The Stuff You Should Know podcast is full of awesome trivia, but one of their recent episodes taught me a lot about a subject I thought I already knew well. The title is “Sunburn, Suntans and Sunscreen“. Throughout the episode they busted a bunch of myths that I thought were facts and explained the science behind sunscreen. I’m especially interested in the topic given the three chunks of skin that I’ve had cut out of me. If you only listen to one episode of that show, this is a good one to listen to! You don’t have to do anything fancy to subscribe if you don’t want to. Just go to that link and click play.

And if you like that one, check out another one of my recent favorites: How Ketchup Works.

Fort Peck Dam

I didn’t know a lot about Fort Peck, MT before I visited, but it’s a really interesting place. The town started as a trading post along the Missouri River. In 1934, The Army Corps of Engineers rolled in and built a new town about 2 miles from the original town to house all the workers for the big dam project. A number of shanty towns grew up around the area too to house the ~10,000 workers. Some of those buildings are still around, including the hotel where we had brunch on Sunday.

The dam is a monstrosity and it’s incredible to think about workers in the 30s, 40s and 50s building something that enormous. The dam itself is made up of rock and earth. It’s a shade under 4 miles long and 250 feet tall. The coast line of the reservoir is longer than the coast line of California. The reservoir is the 5th largest man made lake (by volume) in the United States.

To get enough dirt for the project, they dredged a bunch of dirt and pumped it to the dam. We went swimming in one of those dredge cut lakes while we were there. They had to modify their design in flight because part of the dam slid while they were building it.

PBS has a great video about the building of the dam. Unfortunately we can’t watch it online here, but it’s a regional thing so maybe it will work for you. Even if it doesn’t work, you should be able to watch a ~3 minute preview.

In the picture below, you can see the road that runs along the top of the dam. To the right there is a park by smaller lake below the dam and that’s where we had the family reunion. Up on the hill on the right side of the picture is the town of Fort Peck. I hope that we’ll get to go back and visit again some day!

Happy Birthday Tyla!

Happy birthday Tyla! On Saturday she chose to spend some time down by the river in Monroe, Sunday afternoon was spent eating fried chicken with her family and playing board games, and then tonight we are going out for Thai food. That should do a pretty good job at filling up her love cup.

I was happy to finally share a project I made a few weeks back. I laser cut a tree out of a piece of cherry plywood and then dug a mortise out of a block of walnut to hold the tree. The idea is that this can sit on her dresser and hold small jewelry. I used a random scrap of walnut and it had some beautiful grain in it that was perfect for this project.

I didn’t invent this so if you’re interested you can see lots of variations of this idea on Etsy and various craft sites.

Montana Trip Photos

We took over 1000 pictures on our trip out to Fort Peck, Montana, but here are a dozen of my favorites. The building in the field is the school where Don’s mom taught, the farm pictures are from the two farms that Don grew up on, and the military pictures are from a memorial for all the people from northwest Montana who served in the military.

Montana Reflections

This was my second time driving in Montana. The first was a ski trip to Big Sky so I only got as far east as Missoula and everything was covered in snow. This time it was in 90-100 degree heat and I went ~80% of the way across the state. A few thoughts…

  • I was surprised how far the mountains/hills stretched into the state. I thought they stopped around Missoula but there are some decent hills all the way out to Havre and even beyond.
  • The speed limits are really fast: 80 on the interstate and 70 on the two lane roads. If you’re going 5 over you probably need to slow down for some of the corners. Don’t count on a corner sign to tell you to slow down.
  • Passing is pretty easy on the two lane roads if you encounter someone, but watch out because pretty much everything is a passing zone. Just because you have a dotted line doesn’t meant that there isn’t a dip in the road hiding a car or even a corner.
  • Drivers were really courteous. It’s refreshing to get more than a few hundred miles from a coast and see how nice people really can be.
  • It’s beautiful! I was sucked in by views that stretched out for many miles across rolling hills full of wheat.
  • Growing up in northern Indiana, I felt like I lived out in the country. That phrase has a different definition in Montana. Going across highway 2, we passed more than a few towns that were only marked by a small dirt road heading off into the distance and a green sign indicating that there was a town there somewhere.
  • There are a lot of pickups in Montana. I wish I could find a statistic for per capita truck ownership. Montana has to be high up on the list. A lot of those trucks have grille guards on them and it’s not hard to see why with all the dead deer on the sides of roads.

I dream about where I’d live if I had access to plenty of money and didn’t need to make more. Montana is probably in the top 3.