The Week in Review: Hot Springs, Naps, and Bottles

The beginning of the first full week of 2010 found me soaking in a hot-springs pool with my brother. Our Monday visit was my third to Jerry Johnson Hot Springs, and one of the previous visits-Christmas morning 2007-was also with my brother, so it seemed fitting that we might return as a way of sort-of ringing in the new year.

First we stopped at Lolo Pass to walk the snowshoe trail, where I used Neale’s camera to snap the above picture of him on top of the ridge.

He returned the favor.

Then we drove over the pass into Idaho and counted off the 22 or so miles to the Jerry Johnson parking area.

To get to Jerry Johnson from the parking area, you cross a wooden foot bridge and then walk a couple of miles along the banks of the Lochsa River.

The ground was still snow-covered, but it had that drizzled-on, acne-scarred appearance that snow gets after being rained on and then refrozen, and the trail was such a sheet of ice in places that it forced us off into the still-soft snow in the underbrush so as to be able to negotiate the steeper sections without slipping.

The first pool, which lies 30 or so feet down a steep slope from the trail-basically in the river-announced itself with a big cloud of steam hanging over the trail. In a first for me, the pool was empty, and we clambered down to claim it for ourselves.

One advantage of this pool is that it lies so far from the trail. As a result, once it’s occupied, there are psychological barriers that are likely to keep others away. The other two pools are on the trail, so people can stroll right up to you and decide whether you send out a serial-killer or sex-maniac vibe before stripping down (clothing is optional!). If they decide to just keep walking, it won’t be obvious that it’s because they’re having second thoughts about being naked in public near you-they might just be hiking around.

But with the waterfall-fed pool, they will have climbed all the way down from the trail before noticing how weirdly close together your eyes are, or the Mortal Combat knife you have positioned close to hand on a nearby rock.

So despite occasional traffic along the trail, we had the pool to ourselves and spent about two hours soaking, eating a late picnic lunch, and sharing a thermos of hot chocolate before making the drive back to Missoula.

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By the time Neale left for North Carolina on Thursday morning, Missoula was in the grip of a terrible cold snap, with overnight temperatures around zero and days of bright sunshine that still only brought us up to fifteen degrees or so. I’m usually not very sensitive to cold, but this was bad enough that I actually wore long underwear and took to letting the car warm up for a while, empty, on the mornings that I headed down to my branch office at Break Espresso to get a little work done.

Bad enough that-as I walked back to the car from the Break, facing into the bitter winds funneling out of Hellgate Canyon-I wondered whether I really do want to stay in Missoula.

This week, Coen continued his slow adjustment back to the routine that was sort of in place before Christmas. To delay the point when she will have to return to work full-time, Amy has been working half days, so I’m home with Coen from a little after noon until around five thirty.

The keystone of this arrangement, of course, is Coen’s taking a bottle from me, which he decided in the week after Christmas he wasn’t going to do anymore, instead screaming and writhing away as if I were trying to pour acid into his mouth.

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On Wednesday, as on several preceding days, I had to call Amy home from work early, but on Thursday he finally cooperated and drank down a bottle, in addition to taking three naps.

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On Friday, he outdid himself and took two bottles, although he refused to take one of his naps unless I held him upright against my chest and lightly patted his back while he slept. This is no exaggeration: I was reading the New Yorker while he slept, and every time I turned a page, he would start to stir awake until I raced my hand back to his back and returned to the patting.

It’s a see-saw, I guess: bottle-feeding gets easier, but napping gets harder. Adherents to the Babywise brand of baby-raising philosophy would say we erred by not putting Coen on a “schedule” in his first weeks for both eating and sleeping, and letting him cry himself out if he didn’t like it. I regard Babywise with the same skepticism I have for libertarians, Marxists, and other ideologues who claim to know how to make everything perfect if you’ll just follow their program to the letter, but I suppose second-guessing comes with the parenting territory.

The Week’s Tweets (2010-01-10)

  • In 2010, will Montana maintain its standing as the deadliest DUI state? My latest Went West column: #
  • Cyclist-bashing Dr. Thompson gets five years in prison. #
  • Overheard in the Break: "I think we're one of the few couples that actually planned our pregnancy." #
  • Persistence pays: 3rd polite, "just checking" email to a potential client gets an apology and a proposal to get the ball rolling next week. #
  • I know the internet doesn't care what I had for lunch, but my son had a bottle. #
  • Why doesn't @Missoulian link to earlier articles when it is updating a story? Win-win: helps researchers, gets more page views. #
  • At the Break early after dropping my brother at the airport. #
  • My mom is looking for hints about the best gadgets for digitizing old VHS tapes. #
  • Another day, another chance to feel worthless as a father and to wonder how we survive economically when my son won't take a g.d. bottle. #
  • Is there a FB app that helps quantify/graph your FB activity over the year? (Number posts, kind, etc.) #
  • The public is our most effective first response against terrorism (5 flights saved by passengers since 2001!): #
  • "He wasn't stabbing me for real." #

My New Year’s Resolutions

It’s stupid to wait for an arbitrary date to decide to make changes in yourself. That said, this is the year when I will:

  1. Do 100 push ups.
  2. Read a poem a day.
  3. Visit Glacier National Park once per season.

As a note, it turned out to be harder than I expected to get a poem delivered to my inbox every day. Searching for “poem of the day” mainly turns up outfits that will send you a daily poem during April, National Poetry Month, but not for the rest of the year. So far, the best option I’ve come across is the daily email newsletter from Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac.

Also, if you-like me-have always been push up challenged, you might want to check out the six-week program I’m going to use to get to 100. Based on how many push ups you can do right now, the program provides a training program in which you gradually work up to the desired total. This program was a “thing” on the Internet for a while in 2008, and a lot of the mentions of it that I saw were by people (especially women) who never thought they’d be able to do such a thing, but the program got them there. So, if you’re dubious, know that this is a preeminently achievable goal.

Why should you want to do 100 push ups, anyway? Because-according to this New York Times article– you won’t be able to without being in pretty decent shape overall:

“The push-up is the ultimate barometer of fitness. It tests the whole body, engaging muscle groups in the arms, chest, abdomen, hips and legs. It requires the body to be taut like a plank with toes and palms on the floor. The act of lifting and lowering one’s entire weight is taxing even for the very fit.”

You don’t have to be able to do 100, though:

“Push-ups are important for older people, too. The ability to do them more than once and with proper form is an important indicator of the capacity to withstand the rigors of aging.”

This is because, among other things, being able to do a couple of push ups means you have the strength to catch yourself in a fall and to get up again afterward.

But in general I just like the idea of a significantly challenging bit of exercise I can do anywhere, without equipment. Ideally, that would describe my whole exercise routine. In fact, I’m on the lookout for some kind of effective exercise routine I can do to work out my major muscle groups without equipment. I guess yoga would fit the bill, but what I really want is some sort of isometric routine designed by Soviet scientists in 1962 or something along those lines. So please let me know if you’ve heard of any.

The Week’s Tweets (2010-01-03)

  • Military peeps: how bad a back injury could get you discharged early these days? Would you have to be completely debilitated? #
  • Just saved $120 by replacing my car's door handle myself. #
  • My latest WTC column: Montanans' love of guns is strong, even at Christmas time. #
  • Watching Missoula police administer a horizontal-gaze nystagmus test in front of my house. #
  • My Corolla's outside door handle doesn't open the door anymore. Is this easy to fix by myself? #
  • Can any Missoulians help me track down info on the guy sentenced to prison a few years back for shooting a kid breaking into his car? #
  • Does anyone else out there hate the New Yorker "digital edition"? #
  • So, invade Yemen now? #
  • Thought for the day: Observant private citizens continue to be the only proved, effective defense against terrorism, just like on 9/11. #