Summer Hiking

Summer Hiking
Mt. Constitution

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Royal Chair Project

Connie began talking about retirement early this year.  She's had it with new technology, new testing, the Common Core, new curriculums, and the prospect of having 17 boys and 8 girls in her upcoming second grade class at Genesee Elementary School.  Besides, she longed to rid herself of the frenetic life style she's been living.  And, she wants to travel with Garry and her siblings who are retired.

How could this beauty be retirement age?

The past year Connie faced health challenges that cemented her desire to be retired.  She grew weary of all her sinus infections and tummy troubles.  I loved the idea of her retirement.  I'd teach her how to get pictures from her camera to the computer.  We'd make granola together!  We'd drive to Spokane every week and have lunch with Marilyn and dinner with Joan.  We'd go for bike rides and she and Garry would plan their trip to Assisi.  

About the time she needed to sign her contract to teach in 2014-2015 she started to feel better.  She heard other teachers talk about Pintrest.  The young teachers shared the ways they decorated their bulletin boards, not by reading teacher magazines, but by surfing the web!  Her creative mind took over and by golly, she signed that contract in May and began dreaming of a second grade classroom that looked like a castle!

We picked up huge cardboard tubes at Sonoco and she and Garry designed the pillars of the castle.  This week she's making a little bridge out of cardboard and duct tape to go over the moat to get to the castle.  She admits her creative energy for the castle leaves little time to focus on the new Math curriculum.  Yesterday we bought bright pink tiaras for the eight girls who will be princesses sometime during the year.

I happened to be with her at an estate sale in Spokane when she spotted a chair for $65.  She studied it for awhile and said she needed a chair for the Royal Throne, but couldn't pay $65.  (It's pathetic that teachers spend so much of their own money to enhance their classrooms).   Connie thought more seriously about the chair when we heard the announcement that everything was half price.  "Still too much," she said.  I suggested that she tell the organizer about her project and see if she could get it for less.  In the end, she paid $20 for the chair.  
Except the fabric on the chair looked more like a boudoir chair than a Royal Throne.  It would be more appealing if the fabric were red velvet.  Marilyn said, "you can paint fabric, you know.  Let's just get some red paint."  I thought about my full week ahead with no commitments and called Connie and told her I would reupholster the chair in red velvet.
 Three pieces, how hard could it be?
Probably a piece of cake, with the right tools.  I used what I had, a screwdriver and needle nosed pliers!  Having upholstery tools probably would've protected my hands from all that repetitive motion that made my hands ache for days.   I also needed six bandaids before I finished getting the fabric off the wood frame. 
 I dedicated five days to this project and at times hated the chair, but in the end I loved it!
And I'll bet those little students will feel so honored to sit in it and read to the rest of the class.  This may be Connie's best year ever...

Monday, August 25, 2014

Whitewater Rafting on the Salmon

My daughter-in-law, Anne, loves to plan family events.  She usually sets some goals every summer and weaves family trips in and among friends-sponsored parties, DW's trips, and unpredictable weather patterns.  White water rafting had been on her list for two years now.  The summer seemed to be coming to a screeching halt when she asked if I'd like to join them for Colin's first white water raft trip!  "Of course," I responded.  I recalled my own anxiety in the summer of 1978 when Roy announced that his friend, John Bly, wanted to take a group of our friends on a trip through Hells Canyon.  Gosh, I still suffered from fear of the water and wondered if I was really up for this kind of adventure.  We talked our friends, Jack and Regina Sullivan, Don and Vona Litchfield,  and Clyde and Karen Conklin into going with us.  We were so naive!!!!
 After we safely landed at Heller Bar, I said, "this is the most fun I've ever had."  We fished below Hells Canyon Dam, floated down the Snake River, camped on sandy beaches, enjoyed incredible meals, and drank Black Duck.  Karen actually flipped out of a raft in Rush Creek, but lived to be a hero!  Since then I've been on several trips...all so much fun.
 I think this is Granite Creek Rapids
John Bly pondering his turn to navigate Wild Sheep Rapids
We joined again with the Sullivan, Cooper, and Schultz families in the mid 1980's.  
The cloudy and threatening sky did not deter us or affect the fun we enjoyed with Salmon River Expedition and their professional guide. 
We began the trip in Riggins and ended near Lucille, Idaho
The most fun for me was listening to Colin's squeals and giggles.  He loved it especially when he was in the front of the raft.

I paid for the professional photos to ensure I'd never forget Colin's big smile.  

I must've said it 25 times on this trip...."this is better than Disneyland."  A theme park cannot capture the real thing - the joy of being on the river, the incredible rapids, and lots of water spray.  
Thank you Anne organizing the best ride of the summer!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Seattle Family Time

I'm trying to sort out over 400 pictures and figure out a way to write a blog post that isn't a mile long. I tell my family and friends the reason I write a blog is to capture my memories.  But it's also a way for me to document my adventures and explore my feelings about the things I do.  When I downloaded all my pictures and looked at those shared with me via Flickr I experienced the most emotion when looking at the sibling photos.  We love being with each other.  We don't need planned activities, we just need a place to sit and visit.  I feel a lot of gratitude  to Don and Dena who ensured we were all invited to David and Tai's lovely wedding.  They provided the framework for some wonderful family time.  Thank you....

 Colin came behind us and told us to "look similar" as Duane snapped this picture.

 Similar Sisters - my roommates at Embassy Suites
People were afraid we might be dressed alike again, but we fooled them.
Larry, Marilyn, Theresa, Karen, Don, Connie, and Allan.  We missed Joan and Maureen.

Connie looked gorgeous in this blue dress.  We took pictures in the hotel to share with Garry!  I always take pictures of the flowers and Karen looks pretty in front of the lobelia.  So much blue!!!

We all stayed at the Embassy Suites and took some time on Saturday morning to walk on the nice trails around the hotel.  We found this lovely lake/pond - perfect time for photo shoot.

On our walk we saw a sign for a yard sale...  Connie bought bean bag chairs for her classroom, Larry found this gorgeous purple bowl and some Pottery Barn shelves.  I notice the happy places homeowners make for people who walk.. this was a great tree stump decorated with a little color.

I believe this gorgeous sunset was God's special gift to all of us who witnessed the wedding.  The sun's rays and the changing colors seemed to say to me, "the spectacular sunset mirrors the love and joy I felt being with the Kopczynski family."

Stayed tuned for the wedding post.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Alki Beach and Orcas Island

The Wedding of the Year became a launching point to enjoy greater Seattle and the San Juan Islands. Karen, Dena, and I walked to California Street on Sunday, after visiting relatives at Jeremy and Amanda's lovely home.  We found this treasure in an antique shop.
The store clerk told us it was an original painting and Dena thought it might be perfect for the guest bedroom in their condo.   We encouraged her to purchase the painting because back views of people seem to be her favorite.  Sure enough, by Thursday she'd purchased and framed the painting.  It is perfect for the space.

Don had Monday off so we rented cruiser bicycles and rode on bike trails through Alki Beach and Beach Drive.  This particular monument describes Indian Life in west Seattle.  Beach Drive has spectacular views of the Olympic Mountains and a lot less activity than Alki Beach.  While we stopped to enjoy the views, Don told us that his son-in-law, Brad, had grown up in West Seattle and probably rode his bike in this very spot when he was a kid.  Karen's great eyes spotted familiar names in one of the bricks surrounding the monument.

We ended our little biking adventure with lunch at Marination (fish taco $3.00 and cole slaw $1.50) and some outstanding views of the Seattle skyline.  It was so nice to have Don join us in our adventures for the day.

Don helped us get Karen's kayak in the water and we delighted in our adventure, finding our way around ferry boats and paddle boards.  The perfect day for outdoor adventure.  I think we paddled around for almost two hours while Don waited patiently, snapping pictures, and ensuring he'd be available to help us out of the water.  
We love Seattle!!!!
 We began our trip to Orcas Island early on Tuesday morning, hoping to catch the 10:20 ferry.  We met lots of people waiting for the ferry - people on bikes, hikers, and families headed for the islands.  A retired couple, originally from Tennessee, told us they were biking all around Lopez Island.  They retired to Anacortes and spend a lot of time hiking, biking, and sailing through the islands.  They must be one of many who built houses in new subdivisions close to the ferry entrance.
We found our way to this state park, where we planned to hike.  

 We began a 3 mile hike around Cascade Loop.  Karen could hardly contain her emotions when we noticed a big rope swing.  If this was the end, not the beginning of hike, she may have jumped right into the lake.  It would've been so refreshing!
 I took lots of pictures of moss - the heavily forested trail provides the perfect environment for moss.

Islanders maintain the park and all the trails so guests like us can enjoy.  I appreciate the foresight of Robert Moran, who donated 3,700 acres of land to the State of Washington.  The park opened in 1921 when Moran, a Seattle shipbuilder, gave the State this great gift.  The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) began to build the trails, roads, and bridges in the 1930's.  Eighty years later thousands of people enjoy the outdoors on the Island.  
After our hike, we headed to our B&B, just minutes away.  When we saw this beautiful place, Karen said, "oh my, we are not going to kill ourselves hiking tomorrow, we are going to enjoy this peaceful place."  So we did!  We spent time in the hot tub, visited with other guests, watched the birds, and rested in "the honeymoon suite."  
 Our room had a lovely fireplace, which we turned on to warm our cold bodies up a little.
The pond, filled with lilypads, also attracted hundreds of birds.
 I love staying at B&B's! Carl and Sue treated us royally and told us about the island, their joy living here, and introduced us to guests from Belgium, France, Illinois, Tennessee, and Seattle.  We enjoyed a 5-course healthy breakfast every morning.  I'm going to make their hearty cooked breakfast of flax seeds, quinoa, barley, wheat berries, brown rice, and raisins.  It gave us what we needed to attack Mt. Constitution on our second day on the island.  Sue suggested that we visit Orcas Island Pottery first.

Table after table set up with gorgeous pottery.  Karen bought a bowl and I purchased a tray to decorate my remodeled bathroom, whenever.  From there we drove to West Beach Resort and decided to try a little kayaking.  Wow!  So fabulous to be kayaking where whales live!  I was quite sure the seaweed monster would devour us, so it's good we didn't know about the whales until we got out.  No pictures of the kayaking adventure, just memories of having to pay $5.00 each to use the Resort's dock to put in, take out, and another $7.00 for parking!   So worth it!
 We found a great Food Co-op and shared unique salads to give us the right fuel for the grueling 6.7 mile hike to Mt. Constitution.  On the way, wisdom knocked and we remembered Dale Stubbs' wise words, "Why would anyone hike to a place they could drive to?"  Ok, then, we are driving to the top of this mountain.
 We first noticed this tower, built in the 1930's, which gives visitors a 360 view.
Just one of many breath-taking views!
 We did pose for "we made it" pictures

A sweet couple from the U.K. took this picture of us.
The tower, a mini museum, presents visitors with the history of Moran State Park.  Robert Moran moved to Orcas Island because of poor health and without the stress of his business, he lived for another 40 years.
 From the tower we could barely see the top of Mt. Baker, surrounded by clouds.
We stopped on our way back to our B&B, for a mile hike into Cascade Falls.  
And the Mountain Lake Loop.  We did several miles of easy hiking, saw lovely sights all day long, which refreshed our spirits and prepared us for another evening meal, slow cooked at West Sound Cafe.  
 Thursday morning we made our way to the Rosario Resort - the original Island home of the Moran family.

 People can rent rooms at the Resort, but other guests are welcome to tour the Moran museum.  The wood paneling is gorgeous.
I'm sure the bathrooms were of the best materials available at the time.  
We did miss out on the daily history lecture and pipe organ concert - another reason to come back.  We  had lunch in the park near Orcas Village while waiting for the Ferry.  We drove back to Seattle through the Skagit Valley, home of the Tulip Festival.  We stopped for a walk around break in La Connor, bought some nectarines for Don and made it back to Alki Beach in time for this glorious sunset.  

The intense colors in the sunset reminded me of the intense memories of the past week and the refreshed feeling I had by being outdoors most of the time.  

John Muir once said,
“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.”   Karen and I did all that and headed home on Friday with a renewed spirit, ready for more outdoor adventures. 
 We took a little tour off I-90 and hiked around Gold Creek Pond.
 The Pond was the gravel pit for I-90 Construction in the 1970's.  When the construction noise finally died away in 1983, the WSDOT reshaped the contours and planted vegetation.  The US Forest Service then transformed the site into a wildlife habitat.

 Nature's peace flowed into us as we hiked around the pond - probably about 30 minutes.  What a nice break from the rat race of Seattle traffic and the freeway noise.  
We drove 8 miles from the highway to get a quick picture and view of Palouse Falls.  Basalt lava formed the Columbia Plateau over 15 million years ago.  Each layer is a separate flow with a total depth of 1,000 feet.  Late summer water flows are typically low and we met an Asian traveller who expressed disbelief that this actually was Palouse Falls.  Karen and I marvel at the beauty all around us.  We realize we don't need to travel to Ireland to see basalt or fantastic views.  The beauty of nature is all around us.  We plan to continue the exploration of our beloved Pacific Northwest.