29 August, 2009

Whirlwind Visit

It was quick - much too short for my tastes - but Jeannea finished up her summer in Silly Dilly and stopped to visit me on the way South. It was a busy, busy summer for her - and not much time before she had to be back to work in Seattle. Add in a trip to Utah to see mom and friends, and there's only a couple days to visit me.

We made as much of our time as possible. Visiting into the wee hours on Sunday night when she got in; dinner at Moose's Tooth on Monday; some relaxing on Tuesday; dinner with friends at the house on Wednesday; off to the airport on Thursday.

Because I'm a dork and didn't think of it, I didn't get the group picture until lots of the party-ers had already gone home. It was short, but it was absolutely *lovely* to have Jeannea here for a few days. And it's nice to think that she'll be back - not until around April of next year, but she'll be back... =)

20 August, 2009

Farewell to Sheri

Three weeks has gone by amazingly fast. I knew it would. It's been so nice to have this time with Sheri. I'm glad she had to come up for work; I'm glad it was in the midst of a lovely summer; and I'm glad we were able to do as many things as we did while she was here!
For her last night, we decided to have a barbeque at the house - with her special request that we have a fire in the fire pit. Yay!
It was a lucky day... Friday was cloudy and rainy. I just wanted to have a nice evening for the get-together, and we were blessed. Not sunny but not rainy either, and it was nice enough throughout the day that the deck was dry. (After everyone went home - around midnight or so - it started raining again, which was also good as it ensured the embers were out.)
We had a nice morning - met James & Stacy for a leisurely breakfast at Cafe Amsterdam, then the girls went to the nail studio to get pedicures. My feet are very ticklish, but I endure because I love having my toes painted bright colors and the leg massage... Ah, sweet pampering... =)
From there, we did some grocery shopping so we had food for the Event, then headed home so Sheri could pack and I could make sure the house was semi-presentable for company. Haven't been cleaning much this summer since it's been so nice - that can wait for the winter when I'm holed up in the house - but company dictates that *some* cleaning get done... =)
We had a pleasant, relaxing evening sitting around the fire visiting. Almost as good as camping! =) I spent the day consciously *not* thinking about Sunday morning, when I had to take Sheri to breakfast and then leave her at the airport so she could go home and get on with life there.
Don't cry, Sheri! Actually, she was rubbing smoke out of her eyes. But it looks like she's crying and her hands make a little heart. Love you too, Sista!! I didn't shed any tears until after I left her at the airport - then I went home, had a little pity party and took a long nap.

16 August, 2009

Camping at Bing's Landing

I've got a couple posts backed up - waiting for me to finish this one, so here goes...
Last weekend, while Greg went North, Sheri & I traveled South for some more camping goodness. Greg was volunteering at the Adventure Race - a 24 hour and/or stage race with hiking, biking, orienteering, maybe some canoeing, and other outdoorsy goodness... He was going to compete, but his team didn't work out, so this year it's volunteering and he'll try competing again next year.

We went down towards Soldotna to Bing's Landing for this trip. (Patti, thought I might have time to at least hook up for a meal, but no such luck this time... I *promise* I'll make it down for a visit!!) It's been quite a while since we've been South for a camp trip. Last time was Morgan's Landing - and that's long enough ago that I don't have a blog entry for it (so it's at least three summers, maybe four)... Because things have been hectic (and I'm not a big fan of cleaning house - altho I *am* a big fan of a clean house... go figure!), we didn't have the camping gear cleaned up and ready to go from the last trip. So Sheri & I didn't hit the road until about 9pm on Friday night. Thank goodness the rest of the crew went down Thursday night, so we could just crash with them... =)
We got there late, but still in plenty of time to enjoy the fire (plus we missed all the road construction delays since we were on the road so late...). The moon was nice & big - I think it was just following a full moon - but none of my pictures turned out. I'm going to have to remember to bring my little gorilla-pod stabilizer so I can get better shots with long exposures... We hooked up with the Green's (Todd, Anita, & Kelly) and Amy. Amy bunked with Kelly in Dillingham this summer - and stayed after work was done to do some visiting and sight-seeing before heading back home, then to university for the winter. Always with a smile and eager to experience life, that's what I think of Amy. See you next summer!! =)

On Saturday, following a leisurely breakfast, we piled into the cars and headed out to Seward. The goal for the day was visiting the Sea Life Center and hiking around Exit Glacier. At the Sea Life Center, they have a "petting zoo" where you can touch some (non-hazardous) sea animals (like urchins and starfish and such). They don't bite. I kept telling myself that as I'd reach into the frigid water to find out if they're soft or hard, rubbery or smooth... it didn't help that Sheri scared the bejeezus out of me! I'd be concentrating real hard, remembering that they don't bite, inching my hand toward the little starfish... then BAM! Sheri'd grab me or poke me or just even say BOO! and I'd jump like I'd been stabbed with a hot poker. No fish did me in, but my poor hear was racing 'cuz of her... =)
And because we're lucky like that, we ended up watching feeding time for the resident male walrus, Woody. He put on quite a show. His heaviest weight this summer was 2200# - apparently he's been on a diet (or more likely because mating season is over), since his current weight is only 1500#... If I compare my own weight to his, I don't feel bad at all! ;)
When we were done there, we learned that Exit Glacier was flooded and probably not a great place to go hiking right now. So we headed over to the waterfall to take in the view. It looks like it's a man-made fall - but I'm not sure if it was a waterway that collapsed, or if they specifically put it in place to funnel water away from another area. Either way, it's still a nice view.

It's been a long time since I've been down to Seward. Reminds me a little of Valdez - all mountain-y, with glaciers and big water. Makes for great photo ops, and we were blessed with some gorgeous weather for the weekend. Yay!

The rest of the weekend was a blast. Sitting around the fire, visiting with friends, playing games, and just chillaxin'... another wonderful weekend that was over too quickly. They're always too short (weekends), but especially in summer - and *most especially* when we're having such nice weather this summer. I'm studiously *not* thinking about Sheri leaving - her stay is almost over - and the upcoming winter...

06 August, 2009

Fuzzy Stem Drops

I really need to find the manual for my camera. I know it has a close-up or macro function, but whenever I try to use it, the camera focuses on something behind what I'm interested in. Same with this picture. I thought the rain collecting, but not yet falling, from the stem of this flower was cool. This was the best picture I got, and I see that the camera actually focused on the foliage *behind* the stem, so the rain & stem are a mite fuzzy. Maybe someday I'll get this camera figured out - probably just in time to upgrade to something else... =)

05 August, 2009

Quick Visit

Dave & Phil stopped in for a visit after finishing the summer employ out in Dillingham. It was nice to spend a little time with them. We spent three evenings together, visiting and... well... eating. =) Sunday night, had friends over for a barbeque; Monday met at Red Robin for dinner; Tuesdsay went to Bear Tooth for dinner & a movie. Might have been able to do something more, but Sheri & I were in Valdez over the weekend. Oh well - at least we got a few visits in...

He's heading back to school - planning on studying hard and keeping his GPA up... Good luck, Dave!!

04 August, 2009

Visiting Valdez

Instead of camping this weekend, Sheri & I decided to take a road trip to Valdez. It's a 5-6 hour drive, but we had a great time visiting along the way. Only stopped twice - once for construction and once for a bathroom break. Hit town around midnight on Friday and woke Sara up to get our room. I'd already contacted Sara and told her that "we" would be coming to visit... but didn't mention the "we" was Sheri & I instead of Greg & I (he was on call and scheduled to put in the new windows we bought, so couldn't go). Surprise! Well, she kind of guessed since she'd heard that Sheri's in Anchorage, but she was still excited. =)

Sara had to work for a while Saturday morning, so Sheri & I headed to town to get coffee and breakfast. I've been to Valdez several times already, and it's gorgeous. It never ceases to amaze me that they're surrounded by such grandeur on a day-to-day basis. I wonder if, when you're surrounded by such beauty every day, people get inured to it and forget to notice? I'd be tempted to try it for a while and see, except for the winters. I don't know that I want to deal with snow over my head and tunneling to work. (I realize that's probably exaggeration, but I don't know that I want to find out for sure...)

When she was done working, we collected Sara in time for lunch and then wandered the town for a while. It's a small town, so it didn't take us long to walk from lunch to the festival booths and back - which covered most of town. But it was a nice walk and a chance to work off a little lunch. From there, we headed out of town to the waterfalls. There are lots of waterfalls in and around Valdez. Two of the most prominent are along the roadside, on the way in to town (Bridal Veil and Horsetail Falls). They're always pretty, and I try to get pictures there every time I'm in that neck of the woods.

On the way back in, we stopped at the fish spawning station. It's a viewing platform above a stream where salmon come to spawn. It was pretty interesting to see - we also went in the ranger station to see the fish live on the underwater camera.

After that, we decided to trek out to the old gold mine. Greg, Sara, Jeannea, & I went there years & years ago - and I thought it'd be a nice hike (working in some exercise!) with pretty views and lots of photo ops. As we headed back in, I was glad we were in a 4-wheel drive vehicle. One lane bridges, rutty roads, and small streams couldn't hold us back!

In the end, we didn't get to the old mine. About 10 miles in, we found that a bridge had washed out. Probably from the extreme flooding that happened a couple years ago. No way even my car could cross. So we parked and explored the immediate area, which included another nice waterfall. Drove back to town for dinner (excellent Chinese), then rented movies to spend the rest of the evening relaxing and visiting. The company was *great*, but the movie left plenty to be desired. Oh well.

Breakfast together Sunday morning, and then it's time to hit the road. Only one full day, but it was packed with beautiful vistas and - even better - good company. I wasn't sure I'd make it to Valdez this summer, since we didn't go to Squirrel Creek for our 4th of July camp out. So it was worth the quick trip in order to have two of my sibs to spend some time with.

On the way in to Valdez, we went through the pass in the dark. By leaving for home after breakfast, we hit the pass in broad daylight (and we'll make the goal of getting home before 5pm). It's fantastic. It's almost like you're standing on top of the world.

We took the car for a little off-road jaunt, and got a lovely view of the river valley above. Breathtaking.

An evening of driving, a day of fun, another long drive and then we're home - and Dave is in town! He actually arrived on Saturday, but I didn't know for sure when he was coming and we were already in Valdez. Anyhow, Sunday morning with Sara, the lovely drive with Sheri, and the evening with Dave. A great way to end the weekend.