Sunday, May 28, 2017
Christopher came home to spend the weekend with us. Bill has been itching to do some hiking in the gorge and wanted to take Chris with us. We got up early and headed out to Hamilton Mountain to beat the crowds and the heat.
It is a struggle for me to climb up hills/mountains. I can't keep up with the guys even on flat ground so I always let them go ahead and I just take my time and look for photo opportunities. I made it up to the two waterfalls on the trail and just a little bit beyond that so I could get some pictures of Beacon Rock before I headed back down the mountain and waited for the guys to get back from the complete Hamilton Mountain experience.
Afterward, we drove to Stevenson to have our usual post hike lunch at the Big River Grill. We were all ready for a nap by the time we got home.
Tuesday, May 16, 2017
This year was Bill's 35th class reunion at West Point. Hard to believe that many years have passed. This reunion was so different than the ones we have been to before. All the past ones have been in the fall and included parades and going to football games. This one was in the spring. There was a lacrosse game but we went into NYC instead of going to that. We took a friend with us. Our friend, Cindy, was a teenager at West Point when her dad taught there and when she met and fenced with Bill. The fencing team considered her their little sister. After we got back from our last reunion, she expressed a desire to go so we offered to take her this time. The reunion activities were all at West Point and mostly at The Thayer this year--so no staying in New Jersey and busing to West Point every day. We didn't stay at The Thayer and there were pluses and misses to staying off post but overall, it wasn't a bad thing--just not as much "forced" time with everyone on the bus, hotel and at West Point. I don't mean forced in a bad way--just that there wasn't as much opportunity to visit this time without those forced opportunities. It didn't help that we had to split up in three different banquet rooms so a lot of times we missed seeing people we were looking forward to saying hi to.
One of the very first things we made sure that we did was take Cindy to the house she lived at on West Point and to her middle school. She was so excited to see the house and point out her bedroom window. When we got to the garage, she looked at the place that her mom had hit the garage when they were there. Her mom often told us the story when we were with her--about how the Corps of Engineers had to come fix it. There was a brick missing in the very same spot. Cindy got such a chuckle out of that.
We decided to get a bite of lunch in Highland Falls. When I saw the Pied Piper Pie Shop, I knew that was the place we needed to go. A Facebook/Digital Scrapbooking friend had gone there a couple of years ago when she was at West Point. A friend of hers owned the shop and I vowed to look it up the next time we were there. Cindy and Bill were good about letting me indulge--especially since Bill is on a diet and Cindy is gluten intolerant. They were able to get salads though and I had chocolate peanut butter pie. I wasn't passing up pie at an honest to goodness pie shop.
The first official event we went to was a Hudson River Cruise on one of the West Point boats. We met up at South Dock to board and took a two hour cruise up river and back. Cool seeing the view of West Point from the river.
It was our first chance to visit with old friends and I met a few new people that I had never met before.
The Thayer Hotel is a beautiful old historic hotel. It was built 90 years ago to replace the original West Point Hotel that was built in 1829. It was fun to see that one of the light fixtures in the lobby was actually from the old hotel. Bill and I had stayed there once when we lived in Massachusetts and we had been there for other events in the past so I was surprised when some of our friends said that it was the first time that they had been inside it. Cindy said she had never been there because that was date night for her parents if they went.
There is always a memorial service on Friday as well as class meetings and updates from the Superintendent, Commandant, and Dean as to what is going on at West Point now. This year we honored thirty-one class members who have passed away--some who died as cadets and some who passed away as recently as just a few weeks ago. It is always a nice service to remember them.
Cadet Chapel is such an impressive building. It was completed in 1910 and has the largest pipe organ in the world.
Friday night was the big dinner night. There wasn't a super fancy dress up night this year but this was the dressiest event of the weekend. I was excited to wear my West Point jewelry. Like most West Pointers, Bill wears his class ring every day. My jewelry isn't as easy to wear so I only get it out for military or veterans events. Bill gave me my A pin on my 39th birthday. I didn't know what it was when I opened it so he had to explain that it was the West Point alternative to a fraternity pin. That brought me to tears knowing that he wanted to "pin" me after all our years together. Sherrill got me an Army button bracelet a few years ago which I was thrilled to get. When I found out the same gal had West Point cadet bracelets as well--I knew I had to have one and I bought Maddy an Air Force bracelet too.
Bill's company-A2-was well represented this year.
Some of our closet friends are in this group. We only get to see each other every five years but there was talk about having a company get together sometime in the next couple of years to meet up in between reunions. We'll see but we also talked about meeting up with some friends in Florida or some of them coming up here as well.
There are also friends that weren't in company A2 but that we were stationed with that are also very dear to us.
Bright and early Saturday morning, we headed to West Point to catch the bus into New York City.
We went to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. In 2002, Bill and I were in New York for a few days before the reunion and made sure to visit Ground Zero. Five years ago, we took a lunch cruise around Manhattan and saw the Freedom Tower in the process of being built. This year, we returned to the site to see the transformation and pay our respects.
The memorial and museum are where the Twin Towers previously stood. There is a forest of trees and two pools with the names of the victims on the walls. We found several names that had flags or flowers stuck in them. It is a beautiful tribute to those who died.
The museum was particularly sobering. We had a guided tour which was very interesting. In order to maintain the quiet respect that is desired, those taking the tour get headphones and a receiver and the tour guide has a microphone so that you can hear through the headphones. I loved that idea so much. I often can't hear everything that a tour guide says when I am on a tour and I could hear every word. It also allowed for wandering around a particular exhibit and still be able to hear the tour guide talking.
The guided tour takes an hour and you could spend three or four hours there easily if you wanted to see everything. There is a large exhibit and videos as well as photos and stories about all those who died. There were so many people there that it was hard to really see everything so Bill and I just walked through quickly to get a glimpse of it. I think it would be a little overwhelming to actually watch everything but we had to get back to the bus so we didn't have a whole lot of time to doddle anyway.
It was a thrill to get to see the Freedom Tower up close and personal after having seen it being built from the river five years ago. To me, it seem like a phoenix rising from the ashes. It is built in the spot that Six World Trade Center used to be. It would have been nice to go up to the Observation Deck to see the view from up there but I guess that just means that we need to go back sometime.
We had a few hours to kill before our tour so we went to the Oculus to see what that was all about. It is actually a PATH train station and links up with several subway stations and shopping malls. We had a little snack at a coffee shop next to the train entrance and did some people watching for a bit there. Bill tells me that it is the replacement for the train station that used to be in the World Trade Center. The architecture was so interesting and I liked how the window in the ceiling was in line with seeing the Freedom Tower.
It was interesting to find out after we got home that the roof leaked so badly the day before we were there that they had to shut down the escalators. No wonder they were shut down while we were there and we had to take the stairs. It leaked the next day after we were there too. Hopefully they get that figured out. Such a new building to have a leaky roof.
Sunday morning, we had breakfast with Fred and Mary at the hotel before we checked out. Our flights out of Newark weren't until late afternoon so we had time to explore some more. We didn't do our usual Friday morning walk around the Cadet Area so I suggested we go back to West Point and do that.
We actually started at Old Cadet Chapel first. As impressive as Cadet Chapel is, I find Old Cadet Chapel charming. It was built in 1837 and was originally near Grant Hall. After the new Cadet Chapel was built, it was disassembled brick by brick and moved to the cemetery in 1911.
The cemetery is also a very interesting place to wander. Bill wanted to visit the graves of a couple of friends who died as cadets while we were there.
It was interesting and sad to learn that our access to the Cadet Area is restricted now. Since we were there as alumni, our name tags did allow us to walk around but we are no longer allowed to go inside Washington Hall Mess Hall, the barracks or academic building. They are tightening security to protect the cadets from possible attacks. If we want to go outside of a reunion, we have to arrange a tour in advance and must have an actual graduate as part of the tour group. The Mess Hall in particular is so impressive and beautiful on the inside, it was disappointing that we didn't get to see it although I understand the need to keep the cadets safe given the attacks that have taken place in other parts of the country and world.
The gothic style of the buildings is so unique and cool to see.
There are statues and memorials just about everywhere you go at West Point. Here are a few of my favorites. I didn't take as many statue photos this trip.
This was actually the second reunion that we got to go see the new library. But it too is beautiful with amazing view of the Hudson River and The Plain. So happy they designed it to blend in with the architecture of the rest of the campus.
We made sure that Cindy got to see some of the places that she wanted to see like the building that her dad taught in and the new library. She also was anxious to see the kneelers in the chapel after the memorial service to see if they were the same ones that she remembered being worked on when she lived there and was thrilled to find that they were.
As usual, it was a great time seeing Bill's alma mater and seeing old friends. Already looking forward to 2022 for the next reunion.
Saturday, April 29, 2017
Last weekend was a really busy one for me.
Friday night, Bill and I were invited to a dinner hosted by the Erskine Wood family at their home on the Columbia River. They have held this dinner for the last several years to welcome the Nez Perce tribe to Vancouver. Pat Jollota was invited to attend and she was allowed to bring guests so she took us there. There is a longstanding history between the Wood family and the Nez Perce tribe. Erskine's great grandfather befriended Chief Joseph and his son, also named Erskine, was sent to live with Chief Joseph for two seasons. Later, Erskine would invite the Nez Perce to his home-the same one we had dinner at-when they had business to attend to in Portland.
When Erskine lived with Chief Joseph, he asked the Chief what he wanted for a thank you gift and the response was a stallion. The young man didn't tell his father and always regretted that the promise was never fulfilled. Twenty years ago, his descendants purchased an Appaloosa stallion to present to the tribe in the Wallowa Mountains. Since that time, the family has befriended members of the tribe and welcome them as old friends and continue the tradition started by their grandfathers.
The evening was so pleasant that we decided to eat outside. As we ate, we watched some osprey in their nest on the river. That provided some pleasant entertainment during dinner. Later, the drummers started singing and gifts were presented. They also asked Sage--a member of the Wood family-to drum with them.
For the last twenty years, the Nez Perce have come to Vancouver to hold a memorial ceremony. The Chief Red Heart Band was imprisoned at Vancouver Barracks from 1877-1878. They didn't fight. They just wanted to stay on their land. While they were imprisoned, the two year old son of Little Bear died. In 1998, Mayor Royce Pollard reached out to the Nez Perce asking if they were interested in a reconciliation ceremony between them, the city and the Army. The tribe had reservations about it but it apparently was a good experience because they have been coming back every year since then.
I have been to one other ceremony. I don't remember when. But the ceremony consists of honoring those that were imprisoned there and the baby that died. Gifts are always given to the youngest child and a two year old child that attends the ceremony. When Sage (the young man I mentioned that was asked to be an honorary drummer) was a young baby, he was the one to receive the Indian baby blanket that year. Veterans are honored and given gifts. There is a Riderless Horse ceremony, smoking of the peace pipe, etc. It was raining so hard just prior to the ceremony that I almost didn't go at all. And the riders didn't wear their ceremonial headdresses and attire so that they wouldn't get ruined. That was a little disappointing from a selfish photographic standpoint but certainly understandable.
I wanted to go to the meal put on after the ceremony and I did wait for awhile but with as much as I had going on that day, I ended up leaving before the meal was served.
Saturday night was the Share Gala at Warehouse 23. Bill works with them frequently on videos for their fundraising events so we got a table and invited a few friends. The theme was Vintage Vegas which was fun. There were performances by a local talent who does music from that time period as well as from the Fabulous Brunettes-a group of women who made a comeback from their Glamorous Gams competition a few years ago-and a Vancouver Rat Pack that included our mayor and a mayoral candidate this year. They had gaming tables for script setup after the dinner and auction were done as well. Fun evening.
Very busy but very fun weekend!
Wednesday, April 26, 2017
I bought a new camera and was itching to try it out. I had an evening to myself and it quit raining so I headed out to the Fort Vancouver National Site to get some exercise and take photos. I took a lot more photos but I especially wanted to capture how beautiful the trees are this time of year. The tulip and plum trees were done flowering by this time but the cherry and apple blossoms were just right.
Sunday, April 23, 2017
The week before Easter, I decided I wanted to do a week about Holy Week. I did some research and found out some things that I never knew before. It was fun trying to incorporate my Holy Week findings in my album.
I also try to slip in an Art Journaling page each month. I took this photo while I was visiting a mission in Fremont, California a few weeks ago and thought it would be the perfect art journaling photo for this month.
Christopher came home for Easter weekend. We haven't seen him for two months so we were excited to have him home. We went to sunrise service at Columbia Presbyterian. While we sat there, I thought a lot about Beverly and how much she loved this congregation and insisted we go to the store and buy flowers to put on her grave before we went home. I wanted the three of us to go together as a family to her grave. Afterward, it was a beautiful day so we went to Salmon Creek Park to go for a walk. I enjoyed seeing some herons and osprey as well as a lot of other birds. Fun way to spend a few hours in nature. We went off our diet for the night. We had rack of lamb, roasted vegetables and a yogurt/fruit parfait so we weren't too far off program-just the meat.
Another sample of my journaling project. Since there were some Easter memories in it, figured it would fit here for posting.
Hoping everyone had a wonderful Easter as we did.
Monday, April 3, 2017
Bill wanted to go to a conference in San Jose so he invited me to go along with him so I could enjoy some California weather and visit Chuck and Suzanne. Other than a really crappy 24 hour layover in San Francisco a couple of years ago, I don't think I have been to visit Chuck and Suzanne in the Bay Area for at least 15 years. Chuck always came up here to see Beverly and us so there wasn't really ever a need to go down there.
I didn't really have any big agenda for my trip but made some tentative plans for places that I wanted to visit and photograph. Going to see Mission San Jose in Fremont was one of them. I was surprised that the original chapel had been destroyed in an earthquake and that this one had been reconstructed in the 1980's.
There was a museum in some of the old adobe buildings near the chapel, a cemetery where people are still buried in even today and a pleasant courtyard. I was expecting to see a lot of Spanish names in the cemetery but was surprised to see how many Irish immigrants were buried there.
The next day I dropped Bill off at the conference and headed down to spend the day in Santa Cruz. It was a beautiful day so it was quite enjoyable.
I enjoyed seeing the lighthouses, watching the surfers and looking at the beautiful coastline there.
I did a lot of walking and ended up having lunch at Woody's on the old historic wharf before I headed back to San Jose.
The rest of the weekend was spent having lunch in Palo Alto with Maddy's Aunt Maia and spending time with Chuck and Suzanne going to a German restaurant in Alameda and wine tasting and having lunch at a Greek restaurant in Livermore. Murrieta's Well was a really pleasant winery to just sit on the patio and enjoy the wines.
We had a great view of Crater Lake on the way home so I was able to take a photo of that.
We had a great little getaway. We were happy to get home but not necessarily to go back to work today. Anxious to go on our next adventure now.