Sunday, September 18, 2016

Happy Birthday Chris

We hadn't seen Chris for about a month.  We went to visit him in Bellingham the beginning of August.  So we were really hoping he would come home Labor Day weekend to see us and he did.  He celebrated his birthday with friends in Bellingham on the actual day.  We had dinner with him Sunday night.  Had some Thai food and Snickers cake.  Yummy.

The weekend seemed to go by so quickly.  He hadn't seen his friends in a very long time so he tried to see as many of them as he could while he was home.  But it was good to have what time we did have with him.

Celebrating Thirty Years

Bill and I made plans to celebrate our anniversary a few days early on a Saturday night.  We had been given a gift certificate for a Amalfi's in Portland.  We had never been there so thought it would be a special way to celebrate our special 30 year anniversary.  The waitress was really sweet to take a lot of photos for us to make sure we had at least one that was decent.  The food was very good and we had plenty of money left on our gift card to buy some meatballs, lasagna and wine to have even more of their delicious food on other nights at home.

We have had our ups and downs over the years as all couples do but we love each other very much and have had quite a journey together.  Looking forward to finding out what other destinations we have ahead of us.

Base Ball: 1867 Style

Every summer, Vancouver has a couple of base ball games on the Vancouver Barracks Parade Ground.  What is interesting about the event is that the players dress in costume from that time period.  The Army team in their uniforms and the Occidentals in their wool base ball jerseys.  They also play by 1867 rules which are much different than today's rules including that they don't use gloves.

There is also a certain number of re-enactors that are also dressed in period costumes.  I have always wanted to go but we usually had something else going on the nights that the game was played.  And Bill didn't really have an interest in it so we just have never gone.  Bill traveled to California to see his brother's family so I was on my own the night of the game.  Perfect opportunity to go. 

It was a beautiful evening.  Not too hot.  I am sure it was still plenty hot in those wool uniforms, suits and long dresses and petticoats.  I am fairly certain that they appreciated that it wasn't even warmer though.

I decided to start my evening at the Grant House for dinner.  I had a lovely meal of calamari, summer salad with berries and a blueberry buckle that was out of this world.  Then I walked across the street to take in the game.  I didn't bring my chair.  Had to park too far away and didn't want to take it into the restaurant so I just decided to walk around and take photos for awhile.  I didn't stay too long.  About 45 minutes.  But long enough to take in the atmosphere.  One more event checked off my list.

Tale of Two Hikes

Chris came home for a weekend in July to spend some time with us.  Bill wanted to go hiking with him and they decided to do Dog Mountain.  Not wanting to be left behind, I went along for the drive.  I dropped them off at the trailhead for Dog Mountain and headed over to Oregon.
Bill always starts his Mosier Twin Tunnel hike on the west end of the trail so on the times that I went, I would hike as far as I could but I could never get to the tunnels to see them.  I decided since I was on my own, I would start on from the east trailhead so I could make it to the tunnels.  I enjoyed being able to see them and take some photos of them.  After I got back to the car, I drove on the Columbia River Historic Highway to The Dalles and took some pictures from Rowena Crest.  The views on that side of the gorge are so much drier and rockier.  The guys took their own photos from their hike as well.  The views on each side of the gorge are so different.  Hence me calling this the "Tale of Two Hikes."

We had the usual lunch at the Big River Grill and stopped to get some beer from Walking Man before we headed back home.

WWU Graduation

Christopher has been in Bellingham the last three years working on finishing his bachelors degree.  He did two years of study at Clark College here in Vancouver prior to transferring to Western Washington University.  The last few years have been challenging but he has managed to graduate.  He didn't really want to walk for graduation but did it for me.  I was disappointed when he decided not to walk at his Clark College graduation but knew that his schooling wasn't really done and that I would have this graduation to look forward to.  He decided to go the casual route.  He just wore his WWU Viking t-shirt, shorts and his Vibram toe shoes under his cap and gown for graduation.  And didn't shave.  But I was taking what I could get.  At least he was walking across the stage for me to celebrate his accomplishments.

He has been friends with Luke Price for most of his time up in Bellingham and they have been roommates this past year.  They sat next to each other during the graduation ceremony.  The weather was actually a little chilly.  Reminded me a bit of Tom's graduation four years earlier.  Windy and threatening to rain.  But fortunately it wasn't as cold as it was for Tom's graduation and the rain never materialized.

Tom flew up to see Chris graduate.  It was with mixed feelings.  We hadn't seen him in almost a year.  But the Air Force wouldn't give him any time off to come up except for the weekend.  And the airline tickets were so expensive.  Especially given that he was only in Washington State for a little more than 24 hours and with us as a family for less than that.  He made it into Seattle Saturday morning at 0840 but by the time he rented a car and drove up to Bellingham, he arrived barely in time to go to the graduation ceremony.  In fact traffic was so bad and we had no idea if we were going to be able to find parking easily or not, we left Chris off in the middle of the street near the stadium so he could get lined up while we found a parking spot. 

Chris accepted his diploma from the president of the university.  

After graduation, we had a little bit of time to kill before the restaurant we were having dinner at would open.  So we got Tom checked into his room and then headed to Chris' favorite brewery, Wander, to have a a few beers (and a black currant cider for me).  So good to be able to be together as a family even it if was such a short time.  We went out to Everson to have dinner at the Herb Neimann Steak House to celebrate.  We had a great German meal.  Bill and Tom had steaks and Chris and I had schnitzel.  And all the sides were German--potatoes, red cabbage and green beans.  At dinner we found out that Tom had recently been promoted to captain so that was another reason to celebrate.  And for Bill, we had an early Father's Day celebration for him to be with both his boys at the same time.

Tom had never been to Bellingham before so he wanted to see a bit of the town.  After dinner, we drove through the downtown and went to Fairhaven so he could see those and took a walk through Boulevard Park to see Bellingham Bay and the San Juan Islands in the evening light.  It was a beautiful evening to walk along the water.  With all the clouds, not everything was in view but at least it wasn't raining.

Tom had had a really long day having gone to the airport at 0100 our time so he was tired.  We said our good nights early and met back up in the morning with him and Chris to go to Skylark Cafe in Fairhaven for breakfast as soon as they opened.  After breakfast, we all went on our way--Chris to get some work done, Tom to get to the SeaTac Airport to go back to Wichita and Bill and I to come home and prepare for the week ahead.

Congratulations to Chris for a job well done.  And good luck in finding a job and having a start to a successful future.

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.