Friday, August 22, 2014

Portland, OR

We made it to Portland and found Zack and Leah happy in their new town.  Portland is really green, with many different varieties of really big trees and shrubbery.  The Columbia River Gorge is very pretty, going from dry high-desert savannah to rainforest in a matter of about 50 miles.  Seeing a river that big is a change for us…we're used to smaller mountain streams, but this one reminded me of the Potomac, transplanted to the west!  Zack took us to the Portland Saturday Market, a kind of farmers/artisans market in downtown.  One of the highlights (?) was a man playing a Didgeridoo.  His song was "What Do You Do With a Didgeridoo?" and the answer, it appeared to me, was, "the same thing over and over and over again".

I've been doing quite a bit of family history research lately and have been blessed with a breakthrough in that I found the family of my great grandfather on my father's side.  This is hard b/c these are all Polish immigrants, and names get spelled differently, dates get confused, etc, but thanks to the Spirit of Elijah I finally confirmed that these folks are my family.  So we spent an afternoon and evening with Zack and Leah in the Portland temple doing the work for these relatives.  It was a wonderful, Spirit-filled evening and I felt a good connection with these people.  I got the sense they were very happy, but were wondering what took me so long?!

Here in Portland we have also reconnected with some good friends from college, Dale and Mary Graff.  Unlike us, Dale and Mary have lived north of Portland for over 20 years.  They invited us to their annual family whitewater rafting trip on the Deschutes River and we had an absolutely wonderful day.  The river runs through an area east of the mountains, in a volcanic, dry deserty landscape.  Here's Dale and Me and Kate at the beginning of the trip:

Dale and Mary looked just like they did in college, lo these many years ago, and I was struggling to realize that they are grandparents just like Sue and me.  The rapids were fun, and the companionship was even better.  Thanks Dale and Mary, for a really wonderful day!!

We look forward to many more visits with the Graffs b/c now we'll be coming to Portland lots more often.

Another trip we took was to Indian Beach.  The Pacific ocean is beautiful, much nicer than the Gulf of Mexico where I used to surf as a teenager. I was tempted to surf here, but the REALLY COLD WATER overcame my desire to revisit my youthful adrenaline junkiness.  I got some pretty good pictures though:

That last thing is a Blue Sail Jellyfish, which are apparently washing up on Pacific beaches by the thousands because of some change in currents and wind.  The sea really comes up with some weird creatures!

Oh, I forgot.  On the way home from rafting…..wait, a weather update…on the rafting day, we left the house in cloudy skies and temps in the high 50's.  We decided to take the route that goes over the shoulder of Mt. Hood, and when we got there it was foggy, drizzling, and even colder!  Rafting in such weather was NOT a pleasant thought, but we soldiered on, with thoughts of blue lips and shivering.  Never fear, however, mountain weather saved the day.  When we got to the other side of the mountain, the clouds cleared and the sun was bright and the day was warm.  THANK GOODNESS, because the river water was very cold.  Anyway, on the way back, we again went over the shoulder of Mt. Hood because the clouds had cleared and the mountain was out in all its glory!

We stopped at the Timberline Lodge, which sits 5 thousand feet below the peak of Mt. Hood right at treelike and offers this magnificent view of the mountain.  The lodge is beautiful itself, built back in 1937, and full of a gigantic brick fireplace as its centerpiece and with huge wooden beams forming the structure.

The beautiful young woman in the last picture is Kate…our most marvelous traveling companion! (she stole Sue's warm pants…it was cold up there!)

Today we're off to see some of the area's famous waterfalls!  More blogs to come!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Boise, Idaho

Off to Portland, OR we go, to spend some time with Zack and Leah and enjoy some of what the NW has to offer.  Along the way we stopped for a night in Boise, specifically so we could visit the LDS Temple there.  It is a beautiful building, clearly from the same architect as the Dallas Temple.  We spent a lovely evening learning about the eternal nature of the family, and doing some sealing work for several families.  The sealer spoke to us about the importance of a married couple "holding on to each other" in both a spiritual and physical sense in order to keep the relationship strong and to resist the forces in the world that try to pull us apart.  That counsel rang very true to Sue and me.

In other news, we've at last made the final decision as to where we will settle.  The winner, no surprise, is Colorado Springs.  We've had the notion over several years that this is where we were being guided to, and now we'll move forward in faith and establish ourselves in the Springs and do our best to serve in that community.  We feel a sense of awe that we merit enough notice from God that He would patiently direct us on this path.  We're also very grateful.

Today we're off to see Portland…rose gardens, food carts, bridges in downtown, and maybe the largest urban forest park in the United States.  I guess I should wear my tie-dyed t-shirt so I'll look like a local!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Reid's Peak, Uinta Mountains, UT

What a great adventure we had today!  When last we hiked with Bryce to the Notch, he pointed out Reid's Peak, a huge pile of rocks that has no trail to it, and it looked so fun that we went out to try it today.  Here's what it looks like in the morning sun....

We had to find our way, and that was really fun.  There's a saddle to the right of the peak that's just out of the picture, and that was our first goal.  Soon, however, we discovered we were not alone!  A family of mountain goats were watching our progress and seemed a bit nervous about us, even though I wouldn't even THINK of going where they were.

The going got pretty steep pretty quick, and the dwarf spruce trees were both a blessing (hand holds) and a problem (hard to push your way through them).

We made the saddle without much trouble (aside from some uncharacteristic trepidation from one of the crew, who will remain anonymous), ((but her initials are Sue)).  I was having a great time, and even taking a moment to smell the roses (ok, take pictures of the Indian Paintbrush).

We followed the path that the mountain goats had made (that should have been a clue!)...

...which dumped us out onto the shoulder of the peak (not the top), which consisted of nothing but an enormous rock field that was mostly loose and unstable, and at more than a 45 degree angle!

(I promise...this is WAY steeper than it looks!)  Finding no way to safely ascend this talus slope, and seeing that a misstep would end back in that meadow where I took the first picture of the day, we opted to live to hike another day and headed back down.  We were tantalizingly close to the summit (we thought, but later learned we weren't so close after all) but it simply was not worth the risk.  We had a lovely trip back through meadows of flowers and ROCKS (I like rocks, can you tell?), and I was fortunate to snap these last two pictures of two kinds of bright, shiny, happy, adventurous daughter Kate, (with my beautiful wife Sue in the background, taking pictures as usual),

and a lovely stand of Monk's Hood among the Skunk Cabbage.

Wow.  I feel so very blessed to be able to spend time with these two ladies that I love so very much in a place that makes my heart glad.  I am, of all men, most fortunate.

Notch Mountain, Uinta Mountains, UT

Between naps and eating, we're getting into the glorious high mountains pretty regularly.  This trip was with my brother Bryce, with Stephen, Sue, and Kate.  It is wonderful to be hiking with Bryce again.  When I first moved to UT in 1982 he was, and ever has been, a mountaineering mentor to me. After several years of ill health he is finally back to hiking and is unstoppable.  This was a lovely point to point trail that was advertised as 8 miles but turned out to be 10...Bonus!  More time in the hills!  The weather was one of those perfect days with blue mountain skies, white puffy clouds (that didn't rain or lightning on us), a cool breeze right when we needed it, wildflowers, lakes, rocks.....I need to slow down, I think my heart is racing and my blood pressure is going up!  If God had come to me and asked for suggestions on how to make the day better, I would have had none!  The trail starts in the woods...

...and follows this lovely stream pretty much the whole way.  Eventually the trail climbs to The Notch, a saddle that splits Notch Mountain in half.   We stopped at this lake just before the pass to admire the scenery, eat, and enjoy the breeze.

Even the Boy Scouts we encountered weren't loud and obnoxious!  It was an exquisite day and we all slept well that night.  I'm happy to report that my lungs are doing very well and my legs are getting stronger with every hike.  As I said to Stephen the other day, "this kind of thing could make a man not want to get a job!"

Bald Mountain, Uinta Mountains, UT

We've been at our cabin in the mountains for several weeks now, and have have some great adventures.  Zack and Leah came to visit from Portland, and we had to take them on our traditional Bald Mountain hike.  I once carried 10 year old April up Baldy because of a broken foot, but that's a different story ("April, sing me a song while I carry you"....Ok Daddy......."Here comes the ox cart, oh how slow, its pulled by an ox of course you know".....I was NOT inspired.).  Baldy isn't a long hike, but it has a lot of bank for the buck!

We had to hurry off of the peak because of an arriving thunder storm, but we were safely off of the high ground before the hail and rain started, and almost to the car before the lightning and thunder!  It was a great hike and even Biscuit the dog survived the drenching.  She probably travelled the human equivalent of about 400 miles in that 4 hour period!

Another fun thing we got to do was buy two new mattress sets for the cabin (long overdue, says my aching back!).  When you buy mattresses in Evanston, WY, and your house is 30 miles away in the mountains, you don't even ask about delivery....that's a self-help endeavor.  So, we strapped all four pieces onto our Big Blue Magic Carpet and headed on down the road!

The problem is, it is WINDY in WY!  Every couple of miles I had to stop, get out, shove the whole load back to the other side of the van where it belonged (crosswind) and then amble along at about 4O mph.  But we got them there and my back is much more at ease.

Also, thanks to my brother Todd, I have a new hobby, Whittling!  My first project was a bit challenging, but I got it done and had a blast doing it.  Its called a ball in a cage, and its carved from one solid piece of wood (my grandson, Stephen, was not impressed).  Next time I'll try to whittle a nuclear reactor to power the TV and maybe he'll give me a little more respect!

That's what's happening with us.  Sue is in Heaven here in the Rockies (as am I) and we don't want to ever leave again.  AND WE DON'T HAVE TO!!!!!