Sunday, March 29, 2015

Remembering Mom

Chuck decided he wanted to come up to Vancouver to visit us for Beverly's birthday.  He wanted to go out to dinner in her honor.  He arrived in the late afternoon of her actual birthday.  He and Bill bought some flowers to go put at her grave.  Then we went out to happy hour with Bill's Rotary group for awhile before heading home for dinner.

I took Friday off from work to spend the day with them.  We ended up going to the Columbia River Gorge two days in a row to do some sightseeing.  I was surprised that we had never taken Chuck on what I call my "Gorge Waterfall Tour" before because it is one of my favorite things to do in the gorge.  Several waterfalls are close to the Columbia River Historic Highway so they are easy to get to for viewing.  We started off at Chanticleer Point to take in a view of Crown Point and Beacon Rock.  It is such a fantastic view of the Gorge from that spot.  Then we went to the Vista House at Crown Point to see the displays there.  Then on to the falls.  Being it was spring break in Oregon, Friday was a lot busier there than I had anticipated.  The parking lots at each of the falls were packed but we were able to find parking at Latourell Falls.  I have usually taken the lower trail to get to the falls in the past.  This time we took a trail that took us to the top of the falls and I think if we had hiked further, we would have found the upper falls.  But we weren't sure how far it was and I have a hard time climbing such steep inclines so we turned back. Hopefully it wasn't just a little ways further so that I would be disappointed to learn that I missed it.  We went to Bridal Veil Falls next.  I had not been there in a very long time.  It seems like every time that I had tried before, the trail was closed.  So I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was opened and hiked down to see it.  They had made some improvement to the trail but it was a pretty steep one as well.  We got quite the workout at those first two falls.  My Fitbit tracked it as going up 48 flights of stairs so that was a lot of incline.  We bypassed Wahkeena Falls because we couldn't find parking.  Bill let Chuck and I off at Multnomah Falls and Horsetail Falls long enough so we could take pictures and he just drove around until we were ready for a pickup since there was no parking at either of those places.  Chuck was thrilled to see them so I was pleased that he enjoyed it.  After all that hiking, we went to Hood River to the Cathedral Ridge Winery.  We had never been there before but we were pleasantly surprised at how good the wine was there.

Friday night we headed into Portland to celebrate Beverly's birthday with a nice dinner.  I had been wanting to go to Huber's Cafe for quite awhile now-ever since I heard about it on a program called "Cities of the Underworld".  Huber's is the oldest bar and restaurant in Portland and it has a very interesting history.  It was established in 1879 at a different location but has been at its current site since 1910.  It was owned by a German man by the name of Huber and he had a Chinese cook named Jim Louie.  At that time, there wasn't much seating there and if you bought a drink you got a free turkey sandwich and coleslaw.  Patrons would wander the bar with a drink in one hand and a sandwich in the other.  That was the start of turkey dinner being their specialty.  After Mr. Huber's death, Jim Louie managed the restaurant for the family and eventually the Louie family bought out the restaurant from the Huber family.  So it has been run by a Chinese family for a very long time which is surprising for such a truly traditional American restaurant.

The restaurant doesn't advertise it but it also has a bit of a shady past.  I would have to watch the Portland episode of "Cities of the Underworld" again to really get it totally right.  But it was part of Portland's shady past of Shanghai kidnappings, white slave trade, bootlegging, speakeasy, etc. over the years.  How much of it, it is hard to say.  I can't find any references to it on the internet but I do remember that it played a prominent part of the program where all of that was described as part of Portland's underground.

We spent a very enjoyable evening there.  We got a nice quiet table by the window on the restaurant side.  I did sneak over to the bar side for awhile to see what it was like as it appears to be the more famous portion of the restaurant.  The stained glass ceilings and wood paneling of that long ago era are quite impressive as well as all the old photographs and other memorabilia on the walls.  It bar is probably a more impressive room but it was pretty noisy in there so I think I made the right decision to make our reservation on the restaurant side.  I actually like a good traditional turkey dinner so I took advantage of having that for my dinner.  Bill had a pasta dish and Chuck the beef stroganoff.  Huber's also has a signature drink--Spanish coffee--that they make table side with great flare and flame.  Bill and I each ordered on to get the show.

Saturday was another day traveling out to the Gorge.  This time we headed to Stevenson for lunch at Bill's favorite spot there--the Big River Grill.  And he has found a beer that he is quite taken with at the Walking Man Brewery so we stopped at the brewery to have a bit of a taste and get a couple of growlers of beer.  We wondered out to Lyle hoping to go to a museum there but it wasn't open.  But we got a peek of the Klickitat River and went wine tasting at the Memaloose tasting room in Lyle before heading back home again.

It was a busy weekend but a lot of fun.  And I nice way to remember Beverly on her birthday.

On the Streets of Seattle

Christopher decided to do a mission trip again this spring break.  He had gone to Seattle last spring break with student from The INN.  He decided not to do an INN trip this year.  He wasn't interested in doing the prison ministry trip to Mount Vernon.  And didn't want to go to Mississippi or Mexico. So he contacted one of the guys at Serve Seattle that he worked with last year and arranged his own trip.  He headed down there last Saturday.  On Sunday, he spent a rainy afternoon walking all over downtown Seattle taking in the sights.  During the week, he went on two Search and Rescue missions with the Serve Seattle group.  They go out looking for homeless people to give food, water, socks, and engage in conversion.  He worked at a soup kitchen for three of the days.  He also spent a little time connecting with friends while he was there.  He had a really great week.  This was what he wrote as he left them:

"Later Serve Seattle! It has been a privilege and honor to be in community and, with a few of you, serve alongside you in your city. You are all amazing, not just for what you do, but for who you are and for the One in whose Name you serve. Feel free to keep in contact! It is sad to leave such a welcoming, awesome place but I am also excited to go home."

He texted me Friday night to see if it was okay to come home for the weekend since he had the car and was able to do it.  I was so excited.  Bill had seen him a few weeks ago when he took the car up to Chris.  But it has been three months since I saw him.  Unfortunately, he got here really late and is exhausted from his last few weeks of school, finals and working with the homeless last week.  So he isn't feeling well and is spending all day in bed.  But still happy I get to spend a little time with him anyway before he heads back up to Bellingham to start school again.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

West Point Glee Club Comes to Portland

Bill and I went to hear the West Point Glee Club sing last night.  Such a fun evening.  I actually did some shopping in Lake Oswego in the late afternoon and then Bill and I had dinner before heading over to the concert.  The Randall family in Portland paid for the cadets to come to the West Coast for a tour of California and Oregon during their spring break.  Nike made their Tiger Woods Auditorium available for the concert to be held.  Bill and I got to Nike fairly early.  About an hour before the concert.  I had never been there so I wanted to walk around a bit.  It is a beautiful campus. All or most of the office buildings are on a man made lake in the middle of the campus.  The buildings are connected with covered porticos and the walkways are lined with bronze plaques of sports greats.  It was fun looking at the lake, the Canada geese and ducks and seeing if we could recognize the various sports names on the plaques.

The various trees and bushes were in full bloom.  I enjoyed coming across this Japanese garden along the way.

The glee club was fantastic.  It was a wonderful concert.  They started off with old West Point songs, Civil War era military songs and hymns.  The first song was "The Corps" and all the grads stood for that as they all should.

The next part of the concert was what they call their "fun" portion.  Their motto is "No fun without music.  No music without fun."  The women had a song that they did on their own.

The next part was more modern.  And by that I mean--1960's and 1970's.  But very fun with some drumming and soloists.  And an acapella men's chorus doing tunes like "My Girl".

The director found out quite by accident that these two fellas sing bluegrass and have added a bluegrass song to the concert.  They are both from South Dakota and have fun making jokes about how they never find anyone where they go that have lived in South Dakota.  They sang "Good Old Mountain Dew" and everyone loved it.  The director said that they didn't think they were very good.  But I would never have thought that.  They were fantastic.

When they sang "Army Blue", all the firsties came to the front.  They are looking forward to putting on their Army Blues in just a few months.

The audience participation part was at the end.  They sang the Armed Forces medley and all those who had served stood during their portion of the medley.  There were a few Navy, Air Force and Marine vets in the audience but being that we were at a West Point event--of course the majority were Army.  And when it came time to sing the Alma Mater, they invited all the old grads to come up on stage to sing it with them.

They ended the night with an encore--"Fight On Old Army Team" and a big old loud "Beat Navy!" cheer.

It was such a great night.  Always wonderful to get connected with our West Point and Army roots.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

California Dreamin'

Most people in the country are very tired of winter and doing plenty of California Dreamin' in the hopes that spring will soon arrive.  Tom and his crew had an unexpected trip to California about a month ago.  They left their home base thinking that they would only be gone for the day but ended up needing to stay in California about five days for repairs. So they had to make a trip to Wal-Mart to buy some clothes to wear for their time there since they weren't expecting to be gone that long.  Despite being able to enjoy some golfing and beach time, they all would have preferred to be home.  Tom, in particular, was to be getting ready to deploy and wanted to spend some time with Maddy.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

In Like a Lamb or In Like Lion?

There is that old saying--if March comes in like a lamb, it will go out like a lion or visa versa.  It was two different worlds in Vancouver, WA and Wichita, KS this weekend.

The weather here in the Pacific Northwest these past few weeks has been spectacular.  Almost scarily so.  There is a lot of concern that we don't have enough rain and snow pack this year because it has been so dry.  And warm.  I don't believe I have ever mowed the lawn in February before.  We had to mow our grass both last weekend (and probably needed it before that) and again this weekend.  It has been so warm that the plum trees were blossoming about a week ago.  I don't think I have seen that in February before either.  Usually not until around St. Patrick's Day.  I saw daffodils in bloom on the way to church this morning.  March definitely came in like a lamb here in the Pacific Northwest.

Bill read that there was going to be a Chinese New Year gala at Skyview High School yesterday.  It wasn't very expensive.  Only $10 a ticket which included dinner and the show.  So we decided we would give it a go.  We didn't know anyone there so we were a bit on our own.  And definitely in the minority.  There were a few other white folks there but it was almost all Chinese and all speaking Chinese.  We got in line to get our dinner which came in a white styrofoam to go box and tried to find a spot to sit as it was already really crowded in the school cafeteria.  We managed to find a couple of seats and talked to the other couple at the table for a bit.  Then we went to stake out our seats in the auditorium for the show.  We didn't stay for the whole program but stayed for the first hour and a half.  There was a lion dance--think dragon dance only with just two people in the costume.  And kung fu demostrations, lantern dances, Tibetian dancers, Indian dancers, a comedy routine of some sort (we think since it was all in Chinese and didn't get much out of it), vocal presentations, ballet, etc. It was a nice diversion for the evening and exposed us to more of the Chinese culture in our community.

Meanwhile in Wichita--Maddy has been waiting all winter long to get snow.  So March came in like a lion down there.  She was so excited that they finally got a good amount of snow there.  They took a walk over to their community pond.  Tom blazed a trail so that Ariel could manage.  She loved the snow.  She was wearing a sweater and was prancing the whole time.  It will be the last Tom sees snow for awhile I would think.  He is headed to the Middle East again soon for a few months.  We will definitely be well into spring by the time he returns.

So whether your March came in like a lamb or in like a lion--I hope you are enjoying your weekend as our family has.