Friday, October 27, 2017

Autumn Antics

Yes, this is my second post in three weeks about the season of harvest - call it Fall, call it Autumn - by any other name it would still be as sweet.  Here are five morsels for you - in honor of Willy Nilly Friday, Skywatch Friday and Mosaic Monday.

ONE: Family.  We were honored this month to host my younger brother and his wife.  For years we have descended upon their home in Colorado to enjoy their company and the ski slopes; we were delighted to finally return the favor in a locale that approaches the beauty of their home state.  (Most of the pictures in this post are from their visit.) No surprise - they were as generous as always - they brought this chainsaw-carved bear as a gift, ultimately destined for our log home.

Bouquet from Spousal Unit!
And The Huckleberry Cookbook.  Good thing we have some frozen hucks in the freezer!  On the last day of their visit, Spousal Unit made huckleberry pancakes.  Yum!
During their visit, we learned to play the Mexican Train version of dominoes - fun!  To the left is a picture of a finished game with Spousal Unit (he won) using a To Go set they sent us afterwards as a thank you gift.

TWO: Sparkling skies.  What is it about cooler temperatures that sharpens the Cerulean sky, the White of the clouds, and any other Crayola color that happens to hit our retina?
Stanton Lake with Great Northern Mountain in the background
North Fork of the Flathead River
Outside our front door

Middle Fork of the Flathead River looking into Glacier National Park;
opposite side of the river  features the Western Larch, a pine tree
that transforms into Yellow in the fall and drops its needles
Bridge on trail to Holland Falls
THREE: Effervescent leaves and berries.  As my sister-in-law said: "I would rather have a yellow brick road than a red carpet."  Well, God heard her request.

FOUR: Campfire!  For the whole summer, fire restrictions prohibited campfires, so this moment was special. 

Mix in family, a mountain hike in the snow, a stunning view, and s'mores - that's what I call an exceptional 24 hours.

FIVE: Pumpkins.  Don't you just adore this seasonal squash?

Then you would have to "fall" head over heels for a pumpkin patch at the foot of the mountains ...

Linking to Willy Nilly Friday
Around Roanoke
Linking to Skywatch Friday

Linking to Mosaic Monday


Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Many Faces of San Francisco

Mural in Chinatown
Why do you travel?  For most people, it's for the newness, to simultaneously feel the discomfort and the thrill of the quirks and peculiarities of a place.  On our second day with #1 Daughter (#1D) in San Francisco, her tour showed us new faces of the city, diversity on vibrant display. (see previous post of Day 1)

Down a random, semi-concealed cobblestone alley?  The Irish Bank Bar and Restaurant.  You might think you are in Dublin!


Chinatown is a bit more conspicuous with its ornamental gate, lanterns and lampposts.

It's the tourist district, and we comply, stopping at the bakery that advertises its moon cakes in the front window ("The Only Moon Cake Made in America; Best Moon Cake in the Whole USA) - who can resist?  We buy three different cakes and munch as we admire the murals that are on every spare wall and some delivery vehicles as well.
Mural on left says "In Progress"

A few blocks more, and in the peace of Portsmouth Square, old men are playing vigorous card games, and others are focused on Tai Chi.  Not many tourists here - locals always find a place to hide from tourists!

A small alley hides the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory, with its tiny storefront that opened in 1962.  Women sit at a conveyor belt folding messages into 20,000 fortune cookies a day.  This is the only bakery in the city where cookies are made by hand the old-fashioned way.

Up one block and suddenly we are swimming against the tide of Chinese shoppers, who are navigating a myriad of open-air stalls - dried seafood of every type, fruits and vegetables, fresh fish, and many curiosities that we could not identify.

By now, all this food has whet our appetite, and soon enough we are sampling the wares of one of the countless restaurants in Chinatown.
I wonder if these fortunes were made down the street?

Re-energized, we ascend Nob Hill, poles apart from ChinaTown.  Posh hotels, classic architecture, people walking dogs in the park, the hushed serenity of Grace Cathedral.  

Brass Christmas ornament
Of course, no visit to Nob Hill would be complete without a stop at the free Cable Car Museum, which houses a collection of historic cable cars, photographs, and mechanical displays.  And, most stunning to me, it is located in the Washington-Mason powerhouse; it is the site that generates the power for ALL of the cable cars in the city.  From the museum deck, you can see the huge engines and winding wheels that pull the cables plus the person perched above the cables monitoring their smooth operation. Downstairs is a viewing area of the large sheaves and cable line entering the building through the channel under the street.  Mind-boggling!!!

Like Spousal Unit and me, #1D is a coffee fiend, and she has a nose for unique coffee shops.  This day, her choice is a short cross-walk from the Museum.  And how fun it was!  Board games, quirky and eclectic decorations, wine and beer, and just the right amount of attitude to be amusing without being annoying - for example, they put their bad reviews in the bathroom for everyone to read!
Maybe I liked it because I won the game of Sorry!

Afternoon was moving toward evening, and #1D took off for work after ensuring we made it safely to our BART station.  A short time later, we navigated our own way through the BART to arrive at the enchanting California Shakespeare Theater in Orinda, where #1D has invested her summer honing her skills as a stage management intern.

All the theatergoers were making the most of a glorious evening - sunny with a bit of nip in the air - partaking of picnic dinners in the grove near the outdoor venue.  We are here to see #1D and black odyssey, written by Oakland native playwright Marcus Gardley.
We move to our seats, and are struck by the simplicity and beauty of the set.  And so begins a classic tale (and classics always evoke the full range of human emotion) that jogs our memory about the importance and power of stories. 

We clap, we shout, we sing, we cry.  It's that kind of performance, that kind of tale.  How fitting that #1D is here for the summer: to be reminded that our history is both chain and freedom, depending on how it is used.
#1D on set at intermission, deploying props

And so the second day ended, once again, to a standing ovation.

Linking to Our World Tuesday
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Linking to Mosaic Monday

Friday, October 13, 2017

Fall Frolics

Joining Willy Nilly Friday and Skywatch Friday today - I hope you enjoy this assortment of fall frolics!

ONE: As we build our log home (hoping it never looks like the barn above), we have been searching for a red/purple stone to augment our fireplace.  I can't tell you the number of stone suppliers and quarries that we called in search of this elusive shade.  In the end, persistence paid off and we learned of Block Mountain Stone in Plains, Montana, just 2 hours south of us. 

So, off we went on a road trip to pick up 20 square feet of stone,  and we passed the above barn on the way.  After the stone was procured, our tummies were growling, and locals recommended The Butcher's Nook.  I second the motion!

TWO: Our generous and thoughtful neighbors gave us 5 pounds of plums and we were inspired to make plum jam!  

We were so delighted to give our neighbors a jar of the finished product, and to slather the jam onto toast for our next breakfast.  Yummy!

THREE:  Autumn brings fall beverages  and other goodies back to the menu of our favorite watering holes.  Last week I treated myself to a Maple Pecan Latte and a Pumpkin Scone at Starbucks.  Double yummy!

FOUR: OK, something has to be done about all of these calories - running!  The Whitefish Trail Legacy Run was based at the Whitefish Bike Retreat, the ideal starting point for a fun trail run set in the beautiful Beaver Lakes area of the Whitefish Trail.  Spousal Unit and I both participated in the 10K, and I was quite pleased with my result given that the route was rather hilly.  One hour and 6 minutes, fourth of eight in my age group, and 20th out of 45 women overall.  We were also blessed with great weather - sunny and crisp - in place of the rain that had been in the forecast.
FIVE: Walks in the fall are hard to beat.  Yellows, oranges and reds tossed up against a bright blue drop cloth of sky.  Dry leaves crunching underfoot, and raising an aroma that is at once deep woods and fresh bread from the oven.  Just enough warmth in the sun to allow reading my book by the lake, coffee by my side.

I was obsessed with the golden hues of this tree.

Reluctantly, I had to head for home, but I was rewarded with this tableau on the way back.   Oh, joy!

Linking with Skywatch Friday

Linking with Willy Nilly Friday

Monday, October 9, 2017

Spectacular Parks Canada - 150 and counting

We are so grateful that Canada opened its parks for free this year to celebrate 150 years of its park system.  As I mentioned in a previous post, we fulfilled a long-lived dream for two of my family members, and saved some bucks along the way!  Thank you, Canada, on today, your Thanksgiving!

Day 2 of our summer road trip traversed the byways from Banff to Jasper, 182 miles featuring an endless progression of mountains.  Pyramids, jagged knife edges, plateaus.   And did I mention glaciers?  
Lake Louise with glacier at the far end
From Lake Louise to Jasper, the road is aptly named the Icefields Parkway.  It has been called one of the world's most scenic drives, because around every corner, the route offers fresh wonders - waterfalls, pristine lakes and broad sweeping valleys to ancient glaciers flowing down from rugged mountains.  (Since we would be returning home on the Parkway, we chose a few stopping points in each direction to spread the wealth!)  Let's start with Lake Louise.

Lake Louise was very crowded, and so we took advantage of the shuttle buses to avoid the stress of finding a parking spot.  Mom was able to negotiate the short path from the shuttle stop to the lake, and boy, it was worth it!

As you can see, the clouds were hanging low, but I felt it added to the beauty of the creamy blue water.  

On the Parkway once again, we noticed an RV stopped on the road ahead.  Hmmm.  The reason was soon apparent - a black bear on the side of the road!  Major tour guide points for me!!!  (Because of course I had arranged for the bear to be there.)

Our next stop, Bow Lake, was chosen for picnic tables with a view - a lake, a glacier, and if you looked closely, waterfalls emerging from the ice.  It was pretty nippy for al fresco dining, but we braved it anyway.

The elephant's head plants near the stream did not seem to mind the temperature or the brooding clouds - I would like to see it all on a sunny day!

On the road again ... Mistaya Canyon entranced me just with the name.  The trail to the canyon descends slowly through thick woods, and then suddenly you are looking into a deep chasm from the safety of a footbridge.  Yes, worthy of the name!!!

Considering we were there in August, the water level in the canyon was eye-popping.

The goodies just kept coming - a grouping of bighorn sheep were grazing near Tangle Falls.

As if that wasn't enough, our next stop, Athabasca Falls, came on like Mistaya Canyon was just its little sister.  Clearly, down through the eons, water is winning the battle over rock.

A unique aspect of Athabasca: you can walk through a set of chasms that were long ago  abandoned by the river.

Our day concluded with our arrival at the Athabasca Hotel in Jasper.  The Atha-B, as it has been affectionately known for decades, was built in 1929 as a replacement for an original wooden structure constructed in 1915.  My Mediterranean Chicken Penne Pasta at the hotel that night was the chocolate icing on the chocolate cake of a day!

Linking to Mosaic Monday
Linking to Nature Notes
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Linking to Outdoor Wednesday

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