The Olympic Loop, Day 2

It was cloudy, windy, and cool (cold to this Southern gal) on Wednesday, but we were warm and snug in the car as we drove north along the shore road onto the Quinault Indian reservation. They have closed their beaches, but we were able to ride along the coast road and into their little village where we saw a brackish harbor at low tide, with thousands of seagulls. in the fresher water.

There was a fellow in a boat fishing about half-way across the little river (you can just see him through the guard rail).

There were lots more gulls fishing and pottering around in the shallows farther inland.

After leaving the village, we stopped on the side of the road and looked at this little stream of fresh water coming down to meet the ocean. It was just full of seagulls.

Apparently even the gulls think the salt water is sticky and itchy, because they were venturing farther and farther up the stream to find fresh water to splash and bathe in.

They weren’t feeding or fishing, they were just splashing and playing in the water. They reminded me of my sparrows and finches in the bird bath outside my window.

We turned and looked back at the inlet by the village, and saw the headland and surf in the mist.

We drove farther south and found a little road that led down to the beach. You were forbidden to drive on the beach between April 1 and Labor Day, but we congratulated ourselves on taking this trip in September, and drove right down on the beach to watch the surf, listen to the waves, and become friends with the seagulls, who were very tame.

They didn’t seem at all frightened of us, just nonchalantly strolling out of our way as we approached.

We even got out of the car and walked a little way.

Yep, I got out of the nice warm car, too, for a little while.

Big Al was entranced with the wind and water erosion of the cliffs.

As bad as I am with pictures of lakes and rivers, Big Al wants pictures of structural geology formations.

You can see by the remains of the campfire that the water doesn’t come too far inland very often, but in stormy weather it can reach the bluffs. The wind also has taken care of some of the erosion.

And all the time we could hear the beat of the surf and the cries of the gulls.

Even on the road leaving the beach, Big Al spotted signs of the elemental sculpturing of the land.

And the trees guard the gullies, and the blackberry bushes keep the soil from disappearing.

After a day spent in the open air with the sun, and wind, and mist and all the wonders of the shore with surf, and birds, and erosion, we were ready to go back to our room, have an early dinner, and sleep the sleep of the thankful.

The next day we drove father south to Ocean Shores, and looked around the area, but it is obviously very touristy and overcrowded in the summer. We were thankful we were able to go in the off-season so we could enjoy the beach without falling over so many other folks.

The road home was good highway without too much traffic, and we arrived in mid-afternoon, much refreshed from our little vacation.

The Olympic Loop, Day 1

The beautiful, dry ( ūüė¶ ) weather¬†continues in the Pacific Northwest, so Big Al and I decided to take advantage and go look at the ocean last week. The concierge here at Franke Tobey Jones is married to a retired Army fellow, and she told us about a Naval Recreation Area, right on the beach in Pacific Beach. So I called on Monday and got reservations for Tuesday night and Wednesday night, and we threw some stuff in a suitcase and off we went.

First we drove up to Port Angeles on the Strait of Juan de Fuca. It’s a pretty busy little port with freighters and a ferry that goes to Vancouver, Canada.

The land in the distance behind the freighter is Vancouver Island, Canada.

This sculpture of an octopus guards the entrance to the public pier.

Before we left town we got a closer look at the busy port.

From Port Angeles the road continued to the west, and then turned slightly south to skirt the shore of Crescent Lake.

It’s a beautiful, clear lake, surrounded by mountains.

In parts it was so clear and still that it made a beautiful reflection.

I just couldn’t stop taking pictures of the lake (as you can see).

Finally the road went off and left the lake, and we turned farther west. As we got closer and closer to the shore we started to see what we thought was smoke on the far hills, but as we continued on we realized it was Pacific mist blowing in off the ocean, and we caught our first glimpse through the trees of the surf.

The road ran along a bluff with no easy way down to the shore, but we were able to see more rocks and surf through the mist.

It wasn’t all overcast, and occasionally we were able to see the sun breaking through the clouds.

We continued on through the Olympic Forest around the Quinault Indian Reservation, and arrived in Pacific Beach about 5 p.m. We could hear the surf from our room, and we settled in for the evening. There was a restaurant right there on the property, and they had wi-fi (although no AT&T for the phone). We watched our TV show (Parenthood) in the room and went to sleep listening to the waves crashing on the shore.

Mount St. Helens

I know I promised you a tour of Mount St. Helens a couple of days ago, but it seems like my time has just slipped away from me, and besides I wanted to “study up” so I could give you facts as well as impressions.

Before I start, I urge you to take 23 minutes a view this You Tube video. I had forgotten much of what it told me, although I don’t know that I paid that much attention to the eruption at the time. We were in England, and so slightly removed from the action, although we did have an unusually cool and cloudy summer that was attributed to the ash in the upper atmosphere. You also might enjoy this video¬†that is about 45 minutes long and tells about the recovery of the mountain. For a shorter, more scientific look at what happened you can see this clip.

We arrived in the late morning at the Silver Lake Visitors Center.

From there you can see Silver Lake through the trees.

We stopped for lunch at Hoffstadts Bluff for lunch and got our first good look at the mountain.

You can see the Toutle River in the foreground and the deposits of ash/pumice that washed down the mountain after the eruptions.

At this distance from the mountain you can see the regrowth of pines and forests that were burned and scorched by the heat blast accompanying the eruption.

We visited the Johnston Ridge Observatory, 6 miles from the crater,¬†named for one of the people killed on the mountain in 1980. He was an employee of the US Geological Survey and was studying the mountain hoping to predict what was soon to happen. His were the last words heard from Mount St. Helens on that fateful May morning, “Vancouver, Vancouver, this is it…”

From Johnston Ridge, you can see Spirit Lake just in the middle of the picture. The mountain just visible on the left is Mount Adams, another one of the string of sleeping sister volcanos.

There, just across the valley is the crater. You can plainly see the new lava dome building in the center of the crater, and wisps of steam escaping from a vent in the middle of the photo.

At the center, we saw the roots of blasted trees.

And by the foot of the blasted root, these flowers bravely poking out of the ashy soil.

The vegetation is recovering here at the Johnston Ridge Center.

Across the hills small trees are growing back…

…with flowers, and low bushes.

In the valley, by the little streams and the river, the birches have come back and are full-grown trees.

Looking back as we go down the mountain, we could see what looked like steam, both from the vent we saw from the Observatory on the left, and farther down on the right from a fissure at the base of the cone.

If you are interested in learning more about Mount St. Helens, Wikipedia has a couple of really good articles, one about the mountain itself, and one about the 1980 eruption.

The folks around here say that geologists think the next one to go will be Mt. Rainier. Parts of Tacoma are in the lava flow evacuation area, but we should be safe on our hill (from my mouth to God’s ears!).

Meet the Fleet Cruise

Yesterday, I boarded the Franke Tobey Jones bus and rode to Seattle where we caught a lunch cruise round the Elliott Bay for the beginning of “Fleet Week” in Seattle. (BTW, I am eternally grateful that I’m not going to be “on the ground” there during all the festivities which I understand is an excuse to gather in enormous crowds and drink.)

The cruise left from Shilshole Bay Marina. When the bus arrived we were greeted with the Viking statue.

I’m not sure what he was commemorating, but there he was at the entrance to the marina.

Both of the boat were there and available for boarding (even though we were about 1/2 an hour early). The bigger boat was the Emerald Star. It looked like it held about 60 or 75 folks comfortably.

Our boat was the Olympic Star and we had about 25 or 30 people on our cruise. There were 8 from FTJ including the bus driver and staff.

There was a wonderful doggy on the dock in his life vest, waiting to board another boat for the day on the water.

This is a good-sized marina with moorings for several hundred boats of all shapes and sizes.

We had plenty of time to look around while we waited for the rest of the parties to arrive. There were also some Canada geese that seemed to be headed somewhere important (at least THEY thought it was important.)

Captain Pete came by to visit with us before we left.

The lady and her husband were from San Antonio, so I had a good time comparing horror stories of the heat with them. We also spent some time congratulating each other on our foresight in “getting the hell out of Dodge,” this summer.

Hey! I guess I WAS there after all.

As we backed out of our slip we could see a metal sculpture of Nessie chasing a poor unfortunate sailor on the seawall. (Sorry we didn’t get close enough to take a better picture.)

They served us a fine lunch of salmon, mashed potatoes, and spinach, with creme brulee for desert. It tasted great, but I was so ready to be out on the water that I spent most of my time running upstairs and outside to take pictures, and then coming back for the next course, only to run outside again.

We motored around West Point and saw our first view (from the water) of the skyline of Seattle, complete with Space Needle in the center of the picture.

We took up our post in the middle of Elliott Bay, and waited for the parade of ships.

Pretty soon we looked south, and saw them coming, complete with a fire boat putting on a welcoming display!

It wasn’t long before they were around the headland and coming into Elliott Bay!

The ferry to Bainbridge Island didn’t seem to be at all impressed with the War Ships, as it passed, unconcernedly, between us and them.

There were three ships, all painted grey, so they are kind of hard to see (camouflage works). These were all active-duty war ships who had just recently returned from service in the Gulf War and Afghanistan.

There was a guided missile destroyer, a guided missile cruiser, and a helicopter carrier. (Sorry, my “brain like a sieve” has lost the names of two of them, but I do remember one was named the USS Bunker Hill.)

This is the helicopter carrier just passing Safeco Field and Qualcomm Field just by the container docks. Its camouflage is so good you can hardly see it.

See, there it is in a close-up that is kind of blurry because close-ups usually are on the iPad.

Here’s a picture of the fire boat in close-up (also blurry, but identifiable).

They finally finished their tour of the bay closer to us (and more visible).

We were also treated to a fly-by of a P-2 Sub-hunter.

Apparently, the Coast Guard felt like we were a little too close to the destroyer, and they came putt-putting over with machine gun at the ready, to make sure we didn’t interfere with the United States Navy!

We also had a fly-by by a two-engine sub-hunter (nobody seems to know what the Navy calls them – not Captain Pete, or Big Al).

After they complete the shoreline tour of Elliott Bay, the cruiser turned and came right at us!

And, not to be overshadowed, the little two engine sub-hunter buzzed us again!

Needless to say, we gave way, and the destroyer made the turn and headed back to downtown.

By now, it was time to go back to the Marina, so we went back around West Point.

What a great day on the water. Too bad that Big Al didn’t want to go, ’cause I had a WONDERFUL time.

Mt. Rainier

I know it’s been FOREVER since I put up a new post, and I know you’re DYING to see how we’ve managed to fit everything in to the one-bedroom apartment, but that’s going to have to wait for another day, because I want to show you the pictures from our trip to Mt. Rainier, yesterday.

Franke Tobey Jones has a¬† great little 21-passenger bus, and Gary, the driver, picked us up right outside our building at 9 o’clock sharp for the ride up the mountain. We had no idea what the weather would be like up there, so we dressed in layers, and took sun hats, and off we went.

We rode for about an hour and a half – first through cities and towns and on interstate – then through villages – and finally through towering forests with lovely wildflowers growing at the base of the trees.

Eventually we came to the entrance to the National Park. Of the 17 people on board, including the driver, we had 6 Golden Eagle/Golden Access passes, so we all got in free (each pass allows the owner and three other people to accompany them).

There are several park “villages” or inns on the mountain, and we passed one large one on our way to Paradise – which is as high as the bus could go.

Many little mountain streams were carrying snowmelt down the mountain through stands of old-growth forest.

This is the beginning of the Nisqually River that flows through Tacoma and empties into Puget Sound.

(Sorry for the blur on some of these pictures, but I was taking them through the bus window and I sometimes got a reflection.)

At one point the road crossed the river on a bridge that was high enough above the riverbed that Big Al declined to look out the window.

They’ve had a very late spring, so the real rushing torrent of snowmelt is only a trickle, still, in the middle of July.

The clouds were still hanging low in the trees and we began to despair of getting a good view of the top of the mountain.

There was still snow on the ground in patches and under the trees as we climbed higher and higher, even down below the treeline.

And then, just as we reached Paradise, the sun broke out! That will definitely preach!

We walked through the parking lot to the lodge where we had lunch with a wonderful view.

Sorry, I just couldn’t stop taking pictures of the beautiful blue sky, the alpine meadows, and the great snow-covered mountain.

This is the view back across the valley where the clouds were still hanging.

You can see there’s still an awful lot of snow on the ground, although we got downright hot in the sun, and were glad to have our hats.

The fields of lupine with paint brush reminded me of nothing so much as blue bonnets and paint brush in Texas in March.

About 2 o’clock we reboarded the bus for the ride down the mountain.

The ride down the mountain was like a movie running in reverse.

Back across the bridge, but this time looking up the mountain the way we had come.

I was intranced with the ferns growing in that alpine forest. I think of ferns in damp, southern marshlands.

I was able to snap a picture of one of the many waterfalls rushing down the cliffs at the edge of the road.

There was a little more sun as we went down, than when we were going up.

The rest of the ride was uneventful and we arrived back at Franke Tobey Jones close to 5 p.m.  A really great day!

On the downward slide

We’re on the downward slide. All the paperwork has been done for the move. I’ve changed addresses everywhere, transferred my household goods insurance effective 18 May, transferred my car insurance effective 1 July. The utilities will be cut off on the 18th, except the phone and the cable which are departing on Monday. After today, my posts on the blog and Facebook and Twitter will be strictly iPad/iPhone generated.

#1 son, Bill, is in town with the kids, to take the computers apart and label all the wires so we can hook up again when we get to Tacoma. Al’s computer will be going with us in the car (since he has a laptop), and we’re taking the Home Server in the car because EVERYTHING is backed up on it back to the dark ages of our original Windows 3.1 network. We’ll be saving our iPads to the cloud on the road, so hopefully our pictures of our travels will be safe. It will take me a couple of weeks, probably, to sort them out and get them organized in the Windows Live Photo Gallery once we get settled in Tacoma.

Today, we should finish up packing the kitchen boxes, and we’re already mostly finished with the offices. I’ve got 95% of my clothes sorted and packed, and most of the linens are in the cedar chest. The rest of them will fit in there after they get washed. Monday we get new tires on the car and get it checked for road-worthiness. We also will have to unplug and clean out the refrigerator and washing machine and dryer. We’re already eating out, except for ice chest type lunch/snack stuff. Sandwiches for 5 of us at noon today should do away with the remaining lunch meat and cheese.

I’m taking a couple of hours this morning to go to a called Presbytery meeting to decide on the disposition of one of the churches in the presbytery that is coming apart over 10-a, and all that associated fall-out. What is really sad is that the church itself is split, so the presbytery has had to go in and dissolve the session.¬† I weep for all of them, no matter which side, because ultimately, the whole body of Christ loses in these situations.

On that cheery note, I’ll return you to your previously scheduled Saturday activities, and I’ll get back to my rat killing.

Boxes, and boxes, and boxes

Not much going on except stuff going into boxes!

We went to a lovely barbecue last evening thrown by Big Al’s men’s group from the church. I ate weigh (no, way) too much. They gave us a great coffee table book of all the beautiful parts of Texas, so we will have something to look back on and remember.

We had the appraisal this morning, and I haven’t had any panicked calls from the realtor, so I guess it came out all right (from my mouth to God’s ears.)

I cooked up all the frozen chicken and I’m going to make Chicken Tetrazzini¬†and whatever is left over, I’ll freeze for the Angels with Aprons at the church. I’ll also cook double (or triple) pork chops with rice tomorrow night and freeze leftovers for the church. That should get rid of most of the perishable food. And what it doesn’t get rid of, we’ll just throw away (as much as I hate to dump good food).

#2 son will be here Friday to take the electronics apart (probably wait until Saturday to do away with the TV and cable) and then next Tuesday we’ll move into a motel for the last couple of days. The furniture that’s going with us will leave on Wednesday, and the furniture and clothes I’m donating to the Salvation Army will leave on Tuesday. Final clean on Thursday, and then we close at 9:00 a.m. on Friday!

I THINK it’s really going to happen!

Busy, busy, busy!

I know I’ve been very remiss in keeping this blog updated, but I’ve been really busy. I hope all of you, gentle readers, know already – WE SOLD THE HOUSE!!! I’ve not been posting too much about that news because – although it’s been under contract for a week – we had to wait through the inspection and the “Option Period” to be morally certain the it was really going to happen! The buyers are happy with how the inspection turned out, so now all we do is wait for the appraisal and for the title company to do their thing. The buyers are already pre-approved for their loan, and the house is on the tax roles for more than we’re selling it for so we “should” have no problem with the appraisal. We’re set to close on May 18th!

We’ve started packing boxes and dumping stuff that we don’t care anything about. Thank goodness we did the major cleaning out back in 2009 when we thought we would be selling and moving in the spring of 2010 (silly us). We’ve still amassed lots of paper and other various assorted junk that needs to be gone through and sorted out. I’m going to try to have a small garage sale to get rid of the few books we still have that we no longer want (fall back is to take them to Half-Priced Books and get a nickel a piece for them).

We still have a little bit of furniture that we never intended to take with us, but that we needed to keep until we actually moved, like Al’s desk and the credenza I’ve been using as a desk. We’re planning to get new stuff from Ikea when we get there that will fit in the “shared” office. We will be in a one bedroom apartment until a duplex or three bedroom apartment opens up, so we wouldn’t be able to have office areas yet anyway.

We also still have our old recliners, a sofa bed and various occasional chairs¬†that didn’t sell in the estate sale. Anything I can’t peddle in a garage sale will be donated to Interfaith Housing. They give their residents all the furniture in their apartments when they graduate, so they always need stuff like living room chairs and furniture. I’ll also donate all the clothes we have either outgrown or don’t want any more (like I NEVER wear skirts or dresses unless somebody holds a gun to my head) unless I can sell them in the garage sale.

I’ve prevailed on #2 son to come over for the weekend of May 11th¬†and take the electronics apart and label all the wires for us. That’s the weekend before the movers come. It looks like we’ll have them sometime during the early part of the week of May 14th, and have the truck from Interfaith Housing at the same time. Then we’ll have the cleaning ladies in to do a final clean on May 17th, and we’ll close on the 18th. We’ll move into the Marriott Residence Inn just down the street as soon as the movers come, so we’ll have the car packed and ready to go when we get finished with the Title Company.

We’re booked into the motel in Texarkana for that weekend (I want to have a chance to rock Miss Claire McCasland, my new grand-niece). Then we’ll leave the car there with Betty and Keith, and take the train to Chicago to see #1 son and his lady friend. I’ll also have a chance to run over to Peoria to see if I can find the naturalization records for Papa’s grandfather. He came from Germany in the 1840s and was naturalized sometime during the 1860s, but that was in the days before everything was done in the federal court system. In those day, any county or municipal court or judge could do the naturalization paperwork, so I’m going to see if I can find the records there.

When we get back to Texarkana from Chicago we’ll take a little time and go up to Washington, AR, to take a few pictures in the old cemetery for the Eakins piece of the genealogy. Then we’ll go over to Burns, TN, to see my cousin, Anne. Then down to Madisonville, LA, to see #2 son and his family (and possibly see if I can look up some of the relatives who lived down there). I know some of them, at least, lived and died in Tangipahoa Parish.

Then when we leave south Louisiana, we’ll just be taking our time and driving west and north. We’d really like to avoid the interstates, and see some of the countryside. Big Al said he has heard of Rt 66 all his life, so we’ll pick it up somewhere in Oklahoma and follow it at least to Amarillo. We’ve never seen Palo Duro¬†Canyon, as long as we’ve lived in Texas, so we may do that. We may take the Highway to Hell (rt 666) through New Mexico for a while. We may try to visit Carlsbad Caverns. Al has a friend in Tuscon, and I have a friend in Phoenix that we may try to stop off and see. We may go through Las Vegas, just to see our old house (if we can find it and if it’s still there). Other than that we don’t have any plans except to take our time and visit whatever National Parks, or National Monuments we run across on the way. We’ve never been to Bryce Canyon or Zion National Park, even though we lived in Las Vegas for a while, so we may go by there. We’ve seen the Grand Canyon and the Painted Dessert, and the Crater in Arizona, but we may go back to one or another of them. We’re just going to play it by ear. I don’t THINK we’re going to go by the Grand Tetons or Yosemite, but who knows. We’ll plan to be in Tacoma some time between the 15th and 30th of June.

Now I’ve got to get back to my rat-killing, and get some more of this junk disposed of!

Finishing up “Identity”

What kinds of things bring you the most pleasure now? – Reading, web-surfing, (unfortunately) eating, knitting, train travel, cruising, watching grandchildren play.

When you were a younger adult? – Reading, (still) eating, sightseeing, travel, watching the world go by.

When you were a child? – Reading, (again) eating, listening to adult conversations.

What things frighten you now? – Traffic, losing myself to Alzheimer’s, having something happen to Al, one of the children, or one of the grandchildren.

What frightened you when you were a younger adult? – The threat of nuclear war, loss of Al or one of the children.

When you were a child? – Loss of my parents, the “unnamed stranger”, things that go bump in the night.

What’s the one thing you’ve always wanted but still don’t have? – A full-time maid and cook, and enough money to pay them.

Do you feel differently about yourself now from how you felt when you were younger? – A little. How? I’m much more confident now. I used to want approval from Mama and Papa for everything I did. Mama and Papa are both gone now, and I find I don’t need the cheering section any more. I’m capable of living my life alone, if I have to.

What do you think has stayed the same about you throughout life? – My intelligence is still here and my quick intuition (or maybe that’s the same thing). I’ve always relied on “knowing”, and maybe that’s why Alzheimer’s scares me so.

What do you think has changed? – I know this sounds like a broken record, but my self- confidence. I’m much surer of myself – but isn’t that a big part of being an adult?