Week 240 November 3, 2018

This week started with Loren caregiving his Mom as per his usual weekly schedule, and with me running usual weekly errands, but I was shocked this week with seeing Santa Claus chocolate candy being stocked on shelves at the supermarket. Then I saw a huge Christmas tree and holiday decorations at the Mall. THEN I saw holiday cards for sale at the Post Office! The topper that evening was seeing a Disney holiday show advertisement during a Warrior’s game. But, if all that were not enough, the next day I saw a Christmas tree on a neighbor’s porch. This was all before Halloween… Too much!

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We heard this week from our dear friends from Shanghai who we had met in Nepal while they were on their honeymoon. This year they completed their French Way of El Camino de Santiago de Compostella – you can see her holding their Certificates in the photo below. And, lucky them, they continued on past Santiago to the Atlantic Coast for the Finesterra Camino – the ‘End of the World’ at Cape Fisterra.

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On Tuesday I taught three Bikram Yoga classes in the same day. I think that is my first time doing so and I will do so again next week. I have had a regular routine of teaching the 6am and 7:45am classes each week on Tuesdays. It was nice this week to also teach the 6:30pm, to see different students and to offer them a different teacher at that time. Then it was time for the holiday of the week, Halloween. We started our day with having two long put-off important meetings with a tax accountant and an attorney,

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and that evening, the 13 year old boy who is also staying long term at our AirBnB wore an FBI costume this year, and he wrote up a citation for Loren which included such creative violations as: Failure to wear a costume, Insufficient laughing, and Inappropriate dance moves! 

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Our friend and his Mom then went off to their church for a Halloween party, while Loren and I went off Trick or Treating at a friends’ daughter’s home where our friends were helping hand out candy. We took them the treat of a bottle of bubbly to celebrate our one friend’s retirement, memorably on the day of Halloween. She was duly surprised and touched, and we were delighted to help commemorate the special day.

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Loren and I have now traveled to Lodi, California for our first of their 22nd annual Sand Hill Crane Festivals. We had been enamored of the crane preserves and foundations we had previously stopped to see on our journeying in Nebraska and Wisconsin. These had reminded us of cranes that we had seen in the wild in Florida, Africa and Bhutan. Now this weekend festival offers us an opportunity to witness an actual migration of Sand Hill Cranes in person, which we understand is on par with the wondrous Wildebeest migration, which we had also witnessed when we were in Africa. 

On our drive to arrive here yesterday, we saw a flock of about a dozen Sand Hill Cranes with their black tipped huge wingspan fly right over our car. We saw a few larger flocks in the distance as we continued onward. We then stopped along the way for a little break and an easy hike at Big Break, where we saw the vast California Delta up close.

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As we continued our walk, we found that the regional park included several placards with information about the delta’s history and its environs. We even saw a little girl catch her first fish with the help of her grandparents while we were here. 

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The park also hosts a wonderful diorama map laid out, showing the delta, Mount Diablo with its wide range, and the major central valley cities. There is a cute video on the park’s website with a 7 year old boy showing off the full schematic – you can visit it at: https://youtu.be/EyCfw0XH_tM

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Loren and I then arrived yesterday evening where we are staying for a couple of nights at an AirBnB on a ranch, complete with at least a dozen horses, a herd of sheep, three dogs and the rancher couple who created this place 40 years ago. Our accommodation is in their private Bunk House, a perfect setting for a respite before the festival activities start up later this afternoon.

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I will always remember how when Loren pointed out some construction cranes that we saw in Italy, our friends there said they are called Grus, like the bird. It was only then that I connected that our construction cranes were likely also named for the enormous bird! I am excited to see how many of the other species of bird on this checklist we might encounter on the three tours that we have signed up for over today and tomorrow. 

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Week 234 September 22, 2018

Loren and I enjoyed our week away, traveling north from Berkeley, where we were at the end of last week. We started this week visiting in Santa Rosa for lunch and an all afternoon catch up with a friend of Loren’s from high school and his wife. This dear friend was involved in a dreadful car accident a couple of years ago, and had it not been for the side air bags in the door of their car we would not have been able to have this wonderful time. You would never know anything happened by looking at him now, but he still has a fair amount of difficulty with his vision. We wish him the best in his continued healing journey.

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Following our afternoon visit we appreciated seeing some of the tribute statues around the historic part of town that commemorate some of the Charles Shultz’ Peanuts characters, as Santa Rosa is where Schulz lived the majority of his adult years. 

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The next morning before leaving Santa Rosa we enjoyed taking a Bikram Yoga class. An image at the door reminded me of one of my earliest instructors from 2004. I was always impressed by his demonstration of this particular posture, but, the image fails to do him justice as he was way more slender in his stomach, while much more built in his chest.

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From there Loren and I drove to Geyserville, where we indulged in two nights at a retreat center. The setting reminded us of Egypt, as it was centered around the Egyptian Goddess Isis. We stayed in their Hobbit Hut, which reminded us too of our visit to Hobbiton in New Zealand, which is the movie set for the trilogy of Hobbit movies. We were especially enamored with a gargantuan tree on the property…

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Then we were off further north to visit in Lower Lake at Clear Lake. We stayed two nights with friends who Loren has known since his young adult years. They have a new puppy who is both adorable and teething. Loren and I each came away with similar looking to our friends’ bite marks and scratches on our hands, arms and legs. 

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We thoroughly enjoyed visiting with them in their lovely lakefront home. One day they took us to a new winery called Boatique, unique in its featuring of a huge building that houses impressive boats in the vineyard. That evening we went out for pizza and invited other friends from Lower Lake to join us for a fun gathering.

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The next morning we took a Bikram class at the Lake County studio, where I had spent two months teaching some 50 classes, about four years ago now.  

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On the way to spend the next two nights with another friend in the area, we stopped to see “The Box” – a property where Loren had built the garage and deck for a house on Cache Creek that his parents had had built then sold at the start of “The Dome” –

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which we then visited, which Loren had built with some of his father’s help. 

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When we arrived at our other friend’s home, it brought up bittersweet feelings. It was great to see him, but it was hard to see his property. His home was once a two-story building, that was destroyed in the Valley fire. This is a copy of his photo of what was left.  We immediately recognized the walkway, but nothing else. 

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Because of frustrations and hindrances from new building codes, he ultimately settled on a manufactured house to replace his home, after living in an RV on the property until it was done. It is nice, but definitely not that same as what our friend had once created from his own hands. His son, who was nearly finished paying off on buying his grandparents’ home on the same property, has yet to make progress on replacement plans. They were able to save his son’s backhoe, but both lost some other vehicles. So many of the trees were badly damaged too, and, some of the ones that were partially damaged are coming back with a different leaf structure. 

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It is tragic to contemplate the fires. The ones we heard most about in the past week include the Valley, Rocky, Clayton, Sulphur, Tubbs, Ridge and River fires. We saw several handmade signs that said, Thank You Firefighters. We heard about surviving fireballs, firebombs and firewalls. Bears have been sighted in the neighborhoods as a result of their loss of habitat. And, we saw lots of replacement homes coming up amidst scorched trees and earth. It is heartbreaking to know of these friends’ and so many others’ experiences.

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Yet, the lake is still beautiful – the smoke from this year’s fires had cleared just before we arrived. We ate the same brand of brats with our friend that we had enjoyed at a fair with another friend when Loren and I were in Wisconsin. Then, I was able to teach the Saturday morning Bikram Yoga class before we headed south again. We stopped in Novato to enjoy lunch with my cousin, then, after arriving home we had a lovely dinner with dear friends to top off our wonderful week away.

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Week 167 June 10, 2017

We have been blessed with sunshine most of this week! Highlights of our last couple of days in Madison include taking a tour of the Capitol building,
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and, meeting friend Cary and a few of his friends to see a Pat McCurdy concert/singalong/show.

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We were heading to Sturgeon in Door County, where we would pass by Oshkosh – I am learning that so many of the names and places that I have heard of over my lifetime that I had presumed to be fictional actually do exist! However, when we learned that one of our friend’s father lives in Little Sturgeon, we looked him up instead of going to Oshkosh. He is of full Belgian heritage and raised his family in and around the largest Belgian settlement in the US, making his living as a cheese farmer and welder.
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Several friends and acquaintsnces had told us that we had to “do a fish boil” in Door county, so with our friend’s father, we did! He knew to take us to Pelletier’s in Fish Creek where they make quite a show of preparing the locally caught whitefish, served afterwards with pie made from locally grown cherries. Yum!
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Another highlight this week was watching Game 2 of the Cavaliers vs. Warriors basketball finals with our friend’s father. The Warriors won. Go Warriors! After saying farewell, we looked around Sturgeon Bay a little before camping at Peninsula State Park, where we enjoyed bicycling, hiking, and, beautiful sunsets.
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We then ferried on the SS Badger – the badger we learned is the Wisconsin state animal, like the very prevalent robin is their state bird. We sailed from Manitowoc, Wisconsin to Ludington, Michigan. During the 4 hour ride we had fun playing Bingo, and, watched the moving film, Sully. That evening at 9pm – start time for the game as we are now on the east coast, we headed for a local bar – as we were camping, to see the Warriors again defeat the Cavaliers in Game 3! It was fun to root along with the bar owner for our Warriors among the many Cav’s fans. Loren cheered them on with his 22oz dark amber draft beer…
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Also in Michigan we toured the Gerald Ford Presidential Museum, which – as with all the others we have visited, was informative and educational, specifically about his years in the White House.
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Now we are in Toledo, Ohio, where we watched the Warriors lose Game 4 to who I am now calling the LeBronaliers. It seems his teammates are at a loss if he is not on the court. Being a Friday night, a lot of the younger crowd were vocal in cheering for their own state team. Still, it was a good night out, just sad to see our Warriors lose.
For some reason – perhaps because Loren and I have spent so much time on or near waters or driving over rivers lately? – I have had Moon River running through my head. So, I leave you this week with its especially-meaningful-to-us-right-now lyrics that at one time prompted The Atlantic Monthly to report, “This is a love sung to wanderlust.”
Moon River
Moon River, wider than a mile
I’m crossing you in style some day
You dream maker
You heartbreaker
Wherever you’re going
I’m going your way
Two drifters off to see the world
There’s such a lot of world to see
We’re after the same rainbow’s end
Waitin’ round the bend
My Huckleberry friend
Moon River and me.

Week 166 June 3, 2017

We are still in Madison, Wisconsin. It has been a wonderful place to hole up, take ten days of Bikram yoga classes, sleep on a Thermapedic mattress at our AirBnB, and see several of the local sights. The week began with more chill breezes – it just seems like to Loren and me like eternal winter with a few hours of summer sprinkled in. Now, at the end of the week, it is much warmer, harking the summer heat to come. Aside from the weather, we started our week at a Unitarian Sunday service. Afterwards we had a tour of the original Unitarian Meeting House designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, who was a lifelong Unitarian. This congregation has outgrown that original space for a Sunday morning but it is still in use for smaller services.
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On Memorial Day Loren and I visited Taliesin, the home of Frank Lloyd Wright, which he built on a hill where he had spent much of his childhood. We learned that the word Taliesin is Celtic and means Shining Brow, Wright’s concept for the brow of the hill. We also learned that he was originally named Frank Lincoln Wright, that he later took on the Lloyd in honor of his mother’s family name. That explains a red tile that we have seen on some of his buildings that show his initials: FLLW.
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We had wanted to have a picnic on – where else but Picnic Point – at the end of a long stretch of narrow peninsula with room just enough for a wide path with trees and shrubbery on either side. However it was either too hot at midday, or on the one evening we ventured out, we noticed the black clouds behind us, so we took our rain gear. Well, just after snapping a photo of the capital from the point as we opened our food containers, it began to squall. So we packed up and walked all the way back to eat in our car. At least we walked the peninsula, and were rewarded with a beautiful double rainbow after the storm had passed.
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We took a day trip to  a unique setting that John Steinbeck had raved about in his book, Travels with Charley. However Loren and I agree more with author Bill Steigerwald’s assessment: “I don’t know what John Steinbeck saw in the Wisconsin Dells that was so ‘enchanting.’” The waters and rock formations are now hidden in comparison to the surrounding glitz of hotels, amusement parks and other tourist attractions that have sprung up in the area. I feel fortunate in that I had seen The Dells from a driving trip with my grandparents in my youth, before the commercialism obscured them, but alas that was before I could truly appreciate them. It was still valuable for us to be there because when I saw an amphibious “Wisconsin Duck” vehicle, I was struck with the good memory that I had ridden in one like that 45 years ago with my grandparents.
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Near to the Dells, in Baraboo, is the International Crane Foundation where Loren and I took a two hour tour to see pairs of all 15 worldwide species of cranes, as well as had a good walk around the extensive grounds. I was thrilled to see the Gray Crowned Crane again, which we first saw in Africa. It proudly wears the colors of the Ugandan national flag. The endangered Whooping Crane pair is presently nesting. This organization has managed to help bring their population from a scarce 21 in the 1970’s to now over 600, as well as to provide a place for the vulnerable Blue Crane to nest.
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We also took the National Historic Merrimac Ferry – a cable ferry, to reach a park for a short hike on the Ice Age Trail to Gibraltar Rock. That evening it was thrilling to see the Golden State Warriors win their first game in the basketball finals this week. We look forward to watching Game 2 on Sunday evening.
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We took two walks this week at dusk at Tiedeman’s Pond,
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which inspired my most recent poem:
A Walk at Tiedeman’s Pond
From the lengthy wood plank boardwalk
broken only by sections of earthen trail,
we were thrilled to see many muskrats, 
eating lush prairie grasses, gathering twigs,
swimming to and from their nests of sticks.
Great blue herons stand still in its waters,
ducks and ducklings swim around and feed,
tiny gray rabbits randomly hop across our path,
while silent herons delight in overhead flight
and noisy red-wing blackbirds flit about.
A neighborhood prairie lands restoration site
for peaceable coexistence of these creatures,
also home for fish to jump and frogs to croak, 
to allow songbirds to sing the day into dusk,
afore the unusual call of a nesting sand hill crane.
Claire Adalyn Wright
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We are sorry not to be with dear friends of UUFS this weekend for the celebration of a dear friend’s life… Generous both with his time and energy both at the Fellowship and with helping us prepare for our journey, and for his witty sense of humor, we already miss him.

REPOSTING in Progress: Weeks 2 to 109

This place holder is for the entries from our original blog to be added, eventually. Please check back – this re-creation is a labor of Love and will take a bit of  t-i-m-e- which, while still traveling, we do not always have a lot available to devote to this.

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