Unexpected Discoveries, a Staycation, and ANOTHER Musical!

Saddle up... one more time!

Grab your favorite beverage and blanket, and settle into a comfy chair as we visit an oddly cool museum, stumble upon a rich man's banana stand, take a staycation, and drum for another musical!

Come along for 2018's final installment of TourAlongWithTodd!

Mon Dieu!

Let’s begin, shall we?

Aunt Mary and Uncle Frank have welcomed us to their cabin on Flathead Lake's Finley Point in NW Montana for years. On US 93, as you near the lakeside community of Polson, signs appear promoting the Miracle of America Museum.

The what? The Miracle of America Museum?

We’d driven past MoAM many times but had never taken the plunge. This year we changed that...

Are you ready for MoAM?...  I know I AM!

Nothing says "hello" more than a Native American placard, as demonstrated at MoAM's entrance. Though political correctness isn't always on display at the museum, it's still an amazing place to visit. Cost of entry? A cool $6.00. Now that's something to send smoke signals about!

       MoAM's displays cover just about everything...

  • An actual Corsair A-7D Vietnam era attack bomber? Boom! It's there!
  • Maybe a collection of spark plugs? Zap! They're there!
  • A display devoted to the downside of drinking and driving? Smashing!
  • Multiple displays promoting capitalism and the American way? Cha-ching!
  • And then there's gun rights... Yes indeed, MoAM's all over that too!

    It turns out
    Hitler's ban on guns, contrary to what the poster above suggests, didn't apply to all Germans... just Jewish Germans.


Ha! Ha! Nothing's more fun than joking about North Korea and the prospects of an actual nuclear war. That's hilarious! Don't ya think?

This would be a terrible way to die. It would be an even more terrible way to curl your hair! Hang in there, Annie!

Models of flying saucers and aliens? Why not! Note that the saucer on the right has a Montana license plate, proof that aliens are here and it's a huge cover up! Are ALL Montanans aliens? Can you prove they're not? Backing up my theory, MoAM also has an Area 51 display complete with an undeniably authentic replica of an alien on a dissection table!

No museum representing the miracle of anything would be complete without freakishly disturbing mannequin doll-like things! According to legend, these gross marionettes come to life at night... and play creepy games with the Area 51 aliens.

There's no end to the oddities of America's past at MoAM.

Atlas Obscura describes MoAM as the "Smithsonian of the West." In a way? I think they're right. The sheer volume, depth, and breadth of topics and items is breathtaking... It's an incredible adventure you won't regret.

Next time you're on US 93 near Polson, build in at least two hours and pay the six bucks. Come on! It's the Miracle of America Museum!


There's Money in the Banana Stand!

Late August is a perfect time to visit Seattle, especially if (a) your son lives there and (b) there's a Metric and Smashing Pumpkins rock concert to attend. Before the big show, we had time for a city center walkabout.

It's fun wandering into things, like the campus of similar-looking office towers we found. At their center was a slug-like geodesic dome structure. How cool!

Upon entering the slug, I asked the official-looking nice young man, "Where are we?" He replied, "Welcome to Amazon's SpheresSpheres is a place where Amazon employees can meet in a warm, welcoming environment to blah, blah, blah..."

My eye had caught something much more exciting happening outside. There were people, dressed in yellow t-shirts, giving something awaysomething clearly deliciousto hundreds of eager eaters.

We had stumbled upon National Banana Split Day! We are truly blessed to live in a country where a different food is celebrated every day of the year! And what luck was ours because National Banana Split Day is, hands down, the best-of-the-best food days!

I told the nice young man he could keep his spheres; we were going outside to get our free banana splits!

Amazon's Community Banana Standin the center of the ever-growing Amazon corporate campuswas established in 2015 and gives away 1.7 million bananas annually as a way to promote eating a healthy food packaged in its own biodegradable container. 1.7 million... now that's a bunch of bananas. Actually, did you know a bunch of bananas is called a hand and each banana is known as a finger? It's true!

Anyway, this banana stand has GOT to be costing Amazon a fortune!

Let's do the math, shall we?

What's the cost of a banana?

  • Both Amazon and Office Depot, yes... Office Depot, will deliver bananas to your doorstep, but they're not cheap... about $1.00 per banana.
  • At milkandeggs.com, you can order Dole organic bananas priced individually at $0.36.
  • But at Fred Meyer, you can order them online for store pickup for just $0.30 each.

Going with Freddy's pricing, Amazon's annual banana expense is $510,000.

That sounds like a lot of hard earned corporate cash, but in 2017 the net worth of Amazon's CEO, Jeff Bezos, increased $107,000,000 per day, or about $74,000 per minute. So, Jeff paid for the year's banana expense in just under seven minutes.  

Since the Community Banana Stand's opening in 2015, Bezos' wealth shot from $50 billion to $140 Billion. Coincidence? I don't know about you, but I'm opening a banana stand! Remember, there's always money in the banana stand!

Pony up for the "Free For All" at the Amazon Banana Stand! Rain or shine (or rain because, after all, this is Seattle) the banana stand is always serving up delicious freshly cut fingers!

Here, Amazon's army of Banistas served us banana splits that were delish! It's all smiles at the banana stand... until somebody slips on a peel and puts an eye out!

What is it with food, cell phones, and Instagram? Why has it suddenly become so important to share your food with the entire world? Come on! It's a banana split... in a paper cup... with a plastic spoon! Not exactly a super sexy food photo, now is it?

Here's a SUPER SEXY FOOD PHOTO of my banana split with chocolate and strawberry sauces topped with Oreo crumbles! Note the smooth contours of the paper cup and plastic spoon. I need to get this posted on Instagram right away!

For further fun reading about bananas, take a side trip to learn how many bananas it takes to kill someone. Good times! You're welcome!


Yellowstone?... How About a Staycation!

Loyal readers may recall last spring's jaunt to Yellowstone National Park with Isabelle, our Swedish exchange student, that just happened to coincide with a blizzard that closed all roads and turned our trip into an extended motel-bound adventure.

We promised our current exchange student, Julia, from Finland, with a snow-free visit to Yellowstone the first week of October. The fall's weather had been perfect, until... the first week of October. The Yellowstone forecast was for cold rain and even colder snow. The Boise forecast wasn't much better. What to do...

Hey! How about a staycation!

Though Julia had been with us for two months, this would be our chance to show her around the Boise area in a way we hadn't beforewith our "staycation hats" on.

What's a staycation hat?

Well, a staycation hata prerequisite for a successful staycationblocks the wearer's brain's abnormal spending pattern (ASP) receptors. In essence, the staycation hat tells the brain, "It's OK... be calm... you're home AND you're on vacation! You only live once. Go ahead. Spend the money... spend the money... spend the money...

You'd never guess by looking at this picture that the first day of our staycation was spent touring Boise in the rain. The second day's blue skies were perfect for a day trip to Redfish Lake. Pictured here: The Payette River canyon along Highway 17.

When it comes to successfully taking selfies, we leave it to the kids! Julia executed this dockside selfie at Redfish Lake with ease. Lilly, the Wonder Dog, continues to struggle with the concept of posing for pictures of any type. Though she's cute, Lilly's brain is very small.

Julia and Lilly, the Wonder Dog, in the aspen grove on the Marshall Lake trail. Note Lilly sporting her best doggy vest. Yep! She's a dog that wears clothes!

Day three of the staycation took us to the World Center for Birds of Prey, just south of Boise. Hourly tours present examples of the Center's worldwide efforts to protect birds of prey. Pictured here, the guide holds an owl to demonstrate how they move. Did you know an owl's head can rotate up to 270 degrees? It's true! What a hoot!

Do you know what's missing in this picture?

Lilly, the Wonder Dog!

Hey! Here's a good one: How many people are in this photo?

With talons that can be as large as a bear's claws and legs almost as thick as a man’s wrist, it's no wonder sloths and small deer are on a Harpy eagle's dinner menu. The harpy is named after a mythological creature that had the face of a woman and the body of a bird. The face of a woman?

Ummm... I don't see it.

But if I squint my eyes really, really hard...

                                 Image credit goes to the Mythical Creatures site.

Ah! OK, NOW I see it!

We were impressed with the Center and decided to become members. You should too... or simply donate by the end of the year. They've got a lot of good things going on, like working to save bird habitat. By saving bird habitat, you also help curb climate change. Hmmm... as it turns out, there are ways to make change happen!


Any good staycation includes authentic local food. And nothing says "Idaho" like the Irish cuisine offered at Sully's Pub & Grill in Star, Idaho, just west of Boise. Sully's delivers a touch of Ireland with its food, beer, and whiskey. We like Sully's, though they'd do well to play some Irish music and use a few of their many TV monitors for Irish sports like Gaelic football, hurling, and camogie. And to taste their best Irish fare, arrive after 5:00 when the Shepherd's Meatball Pie, Guiness Meatloaf, and Bangers and Mash are served.

What do Natalie and I not do almost ever, anywhere? Attend sporting events! Throwing caution to the wind (and with the offer of free tickets), we went to an Idaho Steelhead's hockey game! What a funny sport...

Here's one example of the funny side of hockey. From time to time, two players from opposite teams would remove their gloves and start hugging each other quite vigorously. All play stopped and the crowd cheered with great enthusiasm! This exchange of sporting love climaxed when the two players fell to the ice in their embrace. They were soon joined by the men wearing striped shirts. The crowd booed when the striped-shirt men started to participate. I'm with the crowd on this one... that's not natural.

How to conclude a staycation? How about a hike in the Boise foothills on a trail that starts from your neighborhood! Pictured here, Julia and Natalie (and Lilly, the Wonder Dog) move along Spring Creek trail.


And How About One More Musical! Why Not?

Boise State University's production of The Great American Trailer Park Musical was a blast to play! At its heart, it's a love story, but it pokes fun at many aspects of redneck-living stereotypes. It was a super fun show with a talented cast and crew. What a great way to top off a summer, and fall, of drumming!

My view from the stage of The Great American Trailer Park Musical. Being on stage meant the bandin costumebecame a true part of the performance. It's a fun way to play a show.

The Great American Trailer Park Musical Band! Feeling right at home at the Armadillo Acres Trailer Park in Starke, Florida, from left to right, are Shayla Lewis (bass), Moi (drums), Thomas Paul (guitar) and Chad Spears (keyboards). 

We rocked the costumes. Right?


And with that, 2018's TourAlongs are complete! It's been a good year and I wouldn't change a thing.

No... wait! 

I'd take Jeff Bezos' one-day earnings... and I'd gladly pay for the bananas!

Yes, that's the thing I'd change.


What's on tap for 2019? We've got ideas, so be ready! It won't be long before it's time to saddle up again for more TourAlongs!

Until then... Happy Holidays! Ciao!

Editors note: Though wildly over used, none of the 79 exclamation points in this blog post were harmed during its composition!!!


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