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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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.

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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.

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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.” 

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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! 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.”

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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.

 

Week 283 August 31, 2019

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!”

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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… 

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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… 

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So, I rested at a most peaceful turn on the trail to await their return. 

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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. 

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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.

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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.
John Muir

Week 282 August 24, 2019

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.

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After a mainly uphill slog, we setup camp where we had a view of Chewing Gum Lake. 

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After that first day hike, we revisited sites where we have gone in years past. We had awesome views of flora,

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fauna — including a frog underwater, can you see it?

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and vistas — that’s Sonora Peak, an inviting mountain meadow, and, we had many opportunities to see aspects of the Dardanelles.

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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.

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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.

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We camped our last night at Powell Lake, and were enchanted with the reflection. 

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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.

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Week 281 August 17, 2019

This week we enjoyed having dear friends came up to “our” cabin for the day. We had a fun picnic lunch, a good long hike topped off by ice cream, and, a light supper before they had to return home. We did see the enormous tree our AirBnB hosts had suggested we would see on this hike, but, we shouldn’t have taken the shortcut because it either required returning up a steep incline or — our alternative choice — scooting beneath a fence, which punished us with lots of unwanted stickers…

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Then we — excuse me I, had a couple of wonderful days of hiking and boating around Pinecrest Lake with friends who are twins who have a cabin near us, and a couple of  their friends. An osprey posed for us as we drifted by…

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on the second day Loren joined us girls for a bit of a grueling hike.

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It was worth it for the wildflowers, 

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and the wilderness lake that was our destination.

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Even the return hike was worth it, then the girls and I had another short respite together at Pinecrest Lake.

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Loren’s and my big night out this week was going to see a Linda Ronstadt tribute concert at the local Repertory Theatre. The performance was outstanding. Loren had had the opportunity to see Ronstadt perform while in college so he especially enjoyed it.  

Those were the three highlights of our week. We have spent the rest of our time hanging around the cabin and taking walks around the neighborhood which comes complete with moose, bear, and other wildlife images.

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We usually eat our cereal breakfast on the backyard swing chair. And we have read some — a luxury, or driven to town for internet or supplies. Ahhh.

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Week 280 August 10, 2019

Loren and I are in Miwuk Village. I could say Me-Wuk, Mi Wok, Mi Wuk, Mi-Wuk, or Mi-Wuk-Village, I have seen it written these several different ways. Anyway, we are in a small populated region in the California Sierra mountains. Nearby, the community of Confidence boasts a settlement of just 50 people. At the start of the week, we drove nearby to stay overnight at the summer/winter home of dear friends. When we arrived, I was challenged by a friend of theirs who was teaching an informal pilates class. My muscles felt aftereffects for a couple of days, in a good way. We all then trekked the short distance to a memorial erected for our friends’ brother and nephew, who died in an avalanche on K2 in 2013, and who were renowned in trekking and in the local area. 

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Our friends’ community was also approaching the final days of a music festival. From our perspective no details were spared in excellence. We attended the Saturday dinner event, featuring a silent auction and a concert, then an auctioneer led a most vibrant bidding affair afterwards. The evening was staged in a medieval theme this year, and we were told that the most people ever participated in costume. Our friends gave me a special dress to play along. The next day, I was honored that my friend insisted I lead a Bikram yoga class. It might be the one I have had the most fun facilitating of the more than 250 classes I have taught, and I was impressed with how well they did with it. Afterwards we had a lovely lunch at a nearby lodge.

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Then we attended the final Music Festival offering – a Beethoven Fest. We were treated to an outstanding performance by a 22 year old virtuoso pianist for the last four numbers of the orchestral performance.

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From there, Loren and I were off for a backpack to a place we have been many times over the years. The first time we went it was a long Labor Day weekend, and we saw no one – not even one soul – the entire weekend, except two rangers on the morning we were leaving who were taking samples of the lake water. This time we were similarly treated to an experience of seeing not a single other person, except the several people who were out for a much shorter day hike on our way into our site as well as on our return hike out from the site. All along the way we were treated to an immense display of wildflowers. We named it our own “NorCal Superbloom.” Some of the varieties are:

     Mariposa Lily, Lupin and Indian Paint Brush, 

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     Pretty Face, Crimson Columbine, 

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     Yellow Monkey Flower, Shooting Star,

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     and Corn Lily. 

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We saw a rainbow around the sun on our way in, which I learned from another hiker is caused by very high, very thin clouds made from ice crystals. She thought it is called a Sundog, but afterwards I learned that is not what we saw. Actually known as a 22 Degree Halo or a Sun Halo, the ring is caused by sunlight passing through the ice crystals. There were also lots of butterflies, of white, yellow, orange and black, and, I managed to capture a photo of one of the rarer, small blue ones/

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Loren and I never tire of the beauty visible from where we once again setup our tent and campsite. It is so quiet here. And the scenery around the lake was more green than we had seen here before.

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We were treated to seeing a baker’s dozen of geese resting and feasting throughout our stay, and, hearing a cacophony of frogs croaking throughout each night. Loren noticed a deer and a fawn across the lake, and, we even saw the same toad near the same log each time we walked over that part of the trail.

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Of a less appealing nature, we encountered a scourge of mosquitos. We also bailed out a day early. There had been a ring around the moon on our last night and the thunderhead clouds we had seen in the distance each day looked more and more ominous. As we looked back from a high peak on our departure, we saw the clouds dumping an immense amount of moisture off in the distance, so we believe we made the right decision. We left the area in sunlight on the downhill side, almost a calling for us to return again someday.

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