Happy New Year! Happy 2020! Week 300 last week was an amazing coincidence of Loren’s and my bringing our Journey to an end on this blog, though we were still traveling at the beginning of this… More
Loren and I spent the beginning of this week in Washington, D.C. After driving the many hours from New Hampshire, we settled in at our “Charming bedroom” in a house-over-100-years-old AirBnB, where our hosts helped us feel at home. We spent our first full and by the way, sunny, day, at The Newseum, located near the U.S. Capitol. Sadly, it will be closing its doors at the end of December because the building has been purchased. We felt fortunate in our timing, and thoroughly appreciated its intriguing representation of the importance of our 1st Amendment. My meager photos simply do not do it justice for all it offers. Loren and I were especially enraptured by the 100 Years of Pulitzer Prize Photographs Gallery, and could have spent much time seeing more of the films offered in their several theaters. Fortunately they intend to keep an online presence going forward.
That evening Loren and I had dinner with a woman who we had met on our tour of Egypt, who lives in the DC area. I regret that I didn’t capture a photo of our time together, but the evening will not be forgotten. The next day Loren and I spent at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, one of the newest Smithsonian Institution offerings. It was well worth spending our entire day there. From the early history on North American soil to current contributions to sports and entertainment, it was a well conceived memorial and celebratory experience.
Loren and I stayed four nights in one of seven bedrooms at our AirBnB. After raising their family, our hosts opened their home to long term guests or to folks needing recurring local accommodations, all of whom who are delightful people. The hosts have more recently offered rooms to shorter term AirBnB guests, though they offer more than a place to stay. Our hosts provide a sense of a community — even a feeling of being family — through their benevolence. We enjoyed full leisurely served breakfasts, where over delicious food we each shared about our lives, and, over the next few days participated in deeper conversations and meaningful discussions. After touring the NMAAHC, Loren and I also enjoyed a pasta dinner with our hosts, one of their sons, and a couple of their long term guests and friends. After dinner a few of us had fun playing Mexican Train.
Loren’s and my last full day in D.C. was spent dodging rain visiting the U.S. Supreme Court and the Capitol. We had intended to sit in on the hour-long arguments of a Supreme Court case, but there was already a line, and a few at the front claimed all the available seats. However, a new line was formed offering a three minute viewing of the arguments and we jumped on it. Just to see the Justices in person and hear them questioning the attorneys was worth it. Additionally, we toured the building afterwards. I learned that William Howard Taft who is a distant relative of mine and who after his Presidency ultimately became Supreme Court Chief Justice until just before his death, was the driving force for creating a separate Supreme Court building. The court’s needs had outgrown their limited accommodations in the Capitol building.
We also learned that the Supreme Court, as the Judicial arm of our democracy’s three branch government is “the Guardian of Liberty,” and has an obligation to impartiality. From a highly knowledgeable woman at the Visitor’s Desk we also learned that of 8,000 cases requesting a hearing by the Supreme Court annually, only about 80 (+/-1%) of them are accepted to be heard. She continued on a more personal note, as a naturalized citizen in her accent that we found was of Uzbekistan origin, that when she arrived in the United States in 1989 she noticed, “Everyone has a smile!” “Why?” she wondered. She determined, “If they are fed, they smile.” She also happened to mention that William H. Taft’s grave is at Arlington National Cemetary.
From the Supreme Court building Loren and I walked to the US Capitol for a scheduled afternoon tour. No photos were allowed to be taken. However, we were reminded of our country’s motto: E Pluribus Unum, Latin for, Out of Many, One. We had procured passes from our House Representative that morning to sit in the Galleries of the 116th Congress, but after our tour the legislative bodies were not meeting for some hours. We decided to travel some blocks away to the National Geographic Museum, where an exhibition detailing Jane Goodall’s fascinating life’s work of studying chimpanzees was on display.
Loren and I returned to the Capitol and chose to sit in on the House, who would be voting, starting at 6:30p.m. It was quite interesting to see what we were advised would appear to be chaos, while the voting and business were accomplished. It appeared to be more like a social gathering, with very few representatives sitting in the floor’s chairs. But, we saw visibly how the votes were taken and accounted for, all by a sophisticated electronics system. Maybe someday we can also sit in to see the Senate’s more orderly proceedings in person…
During our short time in Washington, D.C. our car sat parked in the driveway of our AirBnB and we traveled by foot or by Metro everywhere. The next morning we drove from D.C. to nearby Arlington National Cemetary in Virginia, where we saw Taft’s and Kennedy’s graves, and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with its continuous Army guard. From there we had an uneventful though long drive to Knoxville, Tennessee, where the weather had threatened to include snow and ice. We were fortunate in that the little snow that had accumulated did not amount to icy conditions and was gone by morning for our next day’s drive.
We then drove through Nashville on our way to Hot Springs, Arkansas. We stopped for me to tour Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage – his home, and its Visitor Center, where I learned more about his life, his terms in the White House as our 7th President, and the state of America during his lifetime.
Sometimes people must leave a place and return to it to learn about it… at least this is true for me this past week as I pursued genealogical records of one of my great-grandfathers in my home town. As you might surmise, Loren and I were still in New York at the start of this week. After I filled out the necessary paperwork, I noticed the pen I was using had an image of the city logo attached, which made me curious about what the years on it meant. The city was incorporated in 1917, but its earlier history includes 1683 when the land for the city was purchased from the local Native Americans, and, 1776 when the State of New York – renamed from the Colony of New York, ratified the Constitution. Therefore, my home town is known as the Birth City of the State of New York. I am duly impressed by this history.
While downtown, I was also moved to take photos of a few remaining older buildings so familiar from the first half of my life. One is of City Hall where my grandfather took me as a child to watch parades from its balcony, another is where my grandfather had his office, and the other, just down the street, is where I worked for my first full time job.
Our last visit this week with my brother and his family was going to see the movie Ford vs. Ferrari which was as outstanding as some Loren’s and my other favorite uplifting movies — like Seabiscuit for one. Then we went to dinner afterwards and bade these dear ones our fond farewells.
The next day the predicted heavy snow and sleet storm arrived. My plan to attend It’s A Wonderful Life Radio Show featuring a fellow yogi in the performance was canceled. The snow finally stopped but with the cold temperatures creating icy conditions it was a good day to stay put inside. The next morning more snow had fallen over the ice, so we canceled our plans to drive to New Hampshire to have lunch with friends and dinner with other friends there. The question remained, should we stay put in New York and wait out the prediction of more snow or would we brave it to keep our AirBnB commitment that night in New Hampshire to be closer to my cousins and our intended visit the next day?
With my success driving through Wisconsin’s and Ohio’s Arctic Blast, we chose to drive at a cautious pace during the warmest hours of the day when the plows, sanders and salters would provide the best driving conditions. We made it just before dark, and just as the AirBnB host was using a snow blower to carve out a parking space for us. We had conversations with a couple of other AirBnB guests from Arizona about the storm. They were supporting a Democratic Presidential candidate who was also in town. In the morning we awoke to find “Winter Storm Ezekiel” that had been predicted to “keep hammering parts of New England” had dumped a lot more snow overnight.
Our AirBnB host — with his snow blower — was nowhere to be found at checkout time, but Loren shoveled and I helped scrape the car, and we slip-slid our van onto the plowed street to make our way to my cousin and her husband’s home nearby, as planned.
The next day there was no further precipitation and we four spent a good part of it visiting New Hampshire’s State House in the capitol city of in Concord. A cornerstone commemorates the history of the building, which now turns out to be 100 years. And my cousin found a portrait of one of her ancestors on her mother’s side. That evening another cousin joined us for dinner and it was nice to catch up with her too.
I was delighted to learn the history of the eagle that adorns the cupola was redesigned from facing left — signifying for war, to now facing right, signifying for peace.
The next morning while our cousins kept an appointment, Loren and I walked around the neighborhood. It was more than a little surprising to find one neighbor’s political signage include a different sort of request…
That afternoon it was most meaningful to experience helping to make homemade ravioli. The dinner included meeting neighbors of our cousins to share in the wonderful meal.
After another sad farewell to people we are so fond of, Loren and I have now driven on to Washington DC. It is the first time we have driven through Delaware on our Journey…
Loren and I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving! We were grateful to have enjoyed two celebrations this year, more below. We began our week hosting my brother, his wife and their younger daughter for dinner at their lake house, where we are staying while here in New York. Sadly I neglected to take any photos save for the one of the design I put on my pie for desert, but I can say it was an enjoyable evening together. My design may be hard to make out — that’s a delicate peace sign in the middle of the pie.
The next night, Loren especially enjoyed watching the Packers vs 49ers play in Santa Clara on our TV. We had more of an appreciation of the Packers from having seen them in Lambeau field a couple of weeks ago, though we were still glad to see the 9ers win. The next day, Loren and I took in a double feature of movies: we saw A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood and Harriet. I was grateful that we saw them in that order. While I was deeply moved by both films, Tom Hanks’ portrayal of Mr. Rogers’ encounter with a journalist unaware of his feelings felt light, only when compared to the intensity of Harriet’s dangerous flights for sheer life for herself and others. The next evening I remembered to take photos when Loren and I entertained my other niece and her now fiancé for dinner. A most handsome couple, we wish them all the best in the future.
The day before Thanksgiving, my yoga class took an annual picture, which was nice to be a part. Then, I snapped a picture of the NY reindeer that I have passed by on my way to yoga here.
On Thanksgiving, Loren and I were up early to catch the 6am train into Manhattan. With the station so empty, I looked up to find several Zodiac images on the massive ceiling.
Loren and I joined special friends for brunch, at their place that has a storied view of the parade route. Google even proved the path wound in front of their building. On our walk there from Grand Central we stopped at the Algonquin Hotel to see their famous round table, at the suggestion of a friend from California.
Then we did our best to make our way before the Police barricades were in place. We did fine until we reached the corner to our friends’ place. After being turned away by two police officers, we found another support us, which even entailed us climbing over fencing, but we made it!
Being with our friends and watching the parade across the street from Central Park was most memorable, the first time Loren or I have seen Macy’s parade in person.
Back at Grand Central Terminal, it was as busy as the oft-used analogy suggests — do you see Loren standing in about he same spot as my earlier photo? Fortunately we found seats on our express train back to Westchester,
where we had a lovely and delicious dinner with my brother, his family and dear neighbors.
Loren and I began this week taking leave of our AirBnB in Ohio, where reminders of the Arctic Blast decorated unharvested corn fields. We drove further east to see a dear friend of ours who lives near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. We thoroughly enjoyed a few rounds of the rummy game, May I, with each of us reigning as champion in the end, though point-wise our friend was the ultimate winner, while devouring her wonderful homemade eggplant parmegiano.
While visiting with her we went to Lancaster to see President James Buchanan’s Wheatland estate. We learned that he reluctantly served just one term in the White House after a successful career as a Representative, Senator and Ambassador, but his legacy as our 15th President serving just before Abraham Lincoln, was second to that of his niece Harriet Lane, who competently and confidently stood in as his “Hostess,” or First Lady. During Buchanan’s term, seven southern states seceded from the union.
From Pennsylvania, Loren and I drove to near Albany, New York, to visit special friends. We saw the new home of our friends son and his wife, then enjoyed a delicious dinner together. The next day we celebrated our friend’s retirement over a memorable lunch. That evening Loren and I had a meaningful conversation over dinner with our niece who is in collage at SUNY-Albany, but I neglected to take a photo. Loren and I stayed overnight nearby in Colonie and awoke to a thick, wet, heavy coating of snow over our car, the roads, trees, everything. But it didn’t deter us from heading further north to Canajoharie, said Cana-(as in Canada)-jah-hairy. In native Mohawk language that means “The pot that washes itself,” referring to a gush of Canajoharie Creek that circles in a Boiling Pot before it cascades into Mohawk River.
I visited Canajoharie’s village records office to see if I could learn more about the great-grandfather on my father’s side whose name and birth location I had discovered the last time Loren and I were in New York. I am still hopeful the clerk will uncover his records… While I was in the office, Loren discovered the village history of a 2006 flood, and learned that the massive abandoned plant we saw across the street was formerly used by the Beechnut company. At the suggestion of the town clerk we visited their library, where a section of reference books related to local history proved interesting – I found listed a few names of ancestors on my mother’s side with whom I’d previously been familiar.
We stopped back to have a fun lunch with our friend near Albany at the farm store where she manages the kitchen. A surprising exchange occurred when Loren was practicing his Spanish language with one of her coworkers who is originally from Mexico. I usually follow along a little with his Spanish, and was smiling as I tried to understand the pleasant conversation. I realized I didn’t follow at all when she kindly said something about palabra mala, which means bad word. Our friend and I could hardly control our laughter when Loren then explained to us that in trying to say he would like to someday come back to “pick” apples at the farm, he actually said he would want to come back to fxxx the apples, where fxxx rhymes with pluck…
That evening Loren and I arrived at my brother’s lake house where we will stay with much gratitude through Thanksgiving weekend. The next day we were off again in search of my ancestry, this time a great-grandmothers who was born in High Falls, New York — wife of the man from Canajoharie. We had no luck with the town clerk as their records only go back to 1881, but, we made a stop anyway at the local cemetery where her maiden name is well represented, I just an unsure which, if any, are my ancestors.
From there we returned to Walden where I had been successful last time we were here and thanks to the Canajoharie village clerk making a couple of phone calls, I now knew that Walden’s Clerk has the record of one of my great-grandfather’s death, which record has given me names of my father’s ancestors still further back – all the way to one of my 5th degree great-grandparents.
This week we also enjoyed a day with another special friend. From having brunch together, we visited the Hudson River Museum in Yonkers. What attracted us was the exhibit of artist James McElhinney: Discover the Hudson Anew.
We also enjoyed the rest of the museum, including a tour of the Glenview Mansion all decked out for the holiday season, a permanent children’s display, as well as
an exhibit of photos from lunar landings.
One showcase especially caught my attention – it is of photos from Lick Observatory which is in the San Francisco Bay Area. My story is that I made a point to visit this site in 1991, because it was 100 years after the one great-grandmother who I had the privilege to know until I was 12 years old had visited this same place in 1891 with her parents.
Other than my joy at seeing loved ones and researching about ancestry in New York, I have not enjoyed the early cold we have experienced from as far back as Nevada, that causes static electricity, dry skin, finger chapped and raw, with tiny cuts so that they feel like sandpaper… Ok, enough complaining. I’ll conclude with my further reflection that as Loren and I have traveled east across the country I have been disappointed to have had to pass by so many appealing brown signs along highways and interstates that advertise historic sites, local parks and recreation areas, nature preserves, points of interest, and other venues that I would like to visit, but cannot, because we need to push on to arrive when we are scheduled to be someplace. Such is the yin and the yang of life, huh?
When Loren and I left our cousins’ farm in Nebraska at the beginning of this week, it was sad to see how much devastation has occurred from the major flooding earlier this year. Route 80 is detoured from roads that are still underwater, as alternative roads are being built.
We drove through Iowa to our destination of Madison, Wisconsin to arrive at what our friend there said was “between record snows and record temperatures.” We checked in at our AirBnB, then headed off for a Friday fish dinner with our friend, before we all attended a performance of University of Wisconsin at Madison’s Wisconsin Singers. The finale piece included an appearance of their Badgers football team’s mascot, the Badger.
The next day Loren joined our friend for a walk around the Capital Farmer’s Market before they went to a Badgers’ game. Loren was especially impressed with the marching band. Me? I shopped for a warm coat because the zipper on my North-Face knockoff that I had bought in Nepal had opened, then the zipper pull came off in my hand…
That evening we three attended an Arlo Guthrie concert at the Barrymore Theater. Guthrie’s son and two of his daughters participated with him on-stage. Their last piece comprised lyrics that his father Woody had composed.
The next morning Loren and I drove to Green Bay, which had been the main reason we visited Wisconsin this time — our friend had sold us two tickets to see the Packers at Lambeau Field. This was on par with our visit to Wrigley Field in Chicago a few years ago, as both are iconic stadiums that Loren has especially wanted to visit. We arrived early enough to take in all of the extensive Packers’ Hall of Fame museum’s displays at the park.
Our seats were in a great location for the mid-afternoon kickoff against the Carolina Panthers. It seemed that there was not an empty seat to watch this fan-owned community team play — the attendance was recorded to be 78,000 and we were impressed with the devotion of Green Bay’s fans. We remained in our seats through near the end of the 4th quarter for a home team win, despite a consistent flurry of snow that had begun about half way through the game. The announcers at the stadium labeled it “ideal Lambeau conditions.”
That evening Loren and I traveled an hour further south-eastward to stay overnight at an AirBnB in Manitowoc. We drove through the continued light snow which began to accumulate before we arrived at our destination. I dared to take a photo as I drove but the white that was intensely visible across my windshield was barely caught by my camera.
The snow stopped overnight though resumed the next morning. That day, it took us 12 hours over what is normally an eight hour distance, in consistent light snow from the “Arctic blast” that then hit the area. Usually on a long drive day we fill the gas tank at half empty. This day it was strange when, based on how long I’d been driving and would want a break, I would expect to find the tank half empty, but each time it was still 3/4 full. We saw many “disabled” cars, most of which had skidded or jackknifed into ditches and guardrails. At one point I too skidded on an on ramp. Thankfully my years driving in winter conditions helped me navigate and we simply came to a standstill in the shoulder, facing backwards. We know we were lucky and in the future would not venture out in such a storm. In the evening we returned from a short break to find our windshield had frosted over.
The entire next day we holed up at another AirBnB in Ohio, that we had reserved for three nights. The sun was shining on the new snow, making for a pleasant view. Early the next morning, we were treated to a moonset view over the white landscape.
We spent this last full day here with a lunch date with special friends at a State Park’s welcoming lodge, where we also spent the afternoon thoroughly enjoying catching up over a game of canasta.
Last week, Loren and I were leaving Nevada headed eastward. All the way as we passed through the northeast corner of Arizona through Utah and into western Colorado we were entertained on all sides by high desert vistas of sage brush and sand that turned to amazing red rock formations and deep canyons. I only snapped one photo as we briefly stopped, I could have easily taken a few hundred more to share…
At the suggestion of our cousin in eastern Colorado, we stopped for two nights in Grand Junction to spend time at Colorado National Monument. Just as it had been in Nevada, it was unseasonably cold there. I must emphasize how cold we felt. I was grateful I had purchased a pair of inexpensive gloves at a pharmacy in Las Vegas and wore them with my other winter outerwear with gratitude. As was also suggested, the next morning we waited for the day to warm up a bit before heading to the Monument at mid-morning to beat the crowds. We arrived at the perfect time. We first hiked to see Devil’s Kitchen,
then hiked to First Pool on No Thoroughfare Canyon Trail. We were disheartened throughout our time in Colorado to not see any fall colors as all the leaves were frozen on the trees and turned brown from a previous unusual cold snap in September. We did see wildlife after we were alerted by another couple hiking this trail to look up for big horn sheep on a mountain above us, We decided skip a hike through Echo Canyon and instead drove on further through the Monument.
It turned out we spent the entire rest of our day driving along the main road of the park relishing its unique scenery. We barely made it into the Visitor’s Center at the far end of the park at 4:45 to see a brief informative film before they closed their doors at 5pm.
On further recommendation we drove to the quaint town of Palisade, famous for peach and cherry orchards, and vineyards that compare to California’s Napa Valley. We were too late for any wine tasting but at a bar in town Loren tried whiskey tasting, which included peach, pear and apricot brandies.
As we left western Colorado the next morning, I was again moved to snap a last photo of dramatic scenery along the freeway.
The next two nights were spent with our special cousins near Denver. They treated us to dinner at a Mexican restaurant, and introduced us to the Chocolate Therapist. The second evening their daughter, her husband and one of their daughters joined us for a delicious home cooked meal. Their other, slightly older daughter was at a ballet rehearsal for an upcoming performance of The Nutcracker.
Once again we were on the road heading east. Through much of eastern Colorado and into western Nebraska we drove through heavy fog. I snapped a photo where you can still see on the lower left the remnants of ice that Loren had scraped off our windshield from an unusually early frost. That evening as we stopped for gas before we reached the farm of our cousins in Nebraska, I was surprised to find three California PG&E utility trucks filling up. I still wonder what they were doing in Nebraska…
Loren and I were again warmly welcomed by more dear cousins of ours and had another wonderful visit. They showed us around the area, which included a drive by the local corn harvest pile, and, their low, or what they call “bottom,” land that they were never able to plant this year because it is still underwater from the record flooding they had had early this year. They had been surprised to even discover pelicans grace those waters this summer.
During our short visit Loren and I were able to provide helping hands to setup part of an electric fence to enclose the remains of a corn field. It will be further cleaned up by cattle during ensuing months. Harsh northerly winds picked up that interrupted our work before we could finish the job. The bulls are currently in yards with the cows, doing what bulls do when then are with cows. Surprisingly though one of our cousins’ new young billy goat has had a hard time with discovering what he is supposed to do with the does.
The next day we helped — or maybe more accurately observed and assisted where we could — with cleaning the combine, as our cousins had completed their harvest the night before we arrived.
Throughout wonderful meals, running errands, attending to daily chores and visits with other family members that sometimes included playing cards, we enjoyed much laughter and meaningful conversations. I just wish I had taken more photos of our visit.
This was a full – and fun – week for us! At the beginning Loren and I were still at Clear Lake, where we spent our last night in a cabin at the State Park. That evening we went to see a production of Chicago in Lakeport. To our delight, a friend from the Lake County Bikram Yoga studio, a veteran who now studies acting, was in the performance. Unfortunately the Bikram studio has closed, it’s owner is off on new adventures in life.
The next morning we were up early to meet Loren’s sister in Castro Valley for breakfast. On the way driving by Calistoga we saw hot air balloons just taking off – look for the blast of fire that propels the one on the right. But you can also see the continuing smoke from the Kincade fire on the horizon.
From Castro Valley Loren and I drove to San Jose to pick up mail. We also had a lovely lunch with dear neighbor friends at an Italian restaurant near our neighborhood.
Then Loren and I drove south to spend the night at Avila Hot Springs on the coast off San Luis Obispo. We arrived in the dark but were able to find our tent camping Site X. We had a great soak when we first arrived, and took another before we left in the morning.
We reached Orange County that afternoon to visit a dear friend. As has always been the case since we met in 2003, her main goal in life is to have fun. Once again we did with her! I accompanied her to her weekly Tai Chi class the next morning where we learned some Qigong moves. Sadly, also we saw too many broadcasts of news reports of the fires in Los Angeles – the Getty then the Easy among others. We were not near the fires, even when we went to LACMA – the LA County Museum of Art. We were intrigued by the display of African art called Invisible Man and The Masque of Blackness, and appreciated the docent’s tour to explain it further. And we had fun in between the permanent display called Urban Light.
We indulged in street food for lunch, then walked over to see some of the outdoor displays of La Brea Tar Pits next door. The natural tar still bubbles up in the pool where ancient creatures were trapped, as well as along the streets and sidewalks in the area.
At our friend’s home that evening, we laughed and laughed at It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World from her collection of movies. The next day while she went off to a preplanned luncheon, Loren and I visited the nearby Nixon Library. Did I mention our friend’s favorite saying each morning is, “It’s Another Day in Paradise!”? She has a doormat to remind us, just in case we could forget.
Nixon’s is the last of the National Archives and Records Administration’s maintained Presidential Libraries for us to visit. We still hope to see more of the other libraries or homes devoted to our country’s presidential heritage that are not maintained by NARA. We were reminded that Nixon accomplished important tasks during his time in office – he opened our relationship with China during the Cold War by flying to China to shake hands and meet with Premier Xhou Enlai and Chairman Mao. He also signed Title IX for female athletes, and he did away with the draft. It is always meaningful to immerse ourselves in US history through the perspective of a President – and as the Nixon brochure suggests to “…explore America’s past to learn about our present.” And how timely for us to read about Nixon’s own historic impeachment process and resignation…
That evening with our friend we watched a John and Yoko Netflix film, then enjoyed dinner out for Thai food. We returned in time to watch the last innings of that evening’s World Series game. Our friend bestowed us with a pair of witch’s tights, which I decided would be fun to tie around our rear window washer, which to my delight flapped up in my rear view mirror as we drove along! The tights even survived the scary 80mph winds that we encountered driving through the San Bernardino mountains on our way to Tecopa Hot Springs after we said goodbye to Orange County. I had to grip the wheel tight to keep us in our lane. It was dreadful first to see several 18 wheelers off to the side of the road with their flashers on; then we saw, in all, four overturned semi’s within a half mile stretch of interstate, two on our side, two on the crowded other side. It was awful.
Before we arrived at the Hot Springs, we stopped to see Liberty Sculpture Park, in the middle of the desert. After a soak, we drove on to Las Vegas, where, thanks to the suggestion of a friend we had found a special deal to stay at the Paris hotel.
Loren and I spent two nights in Vegas. The first night we saw Human Nature Sings Motown and More, a group from Australia, perform at the Venetian. Afterwards we watched the last innings of the final World Series game, toasted the Nationals’ win, then lamented the news of Steph’s Curry’s broken hand. On our walk back to our hotel, we stopped in front of the Bellagio to have a sidewalk dance to their music and water show.
The next evening was Halloween and we were treated to a version Michael Jackson’s Thriller at the MJ Live Tribute show at the Stratosphere. The main performer put on a striking visual and impressive vocal replica of the star’s moves and songs.
Oh, and the completion to the riddle, “I thought the dryer made my clothes shrink,” above? It’s “turns out it was a the refrigerator.” Ha ha! This too is thanks to our fun friend in Orange County, who made up several of these trick treats for her friends.
Dear Family and Friends, thank you for continuing to follow our Journey, Loren and I so appreciate you keeping up with us here. And, we wish you a Happy Halloween!
This week, we celebrated the 30th year since we met, back on October 20, 1989. It was thrilling to acknowledge, and, there is a chance that we could make it another 30 years, should we — and our planet — remain healthy enough… We were still in Ashland, Oregon at the beginning of this week. We saw our last Shakespeare play – As You Like It, and, our last non-Shakespearean play of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival – Hairspray. Both were enjoyable and we would recommend them. We also had our last couple of dinners with our dear friends in Ashland. One was delicious at their lovely home, before we took in another of the Hamazons Improv performances together. For those who might be impressed, we sat a few seats away from Jeanne Huston in the front row. The Hamazons incorporated some Shakespeare themes to their act, all great fun!
On our last evening in Ashland, Loren and I enjoyed dinner out with our dear friends, at the same restaurant where we went together when we first arrived. It had such appealing fare on the menu that I wanted to try it again.
While in Ashland, I was delighted also to complete my 30 day Bikram Yoga challenge. As a result, I trimmed a little of the excess weight I have been carrying around lately so my clothes fit better and that feels good. I also received great corrections from the other instructors there, and, I basked in the great community of yogis who take class there. I also taught one last Bikram class this week at this great studio in downtown Ashland.
I couldn’t help snapping just a few more photos of the vibrant colors on display this fall…
Loren and I then drove the 5 hours south to visit once again in Clear Lake, California. Special friends came to join us for an overnight and another half day visit at our Clear Lake State Park cabin. We enjoyed hiking together, driving around parts of the lake with them again, and some memorable conversations over good meals together.
The night they stayed over, the Santa Ana winds blew throughout most of the night and it was balmy weather. The temperatures dropped to their normal cooler average the next night though. That next evening we also enjoyed a dinner out for Mexican food with our friends who live here. It is always good to catch up with them, they are an inspiration.
While Loren rode his bike around the lake, I did some hiking in the State Park where they have some great trails. I encountered neat wildlife – deer, heron, turtles, ducks, squirrels, crows, and just lovely creek and lake waters.
Loren also hiked another time with me too, and it was especially nice to have the company to share the beauty with.
On a much sadder note, we have seen some angry fire storm clouds in the distance from the Kincade fire and one evening we briefly smelled smoke as we saw haze creep over a mountain range in our direction.
Our hearts go out to all those affected by these most recent tragedies.
Loren and I began this week with our friend here on a drive around Lithia Park in downtown Ashland to see beautiful fall colors,
followed by a walk in the park. Lithia park was designed by John McLaren, the same person who had laid out San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, It includes such features as Lower and Upper Duck Ponds, grassy areas, a Japanese garden, lots of wonderful trails through lots of gorgeous trees, a few bridges over Ashland Creek… worth several visits.
Loren and I continued taking in offerings of the Ashland Oregon Shakespeare Festival. This week we saw All’s Well that Ends Well. As it was the final performance of the festival of All’s Well we were treated to the tradition of the entire company closing out a show.
We also saw Between Two Knees, intended to be a comedy about bookended events that happened in history at Wounded Knee. We believe this particular performance was more so attended by Native Americans, because we saw it on national Indigenous Day, aka Columbus Day. We also saw Indecent and Mother Road this week. And, we were delighted that our dear friend who was the Flower Girl at our wedding came with her boyfriend who we had not yet met from Portland. Together we saw La Comedia of Errors. This was performed by the same cast who performed Mother Road the night before, as both performances were bilingual portrayals of the plays. Afterwards we restaurant hopped for appetizers and finished the lovely evening at our favorite ice cream parlor.
Not only is Lithia Park beautiful to see, but the whole of Ashland is ablaze in fall colors. We notice the hills behind the prominent Ashland Springs hotel have changed from simply green to displaying lots of yellows, not to mention the variety of colors in the foreground. And, the weather has changed toward the end of this week with more rain.
What amazes Loren the most is the variety of different trees and shrubs here that display their colorful best. He has seen fall colors before, but claims this is the first time he has ever stayed put in one place to see the intensity of color emerge over time.
Loren and I started this week with seeing the movie Judy. If you are at all a fan of Judy Garland we can recommend it, even though it mainly portrayed her sad, darker days. The next evening we went to see our dear friend here in Ashland perform in a play reading, along with several other dramatists, helping prepare for Halloween.
The venue was about an hour away in Grant’s Pass, and afterwards we four enjoyed a nice dinner beside the Rogue River.
Grant’s Pass has a fondness for animal statues, and I developed a fondness of photographing a few of the ones we saw there.
It has been fun to spend this extended time in the same town as our friends. We have so enjoyed visiting with them as often as we can. Our studio AirBnB is walking distance to their home and along the way we have seen some beautiful fall colors and other flora.
Loren and I also took in more of the arts that are so prevalent in Ashland. We visited the local theater for a World Film Week and specifically saw Rafiki, Cold Case Hammarskjold, and Fiddlin’ all of which we would also recommend. One evening before a film, we stopped for ice cream, and while it was delicious, we don’t want to make it a habit here.
Loren and I are continuing with attending more performances of Oregon Shakespeare Festival. This week we took in a discussion with one of the actors in a piece we saw last week, and, we attended the Shakespearean production of MacBeth. Another evening we thoroughly enjoyed a gathering at our friends’ home. The neighbors and friends of theirs who attended are good people, ones who Loren and I would enjoy knowing better. I forgot to take any photos though. The next day with our friends we stopped to see the Ashland Culture of Peace Commission’s World Peace Flame in a pavilion on the Southern Oregon University campus.
Then we had a lovely hike on part of the Pacific Crest Trail that takes in Mount Ashland,
and we spent a little time at Callahan’s, a lodge near Mount Ashland which is a stop similar to Kennedy Meadows in the California Sierras for Pacific Crest hikers. That evening we ate leftovers and totally enjoyed a rented copy of the compelling Bohemian Rhapsody together. This is yet another movie worth it to see if you have not yet.
As of now, I am more than half way through my 30 day yoga challenge, and it was quite inspiring to run into two different yoga teachers I know while we have been here this week – one was a teacher in the San Jose studio — but I didn’t have my camera when I saw her, the other taught here in Ashland and she and I had taught together in San Ramon recently. I also enjoyed teaching another couple of classes this week at this studio.
We hope you too are enjoying fall, especially for those of you who now have power back on in California… hopefully that was worth it to prevent another serious wildfire.