Thursday, July 31, 2014

Back in the Saddle on a C36

One of the very nice things is when people actually read your blog. One such reader is Ed Hilton, who owns a Catalina 36, Morning Dew, in Seattle. He emailed me and said whenever I was back in town to give him a call to go out for a sail.

Now you'd think living on a sailboat would satiate my desire to sail, but just the opposite. I connected with Ed and met he and his crew down at Elliott Bay Marina (where we use to keep Endless Summer, our Catalina 36).

It was great getting on a C36 again, and even better since we were participating in the Thursday night Downtown Sailing Series. Now if you think this is some balls-out, pedal-to-the-metal racing series, well not quite, but still very interesting. Began several years ago by the managment at Elliot Bay Marina, there are three simple rules to the race:

•  Don't hit anyone.
•  Finish by 8:30 p.m.
•  Have fun.

Between 70 and 100 boats participate, including everything from Dynema-rigged racing machines to cruisers with the barbie hanging out the back.  Ed had a large crew aboard and I just tried to keep out of their way. The course itself is unique in that it goes along the Seattle downtown shoreline, which typically means a reach to a gybing mark, another reach, and finally another reach. That's my kind of sailing.

Ed got a great start and approaching the first mark it was little crowded, with some knowing the racing or right-of-way rules and others without a clue. Made for a very interesting rounding with boats mere feet away and hauling at around 6 to 7 knots. Ed deftly got us through the mess and on to the next mark.

Did I mention it was one of those perfect Seattle nights, about 78 degrees, a beautiful sunset, and a 10 to 13 knot northwesterly wind that made for ideal sailing conditions?

The next mark rounding was rather interesting as a large boat without rights just barged in right in front of us. In a real race protest flags would be flying, but Ed wisely just gave him room.  The reach for the finish was wonderful as the sun was setting over the Olympic Mountains. Seattle just doesn't get any better than this.

Back on shore the Marina hosts a free beer and hot dogs feast and gives our door prizes to anonymously chosen boats who finished the race.

What a great evening! A big thanks to Ed and the crew of Morning Dew for inviting me along.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Chez Ballew

One of our favorite "home stays" is with our friends Paul and Irene Ballew in Issaquah. They make us feel totally at home and we seem to spend hours just sitting, talking, and laughing. They were  neighbors when we first moved to our first house in Eastgate and we've stayed friends ever since.

Irene babysits her two grandchildren Ari and Owen, on Mondays so we decided to make a play date out of it.

Paul bought the kids their first Mercedes, a cool electric car with all the accessories. It was the hit of the day.

Ari shows Quinn how to drive the car. Amazingly it has opening doors, a horn, and a real radio. It also hauls when Ari takes the governor off the engine.
Conner is ready for a spin in the Mercedes.
Irene had as much fun with the bubble machine as the kids.
Arts and crafts for the girls.
Owen is like a race car driver around the corners.
Time to catch some rays.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Grandma's Clam Bake

One of our mother’s final wishes was to have a clam bake after she passed. She loved Northwest Indian customs and visualized a last meal being shared by family in her honor.  One of her favorite things was going to Blake Island to watch the Indians perform their cultural dances and experience the delicious smoked salmon meal.  In her later years she traveled and collected Indian artifacts from baskets to arrowheads all over the SW and Mexico.  We were very fortunate to get everyone together for the occasion; Durlyn & Bob, Kim, all the Nash-Webber’s, all the Conner’s, and us of course at Christa & Nash’s Samammish rental home.

Earlier in the week, Walter had gathered up some supplies to help Quinn and Brody make sailboats to launch as part of the clam bake ritual.  They were great little helpers and enjoyed making and decorating four boats. One for each grandchild. Note the safety glasses.

Grandpa overseeing sailboat operations
Quinn measuring something?
Brody giving close inspection...btw those are toy tools and goggles they are using
Beautiful finished sailboats ready to launch.
After a delicious clam chowder and salmon dinner we headed down to Lake Sammamish to launch the sailboats and spread some of mom’s ashes.  We shared some mom stories and said a few words honoring her memory.

Launching the sailboats
Sailboats kept heading to shore - maybe a little trimming the sails would help
Three generations spreading Grandma's ashes
Our Family

It was a lovely evening on the lake and the kids all decided to end the day with a swim in the lake.

Thank you family for all your love.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Back to the Farm

Christa had rented a beautiful home along East Lake Sammamish Drive near to where we used to live on Lake Sammamish. She was able to see her many friends and their growing number of children, and explore Seattle like a tourist.  

On July 25th we did a family field trip to Remlinger Farms in Carnation with Brad and Christa’s families. Remlinger Farms started out as a U-pick berry farm and started adding rides over time. It's not Disneyland but it's a lot of fun in a down home sort of way.

It’s always fun watching Quinn and Brody reunite and play together, with Conner and Bennett trying to keep up with the big kids. I think Brad and I had just as much fun on the rides as the kids. I'll let the pictures tell the story.
A little trepidation and some reassurance from Dad.
Quinn rides Honeysuckle.
Conner's first horse ride.
Quinn and Brody ready to take off.
He's got this look like "Yea, I've done this ride hundreds of times."
Three kids in a canoe.
King of the Pumpkins!
Bennett wishing he was just a little older to go on the rides with the big kids.
Uncle Brad with Quinn on the mini train.
Lots of rules for such a little kid.
End of a perfect outing.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

We Need More Activities!

On July 19th Christa and Jenny decided to swim the Mile High Mile, a mile-long swim from the Marina in downtown McCall along the shore to a nearby park. Amazingly, Jenny finished 2nd in her class and Christa did well also considering the 5,000 ft altitude and colder water.
Jenny and Christa ready to take the plunge.
Around 100 competitors braved the cold waters of Lake Payette.
Some of the beautiful waterfront homes on the lake.
Afterwards we rented a ski boat and toured the lake, looking at houses and properties. Christa and Nash are interested in buying a summer home in McCall and wanted to see what was available. We saw the famous Spud Cove where J.R. Simplots’ family has a number of houses. (J.R. is the potato king of Idaho and provides over 50% of the frozen french fries sold to fast food chains.)
Quinn wants to go faster.
Christa and Quinn swim towards the cliff jumping area.

Around the corner of the lake is an area with rock walls that kids climb up to jump into the lake. Even Quinn took the leap with mommy.  Meryl and Conner went inner tubing behind the boat, and Conner, fearless as he is, even managed to fall asleep while tubing! Nothing fazes this kid.

What a great week we had. Christa and Nash will make this their summer retreat area and we’re looking forward to visiting when possible. 

The flight back to Seattle was interesting, as usual, given all the luggage Christa needs when spending two months in the States with the kids. How she gets all this stuff on an airplane without spending a fortune on excess baggage is a mystery to me. Maybe it’s that cute smile.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Up the River with a Paddle

The next day Christa and Jenny went paddle boarding up the Payette River for some girlfriend bonding time while Walter and I  played with the kids back home.  We still had one of the paddle boards so in the morning we took turns paddling around in the calmest of conditions, unlike the “wave machine action” the night before!  We managed to get some of our confidence back and ventured up and down the shoreline practicing our technique.

Christa trying to balance a tired Conner on the paddle board.

That's better...look at that scenery.
After having such a fun day on the Payette River, Christa decided we would all go the next afternoon.  There is a great recreation rental facility right at the inlet of Payette Lake where you can rent kayaks, canoes, and paddle boards by the hour.  We rented a two-man kayak and a paddle board and off we ventured up the languid winding river. 

Conner all smiles!
Mimi paddling along with Quinn
We quietly paddled by this large moose grazing along the river.
Boppa enjoying the river
As if we hadn’t had enough activities, Christa got a babysitter and invited us to the Summer Bluegrass Music Festival in nearby Roseberry. It was great to just sit out in the hot summer sun and enjoy great music in a beautiful setting.

Chicken Dinner Road playing to an appreciative audience

A little much needed mother-daughter time.
Meryl, Christa and Jenny.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Let's Go to Idaho!

July 13

On Saturday, not having flown enough in the last couple of days, we headed back to SeaTac for a flight to Boise. We actually had real tickets but, out of habit, we almost waited until the plane was fully loaded to hear our names called for stand-by, our normal mode of travel.

In Boise we rented a car and headed north up the scenic Payette River valley to McCall, where our daughter was renting a house for three weeks. Since Nash had flown back to Hong Kong the day before, we were childcare reinforcements. It was so wonderful to see Christa, Quinn, and Conner. It’s amazing how much kids change when you only see them every six months or so. Christa had rented a waterfront cabin on Payette Lake and it was great to sit out on the deck and just enjoy the beautiful Idaho mountain scenery, plus the kids jumping all over you.

Even though Conner had more ice cream on his mouth than in his stomach, it was still a great treat.
The view from the top of Ponderosa State Park at Porcupine Point.

The BEST chocolate chip milkshake on the planet.
We explored the tiny downtown area of McCall, including a stop at a hidden away shop called Ice Cream Alley, where even the kid cones were too big for me. Christa drove us to Ponderosa State Park where we looked at the view from the top and did a little hiking, then back to town to My Father’s Place for great hamburgers and shakes. I could really fall in love with this place.

Enjoying elk burgers from the deck of Christa's cabin.
Christa's best friend from high school, Jenny Schon, and her husband Patrick.
At home Quinn and Conner regaled us with a dance routine from the movie Frozen and kept us busy reading stories and playing with lots of toys shipped to McCall by their grandmother Dottie. Christa’s best friend, Jenny Schon and her husband Patrick, treated us to elk burgers and salad. Patrick is a long time smokejumper and had lots of interesting stories about fighting fires in the Northwest. “Let me get this right: You jump out of a perfectly good airplane into a blazing forest miles away from civilization?”

Seems like it wasn't that long that we were hiking with a 2 year old Christa.
Conner definitely marches to his own drummer.
A little snack for the Happy Hikers.
We did a nice hike up to Duck Lake with the kids, who loved the fields of white flowering Bear Grass covering the hills. The hiking here is different than the Pacific Northwest, with sparse undergrowth and lots of rolling hills covered with rock faces. Absolutely beautiful!

Christa’s next activity was to rent stand-up paddleboards at the Marina and then paddle up the lake a mile to have dinner at the Shore Lodge. Great plan but ignoring the fact that I’m not very stable on a paddle board as the late evening waves washed across the lake, and me. Plan B, I drive up and meet Meryl and Christa at the restaurant. A little wet, but no worse from the experience.