Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Happy Holidays

Shortly after last Christmas, Bill brought up the idea of going to Leavenworth for Christmas.  We have been there a few times during the summer but never during the winter so I was all for it.  I have had empty nester syndrome the last few years and have been struggling with the idea of Christmas and what would make it special for me and our family.  I thought that maybe a trip to a Bavarian themed village that goes all out for Christmas was what I needed to make Christmas feel special for me this year.  I made our reservations in Wenatchee which is 20 miles away thinking that would be close enough to enjoy the magic and have looked forward to the trip all year long.  I had visions of beautifully lit buildings and trees and a German dinner with oompah music playing in my head all year long.

My original plan was to celebrate Christmas with Christopher over New Years weekend.  We got a room with two beds just in case he changed jobs and/or would be able to join us in Wenatchee but really knew that it would probably be just Bill and me on our Leavenworth adventure.  The plan ended up changing a little bit.  Chris is still coming down for New Years but he made a totally unexpected trip to see us the day before we left.  I had no idea he was coming and that the rats were coming with him until just a few hours before he left.  He wasn't entirely sure at the time whether he was going to come home for New Years or not so I decided we had better open gifts while he was here.  Our Christmas celebration with him was going to Dulin's during my lunch break and opening gifts after I got home from work.  He spent the evening with his friends at church for a young adult Christmas party.  It was very quick and no special meal or activities but we made do with the time we had available.  I am planning a much more festive New Years for when he comes down this weekend.   

Bill and I hadn't met Curiosity and Cognition yet so I was looking forward to seeing them a little bit.  More out of curiosity than anything else.  I have to admit that the idea of having rats for pets is a little unsettling for me but I am happy that they make Chris happy.  We had a little bit of an adventure with the girls the night they arrived.  I didn't hear Chris come in but I definitely woke up when he was scurrying about at 12:30 am.  He felt badly for them being stuck in a small cage for so long that he let them out in the upstairs bathroom while he was taking a shower.  I did have in the back of my mind as he was driving down that they might get loose and sure enough one of them did.  Curiosity has a tendency to disappear at his apartment and true to form, she squeezed under the space between the door and the floor into Bill's office and was running around and hiding behind desks and bookcases.  It freaked me out having a rat loose in my house so I got up and talked to Chris about an hour while he was trying to catch her.  I finally gave up and left him to do the job on his own.

Friday morning, Chris left at the same time we did to go meet a friend for coffee before heading back to Bellingham so we said our good-byes and headed to the Gorge to start our adventure.

Bill loves going to Stevenson to have lunch at the Big River Grill so that was our first stop.  We had decided to break up the trip north into two days and do a little wine tasting in the Yakima area.  We had no idea which winery we wanted to go to.  We just picked one out on the internet as we were driving there.  We ended up going to Wilridge Winery on Naches Ridge.  It was at a high enough elevation that we had our first snow while we were doing our tasting there.

We had decided that we were going to try to be good at least part of the time we were on our vacation so we took our food with us and didn't eat out in Yakima but I wanted to do more than just hang out in our room the entire evening.  The woman at the winery talked about how much she liked the lights in downtown Yakima so I took a little drive there to wander and take a few photos. 

It was a pretty sight and I liked the fun snowflake lights on each of the light poles.  Very festive!  It reminded me of the song "Silver Bells".

Saturday morning we drove from Yakima to Leavenworth.  It was a beautiful sunny day.  We drove through the Wenatchee National Forest and I was in awe of how beautiful it was with all the snow on the trees.  We got to Leavenworth about noon but it was totally the wrong time to be there.  It was so crazy busy and we couldn't find any parking so we finally gave up and drove to Wenatchee to check into our motel, have lunch and find something to do.  We tried to go to the museum there but it was closed early for the holiday so we ended up finding the Stemilt Creek tasting room nearby and did some more wine tasting.

We drove to Leavenworth early on Christmas Eve morning to avoid the traffic and crowds.  We ate at a diner and wandered around town and into a few shops during the morning.

I do love seeing the Bavarian themed buildings there.

We wandered down to get a peek at the Wenatchee River.  They have a nice walking trail along the river but it was so cold-about 5 degrees- and our fingers were getting numb so we didn't go too far before we headed back up the hill to see if there were any shops open yet.

Jack Frost was definitely nipping at our noses.  Other than eating, drinking and shopping, there isn't a whole lot more to do there so we left after spending about three hours in town.  At the time that I made our reservations, I think there was still availability for lodging in town but it was pretty steep so I decided to go for a motel in Wenatchee thinking it would be "close enough".  Not so.  If I had to to it again, I would definitely splurge to get at least one night of lodging in Leavenworth.  My whole Hallmark-like Christmas fantasy didn't come true.  We didn't get to see the lights or have a German meal with German music playing like I had hoped for when we booked the trip.  If we had actually stayed in Leavenworth, I would have had the experience I had hoped for.  We had a nice time seeing the village and wandering around a bit but it wasn't the Christmas I dreamed of so I have to admit that I was a little disappointed.

We had started going to movies as a Christmas tradition a few years ago so Bill and I decided to go to see "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" at the theater in the afternoon.  It wasn't a great movie but was an enjoyable diversion.  After we got out, we decided we had better figure out what we were going to do for dinner.  We were out of HMR entrees and I had already decided that I wasn't going to have one for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.  We started calling around to a few restaurants and they were all closing really early for the evening so at 3:30 in the afternoon, we headed over to Claudio's Mexican Restaurant before it was too late.  We had a fabulous Feliz Navidad dinner and margaritas to celebrate Christmas Eve.

Even before we left home, I had a feeling that maybe three nights in Wenatchee might be too long.  Given that it would be harder to find things to do and anywhere to eat on Christmas Day than it was on Christmas Eve, I wasn't too sure of what we would do if we did stay and Bill really wanted to travel back home on Christmas Day instead of the day after.  It made a whole lot of sense to me too.

We woke up to a White Christmas in Wenatchee.  It made driving through the mountains a bit challenging but they had the roads salted pretty well.  We came home via Snoqualmie Pass and the Seattle area because going back our usual route to Satus Pass was going to be a little more difficult than sticking to the freeways west of the mountains as much as we could.  As it turned out, we wouldn't have had to leave home to experience a White Christmas this year. It snowed here in Vancouver as well and we still have snow on the ground three days later.

Not long after we got home, Tom called us via Messenger.  He has been deployed for the past couple of weeks in the Middle East.  I rallied our friends and family to send him Christmas cards and some even sent gifts which was really nice of them.  We had a pretty long conversation with him.  He had worked Christmas Eve going on a refueling mission.  We joked that he helped Santa refuel that night too.  So grateful for Skype technology to be able to share our Christmas with him for even a little bit.  God bless him and all our troops who aren't able to spend the holidays with their families.

I came across this meme on Facebook this year and it really resonated with me.  For a long time, I have struggled with gift giving.  I struggle with what to get for my family and always feel badly when someone gives me a gift and I don't have one to reciprocate with.  I felt like the meme gave me permission to not be forced into the whole gift giving, rush around and bake lots of cookies mindset.  But what it hadn't done yet was help me to realize that I don't have to work so hard to find something "special" to celebrate Christmas.  I was still setting myself up to be disappointed.  I felt terrible that I didn't have a special meal for Chris when he was home just before Christmas.  It wasn't my fault because he came practically unannounced and had made plans with others but when I thought that he might not come home again during the holidays, it still made me feel guilty that I wasn't making Christmas special for him.  And I set myself up to be disappointed in a trip that I had been looking forward to all year long by setting highly romanticized expectations.  Bill and I had a great time just being together and I need to remember that moving forward.  Don't set high expectations.  Just take things as they come and enjoy the truly important part of the holiday celebrating Christ's birth and just being with the ones that we love and truly being "present" in our interactions with them.

Hoping that all my family and friends had an enjoyable Christmas whether with family or on their own.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

CAA Christmas

Bill bought a new (used) tuxedo about a month ago.  His old one definitely was not going to fit any longer since he has lost so much weight.  He bought it without any real plan for wearing it though so I insisted that he wear it to our flying club Christmas party.  I felt like I was going to the party with James Bond and I was a Bond girl.

It has been a few years since we have gone to the Christmas party.  We were in Hawaii last year.  I can't even remember the last time we have attended.  The format was a little different this year.  The clubhouse is getting to be over 20 years old and needing some updates done.  So we had an auction this year to help raise funds including an oral auction for several items.  When we first had the clubhouse, they had several silent auctions to raise money to help pay for the building.  Bill was in charge of several of those.  Fortunately, we are mostly out of the leadership track-at least for the time being.

We sat with our friends, Jeff and Julie, again this year as we usually do.  Not sure of the story behind it but Jeff decided he wanted to go to the party dressed like Willie Wonka.  So James Bond and Willie Wonka sat together at dinner last night.

Walt Swan was named Member of the Year this year.  Well deserved and he is the first member to be awarded for a second time. 

It was a fun, festive and well attended event.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Hello December

When December arrives, that means the holiday party season gets started.  Over the years, Bill and I have usually had a relatively packed December of various holiday celebrations.  Some have remained constant over the years, some no longer happen and occasionally new ones get added.

Last week I had three different events.  I think Bill attended a few other business related ones without me.

This one was business related but I went along too.  Jim West invited us to go to the Southwest Washington Contractors Association Holiday Dinner.  The theme was really fun this year-Christmas Around the World.  There were lots of costumes worn by the volunteers that represented a lot of different countries as well as aviation and train related costumes like airline pilot uniforms.  They even had Chinese Dragon Dancers and drummers for entertainment before dinner.  Bill had to get a photo with Delano who was dressed as Santa.  He said he looked like an elf next to Santa.

On the way back from the beach, we stopped in Aurora, Oregon to go to the Wine and Chocolate Walk there with the Oerdings and the Gustafsons.  Several businesses in town had local wineries offering tastings in their stores as well as local chocolates.  There are a lot of antique stores in Aurora so most of the stops on the walk were antique stores but there was also a winery at what used to be one of the banks in town and a hazelnut factory store.  We had lunch at the Aurora Colony Pub so we had something on our stomachs for more wine tasting and stopped at the White Rabbit Bakery to have some cookies and coffee before heading home.  It was pretty much an all day event.  Bill and I weren't much interesting in doing shopping but Jeff and Julie spent quite a bit of time looking at various antiques.

Thursday night I was invited to our friend Shannon's home for a wine, appetizer and white elephant gift exchange party.  We live pretty close to her--just a few blocks away-but most of the women at the party are her close neighbors and I don't really know any of them even though we only live a few blocks away.  It was a fun to talk to a few of the women and the gift exchange was a hoot.  I took a true white elephant gift of Snoopy Christmas glasses so I got a little worried when the first few gifts opened were really nice gifts.  As the night progressed, I relaxed a little given that my gift was at least tame compared to what some of the others were getting.  We had a lot of laughs over some of the things that people came up with for gifts.

We have a few more events over the next few weeks between now and Christmas but here is a glimpse into what our last week of parties was like.  Hope everyone is enjoying their holiday seasonal parties as well.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Lincoln City Weekend

I've been itching to go to Lincoln City for awhile now.  I think going to Cannon Beach with Tom over Labor Day weekend started it.  Gave me a taste of being at the beach but we weren't able to be there for very long.  With our anniversary this week, I thought it might be nice to go.  Even if the weather wasn't great, it would be a nice little getaway.  When we were at the beach during a bad storm several years ago, it was fun to watch the ocean from our room in that wild state.  I knew no matter what the weather was, we would enjoy it.

Even though there were some awesome off-season deals to be had, I splurged a little bit and got a room right on the beach at the Best Western Motel.  There is something about watching the ocean that is so fascinating and mesmerizing.  I can just sit and watch it all day long and being able to do it from one's hotel room is so worth it.

As luck would have it, it did rain a fair amount.  Bill wanted to stop at Spirit Mountain on the way there for lunch.  He had been there once on a tour but I had never stopped before.  Once we got to Lincoln City, we went shopping at the outlet malls for a short time before we went to see if we could check into our room.  Bill needed to buy some clothes.  Having lost all that weight, we have had to start buying clothes so that he has things that actually fit him.  Luckily it stopped raining about that time so I went out to enjoy a walk on the beach.  I climbed around on the rocks a bit hoping to see some starfish.  No luck on the starfish but I did see a few hermit crabs and some anemone-at least that is what I think they are called.  It started raining again as I headed back to the room but was thankful to get some actual time on the beach to explore and take photos.  We got to see an awesome sunset before we walked down to Kyllos for dinner.  We both had the crab stuffed halibut and prawns for dinner and peanut butter pie for dessert.  Awesome anniversary dinner.

We had to head back toward Portland relatively early as we had made plans with friends in Aurora (that will be another post).  We soaked in our last few moments with the beach and got to see a double rainbow before we left.

Bill wasn't sure why I wanted to go (he indulged me) but having been there, he is now thinking we might need another winter getaway to the beach in a few months.  We'll see.  It was a nice trip to spend some time together and celebrate our anniversary though.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017


Bill and I were looking at spending Thanksgiving on our own this year.  Tom would be celebrating with friends in Wichita and Chris had to work.  Cindy and Jim decided not to celebrate with family this year so I invited them to have dinner with us.  They have included us in a lot of family and holiday celebrations the last few years so we were more than happy to reciprocate this year.  It was also the first time that they were going to be seeing the new kitchen since they have had to miss a couple invitations in the last couple of months.

I got started with my preparations the day before.  I always try to get my baking out of the way the day before to leave the oven available for the turkey and sides that need to go in.  Bill wanted to start his day with a 25 mile hike in Forest Park so that he could eat guilt-free.  We got up about 0330 in the morning to head over to Portland and get to the trail head.  When we got there, it felt kind of spooky with it being so dark and a little foggy.  I felt like I was stepping into an episode of "Grimm".  When I told Bill that, he came back with "they probably filmed it here".  I know that they certainly would have done some filming in the park itself.

I got home at 0500 and got straight to work cooking and cleaning and didn't have a chance to sit down and take a break until noon.  Bill was ready for his pickup at about 1430 and literally just got done showering when our guests arrived.

We had a lovely meal and enjoyed the company.  Definitely beat celebrating the day by ourselves.

Christopher came down from Bellingham after work on Friday so he got here in the wee hours Saturday morning.  When I asked him how he wanted to celebrate the holiday (reminding him that I had a lot of leftovers), he wanted to make Leftover Turkey Curry to use some of our leftovers.  That is so him!  He has never really liked a traditional Thanksgiving dinner anyway and he had already had five turkey dinners at the mission this week so he wasn't up to having another one.  I got the ingredients together and bought some naan and Indian Thanksgiving is what we had.  He also wanted Turkey Cranberry Quesadillas on Sunday before he headed back home.

We hadn't seen Chris since before his birthday three months ago so I was really happy to see him.  We didn't do anything too exciting.  Walking at Salmon Creek Park Sunday morning was about as exciting as it got.  Enjoyed our visit and will look forward to seeing him again for New Years Weekend.

We definitely have a lot to be thankful for.  I didn't do a 30 Days of Gratitude project but I did devote a week of my journal this year to what I am grateful for.  

Hoping all my family and friends had a great Thanksgiving and are looking forward to a joyful holiday season.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Veterans Day Celebrations

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".

What a Difference a Year Makes

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

Meeting Tucker

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

My Birthday Festival

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

Family Reunion

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.