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… More
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.
Loren and I have had a week of relaxation… in other words there is not as much to post. Therefore, below I will share my pride for one of my nieces, who composed a music video with an original song for her workplace, a care home. As the weather turned sharply cold in Ashland, Oregon this week, Loren and I spent more time indoors. We attended an evening of improv with dear friends which was put on by a group of women, named humorously enough, the Hamazons. The show celebrated their 10th anniversary of providing entertainment for the community. We also thoroughly enjoyed a couple of evenings of separate entertainment at our friends’ home – their large living room TV showed football games, and their sitting room showed great movies on an iPad. Can you guess which of the four of us watched in which room?
Loren and I also went to one of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival offerings that is not a Shakespearen play, How to Catch Creation. It was a potent and entertaining drama. That evening I nursed the start of a cold with a lemonade that I was allowed to bring into the theater because it was in one of the festival’s souvenir mugs.
One day the clouds were exceptionally brilliant. Loren went with one of our friends to an intro class all about the periodic table. It’s interesting to look at, showing all the chemical elements that make up our world, and, the UN proclaimed 2019 International Year of the Periodic Table. That evening we all kept our eyes on the Oakland A’s Wild Card game… that they lost. I have been continuing my 30 day yoga challenge, am already more than a third through it. I’ve had the privilege to teach a class, and am on the schedule to teach another at this lovely studio.
Another day, Loren and I headed over to the Jackson Wellsprings hot springs, which has a large hot tub, pool, a wet sauna and a dry sauna. On our way home, I noticed a restaurant with the name Amuse. This amused me because earlier in the day I was actually revising a poem of mine from January 1, 2018, which I had named Amusement:
Amusement, A Haiku
I wonder, might a
muse feel amused, bemused or
enthused, by people?
Claire Adalyn Wright
As a result, Loren and I decided to splurge on a dinner there, for an early celebration of the 30th anniversary of the night when we met. On our way there, we noticed four deer in the dusk, just outside our AirBnB where Loren parks his bike. Because the fee we paid at the hot springs allowed us to return up to midnight, we went back for a second soak there.
Loren and I finished our week taking Ashland’s First Friday Art Walk with our friends. We saw three different music performances – at a market, in a cafe, and in a store, and saw lots of wonderful art for sale. I am also grateful that with taking the hot yoga, going to the hot springs, taking lots of vitamin C and resting, my cold has all but disappeared.
In praise of my beautiful niece’s delightful artistic work, I culled photos from her music video. Her clip also includes photos of different coworkers of hers, and many more of the residents, but, I admit being biased and am only including snapshots of her here. Also, because this blog was hacked a couple of years ago, you might notice I have no longer named names of the people we love and visit with on our travels. Similarly, I am not sharing specific details of this video, all in an effort to try to protect the people who are most important to Loren and me. If you would like more details, please text, call or send an email, I am more than happy to share specifics with folks we know personally.
Happy Fall! At the beginning of this week Loren and I left California to drive north on a day with beautiful weather. I must say that because where we are now does not always have such beautiful weather. We drove past Mount Shasta, on our way to Oregon.
We arrived in Ashland in time to join our friends at their home for a lovely dinner, together with another couple who also drove up from California to visit for a couple of days. Loren and I stayed overnight two nights with our friends who live in Ashland, and our other friends stayed in a nearby hotel that is pet friendly.
The next day threatened rain. We waffled about whether to go out for a hike, and ultimately decided while Loren and our other male friends watched a football game, we women took a hike in Lithia Park, which turned out to be partly in the rain. We followed suit with others who had created cairns in one part of the park, and my friend declared ours represented “Peace, Love and Friendship.”
That evening we enjoyed drinks over a jazz ensemble at the hotel, followed by a nice dinner out.
Loren and I moved into our AirBnB, which is walking distance to downtown Ashland, including a Bikram Yoga studio. We are here for the next 30 days, and I have given myself a 30 day challenge — I plan to take a Bikram class every day, or, if I have to miss a day, I will take two on another day to make it up. Later that afternoon Loren and I went for a hike with our friends from California on Hearts Nature Trail.
Afterwards, we treated ourselves to an ice cream, next door to where I noticed another International Peace Pole. That evening we had dinner out together with our other friend.
After our friends from California headed to Crater Lake, and our other friend was working, Loren and I bought tickets to see Cambodian Rock Band that is part of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Our friends from Ashland raved about it, and rightly so. This is not a Shakespearean play, as about half the Festival is devoted to theater by other playwrights. This cast are headed to New York soon, and Loren thinks they will be held over there, because this play is that good. If you ever have the chance to see Cambodian Rock Band, please be sure to do so.
Another day Loren and I took an OSF Backstage Tour. We felt lucky that the most well informed tour guide was our small group leader for the main part of the tour. We also met a lovely couple on the tour from Albuquerque. They have been coming to Ashland for the Festival for the past forty years. That evening Loren and I went to the “Green” for a free dance demonstration, which this evening was performed by Danceability.
And another day, Loren and I with one of our friends from Ashland took a hike up to the summit of Grizzly Peak. We debated if the mist we walked through was fog or clouds. I just looked it up online and learned that fog is a type of cloud that touches the ground. The main thing is we had a lovely hike, the vapor lifted, allowing the sun to shine for us.
At the beginning of this week Loren and I were still in Mi-Wuk, packing up from our six weeks stay at the delightful “tiny house” AirBnB. We took our hosts’ suggestion to go on a twilight walk, as usually we would return from a walk before darkness had set in. Except in our case this week, it was a moonlit walk as the moon was still nearly full. Yet we saw more stars in the Sierras with a full moon up than we would normally see in more heavily populated areas due to light-pollution.
In the morning we kept a FaceTime date with friends, one who was visiting their cousin in the Bay area from Cornwall, since we could not meet up in person. You may notice we are making the connection from our car which we drove to a neighboring town, as there is no internet or cell service at the cabin.
Following that we went to a Writer’s drop-in group in Sonora. I was tickled that the one poem I chose to read was so well received that they asked me to read another, which was similarly appreciated. Only two of us were poets, the rest were fiction or non-fiction writers. It was nice to have a comrade poet in attendance. Loren and I then drove to the local casino for a shuttle to the Me-Wuk Indians Acorn Festival on their reservation in Tuolumne Rancheria. We thoroughly enjoyed their Indian tacos. We also appreciated seeing intertribal dancing, chanting with rattling and drums, and the crafts booths with items for sale. I appreciated a sign with in native language in the community building…
We returned to the casino where we had noticed a bowling alley to play three games. It was late enough in the day that during our third game we bowled in the dark to flashing party lights, the first time we have ever seen such a phenomenon. I wouldn’t have thought I could bowl in such low lighting, and was surprised when I could.
Loren and I finished our last day in the Sierras with a hike along the Westside Railroad Trail of the Mi-Wok Ranger Station, along Buchanan Mine Road. We saw wild turkeys, a couple of deer, and had a view of the abandoned tracks and the Tuolumne River Canyon.
Early the next morning we bade goodbye to the cabin where I had collected some of the falling acorns in front to the house, then drove to Loren’s sister’s home, to learn about how to care for her pets over the next several days.
We three went out for a birthday brunch, then took BART to San Francisco. We had tickets for one of the last shows of the 40-year-run of Beach Blanket Babylon’s campy performances at Club Fugazi. Afterwards we accompanied Loren’s sister by BART to San Francisco Airport, where she caught a flight to spend the next few days that included her birthday with their other sister in Oregon. We discovered another advantage with Loren becoming a Senior Citizen, he can now qualify for discounted Clipper transit tickets.
Another couple of highlights this week were taking a hike with a friend at Lake Chabot, where for the first time I hiked up to the camp grounds, a portion of the trail where Loren and I had previously always turned around. We had thought that the mist that started when we first met would be a passing event, but it contained throughout our hike, disinclining me think to take any photos. That evening we had dinner with special friends who are still long-term renters at the AirBnB where we had spent the year to help care for Loren’s Mom nearby.
One day Loren and I had a long day of meetings. We first had a first visit with Loren’s new doctor under his Medicare plan for an annual checkup. We like and trust this new-to-us doctor already. Then we met with our financial planner and, as always, appreciated our time with him. We also picked up our mail, seeing a few dear neighbors, then finished the day with an appointment at our property manager’s office. Loren and I had then intended to drive to Ashland, Oregon where we will be staying for the next month; however we learned of the memorial of a friend from our Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Sunnyvale, so were able to delay our departure from California a day. It was meaningful to see so many of our friends there, though the occasion was a sad one.
Loren and I spent the night with a very dear friend, and were highly impressed with her latest artistic creations of working with broken ceramic pieces and glass, as she pursues a long time interest in her vision for a particular stained glass piece. I cannot wait to see where this calling takes her next!
Loren and I began this week picnicking with friends in Jackson, California, at Kennedy Gold Mine Amphitheater. With them and a friend of theirs, we watched the outdoor performance of a play called, Alone, Together.
Then we followed our friends’ to their home in Valley Springs, where we spent the night. In the dark, wee hours I heard a screeching voice shriek “We’re back!” It continued, and faded out to “We’re ba” “e’re ba” “re ba” until finally I realized it was the sounds of one or both our friends’ two roosters crowing, and I could fall back asleep. It was fun in the morning to see how well they’ve settled into their ranch home environment, and to see the improvements in the gardens and livestock from when we visited a couple years ago.
Loren and I drove back to our cabin, where we were expecting a friend to arrive that evening. It turned out he had to work later than planned so he came early the next morning. We enjoyed serving him breakfast, then spending the day together at Pinecrest. We took the hike to Catfish Lake that Loren and I had missed taking last weekend, and, we enjoyed seeing a couple of osprey flying and diving for fish at Pinecrest Lake. Loren and our friend went for a swim, and, we enjoyed dinner at the Steam Donkey Restaurant — named for historic mining equipment. Our friend then had to return to the Bay Area.
The next evening our AirBnB hosts treated us out to dinner. They showed us around Twain Harte and we enjoyed a nice evening. That is a tree we are sitting next to, we were told it originally was inside the restaurant. Loren and I had intended to go on a backpack starting this day, but fortunately we pushed it back a day to enjoy this date. Our decision was unwittingly provident because it turned out the temperature dropped to 37 degrees!
Loren and I considered going on our backpack the next day, but it was still chilly, so we enjoyed a day at the cabin. The next day we again opted to pass, instead going for a good long hike around the whole of Lyons Lake. It included removing our hiking boots to ford a wide creek. That evening we were treated to a beautiful moon rising.
The next day — essentially our last chance to go for more than a one overnight backpack, we bailed out again, instead choosing to take a good hike to Camp Lake in the Emigrant Wilderness, where Loren and I had planned to backpack, and, have previously camped.
It has also been nice to spend more time at the cabin than we would have if we had gone backpacking. We have seen several varieties of wildlife in the backyard, including stellar jays, chipmunk, chickarees, a couple of deer, butterflies and more flora… just delightful.
Now, we are working on packing up… It has been an incredible 6 weeks here, almost over, except we have tomorrow with a full day planned. I’ll post about it next week…
This was an extra special week. Not only did we celebrate our anniversary in a memorable way, we also celebrated Loren’s *65th* birthday. He is now officially and irrevocably a Senior Citizen, and, he is a Medicare enrollee on reaching this milestone. First, though, we began the week attending a Spaghetti dinner fundraiser for the Mi-Wuk/Sugar Pine Fire Department. Another couple joined us at the table and we had a nice conversation. Then all four of us headed to nearby Twain Harte — named for Mark Twain and Bret Harte, American authors who wrote tall tales about life in this northern California county — to attend a summer Concert in the Pines event. Loren and I thoroughly enjoyed dancing to many of their familiar tunes from our youth.
The next day was our wedding anniversary. We were married on 9/1/91, coincidentally this year the date fell on 9/1/19. We had intended to spend it at Pinecrest Lake, take a different day hike while there, swim, and splurge on dinner at the restaurant. But. It was Labor Day weekend and we were one car among too many arriving than the parking lots could handle. Fortunately, Loren had recently voiced his interest in visiting Kennedy Meadow sometime before we leave the Sierras, and I proposed that as Plan B. He agreed! It was an ideal way to spend our special day. The drive was gorgeous – except for the miles and miles that the 2013 Rim Fire had devastated. It was encouraging to notice the healthy ground cover that has arisen from ash. Interesting that a few of the volunteers at the Spaghetti Dinner had been wearing t-shirts that proclaimed “Rim Fire, Never Forget.”
We stopped briefly at Eureka Valley, a campground that Loren remembers from his childhood. He reminisced as he pointed out the sites he recalled his family stayed. And, once we arrived at Kennedy Meadows, we enjoyed picking out which cabin with its picnic table we had once stayed in when Loren’s Mom and sister had joined us there.
We made a dinner reservation at the lodge, then had our picnic lunch along the middle fork of the Stanislaus River. We toasted with a glass of Pink Moscato for the occasion.
Then we had a hike partway into the hills, remembering how we have hiked up in this mountain grandeur for a few backpacks to Relief Reservoir in years past.
It was springlike here too. We didn’t see the same number of wildflowers as in Emigrant Wilderness, but we saw a lot of water running down from the mountains.
I took this photo to give a sense of the trail. Can you make out Loren way ahead of me?
Once back down, we took a refreshing step into the cold river before our dinner reservation.
We spent Loren’s birthday having a special breakfast at “home” in our AirBnB and that evening took a pie to share with friends. Then we topped off the night with a brief but good visit with a dear friend, who gifted a portion of her tomato harvest bounty to enjoy.
As the weather continues to turn, I will finish this week with Emily Dickinson’s, Autumn:
The morns are meeker than they were,
The nuts are getting brown;
The berry’s cheek is plumper,
The rose is out of town.
The maple wears a gayer scarf,
The field a scarlet gown.
Lest I should be old-fashioned,
I’ll put a trinket on.
Happy Labor Day Weekend! We are laying low at the AirBnB we have here in the Sierras. Its been fun to notice a lone sunflower pop up on our front deck and to hear and see a bevy of quail forage just outside our screen door.
Loren and I had two fun highlights this week. We rented kayaks from the New Malones Lake Marina — they just barely fit in the back of our van, to be able to join a ranger led kayak excursion on the other side of the lake. We arrived with the kayaks early enough to poke around the ranger station before going on the lake, and learned a bit more about the lore of the gold rush years, making this area’s nickname “Mother Lode” come to life.
The paddling itself was fun. We all had our picnic lunches to enjoy a respite along the edge of a canyon before fighting the stronger winds all the way back to our launch site.
Our second highlight was seeing friends who rented a cabin nearby in Strawberry. They invited us to come stay overnight. Their most exciting news is their youngest daughter is engaged. I loved hearing the story our friends shared of him popping the question, and now the couple’s dog is involved in the fun. Can you make out the heart around his neck? It says, “My humans are getting married!”
Loren and I and our one friend hiked both days. On one we went nearly all the way around Pinecrest Lake. Our friend took us to see a cabin he has been enamored of for years. This time the owner was present and we had a nice conversation. We learned his grandfather had carved the writing on the homemade bench, “Count not here the fleeting hours,” which also held special meaning for our friend. The hike culminated in crossing the river over a log bridge, with a rope that I wished had been a bit more taut…
The next day we three hiked to Cleo’s Bath. Well, Loren and our friend went all the way, I only made it partway, past the crooked pine. It is a strenuous hike and I was feeling a bit under the weather…
So, I rested at a most peaceful turn on the trail to await their return.
While I sat I drafted my latest poem:
Flies, A Limerick
by Claire Adalyn Wright
Ugly is the simple fly.
Next ugly: the dragonfly.
I tell you no lie —
I see through one eye —
beauty in the butterfly.
Aside from the hikes, we all thoroughly enjoyed the sounds and enchanting, changing views of the river flowing from Pinecrest Lake. We enjoyed delicious meals, had fun over a jigsaw puzzle one night, and, challenged ourselves with a round of Trivial Pursuit the next evening before Loren and I returned to our cabin in Miwuk.
Now it’s the last day of August and we saw a sunset almost as spectacular as the one we witnessed in the Serengeti. Autumn is here. We are noticing days are shorter, mornings and evenings cooler, and last night, we saw the first leaves that have turned and begun falling off the dogwood trees. Already.
Loren and I have just two more weeks here at “our” cabin before we pack up and move on down the road again. It seems fitting to finish this week’s post with the great John Muir quote I found printed in a local newspaper:
Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the
storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of autumn.
Loren’s and my week’s highlight was a backpack in the Emigrant Wilderness in the Stanislaus National Forest, in the Sierra Nevada mountains. We started off at Crabtree Trailhead. From our AirBnB home base of 5,000 feet, we were hiking around at about 8,000-9,000 feet, yet still we felt the higher altitude’s effects.
After a mainly uphill slog, we setup camp where we had a view of Chewing Gum Lake.
After that first day hike, we revisited sites where we have gone in years past. We had awesome views of flora,
fauna — including a frog underwater, can you see it?
and vistas — that’s Sonora Peak, an inviting mountain meadow, and, we had many opportunities to see aspects of the Dardanelles.
We enjoyed some creature comforts — including Chef Lorenzo’s “snow cone” concoctions and learned from our newest friend about a device that reliably communicates home by satellite. We also found the alpine lake where Loren has had at least a couple of swims some years ago.
We also delighted in a campfire one night, perhaps our best ever, with logs that took forever to burn before we retired for the night.
We camped our last night at Powell Lake, and were enchanted with the reflection.
We hiked out through Gianelli Cabin Trailhead after stopping to admire Burst Rock, or, what I would have named “Rock Valley.” Then we comparatively quickly hiked the five miles on the road downhill to return to our car at the Crabtree Trailhead parking area. My calves are reminding me of that part of the trip, regardless, it was all well worth it.