Week 293 November 9, 2019

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…

IMG_4436.jpeg

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,

IMG_4447.jpeg IMG_4455.jpeg

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.

IMG_4469.jpeg IMG_4464 2.jpeg

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.

IMG_4494.jpeg IMG_4516.jpeg

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.

IMG_4519.jpeg

As we left western Colorado the next morning, I was again moved to snap a last photo of dramatic scenery along the freeway.

IMG_4521.JPG

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.

IMG_4548.JPG IMG_4550.JPG

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…

IMG_4553.JPG IMG_4557.JPG

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. 

IMG_4560.JPG IMG_4562.jpg

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.

IMG_4565.jpg IMG_4579.JPG IMG_4591.JPG

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.

IMG_4585.jpg

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.

IMG_4567.JPG

 

Week 292 November 2, 2019

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.

IMG_4313.JPG

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.

IMG_4074.jpeg IMG_1681.jpg

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.

IMG_4090.jpeg

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. 

IMG_4094.jpeg

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.

IMG_4103.jpeg IMG_4146.jpeg IMG_1698.jpg

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.

IMG_4147.jpeg

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.

IMG_4174.jpeg IMG_4175.jpeg

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…

IMG_4187.jpeg IMG_4190.jpeg

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.

IMG_4172.jpeg

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.

IMG_4269.jpeg IMG_4434.JPG

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. 

IMG_4290.JPG

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.

IMG_4386.JPG IMG_4414.JPG IMG_1743.JPG

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.

 

Week 291 October 26, 2019

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!

IMG_3964.jpeg

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!

IMG_3822.jpeg

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.

IMG_3999.JPG

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.

IMG_3996.JPG

I couldn’t help snapping just a few more photos of the vibrant colors on display this fall…

IMG_3983.jpeg IMG_3989.jpeg IMG_3998.jpeg IMG_3982.JPG

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.

IMG_4001.JPG IMG_4006.JPG IMG_4018.JPG

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.

IMG_4053.JPG

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.

IMG_4024.JPG IMG_4026.jpg IMG_4034.JPG

Loren also hiked another time with me too, and it was especially nice to have the company to share the beauty with.

IMG_4057.JPG IMG_4058.JPG IMG_4059.JPG

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.

IMG_4051.JPG IMG_4071.JPG

Our hearts go out to all those affected by these most recent tragedies.

Week 290 October 19, 2019

Loren and I began this week with our friend here on a drive around Lithia Park in downtown Ashland to see beautiful fall colors,

IMG_3922.jpeg

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.

IMG_3933.jpeg IMG_3935.jpeg IMG_3939.jpeg IMG_3937.jpeg IMG_3941.jpeg IMG_3942.jpeg IMG_3943.jpeg IMG_3944.jpeg IMG_3945.jpeg IMG_3950.jpeg IMG_3946.jpeg  IMG_3951.jpeg

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. 

IMG_3967 2.jpeg IMG_3977.jpg

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.

IMG_3963.jpg

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.

IMG_3974.jpeg IMG_3970 IMG_3972 IMG_1652

 

 

Week 289 October 12, 2019

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.

IMG_3885.jpeg IMG_3865.jpeg IMG_3863.jpeg

The venue was about an hour away in Grant’s Pass, and afterwards we four enjoyed a nice dinner beside the Rogue River.

IMG_3746.jpeg IMG_3747.jpeg

Grant’s Pass has a fondness for animal statues, and I developed a fondness of photographing a few of the ones we saw there.

IMG_3876.jpeg IMG_3878.jpeg IMG_3880.jpeg IMG_3881.jpeg

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.

IMG_3883.jpeg IMG_3889.jpeg

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.

IMG_3894.jpeg

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.

IMG_3903.jpeg

Then we had a lovely hike on part of the Pacific Crest Trail that takes in Mount Ashland,

IMG_3906.jpeg IMG_3907.jpeg IMG_3905.jpeg

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.

IMG_3914.jpeg IMG_3919.jpeg IMG_3917.jpeg

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.

IMG_3859.jpeg

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.

Week 288 October 5, 2019

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?

IMG_3821.jpeg

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.

IMG_3849.jpeg IMG_3851.jpeg

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.

IMG_3829.jpeg IMG_3832.jpeg

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.

IMG_3835.jpeg IMG_3833.jpeg IMG_3844.jpeg IMG_3848.jpeg

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. 

IMG_3854.jpeg IMG_3855.jpeg

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.

Screen Shot 2019-07-26 at 10.16.41 AM.jpeg Screen Shot 2019-07-26 at 10.17.45 AM.jpeg Screen Shot 2019-07-26 at 10.18.32 AM.jpeg Screen Shot 2019-07-26 at 10.19.16 AM.jpeg Screen Shot 2019-07-26 at 10.19.45 AM.jpeg Screen Shot 2019-07-26 at 10.20.42 AM.jpeg

 

Week 287 September 28, 2019

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.

IMG_3763.jpeg

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.

IMG_3774.jpg

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.” 

IMG_3777.jpeg IMG_3780.jpegIMG_3779.jpeg

That evening we enjoyed drinks over a jazz ensemble at the hotel, followed by a nice dinner out.

IMG_3785.jpeg IMG_3789.jpeg IMG_3786.jpeg

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.

IMG_1734.jpeg

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.

IMG_1738.jpeg IMG_3793.jpeg IMG_3796.jpeg

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.

IMG_3800.jpeg

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.

IMG_3803.jpeg IMG_3807.jpeg IMG_3808.jpeg

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.

IMG_3812.jpeg IMG_3813.jpeg IMG_3817.jpeg IMG_3819.jpeg

Week 286 September 21, 2019

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.

IMG_3651.jpeg

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. 

IMG_3654.jpeg

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…

IMG_3655.jpeg

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.

IMG_3666.jpeg IMG_3672.jpeg

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.

IMG_3679.jpeg IMG_3692.jpeg IMG_3697.jpeg IMG_3705.jpeg IMG_3707.jpeg

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.

IMG_3724.jpeg IMG_3720.jpeg

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.

IMG_3715.jpeg IMG_3716.jpeg

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.

IMG_3728.jpeg

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.

IMG_3741.jpeg

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!

IMG_3743.jpeg IMG_3744.jpeg IMG_3746 IMG_3747.jpeg

Week 285 September 14, 2019

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.

IMG_3467.JPG

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. 

IMG_3470.JPG IMG_3478.JPG

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.

IMG_3482.JPG IMG_3515.JPG IMG_3534.JPG

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! 

IMG_3566.JPG

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.

IMG_3585.JPG IMG_3596.JPG

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.

IMG_3616.JPG IMG_3617.JPG IMG_3627.JPG IMG_3638.JPG IMG_3641.JPG IMG_3646.JPG

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.

IMG_3409.jpg IMG_3429.jpg IMG_1529.JPG IMG_3601.JPG IMG_3593.JPG

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…

Week 284 September 7, 2019

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. 

IMG_3245.jpg IMG_3251.JPG IMG_3252.jpg

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.”

IMG_3258.JPG IMG_3264.JPG

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.

IMG_3266.JPG IMG_3272.JPG IMG_3274.JPG

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. 

IMG_3276.JPG IMG_3277.JPG IMG_3278.JPG

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.

IMG_3279.JPG IMG_3282.JPG

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.

IMG_3284.JPG IMG_3292.JPG

I took this photo to give a sense of the trail. Can you make out Loren way ahead of me?

IMG_3295.JPG

Once back down, we took a refreshing step into the cold river before our dinner reservation.

IMG_3302.JPG IMG_3304.JPG IMG_3314.JPG

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.

IMG_3448.jpg

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.