Monday, April 16, 2018

Family Time

Tom was able to wrangle a week and a half of leave to come home for a visit.  He was recently in Tacoma for two weeks working, went back to Wichita for a few days and then flew here.  It is our first time seeing him since the divorce.  It is bittersweet.  Love having my time with him these days but know that if it wasn't for the fact that he is divorced, I wouldn't be seeing him.  He would be with his wife instead.  He has missed Washington so he has been grateful to have spent the last four weeks here between work and vacation.

I was on call and worked the first few days he was home but took a week off so that I could spend time with him.  We drove up to Bellingham the first weekend so that we could spend time with Chris.  While we waited for Chris to get off work, Tom and I wandered about town going to the WWU campus and Whatcom Falls.  He has been there a couple times before but only for brief visits and those were two spots we hadn't taken him to before.   After Chris got off work, we went out for sushi and went to see "Ready Player One" at the theater.  It was so good to have our whole family together for an evening of fun.

Bill had recently come across a website article about a kangaroo farm about an hour from Bellingham.  He and I had seen kangaroos in a similar setting on our honeymoon so it was something I was really looking forward to doing and Christopher was pretty excited about it too.  Unfortunately, it was pouring down rain when we went Sunday morning on the way home but we decided to go ahead with it anyway.  It was pretty darn cold, wet and muddy there.  Bill and I had such a good experience in Australia.  Our host took us to buy sticky buns before we went to the nursery where the kangaroos and wallabies were located.  They flocked to us wanting the food.  One fella kept clawing at me after I ran out because he wanted more.  The ones at the Outback Kangaroo Farm in Arlington are a little more skittish.  Most of them ran off if we tried to get close.  Tom and Chris were able to pet a couple of them though.

Monday was the only nice day we had while I was on vacation.  Tom and I headed to some trails near us that he had never been on.  I love it there but don't go very often.  We saw all three waterfalls at the Round Lake Park trails and lots of wildflowers.  Unfortunately it was a little too early to see the camas lily field in bloom but we saw a couple of early bloomers.

The only other day we did much of anything during the week was on Thursday.  The original plan was to go hiking at Silver Falls but we saw that snow was predicted so we nixed that and stayed in our backyard to hike in north Clark County at Moulton Falls and Lucia Falls Parks.  I'm a fair weather hiker so I had my umbrella with me--not that I hardly ever carry on any other time- but I was glad to have it when it started pouring down rain.

The rest of the week Tom just wanted to rest, play games, watch TV and movies, etc. He also connected with a couple of his friends here which was nice.  He was pretty exhausted from the exercise he just finished in Tacoma. 

Our last hurrah was to go see my friends in Puyallup.  Tom was up for going with me and seemed to enjoy visiting with them.  We had wanted to go to Northwest Trek with them but it was pouring down rain again/still.  We thought it would be pretty miserable to go so we just went bowling at the McChord AFB which was fun.  I hadn't done that in a long time.  I'm not a good bowler--in fact none of us are--but we had a good time anyway.

Always hard to say goodbye but hoping we can see each other again this summer.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

On the Streets of San Francisco

Bill went to the Bay Area to see his brother and go to a virtual reality and gaming conference at the Moscone Center.  He wanted me to go with him but work prevented me from going the whole week.  I joined him midway through to spend some time in the city and see Chuck for the first time since he became ill in October.  It was good to get away for a few days.

My goal for the trip was to take photos of all the iconic locations in the city.  I was trying to figure out how I was going to go about doing that when I discovered the Hop On Hop Off bus options for touring the city.  It actually worked out pretty well.  I didn't spend any great amount of time at any one location-an hour or so at the most-but got photos of most of the things that I wanted to capture so I was very pleased with myself. 

We stayed at the King George Hotel near Union Square.  It was a quaint small hotel with a British theme that has been newly renovated.  It was interesting to have two twin beds.  Bill and I felt like we were in the 50's.  On Thursday, I was itching to get started.  The buses didn't start until 0900 at Union Square but I was ready to go at 0745 so I started out walking.  I think that was the most miles and "flights of stairs" (climbing all those hills) that I have ever done-20,000 steps and 90 flights for the day.  I walked an hour and a half before I even got on the bus. While I was walking, I hit Chinatown and the Chinatown Dragon Gate.  I have been there many times over the years but always feel the need to stop there if I can.  Lombard Street-the crooked street-was next on my list.  I had to use my GPS to find my way there.  Sherrill and I went there over 30 years ago and I was looking forward to seeing it again.  Unfortunately I was a little disappointed because it was probably a little bit too early in the season.  None of the bushes were flowering as I remembered it from my last visit.  Once I found the closest bus stop for the HOHO bus, I was on my way to more adventures.  First stop was the Golden Gate Bridge.  It had been sprinkling as I was walking and got to the bridge.  I was a little disappointed as it was all fogged in although the bridge is beautiful any way you see it.  While I was waiting for the bus to go to Sausalito, it started pouring down rain sideways because there were 30 mph winds with it.  I was beginning to think I might need to bag my outing for the day.  All the buses were open air buses for the best viewing but the Sausalito bus was only open air with no available cover.  Luckily, I was the only passenger and the driver was kind enough to let me sit on the steps next to him under cover to get there.  Once I got to Sausalito, the sun came out much to my relief.  I had some breakfast and then hopped the next bus back to the bridge and got some great sunny photos.  I had never been to Alamo Square to see the Painted Ladies before so I was really excited to be able to do that.  I got some OK pictures but was disappointed so I decided to go back the next day to get better ones.  I was so cold sitting on the top of the bus and luckily I had my hood to try to keep my head as warm as possible--especially when we were driving on the freeway and across the bridge. As soon as I got back to Union Square, I got off the bus to get some more clothes on and then went to get back on and do some more exploring.  I didn't do too much that part of the route.  Just went to Fisherman's Wharf and back through to Union Square.

On Friday, I was a little short on time because Bill wanted to get going to Fremont before rush hour.  My first stop that day was the Palace of Fine Arts.  I had never been there before and found it so beautiful and a great place to take photos.  I saw some swans but just as I got set up to take some photos, they got out of the pool and went on to the wooded island.  In addition to returning to Alamo Square, I got out at Fisherman's Wharf to have lunch and go see Ghiradelli Square.  I got back to the hotel to leave just as Bill did and we headed to the BART station to go down to Fremont.

I had mixed results with the buses.  The pass that I bought was for two companies that had merged.  One company had audio recordings for the tour using ear phones but none of the drivers explained the channels or how they worked until the second day so that was a little disappointing.  The other company had live tour guides which was great except one of them kept asking for tips which was annoying.  The only other thing that was a little bit annoying was that sometimes I waited more than a half hour for the next bus to arrive.  It got me to where I wanted to go and wasn't very expensive.  I would say overall I was satisfied with the service.

We had a nice time visiting with Chuck and Suzanne.  We had a terrific old style Italian dinner in Fremont Friday night.  We tried to go to the Tech Museum of Innovation Saturday morning but wasn't able to get there because of the March for Our Lives demonstrations so we ended up going to Santana Row first to have brunch at the West Bank there and then went to the museum afterward.  Suzanne is a great cook and the two of us put together fish tacos for dinner.

Chuck and Suzanne dropped us off at the San Jose Airport and things seemed to go okay until we got to Portland and found that my bag didn't arrive.  We waited awhile and filed my claim thinking it would probably just come on the next flight from San Jose.  When my bag finally was delivered about 24 hours later, I found that it had been inspected in Kauai.  I did see that there was a flight to Lihue at our gate before our flight.  I guess my bag wanted a longer and more exotic vacation than just going to the Bay Area.

Definitely great to see the city again and see family.  Nice little getaway.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Gorgeous Spring Weekend

This weekend has been absolutely gorgeous.  I went to the fort to see if I could get any good photo ops.  I was pleased to see a plum tree in full bloom.  Crocuses and daffodils had already arrived but the plum blossoms always means spring has arrived for me.  I love the blue birds that I see down there.  I think they are called scrub jays if my internet search of photos were of any help.   

I did these two layouts for the color challenge and the blending challenge at Designer Digitals this weekend.  Now off to take another walk and see if I see anything else wonderful to shoot.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Hope for Spring

I actually took this photo last weekend.  I have been wanting to use this gorgeous template for a year now but never had the right photos to use with those beautiful flowers.  It was hard to believe that it had snowed almost every day the week before I took this photo and there was still snow under the bush.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Photo Op

Tom posted this cool photo the other day.  Normally his crew delivers fuel to planes that need it but this day was a training mission and they received fuel from a KC-135 and a KC-10.  Busy day.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Old Man Winter Showed Up

We have had such a mild winter up until the last week and a half.  It has felt more like spring than winter.  We woke up to a fair amount of snow Valentine's morning but it melted fairly quickly.  This past week, we had snow every day.  I went out early Wednesday morning and took some photos before I had to start working.  Here are the scrapbooking layouts I did to capture this week's snow.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Time to Cook

Both my sons like to cook-Chris probably more than Tom.  Since the divorce, Tom has been TDY or deployed much of the time so he hasn't felt like buying food and cooking for himself.  He also hasn't had much to cook with so has been needing to figure out what he really needs.  I have been bugging him for a while that he should start doing at least some cooking at home and not go out all the time.  Last week, he texted me a photo of his grocery cart with the message-"Finally went grocery shopping."  Made me so happy.  He called me the next night while he was cooking fajitas for dinner and pulled pork in the crock pot for his lunch the next day.  He was putting a lot more effort into dinner than I was.  It was Valentine's Day so Bill and I splurged calories on a Papa Murphy pizza and wine.  Good to hear his voice and happy that he was cooking.

Chris is my adventurous cook.  He loves to experiment with lots of different kinds of recipes.  He isn't vegan but he loves to try vegan recipes.  He has been posting a lot of food pictures recently on Facebook so I thought I would put them together in a layout to record his efforts.