Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day Weekend

I usually go to the Memorial Day festivities but I passed on it this year.  Christopher came home for the weekend.  He wasn't originally planning on it but at the last minute decided to come home.  He hasn't been home since New Years so it was nice to have him in town with us.  I have seen quite a bit of him up in Bellingham of course but mostly just to go out to dinner or lunch and not for any extended period of time.  We had a pretty laid back weekend.  He needed to get some rest and work on some papers.  I needed some decompression time after all the hours I have been putting in for work and get some rest as well.  But we did get out of the house on Saturday to go to 54-40 Brewing Company's Merle Haggard Brew Fest that they were having.  The guys enjoyed some beer and I tried a really tasty pineapple cider made by Jester and Judge.  Bill and I went to dinner with a friend in Portland Sunday night which was fun.  We went to the Firehouse Restaurant--which is in what was an old firehouse obviously.  Have to tell you that their meatballs and their crispy potatoes are out of this world.
My family in Ohio did their patriotic thing today though.  Rhys (and Jeff as the troop leader) were in the Springfield parade this morning.  And Sherrill was on the street to take the picture of him.

Our daughter-in-law is celebrating her birthday today so hoping to see and hear what her celebration was like later today.

Hope you all have had a good weekend to enjoy the extra day off and in contemplating what the price of our freedom is.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Throwback Vacation Photos

Designer Digitals--my newish digital scrapbooking home-had a travel chat this weekend with ideas about how to scrapbook your travel pages.  I've been working on redoing my digital heritage album and was happy with the travel layout I have had in it for years.  But all this wonderful inspiration made me decide to redo it even though I wasn't really intending to.

It got me thinking about what a gift it was for our family to be able to travel.  My mom loved to travel.  Even before she was married, she would go on long road trips with girlfriends.  As newlyweds, she and dad went to Niagara Falls for their honeymoon and she traveled to Washington State and Oregon to visit my dad when he was stationed there.  When we were children, we would make both short weekend trips in Wisconsin or neighboring states and week-long trips to locations further away.  We went to places like South Dakota, Kansas, Tennessee, Missouri,  Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C. and all points in between as well as a few short excursions into Ontario.

We didn't have a lot of money growing up so it was a financial struggle to come up with the funds to go on these trips but mom was very frugal and always found a way to make it happen.  And our vacations were very frugal affairs as well in order to make it possible but we got to see some amazing places.  My dad got one week of vacation every year and we made the most of it.  My mom did a lot of planning to figure out how far we could go and be back in a week and what we would do when we got there.  Being so dependent on the internet now, it makes me wonder how she knew what kinds of activities were available.  But thinking back on it, she used to get those AAA books to help with the planning.

The whole family including my grandparents (seven and later eight of us after my youngest brother was born) would pack into one regular sedan or later our LTD II station wagon.  It was pretty crowded and someone always needed to sit on a lap and one of us always had to lay in the back of the station wagon with all the luggage (again for 8 people) and the food and cooler.  We wouldn't get away with that now with the car seat and seat belt laws that we have now.  I look back on that and realize how uncomfortable that was for everyone. I'm not sure I could do that now even if the laws didn't prevent it.  We would play games like looking for different state license plates and things like that to pass the time in the car.  And look at the scenery.  Today--kids are bored if they don't have their iPod, phone, or a DVD player in the car to keep them entertained.  Makes me sad that we are raising generations that don't appreciate travel and seeing what is outside the car.

Vacation week always started at 3 am.  Mom always wanted to get an early start in order to get a good piece down the road toward our destination.  We would stop about four hours into the trip at a rest area to have breakfast.  The first morning we would always have eggs and bacon cooked in aluminum pie tins over Sterno.  Other days we would have cereal out of those little individual boxes.  For some reason, eating cereal out of a little box always seemed like such a fun treat.  Part of that frugal travel plan was that we had a rule--only one meal in a restaurant per day.  And that meal might be McDonalds or fast food in an amusement park because we couldn't take our own food in.  We didn't get to eat anything fancy when we went out.  Mom was very clever with meal ideas that would travel well in a cooler or didn't need to be cooled.  We would have a lot of bologna and tuna sandwiches but we also had hot dogs, spam, canned vegetables, etc. cooked on our Sterno stoves.  Usually we would eat our meals at a rest area, community park or in our motel rooms if we absolutely had to.  I certainly don't travel like that now.  Typically we only eat two meals a day but always in a restaurant.  It takes more work and planning than I am willing to put into it and fortunately I have the income that I don't have to do that anymore.  But when you don't have a lot of money--you make it work.

We never had reservations anywhere.  We would drive to where we wanted to stay for the night and look for a place to check into.  My sister and I would always stay in Grandma and Grandpa's room while my brothers always stayed in our parents' room.  I remember that is was a treat to stay in our grandparents' room--except that Grandpa was a really loud snorer. If our grandparents didn't go on a trip with us, we would only get one room and the boys would sleep in sleeping bags on the floor.  We couldn't afford to stay in nice motels so we looked for those old "park outside your room" kind of places.  Some were better than others.  I do remember a particularly bad one in Buffalo, SD.  It was the only place in town and a long ways from anywhere.  The furniture was broken, the TV was black and white and didn't work very well and I remember the owner needing to chase away a cowboy who was hassling a girl outside our open window. Note: Open window means no air conditioner on a really hot summer night in SD.  Another memorable night was staying in a room over a hotel bar in Ontario.  As one can imagine, that night wasn't a very restful one with all the music and noise coming from the bar.  They weren't all that bad but definitely were on the low end as far as lodging is concerned.  I have to wonder about how we are raising our children when I hear some young people that I work with describe certain hotels as being "nasty".  I stayed at one of the hotels that was described as nasty during a recent business trip and thought that it was fairly nice even by my more refined taste and standards today.  I would hate to think about how they would have described the places that I stayed at as a child and teenager.  

We always had a great time on our trips.  It was always just so wonderful to be away from home and see different states, big cities, different terrain.  To learn about history by going to the places that history was made.  On a trip to Gettysburg and Washington, D.C. in the early 1970's, my grandma suggested an idea for souvenir purchases.  She liked to collect plates so she suggested to my sister and I that we collect plates on our future vacations.  And so a tradition was started.  I treasured my plate collection for a long time.  They were such nice reminders of the places we had visited.  I displayed them in most of our kitchens or dining rooms over the years until I decided that I needed to get rid of some of the clutter in our house.  It was hard but I didn't want to display them anymore and I didn't want to store them so they went away.  On a day like today when I am reminiscing about that childhood travel, I am sorry they are gone.

Growing up, I thought that everyone went on vacations like we did.  But now that I am older, I realize that wasn't the case.  Of course there are those who were wealthy enough that they went on vacations easily.  But there are others that didn't travel far from home or went camping in the local area because they couldn't afford to go farther away.  Others that didn't go on vacations at all.  I feel lucky to have been able to travel to all the places that I did as a young person and the places that I have been able to go to now as an adult.  There are a lot of lessons that my mom taught me through the years but today, I celebrate the gift of travel and what a wonderful gift that was.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Rock Around the Clock-Prom 2016

I didn't think I was going to be home for Prom this year.  Bill made plans to go on his own but since I made it home--we went together and I am so glad I did.  It was SO much fun.  There were eight folks on the Prom Court raising money for the Vancouver Police Activities League.

Gary Bock and Jim Main were the emcees.  Kim Hash's daughter, Margaux, came as Marilyn Monroe and sang "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend."  They hired an Elvis cover to perform a couple of sets which was great.  There were people that went all out with their costumes with poodle skirts, letter jackets, greaser costumes, and more.

I loved Cara's whole outfit--especially her beehive hairdo and her glasses.  They had a bunch of contests for the best "twist", hand jive and limbo which were fun to participate in and watch.  No limbo for me with my back but a few of those women--including Margaux--were pretty impressive.  Congratulations to Sara Scheetz and Tyler Close for raising the most money for PAL and being crowned king and queen for the night.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Mother's Day

I was in Bellingham for what was supposed to be two to three weeks of work.  Things have gone well enough that they closed down the command center after a week and a half.  So I got to come home early.  Have been spending so much time up there recently that I am glad to be home for awhile now.

One of the benefits of being in Bellingham so much was that I got to see a lot of Chris.  And I got to spend Mother's Day with him!  I was expecting that I was going to have to work on Mother's Day itself but unexpectedly got both Saturday and Sunday off.

I was pretty exhausted after working close to 70 hours that week so I slept in big time--until one in the afternoon.  Then I went to the marina to search out some lunch at the Web Locker.  Beautiful day to be at the marina and there is a great view of Mt. Baker from there.  I had gone hiking at Lake Padden on Thursday after work and saw a family of ducks but couldn't get a decent picture of them on my phone camera so decided to go out there to see if I could find them again.  I lucked out and spent a good long time taking lots of pictures of this mom and her nine ducklings. So fun to watch them.  Having had a late lunch, I didn't want to go out to dinner but wanted to see Chris so I got some sushi and chocolate cream pies for us to have a picnic dinner at the lake.  Lots of people were at the lake that afternoon and evening because the weather was so beautiful.  So we had an enjoyable dinner together.

Sunday I wandered downtown a bit while the maids cleaned my room before picking Chris up for our Mother's Day date.  We went to Scotty Brown's for lunch and then went to the theater to see the Captain America movie that is out right now.  Not exactly my choice of a Mother's Day movie but I did enjoy spending the afternoon with Chris which was the best present I could ask for.

All and all--a great Mother's Day and hope that everyone else had a good one too.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Horseshoe Cafe-Oldest Continuous Restaurant in Washington

In my last few weeks in Bellingham, I have learned a little more about the history of the place and have been exploring a lot more than I had been previously.  I was in Bellingham again for work this weekend and decided I wanted to try out the Horseshoe Cafe.  It has been open since 1886 and is supposedly the oldest continuously running restaurant in Washington.  Chris had been a little negative on the place thinking it looked a little seedy from the outside.  Having been to the oldest restaurants in Denver and Portland, I wanted to at least give it a try.

It actually was pretty good.  It is pretty much a diner.  Serving breakfast all day and is open from 0730-2300 at night.  Has a bar as well.  We went for breakfast this morning.  Bill had a standard two egg breakfast with hash browns, sausage and toast.  Chris had the chicken fried chicken, two eggs, hash browns and toast and I had a breakfast sandwich on yummy french bread with garlic mayo.  It was reasonably priced and while not real classy, it was not a dive anyway.

It was worth the stop to say I have eaten in the oldest restaurant in Washington anyway.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Tip-Toeing Through the Tulips

I have never been to the tulip fields in the Skagit Valley in all the times that we have driven through there.  A few times I have seen the long line of cars waiting to get off the freeway to go to them.  And definitely didn't want to get involved in that mess of traffic.  Suzi was surprised that I hadn't been yet so she encouraged me to go.  I tried to go on Wednesday on the way to Sedro Woolley and Bellingham for work but hadn't scoped out where they were and I couldn't find any signs pointing toward them when I got off the highway and drove through town.  So I finally gave up and just had lunch in Burlington while I waited for my appointment.

On Monday, I checked out some directions and decided to stop on the way home.  Unfortunately the weather has been pretty warm and both the tulip and daffodil fields were played out.  No more blossoms to see in the fields.  I don't know if I would have been able to see any on Wednesday or not but was a little disappointed that I missed seeing all the colorful fields that I was hoping to see.  But I did go to a display garden at Roozengaarde so it was fun wandering around there for a bit to take photos.  Lots of beautiful tulip gardens there to ooh and aah over.  And a view a Mt. Baker too.

Hopefully I can get up there sometime during the spring again to get the full experience.

Locust Beach: An Evening Playing in the Mud

This was a bit of an unexpected adventure for me.  I was back in Bellingham for work and read that Chris had gone to Locust Beach on Friday night.  I had never heard of it so I googled it and found that it wasn't far from my hotel and I saw some amazing sunset pictures there so I decided to try and go Saturday after I had dinner with Chris.  I was disappointed because there was no parking left and lots of cars coming in and out just like I was trying to find a spot.  Some of the cars that were there had parking tickets so I finally gave up.  I did go to a park on top of the cliff and did indeed see that it was a place worth trying to visit.

Sunday morning before I left for work, I scoped it out.  It was high tide and the lighting wasn't great in the morning so I decided to go again after work.  I lucked out.  It wasn't nearly as busy Sunday night even though it was a beautiful evening.  

At low tide, the beach goes a long ways out into the bay.  But it also has about a half inch of water on it.  So it is pretty muddy.  I soon figured out that I was going to have to throw out my shoes after this little adventure.  But it was so worth it.

I stayed two hours waiting for the sun to set and had a great time just scoping out different things to take photos of.  I was thrilled when I spotted an eagle shortly after I got there.  It swooped down from the cliff up above the beach, picked up something for dinner (I suspect a crab) and landed on the beach to eat.  I hurried as fast as I could to get closer so I could get some pictures but it seemed so far away.  I managed to get a couple not so great photos but by the time I got even remotely close, it flew away.  I kept hoping it would come back but I didn't see it again.

It was fun looked at all the shells and flotsom on the beach and watching the gulls and the people walking on the beach and playing in the water way out further than I decided to go.  I came across a crab that I tried to save but I think it was on its last legs by the time I got to it anyway.  Barely moving.  I don't know why I bothered.  The gulls kept coming to it, flipping it over and snacking on it.

I patiently waited for the sun to go down so I could get some pictures like I saw on the internet.  I wasn't disappointed.  I got so many good ones that it was hard to decide which ones I wanted to scrapbook.

So hear are a few of the sights of Bellingham Bay from Locust Beach.  Enjoy!