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Monday, June 28, 2010

FAMILY AND FRIENDS

“Treat your family like friends and your friends like family.” - Proverb
After Yosemite we headed for Foresthill, California and parked our motor home in my sister, Kathy's, yard. This was the first time Dick had been here in 13 years. Our original plan was to stay for only five days, but two weeks later we finally left. Kathy and her husband, Pat, spoiled us. We commented that their place was the best campground we’d stayed at in six months. Great company, delicious food, hot-tubbing under the stars, great spot surrounded by beautiful flowers and trees. (Kathy got the green thumb in the family, it’s not among my talents). We played card games and they taught us to play Cribbage which will keep our brains sharp.
Pat manufactures booster pump systems. Dick went to work with him one day. I don’t think he helped much or made them any money. He played with the plasma cutter and came home with his name tag cut out of steel.  
My brother, Joel, and his family live about 30 miles from Kathy and my parents were visiting from Arizona and staying at his place. We were planning to camp at his place at some point, but there wasn’t a space large enough for the motor home. On Memorial Day, Kathy invited everyone for a family reunion. I am the oldest of five. Kathy is five years younger, and Joel is 14 years younger. I have two other brothers who live in Indiana. Unfortunately, we have never been all together in at least forty years. 
The following weekend most of the family went on a camping trip. My parents opted out because they had been down the road that lead to the lake and campground before and said they would never do it again. My brother assured us it was fine and led the way. The motor home was mostly in 2nd gear. There were many curves with several climbs and steep grades and then about 3 miles of potholes. We took it slow and it took us almost three hours to go the 50 miles to the campground. It was worth the effort in getting there. We had the campground all to ourselves and the lake was beautiful with several runoffs from snowmelt. We had three days of more family time - fishing, hiking, campfires and great food and conversation. (We have been sworn to secrecy on giving out info on the campground).
After returning from our camping trip, we took a drive over to wine-country in our Saturn and looked up some friends we hadn’t seen in several years. First stop was Healdsburg to visit Valerie Hansen who we hadn’t seen since 1981. We met her in 1979 when we lived in Port Angeles, WA. I worked with her for a short time. Through the years we have kept in touch. It was great seeing her again and meeting her husband, Larry. Then we visited Becky Gulick. She and her husband, Steve (picture in video of him with the boat he built www.fishyfish.com), and two small children live in Vallejo. We know Becky from Ocala, Florida where we spent several winters beginning in 1978. We worked for her dad at Ocala Breeders Sales (a thoroughbred horse auction). He invited us to meet his family and we were adopted by them and included in on every occasion. They were so good to us. Becky is the youngest of seven kids. We had the best time. What a great family. Lots going on at her house with children, chickens, cats and a dog. She fed us a wonderful meal and it was great catching up and reminiscing. 
It was time to move on up the coast of California and visit Redwoods National Park. My 13 year old nephew, Cameron, went with us for a week. I mentioned in my last blog that he was at Yosemite the same time we were. It was the first time Dick had seen him since he was born. He and Dick got along great. They drove me a little crazy at times but it was good to spend time with Cameron. They went on an overnight backpacking trip, rode bikes, played the guitar etc... We enjoyed exploring the big tree forests and the ocean beaches and tide pools. My brother drove north to pick him up and camped with us for a couple days. It was a long drive, but he had always wanted to experience the area too. He did most of the cooking and made sure we had a campfire every night. It was great to spend time with him. I just wish we lived closer. 
So now we are back to some alone time and heading up the coast of Oregon and Washington, and planning to see Maggie soon. Even though the state has its beauty and we will miss family and friends, we are happy to be out of California. It is a very congested state and it's having a rough time. Homeless people in the cities and even at the backcountry campsites. The price of gas was high because of an added tax, and campgrounds were more expensive than we have ever paid, and in disrepair. Arnold, it turns out, really is the terminator. 


Monday, June 7, 2010

BEAUTIFUL YOSEMITE

“For me and for thousands with similar inclinations, the most important passion of life is the
overpowering desire to escape periodically from the clutches of a mechanistic civilization. To us the enjoyment of solitude, complete independence, and the beauty of undefiled panoramas is absolutely essential to happiness.” - Bob Marshall


We are so fortunate to have such a variety of natural places in the US. Last December, we visited Padre Island and Goose Island in Texas and it breaks my heart to see what is happening to the Gulf. I can’t listen or watch the news.
We just spent ten days in beautiful Yosemite National Park, which is, understandably, one of the most visited parks in the system and it was already crowded in late May. We could easily get away from the crowds by riding our bikes or hiking. We learned fast to never drive the car. We used the shuttle, walked, or rode our bikes on all the fantastic bike trails. We met so many fun people, all having a good time and enjoying themselves in nature. I was pleased at how quiet the campground was even though they were always full. Everyone seemed respectful of quiet hours except for our first morning in the campground when Dick woke everyone up. (Click here for DICK'S BLOG) I take that back. It wasn’t always quiet at night. There is a Bear Patrol that drives through the campgrounds, shining bright lights into campsites and vehicles, making sure there are no coolers or anything that would draw bears into the area. We were woken a couple times by the patrol shining their lights in our windows and another time around 12:30 a.m. knocking on our motorhome door because we had a cooler in the backseat of the Saturn. There was nothing in it, but the bears don’t know that. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F9T9Il_Q3YY
May was a good time to see the park. The rivers and waterfalls were even more spectacular because of the snowmelt. It wasn’t peak snow melt yet and they were monitoring the rivers in case they might have to close part of the campgrounds that were along the river banks. The one hike that was challenging but enjoyable was the hike to Vernal Falls. There is a picture looking down at people at the top of the falls. The steps were cut out of the rock and very steep. Dick went on an overnight hike and climbed Half Dome. That’s challenging enough when the poles that hold the chains are up, but it was too early for that. He did it with just the chain. In the meantime, I’m down at the park library reading Death in Yosemite. Not a good idea. I was concerned after reading the numerous stories about people who had fallen off Half Dome. He made it back just fine, but still is hurting from the strain of pulling on the chain. He was thankful for the power grip gloves left behind by a previous climber. 
Speaking of climbers. Yosemite is a climbers paradise. El Capitan is one of the world’s favorite challenges for rock climbers. www.elcapreport.com We watched several of them scaling the wall face. While we were in the park a young man fell 60 feet landing on a ledge. He lay unconscious until morning when he could be rescued by helicopter. We haven’t heard if he is still alive or not.
We also visited the Mariposa Grove of giant sequoias because I wanted to see the famous Wawona Tunnel Tree. A picture of this tree has hung on my parent’s wall for years. In the late 1880‘s, this tree and the California Tunnel Tree were cut to allow horse-drawn stages to pass through. Stories and pictures of this gentle giant traveled around the world. This tree had a larger cavity and could be driven through by all visitors until it fell in the snowy winter of 1969.
My 13 year old nephew just happened to be at Yosemite on a class trip the same week we were. I hadn’t seen him in a couple years but Dick hadn’t seen him since he was a baby. It was going to be like finding a needle in a haystack. We couldn’t believe it when, out of four different campgrounds, we found him in our campground (which had 238 spaces), in the loop next to ours. 
We left Yosemite to go visit my sister and brother and their families for a couple of weeks. To get there we traveled Hwy 49 thru all the cute little Gold Rush towns and Calaveras County where Mark Twain once lived.
http://etext.virginia.edu/railton/projects/price/frog.htm
I’m happy to hear you’re enjoying the pictures. It’s a good way to show you the beauty of each place we visit.


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