Posted by: abbiewatters | August 24, 2014


I thought you might enjoy seeing some of the things I’m looking at on my walks for exercise. When I started this diet, I was supposed to list some goals I had for losing the weight. One of them was to be able to walk the length of Ruston Way for pleasure. Well, I’ve been doing that, and I’ve also been exploring farther afield around the campus of Franke Tobey Jones.

One day, the sound was a very strange color – gray and milky – even though the sky was a beautiful, deep blue. I found out it was glacial melt from one of the glaciers on Mt Rainier coming down the Nisqually River and into the sound.

Glacial Melt from Mt Rainier

One of the best pictures I got was of a large piece of driftwood on the shore with Mt Rainier in the background.


I also like this picture on a different day of the walk and shoreline with the mountain in the background.


Today, I came upon a man who was flying a drone over the sound and over the walk.


He brought it in and landed it by my feet so he could change its batteries.


If you are friends with me on Facebook, you can see the little movie I took of it taking off and then turning around and taking a picture of me while I took a picture of it.

I’ve also enjoyed walking round the retirement complex next door to Franke Tobey Jones. They have a pond and you can frequently see ducks and gulls there. Friday, when I was over there, I came upon a Great Blue Heron, fishing.


He caught something under the rocks.


Then he turned around and wandered back across the pond, seemingly not noticing I was there.


I must have startled him, because he took off and flew away.


I hoped he would come back, but he flew one circle around the pond, and then disappeared over the trees.


Posted by: abbiewatters | August 23, 2014

Mt Rainier Trip


Residents and friends from Franke Tobey Jones boarded the bus last week and rode to Paradise on Mt. Rainier.


After a wonderful lunch we had time to wander around the paths and look at the wildflowers.



The weather was perfect for walking – the sky was blue, there was a light breeze, and the temperature hovered around the 65 degree mark.


I’ll quit talking now, and let you just look at the pretty wildflowers. There were signs identifying some of them, but mostly you would need a book to identify what the all were. Just breathtaking!

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Many thanks to Kate and Gary for bringing us for this wonderful outing.

Kate and Gary

Posted by: abbiewatters | August 20, 2014

Connection – Addicted to the Buzz

For my birthday last week I got a FitBit Flex. If you’ve been following my diet reports and wanderings, you know I’ve lost almost 60 lbs in the last year and a half. It’s been slow, but pretty steady, and I’ve tried to exercise some each day. But until I got the FitBit, I didn’t really know how many calories I was burning.


This little baby counts my steps and, based on my weight, tells me how many calories I’m burning in a day. And it’s all connected wirelessly to my computer.

My other tool in this journey has been the program and apps from MyFitnessPal. By entering the food I eat every day, I get a pretty accurate calorie count and can pair it with my activity as reported by my FitBit.


And those two programs are connected wirelessly to give me a picture of where I am in my diet – every single minute of the day.

Now you may be thinking that’s way more trouble than it’s worth, but, for a many, many times failed dieter, they have been my saving grace.

One of the best things about these programs is that they help connect me to friends and acquaintances who are also struggling to improve their health and fitness with diet and exercise.

You may be wondering where the title of this post comes from. Well, when I reach my target number of steps for the day, the lovely little FitBit Flex on my wrist buzzes gently, and lights up five tiny lights. I’ve been known to walk around in circles (otherwise known as “pacing”) in the evening just waiting for the buzz. It is a super-satisfying sound and sensation that tells me I’ve done what I needed to do that day.

If you are interested in following my progress daily (although why you would be, I don’t know), you can follow my other site If you are struggling and want some support or encouragement, you can connect with me there or on either of the apps listed above, and we’ll cry together about how much we REALLY wanted that piece of birthday cake or about how the exercise equipment is kicking our butts.

This post is part of August’s Syncroblog. Check out all the posts.

Jerry Wirtley – Connection
Sara Quezada – Can You Really Know Someone In A Different Language?
Ford – Interindependence
Michael Donahoe – Connection
Minnow – Our Dis-Connect
Justin Steckbauer – Connection in Love, it’s what Life is all about!
Carol Kuniholm – Disengagement and Connection
Wesley Rostoll – Finding Jesus In Different Places
Doreen A Mannion – A bunny, a fawn and some geese walk into a bar …
Leah Sophia – Touch of Life
Karen “Charity” Aldrich – Wuv True Wuv
Abbie Watters – Connection – Addicted to the Buzz
Liz Dyer – Human Connection and the Power of Empathy



Posted by: abbiewatters | August 16, 2014

My “Other” Site

I’ve started a new site about my diet. If you care about following my small, tiny victories, and major screw-ups, you can follow it here.

Posted by: abbiewatters | August 14, 2014

The Ages of Woman – 60’s (Part II)

I wrote the original of this post in September of 2011. Since I was only 67 at that time, it was a bit premature, I think. Now that I’ve passed my 70th birthday (2 days ago), I figured it was time to up-date it with “the rest of the story.”

I left you after the doldrums of that awful summer in Dallas – too hot to breathe and too dry to live. I reported that, living in liminal space as I was, there was something I really needed to learn. Perhaps that something was a deeper connection to God (particularly with the Holy Spirit), and a stronger connection to the church.

In September 2011, I was fortunate to attend a workshop on the Emerging Church, and I heard Nadia Boles-Weber and Brian McLaren both speak.

Brian McLaren (2) Nadia Boles-Weber

In November, the smoke detector at our house went crazy (on a Friday evening about 10 pm) and we discovered it was wired into the electricity of the house (no battery to replace) and we couldn’t get it to shut up. Big Al got up on a chair (with me dithering all the time for fear he would fall) and examined it, but nothing would make it quit squealing, and we finally ended up knocking it out of the ceiling with a broom handle.

Hanging Smoke Detector

We called our handyman to come repair the damage on Monday (to the tune of over $100) and I declared that we HAD to get the house back on the market and sell the thing and get moved, and let the maintenance men who came with the house take care of crap like that!

We spent Christmas in Madisonville with Bill, Erika and the kids, with all the obligatory mess and festivities.

Christmas morning at Bill W's (7)

Al got a flat-screen TV for his birthday, to use as a monitor for his computer, so he was a happy, happy camper. It’s big enough that he can see everything!

Al's Bday - new monitor (3)

In February, we got really serious about selling the house. (I may have thrown a couple of fits at the idea of spending another summer in Dallas). In order to make the house more sellable, we had the kitchen repainted, including the nice wood cabinets. We also had the tile in the “big” bathroom refinished so it was white instead of green.

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In April, there was finally some movement on selling the house, and toward the end of the month we accepted an offer. The early part of May was spent cleaning out, donating, throwing away, and packing all the detritus of the last 12 years of our lives. Bill and the kids came up for a weekend to help pack the electronics and movers came and carted away everything we would need in Washington.

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We signed the final papers on May 18th, stayed one more night in a motel, and the next morning, bright and early, we got out of town. Then began our epic journey from our old life to our new one. You can read all the blogs I posted from the road if you look up all the dates from May 18, 2012through June 18, 2012.

In June we arrived at Franke Tobey Jones and moved into a one-bedroom, teeny, tiny apartment, while we waited for somebody to either move out of a duplex, or die. We were top of the waiting list, but it seemed like everybody who had a duplex was disturbingly healthy.

Boxes in the Kitchen Boxes to be unpacked

We got it all unpacked and settled in at the Garden Apartments. We loved the weather – cool – very little rain – blue, blue skies – sparkling Puget Sound – great views of Mt Rainier.

We took the ferry over to Vashon Island.


and went on the bus from Franke Tobey Jones to Paradise on Mt Rainier

Mt Rainier

and we took a cruise around Elliott Bay in Seattle to “Meet the Fleet”


and went to see Mount St. Helens.

Mount St. Helens crater

We also enjoyed an annual picnic at Franke Tobey Jones, and several concerts on the lawn.

Concert on the Green Picnic (6)We settled in at Bethany Presbyterian Church, and attended their National Night Out Street Party, and their annual Picnic.

In September, we explored a little bit on the Olympic Peninsula and spent several days at an Armed Forces Recreation Area by the ocean.

Headland at low tide (2)

In October we went back to Vashon Island with a trip with FTJ.

At the Lighthouse on Vashon (4)

At the end of October, Margaret Dickey died. She was the last of my mother’s generation, so I felt like I had to attend her funeral. I figured while I was that close I would visit Bill, Erika and the kids, so I spent a week in Covington before returning to Tacoma. I got to see one of Kate’s school programs while I was there.


I returned to Tacoma on the train, and brought an awful cold with me (courtesy of two grandchildren). It was a nice ride, though, particularly since the sleeping car attendant brought me my meals and took great care of me, since I was feeling so awful.

We had Thanksgiving Dinner in the Dining Room, and it was very nice, even though we didn’t have family to share it with.

While I was in Louisiana we learned there was a duplex that was going to be available in January, and we counted that as our best Christmas present. FTJ throws a big Christmas celebration in all the buildings on campus, and we wandered around looking at all the decorations and Christmas trees.

Christmas Tree in TJ

The church always has a Christmas play every year, and in 2012 they did a Charlie Brown Christmas.


We had a quiet Christmas Day with just the two of us (although we did go out to eat at the Lobster Shop down on the Sound.)


In January 2013, at last we moved into our duplex – got all the boxes that had never been unpacked emptied – and settled in.

Our Duplex (2)

Through February and March we learned to appreciate our little home. It was wet and cold outside so our activities were limited to car rides and restaurant visits.

Then in April, the world burst into bloom. I  have never been around rhododendrons before, but I was entranced to watch all the bushes on campus burst into spectacular color.


The mountain came out from behind the clouds, and we were able eat out on the deck at the restaurants on the sound.

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I got flowers and filled pots for the back deck


We continued to take advantage of various day trips from FTJ, and we went to a couple of local wineries, and to Northwest Trek, an outdoor wildlife park.

Bethany had an empty lot that they turned into garden plots for members of the church and for the neighborhood. We dedicated it in July.


In August, I returned to Mt Rainier, and the Lunch Bunch from FTJ visited Olympia and their farmer’s market. We also had a street party at the church, their annual picnic, the annual picnic at FTJ and more concerts on the lawn.

I became interested in Pierce County Hunger Advocates, who encourage churches to write letters to government officials in support of efforts to eradicate hunger in this country and abroad. I’ve ended up being the Facebook master for the organization, and spend a fair amount of time posting articles from Bread for the World as well as other Hunger Advocacy groups around the area.

Ray, my #1 son, at age 47, finally decided to get married. So in November, Big Al and I took the train to Chicago for several days of festivities prior to the wedding, followed by the wedding itself, the reception, and a return to Tacoma on the train.


The best part was a mini-family reunion, as all my siblings and their spouses, and both of Al’s siblings attended. It gave us all a chance to catch up with each other’s lives. and a wonderful time was had by all.


We got back just in time to breathe a minute before it was Christmas – our first in our little house. All the obligatory December things happened including the big Tobey Jones Christmas party, the play at the church, and Christmas dinner at the restaurant on the Sound. We continued to marvel at all the sights at our place as the year came to a close.

Winter Sunset

I finally decided to do something about my weight, and went on a strict, medically supervised diet. So far it is working well and I’ve lost almost 60 pounds. I have many more pounds to go, but it’s a start.

I went on the Session at church in January, and I continued to work with Pierce County Hunger Advocates. In March we put on a symposium on hunger and had our US Representative, the Honorable Derek Kilmer as the featured speaker.


In the spring, I had the landscaping maintenance men dig a small flower garden for me along the fence behind my house.

More Plantings (2)

And thus began the battle of the deer! They are completely destructive around flowers, and you would think, with a whole forest to forage in they wouldn’t need to destroy my garden, but you would be wrong.

Running of the Deer

In June, Big Al and I took the train to Portland, just for lunch. It was a lovely ride and a nice day.


I also went to Seattle with the FTJ Lunch Bunch for lunch at the top of the space needle. Beautiful views including Mt Rainier.


Other sightseeing this summer has included a return trip to Northwest Trek and a visit to the Mt Rainier Scenic Railroad.

Since I’ve been losing weight, I love walking, particularly along the sound.


Bethany had a service project during a church service to pack school bags (Gift of the Heart Kits) for Presbyterian Disaster Assistance and Church World Service and I was in charge of the project.


And that’s the rest of the story of my 60s.

Posted by: abbiewatters | August 1, 2014


As you may remember, my one word for the year is “Provide”.

And goodness, gracious, me, oh, my, have I been busy this month.

Genealogy lessons got rolling again at Franke Tobey Jones. This year, instead of spending a lot of time in the class talking about where to find information about ancestors, we have been talking about our own histories and the histories of our parents – and making sure they are written down, so genealogists in the future will have a sense of our lives. To that end I have PROVIDED memories of my first plane trip and begun linking it to a story of how one of my great-great-great grandfathers and grandmothers came to this country (aided by a story written by my great-great grandfather who took it from a diary of his uncle.)

Our Toastmasters group here at FTJ continues to limp along. We seem to be stuck at about 12 members and need 20 to charter. I have PROVIDED a newly retired friend with the opportunity to continue her Toastmasters’ journey, and one new member, so I think I’m doing my part.

For some reason, even though it’s summer, activities have snowballed at church. I’ve spent several extra days in meetings, planning for activities in the coming months. I’ve been nominated to the Committee on Ministry for the Presbytery, and have attended a couple of meetings (just to get my feet wet before the vote in September). It gives me a chance to back out gracefully, supposedly, but owing to the fact that I’ve offered to act as minute taker during the meetings, I guess they’re determined to keep me. Anyway, I PROVIDED the draft minutes of the last meeting in a timely manner and everybody seems to think I walk on water.

My team at church inaugurated a new form of worship when we took the time usually allotted to the sermon and filled Gift of the Heart School Bags to be sent to Presbyterian Disaster Assistance and Church World Service. You can read all about that here. This will PROVIDE school supplies wherever the need is greatest – which at this point will probably be to the Child Refugees on our southern border.

We’re continuing to do Strategic Planning on the session at church, and each elder has been tasked with PROVIDING a list of five activities to STOP, three activities to KEEP, and three activities to START. I’ve got a long list of “Keeps”, and have already listed two things to “Start”, but I’m struggling with finding things to “Stop”, although I understand that, just like keeping your house uncluttered, the calendar at church has to lose something in order to make room for something new.

I’ve started attending weekly Bible study and find that it really feeds my soul. I’m not sure I PROVIDE much there, but it’s refreshing.

I’ve spent a lot of time in July in intercessory prayer. My brother-in-law had emergency heart surgery, and I’ve joined in the prayers with many others for his eventual recovery. We thought we’d lost him a couple of times, but he seems to finally be on the mend. Praise be to God! I can’t claim to have PROVIDED much, here. It was all the doctors, nurses, and GOD. But, as always, God is the ultimate PROVIDER.


Posted by: abbiewatters | July 27, 2014

Gift of the Heart School Bags

Today at worship at Bethany Presbyterian Church, we prayed with our hearts, minds, and hands. We had a participatory sermon when we stuffed Gift of the Heart school bags for Presbyterian Disaster Assistance to distribute here in the United States, and throughout the world in case of disaster or violence that leaves school children without access to school and school supplies. International assistance is provided through Church World Service.

This is what the sanctuary looked like when we arrived this morning. Instead of the regular configuration of pews facing forward, the seats had been switched around and tables had been added. Each table had a printed responsive reading, and a scripture from Proverbs, extoling the virtues of Wisdom.

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Here’s the view from above.

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All the supplies were stacked on a pew at the back of the sanctuary.


Folks came in, and found “new” seats at tables – sitting somewhere they don’t usually sit.

The first part of the service followed our regular order of worship, with announcements, opening hymns, prayers of confession, scripture readings, and a very short reflection from Pastor Sarah.

Then we watched a short (about 5 min) audio/visual presentation about some of the places the school kits have been distributed in the past, and where they might be going in the future.

Sarah invited us to share our experiences of honoring God with our minds, as we began the process of stuffing the school bags.

10-12 bags had been pre-placed on each table, along with a “recipe” for what went in them.

1 — pair of blunt scissors (rounded tip)

3 — 70-count spiral notebooks or notebooks (total 200-210 sheets of ruled paper; no loose-leaf or filler paper.)

1 — 30-centimeter ruler (12″)

1 — hand-held pencil sharpener

6 — new pencils with erasers

1 — large eraser

1 — box of 24 crayons

1 — cloth bag, 12″ x 14″ to 14″ x 16″ finished size cotton cloth bag with cloth handles

The folks – young and old – proceeded to gather the ingredients, and stuff the bags.

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A very short time later, 100 bags were stuffed, and ready to be packed and shipped to Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, care of Ferncliff Disaster Assistance Center in Little Rock, AR.

We prayed over the completed bags as we collected the offering and sang the Doxology.

Following the Prayers of the People, we sang our final hymn, and were dismissed to go and serve the world – especially the children, who desperately need our love and assistance.


Posted by: abbiewatters | July 16, 2014

Emergency Preparedness

(This is a guest post from Big Al, who attended the presentation last week.)

Senior University at Franke Tobey Jones presented a program from the Mt Rainier Chapter of the American Red Cross. They discussed the actions residents can take before, during, and after a natural disaster to eliminate or mitigate the problems they might face. Fortunately we, in this area, don’t have to worry about most natural disasters like hurricanes and tornadoes, but we are at risk for earthquake and wildfire.


The representatives first explained the chain of help should an emergency situation arise: local fire and rescue, state disaster response teams, and federal emergency management.


Earthquakes occur when two sides of a fault line move due to plate movement. Earthquakes can occur in this area either as part of seismic activity or as discrete events.

In the event of an earthquake they stress three points:

  1. Have an emergency plan for what you and your family will do. This includes a potential meeting point in case of home destruction and a person out of state (preferably) that everyone of the family, if separated at the time can call with the status of the caller. 
  2. Try to earthquake proof your home to include ensuring hot water tanks are strapped to the wall and anything else that could tip over possibly on a person. Also have a place in the home to go that is structurally stronger like the cubby hole of a desk or under a table.
  3. Try to have an emergency kit with emergency clothing, food, and water for approx. seven days.
  • Clothing shouldn’t be anything fancy or new but things you can do labor in.
  • Blanket and something to keep warm at night.
  • An old pair of shoes so that you are not barefooted and having to walk on glass or other sharp items.
  • Food should be canned and/or dry.
  • Matches for a fire.
  • A mechanical can opener.
  • About two gallons of water/person/day. Food and water would be rotated out and used and replaced periodically.

Wild Fire

Generally the suggestions in case of wildfire are the same as for earthquakes, except that you usually have more time to prepare in case of a wildfire. In any case be ready, AND WILLING, to evacuate if you are threatened by a wildfire.

In addition to all this good information, the representatives referred us to several Red Cross Apps that you can get for your iPhone and Android to remind you of what you need to know.

Wildfire App



Earthquake App


The hour-long presentation included numerous questions with helpful answers. Attendees were encouraged to call or visit the Red Cross if they had further questions.

Get a Kit

Make a Plan

Be Informed

Posted by: abbiewatters | July 2, 2014


As you may remember, my one word for the year is “Provide”.

Goodness gracious, where on earth did June go? July has totally snuck up on me!

I didn’t do much about “Providing” in June, except to be one of the eight people required in order for Franke Tobey Jones to take the bus sightseeing. It may not sound like much, but I can’t tell you how many really great sounding trips get cancelled because we don’t have enough people to go.


Early in June, Big Al and I took the train, and spent the day in Portland. I thought I posted about it, but apparently I didn’t. We didn’t have any particular plans or sightseeing aims, we just went down for lunch – left at 8:15 in the morning and were back at 5:15 that evening. Portland is a great little city with easy-to-get-around trams, and lots of “street art.”




I know I’m in the Pacific Northwest because the public drinking fountains bubble water all the time.

The flowers and plantings in the public parks and on the streets were beautifully tended – it was the Rose Festival the following day.

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The train station has great mission architecture, and has been refurbished/well-maintained, and the views of the sound from the train were reward enough for our tickets.


On Friday that week, the FTJ Lunch Bunch went to Seattle for lunch at Sky City at the Space Needle. (Good Grief! I never posted the pictures from there either.)


It was a beautiful day, and I overwhelmed myself taking pictures, as well as eating myself stupid on clams and mussels. We had great views of the sound, of the city and of Mt Rainier.

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I KNOW I did posts about FTJ’s trip to Northwest Trek and Mt Rainier Scenic Railroad.

I think I remember now why I hadn’t already posted about Seattle and Portland. I spent most of May and June doing a photo-a-day in anticipation of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA). You can find all my post by searching here for #journeytoGA and/or #PCUSA. Also during the week of deliberations, I followed the proceedings on Live Feed and on Twitter and Facebook. GA will be in Portland in two years, and I’m determined to go, even if it’s only as an observer.

At church, I continue to provide leadership as a member of the session and as the chair of the Hospitality and Outreach Team. Summer is a busy time for us as we are the organizing group for our National Night Out Street Party in early August and our Annual Picnic in mid-August. Additionally we will be trying an activity during worship in July when we will pack “Gift of the Heart” School Bags for Presbyterian Disaster Assistance and Church World Service. If that goes well, we will do a similar activity in the fall, making hygiene kits for a local homeless shelter.

Now that I talk about all the “stuff” I’ve been doing in June, I understand why it seemed to disappear in a puff of smoke.

On a related note, the deer continue to demolish many of my flowers, and Big Al and I are off to the nursery to see if we can find something that they won’t destroy. I’m thinking maybe Foxglove (digitalis). I understand it’s as poisonous to deer as it is to people. Bwhahahahaha!!!!!

Posted by: abbiewatters | June 30, 2014

Mt Rainier Scenic Railroad

Last Saturday, a group of us from Franke Tobey Jones joined folks from the Ruston Senior Center to have a wonderful day on the Mt Rainier Scenic Railroad. Our bus driver took us to Elbe, WA, the terminus for the tour.

We got there in time for breakfast at the local diner which is made from old railroad cars. There’s also a motel behind the restaurant made out of old cabooses.





The interior is has some wonderful old artifacts including this etched window (I hope you can see where it says “Silver Palace Car” and “Southern Pacific 1865″).


They also have a large emblem from Union Pacific Railroad.


The best part, though, are all the model trains – engines and cars – they have on display on a ledge around the top of the walls.

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Elbe is an historic little town with an interesting old church and some old buildings that were there around the turn of the twentieth century. It was a jumping off point for the logging industry who spread out from there to logging camps all over Mt Rainier.

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They have one of the old logging engines and coal cars on static display by the depot.


We looked around their gift shop, and about that time here came the train.



We climbed on board, and settled ourselves for a 45 minute ride to the old logging camp and museum they have set up near Mineral, a little town on the shores of Mineral Lake.


Along the way we passed wild flowers in the fields, and beautiful old trees and second growth forest.

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We crossed a bridge over the Nisqually River which flows out of the glacier on Mt Rainier. Unfortunately the clouds were thick and we couldn’t see the mountain.


After we crossed the river we followed the winding track which ran alongside Mineral Creek.

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We finally arrived at the Railroad Camp.


The Railroad Camp is where they have a museum, many old steam engines, and a whole logging camp set up. The buildings were built on skids and moved from camp to camp by flatcar when the trees in one area had all been logged.


They have one of the “dormitories” set up with furnishings for the women who cooked and cleaned for the lumberjacks. The others will be furnished as bunkhouses as funds become available.

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There were all sorts of equipment from logging donkeys to large steam engines to things I had no idea what they were. I know Ray would love to poke around there. (The one thing I noticed was that none of the engines had cowcatchers. I guess they didn’t need such a thing in the forest.)
















As we rode back to Elbe, we were reminded that Mt Rainier is so big, it creates its own weather. As we crossed the Nisqually, the rains came and we were glad to be snug in the railcar, and close to our bus for the ride back to Tacoma.



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