Summer Hiking

Summer Hiking
Mt. Constitution

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Week-Long Birthday Celebration

I've enjoyed a whole week of birthday celebrations - maybe because I'm now 70 years young!  And, I've been blessed with a big extended family and lots of friends, in addition to my children and grandchildren.  I think someone had the idea to throw a big party for me, but honestly I loved this way of celebrating - with small groups or one at a time.  The time together for visiting and story telling or yard clean-up provides the best gifts for me.
Celebrations began on Friday with a nice dinner at Bonefish in the Northtown Mall with Marilyn and Dena.  A precious, hand-carved Santa, brought joy to my happy heart.  It's another treasure from the creative hands of my brother, Don.

 Saturday morning Joan hosted a brunch with Aunt Maxine as our special guest.  She'll be 95 on November 8th, election day.  She still enjoys telling family stories and quizzing us about our political opinions.  She's not afraid to tell us who she plans to vote for and why!  She lives in the home she and Uncle Bernard built in 1950.  "I told Kop I did not know how we would ever be able to make the mortgage payment of $84.19."  She has some hearing loss so she communicates with her children via Email every morning.  Amazing and inspiring!

I enjoyed an early dinner with my sister, Joan at Anthony's on Saturday evening.  We shared a meal, but each splurged on a huckleberry dessert!  After dinner we walked a few blocks to enjoy the Chinese Lantern Festival in Riverfront Park.

Stunning displays of light!
I appreciate the "project gift" my kids and grands give me every fall.  This year I pulled out all the Virginia Creeper and John and Duane torn down the arbor because the wooden boards were rotten and started to pull away from the house.  

Anne made sure the scarecrow was secure on the bench under the dogwood tree.  Bradleigh and Karen pulled out all the sad looking annuals in the front flower beds.

I like to take an annual picture with the scarecrow that  inherited after my mother died.
We've changed a bit since 2012

Everyone worked so fast and efficiently that they John and Jake had time to put up the Christmas lights!  I think they were happy to do it on a nice, warm day.

John's truck was loaded to overflowing with rotten 2x4's, leaves, vines, and a few dogwood branches!

I'm not sure if I'll replace the arbor because the patio seems so open and clean right now.  But, I might change my mind next summer when it's 110 and no shade!

Colin still likes to climb the tree!

The celebrating continued on Tuesday night as Jean and I enjoyed a lovely meal at Jollymore's.  Wednesday afternoon my 4th Day friends came to my house and we shared close moments, soup, and pumpkin pie.  Connie found time to take me shopping for new jeans and boots!  She said it's important that I have an updated, younger look!  Karen and John stopped by with a lemon-raspberry cupcake they found in Spokane.  Larry, Holly, Kaitlyn, and Kammryn joined us for dinner.  I begged Kammryn to go next door with me to meet Juniper, my neighbor's dog.  Every time I go over to feed her she barks and growls at me.  Kammryn's a dog whisperer I'm quite certain!  Her voice soothed the traumatized dog to the point of letting me pet her.  

I love all the flowers, wine, cards, phone calls and special greetings via Email and Facebook.  All this special attention made entering my seventh decade a time of joy instead of a day of dread.  
Colin called to wish me a happy birthday, the same day he'd had his first parent-teacher conferences at Moscow Middle School.  He said it went pretty well.  "Most teachers told my parents that I'm a good student and a joy to have in the classroom."  Sometimes I feel a little sad that my grandchildren are growing up and maturing into teenagers and young adults, but when I hear stories like that,  I realize there's a reason to delight in them and myself, no matter what the age!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Baby love

I don't have many pictures to share, but so many words come to my mind as I reflect on our special time with Gus, Mackenzie, and their precious baby, McKinley.
We all took turns holding this precious gift and the parents were generous in giving us all the time we needed to experience the joy of a family baby.


Grandma Karen

How can one describe the feeling of holding a baby?  A new life always fills me with hope - hope that our world is a good place and a child with loving parents will thrive, bloom, and grow into a person who also thinks the world is filled with love and goodness.  
Karen gifted the parents with a Sequoia Tree from the National Park.  Like McKinley, with the right conditions, the tree will grow strong and tall like the one we admired on our trip.

Karen loved to tell the story about this quilt that was made by Gus's grandma, Bertha.  Apparently at some point after Karen left home, our Mom took Karen's blue junior prom dress apart and cut it up into 4" squares and made several baby quilts with the fabric - all polyester!  The quilt has sentimental value, but will probably last through hundreds of washings and still be good for the next generation!
Dena's gifts, all wrapped up with net in a pink wagon, were a big hit.  She filled the wagon with soft toys, teething rings, pink dress and white boots and hat, among many other useful gifts!
Mackenzie told me she thought McKinley inherited the Kopczynski ski jump nose. Welcome to the extended family, sweet baby!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Lodging accommodations in National Parks

People who travel a lot tell me it's important to plan ahead, making hotel and shuttle reservations early!  Karen and I decided in August that we were going ahead with our plans to tour three national parks in early October -- Yosemite, King's Canyon, and Sequoia.  Karen did all the internet searching, consulting with fellow hiker Margie, google mapping, and phone calling necessary for our 12-day trip.  Neither one of us really like all the work that goes into planning a big trip, but we knew we had to have reservations. We made our airline reservations on August 14th and she booked all the lodging and a rental car shortly after.  The following pictures outline our sleeping adventures even though it's the "off season."
Our first two nights in Lee Vining, in a cute little cabin with a gas stove.  We were toasty warm.
We loved our rental, a Jeep Renegade, especially after cancelling the first reservation of $700 and getting a $300 deal instead!
We went from a nice cabin to 4 nights of tent camping!
 Karen came prepared with her own little propane heater!
Simple furnishings, bed, sheets, two blankets, and a pillow.
We had to travel to community bathrooms and showers in the dark.
The little heater was not enough to keep Karen warm, so she layered her body and her head with five different layers. The propane only lasted about 5 hours per tank.  The two tanks she bought in Lee Vining were soon gone and she discovered none were sold in Yosemite!  
We brought our breakfast, lunch and happy hour food - home made granola, Coastal Cheese, salami, coconut oil peanut butter, bread, fruit, nuts and crackers.  We bought milk, pickles, tomatoes, wine, and ham.  For $54 we figured we each had 4 breakfast and lunch meals, and 4 happy hours!
After our bike-riding day we enjoyed happy hour in the guest lounge at Yosemite, a place with heat and electric plug ins to re-charge our phones!
The dining hall at Curry (tent) village reminded me of a snow ski lodge.  We enjoyed dinners and (not bad) pizza here, along with hundreds of 7th graders on field trips!
One morning a nice employee built a great fire for us to enjoy.  He told me his dad taught him the railroad tie method.  Criss-cross small logs on the bottom of the grate and the large ones on top.  "This sugar pine is so dry, you barely need butcher paper to get it going."  It was in front of this warm fire that we met a couple from California who longed to live in Montana.  She practiced some form of psycho-therapy and was not sure Montana had a reciprocal agreement for her license.  Conversations about mental health and social justice came next.  I wish I could remember all these great conversations which were opportunities to learn more about other human beings.  
Peter, an 87-year old man who invited us to share a table in the sunshine near the Visitor's Center, told us to stop at Big Trees Lodge on our way out Yosemite.  Peter lives in Santa Barbara, worked in research and development for the Aeronautical industry and loved his job because every day was different.  He and his wife came to Yosemite for years, stayed in the Majestic Lodge, hiked and viewed all the beauty in the park.  "She could not come with me and I could not find a room in either of the lodges so I'm staying at the Big Trees Lodge, a lovely place with a great piano player. "
 So thanks to Peter we enjoyed a lovely dinner, mine a pot roast and mashed potatoes!

We gave up our last night of tent camping for a lovely Best Western in Oakhurst!  Had real beds, water, heat, showers, coffee maker, and refrigerator.  We were so happy we even did all our laundry.
 And truly a gift to run into this woman from new Zealand also doing laundry.  She worked as an administrative nurse and quit her job over the phone.  She rented an apartment on an island six years ago, for just three months.  "I'm still there and I love my life."  The landlord has never increased my rent so I'm going to stay as long as I can.  She was traveling with her family and recently visited Yellowstone National Park and she remarked, "it looks bloody well like New Zealand, only on steroids."  She made our day!

Our next stop, the John Muir Lodge in Grants Grove, King's Canyon National Park.  Lovely old lodge and fire in the stone fire place!  Rocking chairs inside and out. We had our happy hour outside and met an interesting man, "city slicker" who first hiked to Half Dome when he was nine years old!

 We lingered by the fire and contemplated the painting of John Muir!

 We spent our last two nights at Wuksachi Lodge in the Sequoia National Park.

We enjoyed our time in a lovely room with a "mountain view."  Karen insisted that our last dinner there was my birthday dinner.  The lovely waitress brought us creme brûlée cheesecake with berries "on the house."

 It was at this dinner that Karen presented me with a book, "John Muir, In His Own Words."  It's full of his quotations and wisdom.  She gifted me with 12 days of wonderful time, in nature, with words of encouragement at every ascent, especially when my heart rate increased and I gasped for the next breath.  Her generous gift truly filled my heart with joy.  Muir's poetry says:

       "Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in, where Nature may heal and cheer         and give strength to body and soul.  Every day opens and closes like a flower, noiseless, effortless.  Divine peace glows on all the majestic landscape, like the silent enthusiastic joy that sometimes transfigures a noble human face."