|January - February||
January was stay-at-home month. We welcomed back the square dancers who flock to Mesa from January to March, and we immersed ourselves in our favorite activity. With three other couples we began a two-table weekly bridge group and enjoyed retrieving and eventually honing our bridge skills. So, with about 18-20 hours of square dancing, and one evening per week dedicated to bridge, our days and nights were pretty filled up. On any free evenings, we entertained with dinner parties for family and friends. We still set aside time for the Wine and Dine group and the Computer Club. I taught classes in computer genealogy and in web page building while Ray attended board meetings and set up speakers for the monthly meetings.
The really big event was the birth of our grandson, Keegan Joseph, in Michigan. He entered thecold atmosphere of Michigan on January 20, and in mid-February we visited Keegan and his parents, Paul and Robyn, to get acquainted. I know he is just another miracle of creation, but he certainly is special to us.
As the end of the square dancing season approached we entertained friends frequently. Mid-March we met California friends at Casa Grande, between Phoenix and Tucson, where we visited the Biosphere. The Biosphere is an 85 acre enclosure of life under glass. The self-contained structure has a 1 million gallon ocean, a desert and a marshland. Eight scientists entered the structure and were supposed to be self-sufficient for two years. growing their own crops and raising their own animals. Unfortunately, nothing worked right, but the structure is still functioning, and the tour was interesting. It is located in Oracle, Arizona
CASA GRANDE, AZ
More friends from California visited near the end of the month. For Easter Bev, Rick and family flew in from California, Paul and Robyn from Michigan, and Mark drove from San Diego. We entertained them and Ray’s Arizona family for Easter, about 24 folks for dinner. We did some sightseeing and hiking at Lost Dutchman Park in Apache Junction with the family after Easter.
|April||Early April found us frequenting laboratories for blood tests and the
dental office for the things that need to be done before we head out for the
summer. We also had to pack up and remove everything from the great room in our
house, because a crack in our ceiling had the builder coming in to repair things
while we went on a cruise. So, it was just like packing for a move. All of the
china and crystal had to be packed out of harms way, along with all decor. The
furniture was moved by their people into the garage and frames were built around
our china cabinet and secretary to protect them from damage.
MEXICAN RIVIERA CRUISE
When we returned from our cruise, it was time for Selina’s First Communion which took place on May 7. Our little girl is so grown up. She gave the welcome speech at the onset of Mass and did it with such aplomb. A family gathering followed, and we spent Mother’s Day with the family in California. We eventually returned to Arizona to face the prospect of putting the house back together and getting ready to leave for the summer.
By the time we returned, the heat had set in. We had a week of temperatures in the 100's, and we knew we lingered in the desert too long. We returned things to their proper places in the house, then prepared the house for the heat of summer and packed the motor home for our summer meanderings.
We pointed Camelot back to California to be there in time for Monica’s High School graduation festivities. The baccalaureate was on June 4, and she was Master of Ceremonies, so the whole family was present for that. Mark was in from San Diego for the weekend, and Paul, Robyn and Keegan came for the week to visit and vacation. The graduation party took place following the baccalaureate on June 10, full of Pomp and Circumstance.
FATHER'S DAY AND SQUARE DANCING
NATIONAL SQUARE DANCE CONVENTION
Sequim is also the Lavender Capital of North America, and everywhere we went we saw fields of lavender–really pretty, but I never got a scent from them. The town has an old railroad bridge it has preserved and is quite proud of plus lots of retirees to enjoy it. Sequim is pronounced squim and comes from the native language of the S’Kallam tribe. In their language s’kwim means quiet waters.
OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK
Olympic National Park on the Olympic Peninsula has miles of rugged coastline and a pristine rainforest. The peninsula was home to several native tribes who lived in longhouses and practiced the potlatch, a social custom that involved feasting and gift exchanging for significant events--so what else is new?
BLAINE AND BIRCH BAY, WASHINGTON
We took the 58 mile scenic drive up the mountain, but, alas... Need I go on? Right, we couldn’t see it. Just some nice clouds floating by with a quick glimpse of it now and then. The scenery was superb and worth the drive. We did get this incredible photo, though. It's not Mount Baker, but another of the Cascade Range.
LaConner is a tiny (under 8000 people) town nestled on the Swinomish Channel that exudes charm and hospitality. A huge marina houses hundreds of yachts and the harbor is home to working fishing boats. The town was originally a trading post founded after the Civil War in 1867 and renamed by John S. Conner who took over the Post Office in 1869. The LA are his deceased wife’s initials (Louisa Ann). We enjoyed walking through the town and visiting its art galleries. In fact, if I had $3000 on me during one of my walks, I would have picked up a great glass sculpture. But, alas, I never carry any money with me–just a compass and a bottle of water.
The Lady Washington docked in LaConner during our visit there. The ship is a replica that was built in Aberdeen, Washington and launched in 1989 as a Washington State Centennial project. The original Lady Washington was a merchant ship. These ships transported goods in their day as our trucks and trains do now. She was retrofitted and served in the Revolutionary War before returning to hauling goods. She was the first vessel to reach the Northwest and went on to sail to China and Japan. Now she sails the West Coast educating schoolchildren and adults like us about the times of the great merchant ships.
We stopped for two days Snonqualmie, Washington where we revisited Snoqualmie Falls Park where a visitors can look down on the 268 foot waterfall as it plummets into the river below. Delightful little town, and on the Sunday afternoon we visited the falls, the park was teeming with people - locals and tourists.
Sunrise is the highest point in the park you can reach by vehicle. At 6,400 feet above sea level, the location gives breathtaking views of the mountain. And, contrary to all my previous complaining about clouds and obstructions, the day was perfectly clear, with hardly a cloud in sight. Wildflowers were abundant, and views of Emmons glacier were stunning. There are 26 glaciers that cap Mount Rainier, but Emmons is the largest and easily viewed from Sunrise. The visitor center at Paradise is certainly more luxurious than the one at Sunrise, but the mountain is more stunning at the higher elevation of Sunrise.
Mount Rainier is an active volcano and part of the Ring of Fire that circles the Pacific Ocean. At 14,410 feet it is the highest volcanic peak in the Cascades. In 1899 it became the nation’s fifth National Park. In the list of the park’s “human history” is a notation that in 1981, nine out of 11 members of a group of climbers with disabilities reached the summit. I was here at that time with Bev and Paul and a friend. We saw tiny specs on the mountain that were the climbers. This is possibly our fourth visit here, and we thoroughly enjoyed it.
ILWACO AND LONG BEACH, WA
Thursday was a big event--maybe even THE big event--in Ilwaco. The marina had an art show/walk/car thing. The four or five little galleries were all open and serving complimentary wine and snacks. Some musicians were scattered along the way, and on the lawn between the sidewalk and the water, classic cars were displayed with their bodies gleaming and motors glistening with polished chrome and brass. They were from a car club in Long Beach. Not the one in California, but the slightly larger town two miles from here.
The Saturday morning “market” drew even more people than the art show. I don’t know where all the cars came from, but the parking along the waterfront was filled. There was a farmer’s market and several booths selling the usual fares–jewelry, art work, etc.
The town of Long Beach had a Kite Festival while we were there, and we enjoyed their colorful antics along the beach. Hotels and RV parks were full of participants for this festival.
We continued on down the coast in Oregon, and during our week in South Beach we enjoyed long walks on the beach every morning. It is another huge beach that goes on for miles. The weather was cool and sometimes sunny. The beach in the morning required a warm coat.
CHARLESTON/COOS BAY, OR
MC CLOUD AND DUNSMUIR, CA
CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA
YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, CA
Yosemite is always breathtaking, but we missed the beauty of the waterfalls in spring during this fall visit. Bridal Veil Falls were great, but Yosemite Falls were a mere trickle. Soaring walls of granite are imposing whenever you visit, and the Sierra Nevadas never disappoint. Even at the end of September, visitors to the park were numerous. The shuttles were full most of the time, but we never had to wait for a second one.
We dined in the elegant Ahwahnee and enjoyed some delicious trout. This wonderful lodge celebrated its Diamond Anniversary in 2002. Something I didn’t know, not being a native Californian, is during World War II the Ahwahnee served as an R&R facility for the Navy. The Great Lounge was a dormitory for 350 men with rows and rows of beds. The Sweet Shop was the commissary, and, of course, the dining room was the mess hall. Wonder if they kept the chef? Ninety thousand service men and women relaxed at Yosemite and 6,752 patients were treated at the Ahwahnee.
When we left Yosemite we drove east through Tuolumne Meadow and Tioga Pass and its stunning scenery.