Sunday, November 12, 2017
I am proud to be a veteran and come from a family with many veterans. Our son, Tom, is currently serving and it is a great source of pride for us.
I braved the cold and the rain yesterday to go to the Veterans Day ceremony and parade. The ceremony was at The Academy which was a new venue for this year. In the past it has been outside the Marshall House on Officers Row. It was nice to be warm during that portion of the celebration anyway. The weather elements could not be avoided for the parade but at least it wasn't pouring. More like a heavy drizzle. Always interesting to see all the different veterans organizations and all the Boy and Girl Scouts. I think there were 45 different scouting groups in the parade.
In the evening, Bill and I joined our friends Jeff and Julie who host a Veterans Day dinner every year. Our numbers have dwindled over the past several years. This year it was just 8 of us all together. Jeff's mom and dad live in an assisted living community on the Willamette River so we had dinner at the restaurant there this year. It was actually quite lovely and the food was really good. So it was an evening with good food and good company. It was a great way to celebrate "our day".
This is the second year that Bill was a Pink Brigade guy for the Girlfriends Run for a Cure race to raise money for breast cancer causes. Last year he walked the half marathon with Jim West. This year he ran the quarter marathon.
The real story is Bill's successful weight loss this past year. When you look at the photos from last year, it really is a "wow" moment. He has lost 90 pounds since the end of January and he looks and feels great. He has taken his health seriously and really stuck to his diet through the hospital's Weight Loss for Life program which is part of the HMR program. I also had put on several pounds and needed to lose weight so while I didn't join the program officially, I also stopped drinking alcohol, started having the shakes for breakfast and at the same entrees as he did in the evening. I have lost nearly 25 pounds which I have been thrilled with as well.
We have entered more of a maintenance phase so I have started cooking more meals but trying to emphasize few carbs, less meat and lot of veggies. I am hoping that we can maintain our weight now that we have worked so hard to get it off. Time shall tell but for now-we are very happy with our new selves.
Saturday, October 14, 2017
My dear friend from my Army days had a grandson in May. This last weekend was the first opportunity to go see him. He was so sweet and cute. I haven't held a baby in a long time so it was fun to play with him and read to him. I am in no hurry to have grandchildren by any means but it is nice to have access to a baby every once in a while.
Suzi, Terry, Timothy, Sam, Tucker and I all went to the zoo together in the afternoon. We drove around the five mile loop around Point Defiance before heading to the zoo. I hadn't been there since I lived there more than 30 years ago and definitely don't remember much about it. We must have seen at least 15 raccoons along the drive. They hear cars and come up to the road hoping for people to feed them I guess. I thought those critters were nocturnal so that surprised me that they were out during the day.
I don't ever remember going to the zoo. It is not very big but it is nice. The aquarium in particular is wonderful. It amazed me how Tucker could follow the fish and animals if they were close enough to him at four months old already. Suzi tried to get him up close to see the goats but one got in his face so he got scared and we had a hard time getting him calmed down. Wondering if we have scarred him for life now.
We all went back to Suzi and Terry's house to have dinner together too. And Tucker got to sit up at the table. His doctor wanted him to start out on some veggies so it was his first time eating anything other than formula. He seemed to like the carrots and did really good for his first time.
Always good to see my buddy Suzi. Until next time.
Sunday, October 1, 2017
It has been a couple of years since I have been home and Bill hasn't gone with me for five years so we thought it was probably time that we did. I tried to get together with my college freshman roommate who lives in Eau Claire last time since I was going to be in town for my nursing school's 50 anniversary gala but she was out of town visiting her daughter at the time so we weren't able to link up. I hadn't seen her since January of 1985 when I went to the Twin Cities to visit her. She was so disappointed that we couldn't get together last time that she told me that the next time we were in the state, I was to let her know and she would drive to see me if she needed to. This trip it worked out and we got to see each other.
Bill and I flew into Minneapolis and drove to Eau Claire. We got there mid-afternoon and we talked for eight hours straight I think--catching up on our families and their news. Once her husband got home, we went for a drive around town to show us some of the new things going on and the changes since we were there going to school. We had dinner at a new restaurant on the patio by the river and then went back to her house and she surprised me with a birthday cake. It was a wonderful homemade chocolate cake that she said her mom had always made for their birthdays so that made it special. So much fun seeing her. We were both giddy like school girls to see each other again.
The next morning, we had breakfast with Joan and then headed to our next destination in Wausau. We had lunch with Aunty Joanne and Uncle Dwight and then Uncle Dwight took us up to Rib Mountain and downtown Wausau for a drive. It has been a really long time since I had been downtown--sure a lot of changes there. Everyone else started rolling in that evening to have supper with us. Good to see everyone that came. I got two more birthday cakes that night. Aunty Carolyn made me an angel food cake that Mom would have made for my birthday. Aunty Joanne made a chocolate cake with marshmallow and fudge frosting that great grandma and grandma used to make so it was a nostalgic birthday with all the things that having a birthday at home with family means.
After breakfast, Bill and I headed to Tomah to see my family. Darren and Tess had to work for most of our time there so we had dinner at their house the first night and I had another birthday party. Tess made me a yummy banana cake and Dane and Carla got me a confetti cake. So two more cakes for a total of five for the week. Score.
We got to meet Mallory's newest rabbit as well as seeing all the other critters at their house. Friday night, we went out for a fish fry at a place I had never been to before-Evergreens between Millston and Cataract. My old standby fish fry places no longer exist and it was fun to go to a new spot. I drove and we saw one deer along side the road in the ditch. Glad we didn't see any on the road. That is always the scary part about driving at night there. The night before there was a really freaky accident in which one car hit a deer and threw it into a car driving in the opposite direction. They had to life flight some people to the hospital in La Crosse.
We pretty much just hung out in Tomah the first few days but Dad always likes to go somewhere for a drive so I thought maybe it would be a good day to go to the Dells and go on an Upper Dells boat tour. I can't even remember the last time I went--probably more than 40 years ago. I have taken Bill and the boys on Duck tours on the Lower Dells before but not the Upper Dells. Mallory decided to come with Dad, Shirley, Bill and me.
It was really hot the whole time we were in Wisconsin-record high temperatures in the 90's-and our day in the Dells was no exception. We enjoyed our two stops on the tour. Going into Witches Gulch in particular was pleasant because it was at least 10 degrees cooler in there. And the rock formations are really cool to see. The stop at Standing Rock was also fun to see the dog jump the chasm to get to it. We had lunch at a pub in the Dells before we headed back home.
That night Uncle Ray, Aunty Karen and Chrissy's family came to see us at Dane's and it was our last chance to see everyone and say goodbye before we left to head back to Minneapolis to catch our flight back home.
I have recently been curious about how old the home I grew up in is. I think it was probably built in 1897 but not positive. Some members of the family that lived there when the photo was taken in 1907 said that the residents at that time didn't move to town until 1907 but I found a history of the family online that said it was in 1897. So the house is somewhere between 110 and 120 years old as best as I can figure out.
As always, it is nice to go back home to see family and wonder around town to my old haunts. Hoping to go back next summer to see family again.
Monday, September 4, 2017
Tom is always on the go being deployed to the Middle East or on TDY a lot. Every time he thinks he might be able to come home on leave, somehow it never happens. The last time we saw him was just for one day when he flew up to see Chris graduate from college last year. One day was all the Air Force would allow him to be gone because of everything he had going on at the time. The time before that was two years ago at his wedding so we had a lot of catching up to do.
Tom arrived late Tuesday night. By Saturday, he had recovered from his long hike in the Grand Tetons and he and Bill went to one of their favorite spots-Hamilton Mountain in the Columbia Gorge. This past Friday, they went on another hike in the Gorge at Dog Mountain and then went to Carson Hot Springs for a soak and a massage. He and Bill enjoyed their hiking time together very much.
They also had some great father-son time flying. They went up on Wednesday morning after he arrived to fly to Kelso to warm up the engine to prep for an oil change. While they were up that day, Tom asked if they could do a flight around Mt. St. Helens so they did that the next day. Chris wasn't able to come down for his birthday weekend so the three of us flew up on Sunday to help Chris celebrate his birthday a few days early in Bellingham. Bill let Tom do a fair amount of the flying and talking to flight control on all their flights. It was fun to sit in the back seat and see Bill coaching Tom on what to do and what to say.
Chris picked us up at the airport and we started out our morning with breakfast at our favorite spot in Fairhaven-Skylark's. I was in heaven. My whole family was together in one spot! We didn't have any real plan of what we wanted to do while we were there. Bill asked if there was a visitor center at Mt. Baker and that led to discussing that Artist Point is only open a couple months of the year and it was prime time to go there. So off to Mt. Baker we went to see what there was to see.
I love this photo of Chris. There was still some snow up at Artist Point. People would take sleds up there to slide down on some of the hills of snow. Chris climbed up on one of the hills. It looks like he is so close to Mt. Shuksan from that perspective.
Unfortunately we never got any photos of all four of us together but we took lots of pictures to capture our time in that beautiful spot.
In addition to going up to Artist Point, we stopped at Nooksack Falls and a hiking trail along the highway on the Nooksack River to check those out as well.
After we got back to Bellingham, we went to one of Christopher's favorite breweries, Chuckanut, and had some beer there. Christopher's first two choices for places to go to dinner that night were closed on Sundays so we ended up going to Boundary Bay for dinner. Chris had plans with friends that night so he dropped us off at the hotel and we spent a little time in the hot tub there before going to bed. Monday morning, we headed to Mount Bakery for some breakfast. Christopher's friend and former roommate, Luke, joined us. Then it was off to the airport to come back home and more flying time for Tom.
I took as much time off last week as I could to spend with Tom. On Tuesday, we went with Bill to the Grant House to video the cook for Soup's On then he and I hung out going out to Ilani for the first time to check it out. Not impressed. We went hiking around Battle Ground Lake for the first time in I don't know how long. I can't do those big hikes that he and Bill do. This was a Shannon-size hike but we did make two loops around the lake. From there, Tom wanted to see where I work and I introduced him to some of my co-workers. Then we got flowers and went to Grandma Bev's grave site to visit her. On an interesting side note, there was a new burial site next to her. It was one of Tom's high school wrestling teammates that died in a car accident back in 2009. Not sure why he is just getting buried next to Bev now but was certainly an interesting coincidence.
Bill and I had been trying to figure out what we were going to do for our anniversary and decided while we were at the Grant House that we would go back that evening to celebrate. Tom went to spend time with some of his friends that night.
I had been wanting to go see the Terracotta Warrior exhibit in Seattle ever since I heard it was coming. Chris had gone to Xi'an when he was in China and saw the Terracotta Warriors archaeological dig there. I asked Tom if he wanted to go and he was all for it. Bill stayed home to work and let me and Tom have some one-on-one time. We drove up to Seattle and were surprised to find that it was raining there. We got there a little early so we stopped at the Armory to get some lunch before we headed to the museum.
I didn't realize until we got there that it was the last weekend that they would be in Seattle so it was providence that we actually got to see it. The exhibit is moving to Philadelphia for the next few months before going back to China. There were 10 actual Terracotta Warriors, some of the weapons buried with them, and some reproductions to give an idea of what some of the other figures looked like. We enjoyed the exhibit very much. I was so thrilled to even get a glimpse of what Chris had seen in China.
We checked out some of the other exhibits at the museum but we got done and realized we still had a fair amount of time to kill before we absolutely had to head home. Tom really wanted to go up into the Space Needle. We hadn't been up to the top in over 17 years but it was still really cloudy. With as expensive as it is to go up, it didn't seem like a good idea to go up and not have much of a view. So we decided to walk and get some more exercise by going to Pike Place Market. We didn't spend a lot of time there. Just enough to walk through and take a few photos. We needed to walk back to the Seattle Center to get back to the car and wanted to try to avoid rush hour traffic.
By the time we got back to the Space Needle, most of the clouds had lifted and we decided to see if we could get some tickets. It wasn't a super busy day there so we got tickets right away and went up. We enjoyed catching all the views of the city while we were up there. The only thing that would have made it better is if the clouds would have lifted enough to see Mt. Rainier.
Bill signed us up to help Gary and Shirley Gross bottle some of their mead Saturday morning. We were joined by a mother-daughter team for our morning's work.
Bill has done it one other time and Tom has helped some of his friends bottle beer and mead before as well. This was my first time.
We each had our jobs. Tom hauled the bottles in off the truck and put them in to be sanitized.
Bill is pretty good at keeping all the bottles moving as they get filled.
Gary was capping the filled bottles.
Grace cut tape and wiped down the bottles.
Shirley and I sealed the bottles with wax. That was the most time consuming part of the process-waiting for the wax to dry.
We bottled their Ruby Sunset mead which happens to be my favorite. It is made with blackberry flower honey, cranberries and strawberries and it very yummy.
We enjoyed some mead and good company over lunch.
Sunday was to be Tom's last day in the Pacific Northwest. His last request was to go to the beach. We got up early and headed to Cannon Beach. We lucked out and got a decent parking place downtown and got some breakfast before we headed out onto the beach and walked to see Haystack Rock. We tried to go to Ecola State Park and Fort Stevens but everything was just crazy busy and crowded everywhere that we went. We couldn't get in or get parking at most places so we finally just gave up and started for home. We did stop at Gouger Winery for some wine tasting and to do our quarterly wine pickup on the way home.
It doesn't seem possible that Tom was here for almost two weeks. We tried to pack as much fun and memories in as we could. We don't know when we will see him again. Could be a long wait again. We enjoyed every minute that he was here with us and already miss him.
There was such a stir surrounding the eclipse. We live only about 60 miles from where totality was expected. Several days prior to the event we were in McCall, ID which was also very close to 100% totality. We were seeing news coverage of 30 mile backups on Hwy 26 of people trying to get to Prineville for the Eclipse Festival they were having there on Thursday-5 days before the eclipse. Unbelievable! We saw aerial views of Madras that took your breathe away for how many people were in that little town. Sadly--a plane crashed outside of Madras on Saturday. There were reports from all the Eastern Oregon airports that you had to make an appointment to land. That is almost unheard of.
I thought I was getting prepared. I got online three weeks before the eclipse to order glasses for us, Chris and Tom and Maddy. Little did I know at the time that there were a lot of glasses out there that weren't certified as being safe to use. The stories were coming out that Amazon was recalling lots of glasses. I had tried ordering on Amazon but wasn't guaranteed delivery on time so I tried Wal-Mart instead. I found some that they claimed would arrive on time. They cost $50 but I thought I was getting something that was acceptable. Christopher's and Tom's arrived in time. Mine were predicted to arrive on the day of the eclipse according to the estimate after they were shipped (several days later than promised when ordering) so I knew they wouldn't arrive in time. Turned out that they didn't arrive until 4 days after the eclipse.
Chris decided to come down to Vancouver to experience the eclipse. Bellingham was only going to have 88% totality and he wanted to experience closer to 100%. Vancouver experienced a 99% total eclipse. So we asked him to bring all his glasses down so that we could use them since we knew that ours wouldn't arrive in time. Bill looked at them and thought that they didn't look right so he looked up online and sure enough, Wal-Mart had pulled them for not being safe. I was so mad. I got no e-mail to warn us that they weren't safe and that we shouldn't use them. I called to try to get a refund several times but because it was a third party, they wouldn't honor it. Just gave me a sketchy cell phone number to call that no one answered. So mad that I got caught up in the scam that so many others had and no more glasses to purchase anywhere. Chris was so disappointed. Chris and Bill did figure out how to make a cereal box pinhole camera though so that is what we ended up using.
In the meantime, Tom was somewhere between Cheyenne and Jackson Hole. His plan was to watch the eclipse from Grand Teton National Park which was in the line of totality. We finally got a hold of him while he was driving but he was insisting he was going hiking during the eclipse no matter what. He had no reservations but managed to get a hotel room for the exorbitant price of almost $1000 for the night. I about choked when I heard that is how much he had to pay. It was one of the few rooms left in town though and all the camping spots were taken too so he didn't have anywhere to put of his tent. I had this total fear of the eclipse and was scared for Tom. When he let me know that the hotel gave him a pair of glasses that were certified as safe, I breathed a heavy sigh of relief.
Since Chris was here and there had been such a big deal made of how bad traffic would be, I decided to work from home and watched the coverage on TV. Here on the home front, Chris and Bill went out every so often to try to get a look through the cereal box. I tried a couple of times but couldn't get the hang of it. Man I would have loved to have glasses that actually were safe! So afraid of being outside at all, I avoided the front yard as much of possible but went out on the back deck every so often. It did get darker but being that we were in the 99% range, I thought it would get darker than it actually did. So partly because of my fear and partly because we didn't have eclipse glasses, it was kind of a non-event for me. As soon as the eclipse was mostly over, Bill and Chris picked up some lunch for us and then we urged Chris to get moving to head back to Bellingham. Knowing that there would be lots of people from Seattle area that traveled to areas of totality, he didn't have much of a window before they would all be arriving in Vancouver and tying up our traffic.
Tom managed to snag a parking spot at Grand Teton National Park. They were expecting to be very crowded and needing to close one side of the highway and have one-way traffic only so that they could parallel park cars on the highway. Tom was about two hours into his hike when the eclipse hit there. He laid down on the asphalt trail and enjoyed it. He called me during totality. He was so excited. He took pictures but he also met a lot of people from all over the world on the trail and met a photographer who offered to send him photos.
After the eclipse, Tom continued hiking up to see four of the lakes there. He thought he was hiking back to the parking lot where his car was but as it turned out, his car was 10 miles away. Luckily some park rangers picked him up and gave him a ride part of the way. By this time he had already hiked 20 miles and his feet were not doing very well and it was pretty late at night already. His original plan was to drive up to Yellowstone the next day and hike some more there but he knew that he wasn't going to be in any shape to enjoy his trip to Yellowstone and got as far as Idaho Falls that night and continued to drive home and arrive here in Vancouver on Tuesday night. So happy to see my guy. It had been two years since he had been home and except for one day last June, that was also the last time we had seen him.
Verdict. So for Bill and me--kind of a non-event. Chris--not sure if he was glad he came down to see it or not. Tom-totally thought it was the coolest thing ever.
Saturday, August 26, 2017
Bill and I had never been to McCall, Idaho so we were really looking forward to the fly-out there. It was about a two and a half hour flight from Vancouver to get there. Fairly uneventful flight although I was a little taken aback when a plane flew under us and we hadn't seen him and flight following hadn't warned us that he was near us. I sure hope he had seen us and knew avoid us. If not, God was certainly looking after us at that point.
We left as early as possible in the morning to get there. As with the Portland area, the McCall area was also near the 100% totality zone for the solar eclipse so we were advised it was going to be a little crazy there and to arrive early to get a parking spot at the airport.
We got to the Shore Lodge too early to check in so we ate lunch at the restaurant in the hotel before heading downtown to kill some time. Shore Lodge has been in McCall since 1948 and is a beautiful hotel. We ate in a newly remodeled part of the hotel with a new restaurant overlooking the lake. The outside seating was already taken up so we ate inside but it didn't seem as if we were inside because the whole outside wall was open-felt more like we were sitting under a covered deck. We had lunch with Ron and Janet May. We took off from Pearson just ahead of them and waved at them as we left but they arrived before us because their Dakota is faster than our Skylane. We could see them ahead of us most of the way with the sun glinting off their plane.
My favorite part about the hotel was how inviting the view was from the lobby. It is hard to tell from this photo but you could see Payette Lake through this etched glass.
The view was so spectacular.
We had dinner at a Mexican restaurant just down the road. Bill and I decided to check out the pool area and went into the hot tub for a bit after dinner. Again--beautiful view of the lake from the hot tub. We didn't take advantage of the beach or make s'mores at the fire pit but there were a lot of fun things for kids to do there. It is a very family oriented resort.
Bright and early Friday morning, the folks from Salmon Rafting based out of McCall picked us up at the hotel and drove us to the Riggins area to go whitewater rafting on the Salmon River. I have to admit that I was more than a bit apprehensive about going on the rafting trip. Not so much that I wasn't going to go at all but enough to have healthy respect for the river and plan accordingly. I have PTSD from inter-tubing down the river in Lava Hot Springs-getting hurt and losing my glasses and shoes. I was extra cautious about what we took with us. I took nothing with me that I was willing to lose. Took my old glasses from two prescriptions ago, had croakies on my sunglasses, took off all my jewelry and took my old camera instead of my new one in case it went overboard.
We had a total of six rafts, three one-person kayaks and one two-person kayak on our trip downriver. We put into the river at Spring Bar--about 10 miles upriver from Riggins. There was a forest fire just a few more miles away so our morning was very smoky and hazy. It did bother me a bit. Especially my eyes.
Bill and I happened to be in the raft with the owner of the company. We enjoyed our trip very much as we floated and maneuvered through the various rapids. The river and mountains on either side were beautiful.
We stopped on a sand bar near Riggins for lunch. It was quite the production. The six guides prepared our lunch. The tables that they put the food on were the seats on the rafts. They all had a job putting together the fixings for making sandwiches, salads, etc. It was a fabulous meal. No restrooms in the middle of the river on a sand bar so you had to find a spot somewhere that you were willing to relieve yourself. Guys have so much more of an advantage in that department than we women do. I went with the flow though. I didn't want to have to wait until we got to the end of the trip so I found a spot to just sit in the river and go with it.
One of the kayaks became available that afternoon so Bill decided to try it out for the very first time. We were just getting ready to go through a Class III rapids so I was really nervous about him deciding to do it. And of course, he went out of the kayak on that first rapids as I was afraid he would. But he got back in and didn't want to give up. He spent the whole rest of the afternoon in (and out a few more times) the kayak. He equated it with learning to ski. He wasn't going to learn if he didn't try and get bounced out. He did hit his bottom on some rocks and got pretty bruised up but otherwise had a great time.
We pulled out of the river at Lucile Bar about ten miles downriver from Riggins. It was probably about five o'clock when we started heading back to McCall. We didn't get back to the hotel until after six o'clock and had just enough time to take a very quick shower to get to our dinner reservation at six-thirty. Luckily we didn't have far to go--just across the street from the lodge at the Lardo Grill.
Saturday was a plan your own day. Ron and Nicole Runyan decided that they wanted to go hiking somewhere in the McCall area and asked how many others might want to join them. Bill and a few other adventurous souls went with them to Snowslide Lake and hiked to Snowslide Summit. It wasn't a very long trail-just 2.3 miles one way-but it was pretty much straight up with a 2000 foot elevation gain to the summit which was at 7900 foot elevation. Kevin Padrick and Bill hung out together and enjoyed their day.
I decided to go hiking at Ponderosa State Park which was in McCall itself. I took the city bus on its loop around the city and arrived at the park 40 minutes later. I had thought that I would only spend an hour or two at the most there but I ended up hiking for about two and a half hours and met back up with the bus three hours after the driver left me off. I took the Peninsula Trail which was a well paved bike path for the first part of my hike. It was a pretty hike with views of the lake. From there I took the Lily Marsh Trail which was not paved and fairly rocky. There was a bit of up and down hill climbing as well. I was really hoping that I would see some deer or other wildlife while I was hiking but no such luck. I had seen a doe and two fawns in someone's front yard while I was on the bus but no such luck in the park.
I'm not used to walking that long or far. In fact according to my Fitbit, that was the most I had walked since I got it with more than 25,000 steps for the whole day. So I was a bit stiff and sore at the end of it all and didn't want to attempt walking to the downtown area without knowing how far it was. So I waited for the bus to pick me up and take me there.
I elected to have lunch at Veg'd Out-a salad bar restaurant at the Hotel McCall and then caught up with some other folks that were wondering around town and talked with them for a bit while they enjoyed having some ice cream. I was a little jealous. I was trying to be good having a baked potato and salad bar but the ice cream looked so good and I wasn't going to have another opportunity to go there before we left--sigh. By the time I had sat and rested for awhile, I was ready to walk back to the Shore Lodge.
On the way back to the hotel, I saw three deer. I was up close and personal with a couple of them and was afraid that they might get spooked and run into the road in front of all the traffic but they seem to be pretty used to urban living.
This one was in the hospital parking lot and eating the bushes there. I've never seen a deer scratch its ear before so that was kind of interesting.
This one was also at the hospital but taking advantage of the shade.
And I wasn't far from this one either. I just couldn't get my camera out fast enough to get a closeup.
We had dinner at the Anchor Restaurant that night. We were seated out on the deck with a wonderful view of the lake. I watched osprey dive into the lake to get their dinner and we watched the sunset.
We came home early Sunday morning so we could see Chris. He decided to come home so he could see the eclipse. It was a fabulous weekend full of new experiences and fun with our flying club friends. I don't know if we will ever go back again but if the opportunity presented itself, I certainly wouldn't be opposed. Beautiful vacation spot.