Sunday, August 20, 2017

Birthday Girls; Lassen Volcanic National Park; Crater Lake National Park; A 9-11 Reminder; Rogue River; Wieners in Bags

We are now about two-thirds of the way through our 2017 Messages of Hope Tour. Recently Suzanne flew back to The Villages to celebrate her mom Ruthie's 90th birthday (and her own xxth, since they share the same date of birth, August 1st. There was a big celebration at Ruthie's place, with 60 or so revelers whooping it up with her and the family. There were two delicious cakes, and when asked which one she would like, Ruthie exclaimed, "Well, both, of course!" (That's our Ruthie!) Here is a shot of the lovely birthday girls...

While My Lovely Bride was back in FL, the puppies and I spent a week at Lassen Volcanic National Park. We would have gone home as well, but as Suzanne was flying next to Denver for an IANDS event, and airlines don't allow one person to travel with two dogs, we had to stay behind with the coach in California. Lassen is a dormant volcano with steaming fumaroles, beautiful mountain lakes, thick woods, and 150 miles of trails. Because it's pretty far from major cities like San Francisco, there were far fewer turistas than one would find in Yosemite or Grand Canyon.

I got my fill of hiking that week, completing six trails, one prettier than the next. The woods were more like Colorado than Oregon or Washington, where the undergrowth and trees tend to be much closer together. Here, open spaces between the trees allowed for more open vistas and the ability to go off-trail when desired.

The creeks and streams were running fast with snowmelt, unusual for August because of the heavy snowfall that the Cascades, Sierras and Rockies received this past winter. (Sorry, Al Gore, that the actual weather isn't fitting in with your global warming doom and gloom predictions...)

My only big wildlife encounter was this cinnamon black bear that crossed in front of me about 60 feet away. Obviously he was in a hurry to go somewhere, because he didn't stop to introduce himself...

As always, I enjoyed the scenery and serenity of the wilderness in Lassen. This lake was all mine for an hour or so until another hiker appeared, but thankfully, he wasn't nearly as noisy as the birds and insects around me...

I departed Lassen to meet Suzanne in Eugene, Oregon, where she would be flying in from Denver. We celebrated her birthday at a very nice riverfront restaurant in the city. I made a point of sampling one of the Willamette Valley Pinot Noirs, and it was excellent.

Our next stop was Crater Lake National Park- it's the deepest lake in the US (1,946 ft). It was formed when a super-volcano, Mt Mazama, erupted and blew apart about 7,700 years ago, when My Good Friend Bob was only a teenager. Fed only by snow and rain, Crater Lake is extraordinarily pure and is deep cobalt blue in color. Here is MLB on the trail to Mt Garfield above the rim of the caldera - what a view... and the lake ain't bad, either.

This was the highway to and from Crater Lake - miles and miles of trees, trees and more trees. No urban sprawl or traffic around here! You had better have filled up your gas tank early, because it's nuthin' but woods for miles and miles.

During our Crater Lake visit, we stayed in a campground in Prospect, Oregon. Walking by their small fire house, we noticed the sign on this fire engine - it reads, "This truck was at Ground Zero on Nine Eleven." For some people, I guess, 9-11 is a distant memory. Since both of us experienced that day closer than most Americans, we may appreciate better the significance of that sign, and the sacrifices of the first responders and other victims it recalls.

Exploring the area, we found a beautiful waterfall on the Rogue River after an easy hike through the woods. The drop down to the river was much more challenging...

Some of the boulders in the Rogue here are as big as small houses. The river was not running very high - I can only imagine how impressive it must be in June when snow-melt is at a peak.

A side trip to Silver Falls State Park near Silverton, Oregon, gave us a different perspective on mossy trees... this is the "crown jewel" of the Oregon State Park system, and the largest of the state parks in the state. 

We decided to bring Rudy and Gretchen with us, and were restricted on the trails we could hike, but we enjoyed their company immensely. They rode comfortably in our backpacks, and never once complained. They were safe and snuggly back there, and got to see the world from a higher perspective than usual... 

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Camp SLO; Paso Robles; California Events; Guilty Dogs; Lodi; Wine! Kayaking; Robbed Again

We spent a night at Camp San Luis Obispo, a National Guard base where captured Italian POWs had been interned during WWII. One of them, PFC Salvatore Fossati, of the 15th Ordnance Company, was a stone mason, and designed and carved this stone monument during his internment. It is called the Italia Rock.

Next stop, Paso Robles for- YES! Wine tastings! "Paso" is world-renowned for its Zinfandels, but has other varietals as well. We pulled into an unnamed vineyard and parked out back. MLB said, "Ty, what a quaint tasting room!" Fortunately, they had a nicer facility out front... 

Our server at Turley Vineyards was Haylee Sund, the daughter of an active duty Navy captain, and she was a delightful hostess and very knowledgeable about their wines. In fact she is studying viticulture at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo. We joined the Turley Wine Club, primarily for their exceptional wines, but partly becuse of Haylee's friendly personality.

One of the less known problems related to drinking Zinfandel is that you can actually shrink in a matter of minutes, as this photo proves...

Suzanne has been busy with events in Camarillo, north of Los Angeles, and another in San Jose. She is also working on another book, and is as busy as a one-armed paperhanger. This is a photo of her San Jose class - what a great group!

This class was held at Dolce Hayes Mansion, a beautiful facility often used for spiritual events. The pups particularly liked all the squirrels in a nearby park.

We stayed at the Elks Lodge RV facility in San Jose, near a beautiful suburb called Willow Glen. Houses here go for $1-2 million, even for a remodeled 1950s 1,200 sq ft ranch. This is one of the nicer old houses in an area where we often walked Rudy and Gretchen.

Speaking of our little darlings, we came home one day to find their plastic treat box on the floor - torn open and empty. I had made the mistake of leaving it on the counter where Destructo Dog Rudy could  climb up from the couch and get to it. I read them both the riot act when we returned. Don't they look guilty and remorseful?

Normally I will reward My Lovely Bride for her hard work by letting her out of the galley (kitchen) once a month (I am a very thoughtful husband). This month was Italian. The local Pizza Hut was booked, so after the San Jose event we went to Vin Santo's, a pretty classy place with tablecloths in Willow Glen. (Guys, for some reason women really like places with tablecloths, preferably not stained with stale beer).

While in Lodi, we went kayaking on the Lodi River, a delightful paddle. When we pulled our boats, we met a young woman at the boat dock, whose name is Abba (yes, named for the group). She invited us to hear her play the fiddle at the farmer's market that evening. We showed up after dinner, but found that she wouldn't be playing until an hour later, and we were melting because the temp was 104F. But we will look for Abba next time we're in Lodi.

Our next stop was Sacramento, where MLB would be boarding a jet bound for Florida. Just an hour before I was to take her to the airport, I found that our mountain bikes had been vandalized, and major parts stolen, including a front wheel and fork, stem, and bike computers, probably by one of the hundreds of homeless men (AKA bums) who hang out in the area. After dropping Suzanne off, I returned to file a report, and got to meet one of Sacramento County's finest, Deputy Nelson. While filling out the paperwork, I mentioned Suzanne's work. The deputy was interested, so I gave her some information and Messages of Hope, and later mentioned to MLB that Lacey might be emailing her. There was a pause, and I heard her say in a questioning voice, "Lacey? Lacey?" I quickly replied, "Oh, um, Deputy Nelson!"  (Sheesh... sometimes women have no sense of humor...)