maybe blow out the candle first! Photo by Shen Jeniah Burton.

Then pop by and visit another commenter or two – because sitting in the corner is no fun! If you make it a point to visit at least one person you don’t know, you might make a new friend!

As your party host, I’ll be circulating around to everyone – if I miss you, somehow, put on a funny hat and do a silly dance – or say the words, “Vulcan” or “avocado” very softly – those always get my attention! =)

Most importantly of all, have fun! Because it’s time to celebrate! <3

And now, that update:

Round Two and overarching 2015 goals.

Color-coding key:

  • Goal attained (for the session, or the round) = blue with overstrike.
  • Goal in progress (for the session or the round) = green.
  • Goal-in-waiting (for the round) = red.


Complete April CampNaNo 60K goal with Transitions: Kifo Island Chronicles #1  completed; and Generations: KIC #2 plotted and in progress.

  • Transitions: Final Scene 24/24 complete!; 58,730/~ 55K words.
  • Generations: Cheat Sheets and Scrivener outline complete – PLOTTING DONE!!! Scene 1/24 in progress; 692/~50Kwords.
  • Rough plot the 31 Story a Day May Trip and T’Pol stories. Use prompts if available.  Step 1 complete; I bought and read the prompt ebook! Next up, transcribe handwritten rough notes for 30 stories; list out the ideas T’Pol’s been whispering not-so-subtly in my head, and roughly assign prompts and days to story ideas. I will focus on this once all A-Z posts are drafted.


Complete revisions for “Slow Jazz Awakening” and submit.

  • These will resume in tandem with planning the new May stories. Next up, reread Second Pass revision info from Rock Your Revisions; create to-do list for next pass.


Complete ROW80 Sponsor Post and all sponsor visits on time.

  • Done and done.

Complete the A-Z Challenge  with all posts on time.

  • Posted/scheduled through 4/21 (R); Drafted through 4/24 (U). Next up, Draft V-Z; schedule S-Z. Only 5 posts left to draft – this will be my focus until all posts are scheduled.

Clean up/update blog sidebar.

  • After a comment from an alert visitor, (thanks, Susan Scott!); I’ve finally added my April challenge badges, shuffled a couple of things, and spent a minute or two considering widgets to add. Next up, a more complete overhaul!


Continue with hometending. At least 5 days weekly; include decluttering projects.

  • 2/5 days. Lots of time in both kids’ rooms Sunday, with laundry and the Front Porch Fiasco added. Mellow day Monday; kids’ rooms and laundry. This goal being put on hold for the rest of the week, due to travel.


Continue one-on-one time with all beloveds; online and in-person writerly socialization; time with friends.

  • Time with daughter, just being together; couples’ time and flirtiness with my Accomplice; Sunday and Tuesday write-ins which included many friends.  Blog visiting.

Expand and extend in ways that feel natural and challenging without forcing.

  • I went back to t’ai chi class, and I’ve begun getting up earlier, to take advantage of the mellower morning hours at my house.


Continue increasing physical activity and exercise.

  • 1 /2 t’ai chi (in place of regular workout.)

Resume either t’ai chi or yoga with at least one class attended.

  • T’ai chi on Tuesday – I didn’t realize how much I missed it until I went back!

Attend Y or do strenuous activity twice weekly.

  • 1 /2; see above.

Meditate/Intentions journal twice weekly.

  • 0 /2: Intentions Journal.
  • 1 /2: Meditation…t’ai chi.

My next update will be posted Sunday, live from New Jersey. Till then, let’s ROW along the ROW80 Blog Hop River, or, if you’re suitably inspired, come join in! You’ve got nothing to lose, and only your goals to attain! The icon is your portal!


And now, it’s your turn! Come party with me by leaving your link below!

San Francisco, Sequoia, and Stars: #atozchallenge, Day 22

So, do you have a favorite city? Perhaps one you live in, or that was once a home to you? A local city that you frequent as often as you can? Or maybe it’s somewhere distant, someplace you’ve visited once or twice, or just dreamed of getting to see and explore?

For me, Saratoga Springs will always be a favorite. For two years, I lived on Caroline Street, within easy walking distance to both the shops and events on Broadway, and the historic Saratoga Race Course.

There’s another city that speaks to me, too – one way out on the Left Coast. It’s a city that I’ve only been to for one day out of my whole life…but which has stayed with me, ever since…San Francisco.

During our ‘second honeymoon’, after the Moqui Lodge season ended, my accomplice and I visited San Francisco for one whirlwind day that included seafood, oysters and pearls, Fisherman’s Wharf (a little Alcatraz museum, the San Francisco Aquarium, “Why Lie? It’s for Beer!”, which was the best panhandling sign I’ve ever seen; seafood, the Ghiradelli shop of deliciousness), a trolley ride, (Union Square, Mr. Goldman, FAO Schwarz), and a trip to Haight-Ashbury (where very young people who called my 33 year old Accomplice “Pops” tried to bum change or offered to sell us “green bud” from the side of their mouths, while, around the corner, police officers feigned ignorance of these goings-on, in a state of orchestrated coexistence).

There’s no way I couldn’t love a city with that much texture, so much ocean, so many hills, and that one-of-a-kind vibe….

And thinking of California always reminds me of sequoias those mighty and magnificent giant trees I first read about in The Wide Horizons Reader when I was seven. Our California explorations included visits to Sequoia/Kings Canyon and Redwoods National Parks – and also to Yosemite, where I wanted to see ‘my tree’, Wawona – yes, the very tree that was the silent protagonist in that old story – “Big Tree”. Sadly, the weather was rainy and unpleasantly raw even at the base of the mountain, and, just before we were scheduled to take a tram ride to the Mariposa Grove where we could find  the star of my girlhood fantasies, it was canceled due to snowy conditions up above. We did get to witness a controlled burn, marveled at the  cones the trees produce, stood inside a massive living tree, and were rejuvenated by the sight of a field full of tiny little brand-new sequoias that gave no hint of their future colossal selves…

During that trip, we also stopped at a gift shop created in the cleft of a living redwood trunk, and attempted (and failed to) drive through one left over from the days when people didn’t understand the risk to the tree’s structural integrity such acts created. Gus the Wonder-Truck, outfitted with his camper and a cargo shell, was too tall to fit.


The sequoias are the superstars of the tree world…but they aren’t the only stars I love. I didn’t see many stars during out time in Yosemite; as I mentioned, the weather was uncooperative, and didn’t allow for stargazing.

That’s a little sad, because I love just staring up into them. And no place is better for that than the desert. When we lived at the Grand Canyon, I loved the combination of the vast deeps, felt but not seen in the darkness, and the wonder of the stars above – an endlessly rich tapestry that can’t be seen in places where people congregate all their light-clutter…

There was something deeply magical in the combination – the immensity of the Canyon below, the infinity of the depths of space above – and me, a tinier than tiny speck on a little ball of dustmotes and water droplets, suspended between them…the stars there are so vivid, so visible, that it hosts  a Star Party each summer, to watch the skies and offer others the chance to do the same.

We’ve camped on the Arizona desert many times, sleeping beneath that glorious firmament filled with stars, but my favorite was the North Rim trip, where my Accomplice thought I was a tarantula…and then there was that time with the javelina hog…but you’ll need to wait for my “Z” post to learn more about those…

This post is part of the #atozchallenge. Find more superlative, spectacular, or spartan “S” posts by clicking the banner.

How about you? Are you a fan of the stars? Gobsmackingly enormous trees? A particular city that stole your heart, and won’t release you? You know what to do, right? Just drop your dust motes and water droplets – errr, memories, observations, and comments! – in the box down there!


Robert is Here: #atozchallenge, Day 21

Okay, I’m guessing that, unless you come from or have traveled in the Homestead, Florida area, you don’t have a clue about what Robert is Here means…and no, it’s not a version of “Kilroy Was Here”. It’s a quirky fruit stand/ live tortoise collection, and a favorite of both local folks and tourists. I’d forgotten about the key lime milkshakes until I read the article – but I’m not sure how – they were delicious, and we always stopped for one when we came out of the ‘Glades as well as on the way back, if we were there in time.

“Believe the Hype”. Photo by A. Drauglis, via Flickr. Creative Commons license.

Besides fresh vegetables and fruits of the more pedestrian variety, there were tropical fruits and a parrot in the pavilion that housed the fruit stand. The produce came from surrounding farms, and it was both fresh and very well priced. The staff was friendly and enjoyed chatting, as did the parrot!

Once, we were asked if we’d seen the tortoises out back. When we said we hadn’t, we were told that, if we had an hour or so, it would be well worth our time.

And it was. There were several live tortoises in comfy pens, with identifying signs that gave not only their official species information, but a biography of the particular animal. There were also stories of tortoises that had been killed by vandals, or died of sickness…the caring in these stories shone bright…

A South Florida dog on the Oregon Coast. Photo by Shan Jeniah Burton, c.2000.


All of that made Robert is Here a special place for me…but they aren’t what I remember most. We got something else at Robert’s – something we never expected – a fluffy, roly-poly black and tan puppy with a curly tail, half-perked ears – and amazing sky-blue eyes.

Yup, that’s right. We got our Bunko-dog at a fruit stand.

There were a number of migrant farm dogs in that area- it wasn’t a wealthy community, and spaying and neutering cost money. One of the teenage employees at Robert is Here had found and adopted a stray Chow or Chow mix dog, only to learn the dog was pregnant. Her mother would not let her keep any of the four resulting pups, so she’d brought two to work that day – Bunko, and his sister, who looked like him, only lighter, and with more typical brown eyes.

As we were falling in love with one pup, another couple was falling in love with his sister, and they both found homes that day. We went home with a free puppy and fifty dollars worth of supplies for that spontaneous adoptee – as well as a couple of bagfuls of fruit and vegetables he wouldn’t eat!

And that’s why Robert is Here will forever be my favorite fruit stand.

This post is part of the #atozchallenge.  For more robust, raucous, restrained or resonant “R” posts, click the banner.

Bunko grew to a double-coated, 90 pound beauty with a mind of his own, who loved the snow and was a rock-hopping champ. He would have been miserable in South Florida, but he was perfectly suited to Yellowstone life. Have you ever given an animal a second chance at a happy life? Have you ever left a store with something you never expected to acquire, when you walked in? What was it? How did it happen?

(I often called Bunko Bunkaboo, or just Boo – here’s a little song for an old friend, long gone now…)


A Quiet Quarry: #atozchallenge, Day 20

Have you ever been someplace where the sounds of man fade away, and all that remains is nature?

During the years we worked and lived in Yellowstone National Park, we often talked about going to visit some of the caves in the more easterly part of Montana. The problem was that we tended to keep our travel more local – day hikes and Grand Loop travels in the park, and trips to nearby (relatively speaking, in Big Sky Country terms, where we lived 80 miles from Bozeman, the nearest city of significant size) – like Jackson Hole and Cody, Wyoming, or the Grizzly Discovery Center in West Yellowstone

And when our season ended, and we were off for several weeks – the caves were already closed for the season, as well.

Finally, we decided to use a long weekend to our advantage. The Lewis and Clark Caverns were on the way to Missoula, where I wanted to see the handmade carousel. So we packed up old Gus and the young Bunko-dog, planning to find a place along the way to camp.

An intriguing hole in a rocky wall…the quarry near Lewis and Clark Caverns, eastern Montana, c. 2000. Photo by Shan Jeniah Burton.

We were nearing the caverns, late into the afternoon, when we spotted a large cave on the side of an outcropping. It was too late to explore it that day, since it was a good way from the parking area – but we found several fire rings, a sure sign that camping was acceptable, and that’s where we made our beds that night.

In the morning, while my Accomplice and the dog saw to breakfast (the perks of marrying a chef!), I took a notebook and pen and walked out along a trail a ways to write. I was struck by the absence of human sounds – and just sat there for a while, listening to a world that existed as though humans weren’t a part of it. I became intimately aware of how much noise-clutter we seem to add to everything around us with all of our busyness…

Somewhere, I still have the notebook, and the entry, for that morning….

Inside-Out viewpoint…Old Quarry near Lewis and Clark Caverns, Montana, c. 2000. Photo by Shan Jeniah Burton.

I returned, and we explored what turned out to be an abandoned quarry. We had the place all to ourselves; we’d left the Bunko-dog bedded down in the back of the truck. We scrambled and perched on trails that made me more than a bit nervous, as you can probably see by my rather forced. let’s-just-get-this-over-with-okay? expression…

Way past the edge of my comfort zone. Outside the Quiet Quarry, Eastern Montana, c.2000. Photo by James Bedford Burton (My Accomplice).

We did make it to the caverns, that day, and joined a group of other tourists on a guided tour. Then we went on to Missoula, and had fun playing on the carousel, and exploring the exhibits from the woodworking shop where horses were made and repaired.

Stalagmite Skyscrapers in Lewis and Clark Caverns, Montana. Photo by Shan jeniah Burton, c.2000.

But, for me, the part of the trip that stands out the most was a quiet quarry and the sound of silence….

This post is part of the #atozchallenge. For more quiet, querulous, quixotic posts, click the banner.

And now it’s your turn. Do you have a favorite quiet memory? Does silence make you feel like I did, up on that ledge? Have you ever taken a trip where the thing you remember most wasn’t even part of the plan? Leave a quiet (or not so quiet) comment, and tell us about it!