21 July, 2011

Sister Soiree

A month or so ago, I got a phone call from M.  As we were chatting, she mentioned that she might be able to come visit me this summer.  SO *stoked*!!!  I was able to visit for a bit with M last October, but I always enjoy visits from my sisters.  I'm fortunate that Jeannea and Sara work in Alaska for the summers, so I get to see them two times a year.  Not so fortunate with Sheri and Amy.  If I'm lucky, I might see them once a year or every other year.  The added bonus for this visit is that Sheri was able to come for the weekend too.  Sweet!
So what do you plan when you're having family visit for a while and want to do something fun?  Well... camping, of course!  I've been able to take Sheri camping before (when I was lucky enough that her work sent her to Alaska for a short while), but this is the first time we've gone camping with M.  Yay!!
 M loves the morning
 Sheri only looks like she's blowing me a kiss - really she's making a
smartass comment because I'm taking her picture
 Some of my most favorite people
Summit Lake from the campsite
I had so much fun with both my sisters.  It's always a blast.  I horde each day and the time we spend together, knowing that it'll pass all too quickly, they'll be gone soon, and it'll be an inordinately long time before I get to see them again.  Camping, hiking, rafting (for M and Greg), shopping, and visiting.  We talked about how nice it would be to live closer together.  How we'd have spontaneous barbecues, go shopping together, call each other for help with the little things...  It's such a lovely vision, and I hope that someday we all live closer together.
 Lake view from the hike
 M getting ready for rafting
 Two of my girls
M making delicious s'mores for us
So much laughing; so much companionship; so much love.  I had such a good time with my sisters.  Every morning, I'd think about how time was going too fast and I'd better hang on to every precious minute.  Every night I was content with a day well spent, but sad that I have one less day to spend with them.
I'm so glad Amy and Sheri came to visit me.  I always suffer from a little depression when my family leaves me, and this was no exception.  My only consolation is that I'll be seeing Jeannea and Sara when they get done working for the summer.

09 July, 2011

Eklutna Ride

I've been attempting to ride my bike a bit more this summer.  I'm slow, and any kind of incline is a real effort, but I generally have a good time.  When my friend Shawn suggested a ride around Eklutna Lake, I figured it'd be a good ride - some exercise, and a chance to visit with a friend.
The last time I was here, we were camping.  I mostly stayed at the camp site and enjoyed the company there.  I've heard of the hiking and biking trails, and Sheri even did a little kayaking with Greg, but this is the first time I've explored any of those options.  (I'm not nearly ready for the kayaking/canoeing bit yet...)
I have to admit that I was anxious about the ride.  I know I'm not skilled, and I'm definitely out of shape.  But Shawn made it easy to relax and have fun.  There were plenty of places to stop and explore - and I took advantage of as many as I could.
We biked six miles out, then had a wonderful lunch (provided by Shawn) sitting on the beach and enjoying the view.  While there was plenty more trail to ride, I was starting to worry about the trek back.  As far as we go, I have to come back.  There's no way on this ride for me to call Greg to come pick me up.  (That's what I did riding home from work a while back - there was a tremendous head wind, and I was just so tired... so about a mile and a half from home I caved and called Greg to come get me.  I know.  I'm a wimp.)
All in all, we rode 12 miles today.  I'm pretty proud of that.  Granted, we took plenty of breaks, and on the way back I had to walk my bike up several hills, but I didn't have a heart attack; I didn't wimp out and walk the whole way back (just up a few hills, and no more than I absolutely had to); and I had a wonderful time visiting with Shawn.  To celebrate, we had dinner at Kriner's Diner and I took home one of their super-delicious cinnamon rolls.  Yeah, baby!

07 July, 2011

Squirrel Creek, Finis

Ah, the last bit.  Sad to see a fun weekend come to an end, but at this point I'm definitely looking forward to a shower...
We made it back to camp, only to find that Squirrel Creek wasn't near as rainy as Valdez - which is a good omen for a BIG fire!  It helps that we've got a lot of wood left, and the goal is to burn the box before we go too.

It was a weekend filled with friends and visiting; games and geocaching; fun and relaxing.  How can you beat that?!?  We even had some tunes and dancing...
The last day, we took our time packing up - mostly because it was nice to not be in a rush, but also because we had to finish burning the box.  The journey home was peppered with stops - for geochaching, of course.
All in all, a beautiful weekend (even with the rainy bits), spent with family and friends.  I can't think of a better way to spend my time...

06 July, 2011

Squirrel Creek, Part II

One of the reasons I enjoy camping at Squirrel Creek is that we usually take one day and go road-trippin' to Valdez.  We stop along the way to see Worthington Glacier and get pictures at the waterfalls.  And I have the extra special added bonus of getting to see Sara for a little while.  Yay!
The glacier has receded significantly over the last few years.  Used to be that you could walk 5 minutes off the paved trail and be standing next to blue ice taller than you.  Now it's a bit of a hike before you get close - but it's still visible (unlike Portage Glacier, where you have to take one of the little cruises to get within binocular distance).
Nita and I opted to wait at the car for the hikers, and to pass the time she fed the birds.  Seagulls.  A whole herd of them.  Not sure what seagulls are doing hanging out at a glacier, but it was fun to watch.  I admit to ducking a couple times, and covering my head.  Didn't want to get pooped on when it's going to be a while before I could get cleaned up...  (Well, really didn't want to get pooped on at all, but especially not if I have to wear it for another hour or two.)  I overheard some tourists talking about how it feels just like home, because Utah's state bird is the sea gull.  I wanted to rush over and see if they knew any of my family that's from there, but I refrained...  =)
Valdez is absolutely beautiful - even in the rain.  We've been lucky some years to have sunshine, and then the vista is stunning!  But I wouldn't live there in the winter.  I've heard they can get 10 - 20 feet of snow - so much that people have to tunnel out of their houses to get anyplace.  No thanks!
Sara's work is in the lower right corner of the 2nd picture
We visited, did some sight-seeing, and got to eat dinner with Sara.  Through it all, there was a fine mist - not really rain, but grey clouds and enough dampness to eventually bead up on our clothes.  When it was finally time to say goodbye, the heavens opened up and there was torrential rain.  Methinks that might've been the elements expressing my emotions...  =)  Anyhow.  I intended to get our picture with a nice background (like a scenic mountain or somesuch), but settled for the parking lot with the burger joint where we had dinner.
Heading back to camp the weather got milder and milder, until it was cloudy with no rain at all.  Which is perfect weather to have a fire and roast marshmallows.  And that's the way we ended our road-trippin' day.  I've got a few more photos to share, so it looks like there'll be one more post about this utterly fantastic weekend.  Yay!!

05 July, 2011

Squirrel Creek, Park I

I've been looking forward to the 4th of July weekend for ages!  A long weekend (I took Friday off too), and we're going camping.  Yay!  Working a full day, then loading up for camping generally means a late start.  But who cares? since I don't have to work on Friday anyway.  Sweet!!  We loaded up an old friend for the last trip...

Years ago, Greg made a box to fit his ladder rack so we could bring extra wood and have BIG fires.  This is the last campout for the box.  Fitting then, that the first and last trips are both to Squirrel Creek.  Between packing, mounting the box, and loading the gear, we didn't leave until almost 10pm.  Kinda late, especially for this trip, but what the hell?  We can always sleep in once the tents are up...
We arrived on location at 3am, had the tents up by 4am, then sat around the fire until 7am.  It's been absolutely forever since I've been up for more than 24 hours.  Must be a sign of getting old - I used to be able to stay up late and get up early for days on end without it seeming to impact me.  Now, a solid 8 hours is good (I like 10 better), but I can survive on 5 or 6 for a day or two.  No more than that without going totally nutso, having a psychotic breakdown, and collapsing into a sleep coma for three days of recovery.  Twenty-some years ago, 40 seemed ancient - as if those old fogies are ready to push up daisies, just put 'em in a wheelchair and get some diapers right now - but now that I'm almost there, I don't feel that much different from when I was 25 or so (except I need more sleep)...  Anyhow.  I digress.
The next couple days are filled with fun, fires, and friends.  Such a wonderful weekend!!  We even satisfied another "tradition".  At a previous campout - in the same camp ground, at the same site, even - we found that squirrels can (and will) eat through the plastic to get at the licorice in the 5# Costco tub.  This year, we found that they'll eat through the Gladware bin to get to the fruits and nuts.
I have several more pictures that I want to share - I'll try not to be too boring - so I'll add them to the next post.  Besides, that includes the next adventure: heading to Valdez to see Sara.  Campfire, fresh air, falling asleep to the sound of running water...  Can't think of a better way to spend the weekend.