When last we corresponded, Layne and I were knee-deep in boxes as we sorted through all the stored "stuff" in our barn. We had a semi-successful garage sale where we sold the treadmill, our big bed and frame, my saddle and horse tack, plus a few other items taking up space in the storage barn; we gave away a lot more.
|Layne and Penny by the homemade grill|
On the 2nd of June we headed north to visit friends and family, starting with our very good friends Penny and Joel. Before they moved to Oregon, we used to go horseback riding and overnight horse camping with them, as well as take turns hosting outrageously delicious dinner parties. We miss them very much and really looked forward to another fun time together. Needless to say - but I will - we were not disappointed!
|First night appetizer and Green Gin|
|Penny, Joel and Layne over appetizers|
Penny is such an amazing cook and consummate hostess and Joel a lively conversationalist, we always feel totally spoiled by their hospitality, good food and endless laughter. This trip we enjoyed grilled hamburgers (from a neighbor's cattle!) on the new grill Penny had designed and constructed with some help from a welder friend.
|Penny and Paddycakes at Smith Rock|
|A hiker who made the summit!|
The next day we took a drive to Smith Rock, a stunning basalt formation popular with rock climbers and hikers. But with threatening weather, we only stayed long enough for their little dog Paddycakes to sniff around. On the drive over Joel pointed out the new Facebook facilities, a gray monolith where, according to Joel, hundreds of servers hum away and the only employees are maintenance people, little help for the local job market.
Later that day, we were present for the official "christening" of the new pond they've built. In this case, the baptism involved the introduction of five big bass fish to the water. So far Penny is feeding them night crawlers (cut into quarters! Ugh!) but eventually they should have enough bugs visiting the pond to keep them happy. That evening we enjoyed Penny's "famous" Porcini-crusted Filet Mignon. Oh, wow! It was a great start to our trip.
|Layne and Tom on penthouse balcony|
On our way across the mountains, we stayed overnight with Layne's high school friend Sue and her sister Christine and visited with our beloved niece Cari and her delightful teenage children, Jordan and Phylicia. Then it was on to Portland where we lodged with our friend Tom in his penthouse apartment with fabulous views of the city. Sadly, we also learned that Layne's sister Annie has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Although she is feeling pretty good right now and has good support from her family, her husband Jim and friends, it's a difficult prognosis.
While Layne was in Portland playing golf and helping Annie, I was able to fit in a short trip to New York City to stay with my dear friend Betty and to attend my longtime friend Veronica Vera's wedding. With enough miles for a free roundtrip on Delta, I was thrilled to be able to join so many old acquaintances at this event, a magical afternoon filled with love and music and laughter and best wishes for the happy couple.
|Veronica, the beautiful bride|
|Veronica and Stu in their first dance|
|Good friends Michele and Betty|
My last night in the City was spent onboard my friend Michele's boat, berthed in the 79th Street Boat Basin, with friends Gloria, Janie, Candice, Big John and a few new acquaintances. It was a splendid evening and the perfect close to a wonderful trip to the Big Apple.
|Sumaya, Yours Truly, Jill, Candice, Gloria|
|View of Manhattan from the boat|
Back to Portland and very soon on to Spokane for a visit with Layne's son Jess and to attend Jess's wife April's graduation from Eastern Washington University. This family is so special to us, with their adorable kids Sierra, herself in college now, and pre-teen Orion, a regular little monkey who climbs everything in sight.
|Orion and Grandpa Layne|
The big attraction in Spokane is the Riverfront Park, which runs alongside the Spokane River, and which was built back in the 1970's when Spokane hosted the World's Fair. The park is quite beautiful, offering a gondola service that spans the falls and an interesting sculpture of runners around the edge of the park. But the river itself is incredible! Never had Layne and I seen such a huge volume of water rushing over rocks and down waterfalls in the middle of a city. It is truly terrifying in its mighty force.
|The wild Spokane River|
|Layne joins the "runners" in the park|
April's graduation was great! She was so excited and her folks were so proud of her for returning to school after raising two children. Now, with her degree in Mathematics and a goal of being an elementary school teacher, we know she will do well. After all, she graduated Magna cum Laude and was nominated by her professors as an Outstanding Senior. How's that for achievement?! It was a wonderful moment to see her in cap and gown waving at us from the infield track as the graduates entered the football field.
|Evelyn's takes first steps|
|Annie, Hazel and Gertie|
Then it was back to Portland to attend the Sunday afternoon goodbye party Annie hosted in our honor, with visits from everyone from one-year-old Evelyn, just learning to walk, to family matriarch Hazel, looking forward to her 100th birthday next February.
|First view of Mt. Shasta on the way home|
With a short stop at Penny and Joel's again to retrieve the camera battery and charger I had left behind (any excuse for a return visit!), we made it back to California yesterday, tired but happy to be home.