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Summer Into Winter

Travelogue - January 8, 2011
"Warning! Mountain Lion has been spotted.
Watch your pets.
Watch your back."
- Sign taped to the Post Office door, December 6

Friends - We hope you all had a nice summer, as we did. I'll summarize:

Rick Gets Schooled

Boot Camp for Cooks For his 50th birthday, Lu granted Rick his heart's desire in the form of a week-long "Boot Camp for Cooks" at Napa Valley's Casa Lana.

The Boot Camp for Cooks is geared to advanced level cooks who are confident in the kitchen but want to expand their skills to a new level...

Rick enjoyed the team (l-r Caryn, Rick, Chef Lana, Lela and Stephanie). "Everyone was in the class to learn and have fun; no one was there to grandstand so we all got along and just absorbed all the information Lana gave us."

Mill Trail While Rick and his classmates were enjoying every minute in the kitchen I took myself on several fun field trips in the area and met many nice people. I went on some fun hikes, left, where I taunted some vultures by drinking from my water bottle right at the base of their tree, and I disappointed a rattlesnake by goading him off the trail where he'd been poised to surprise the mountain bikers and their dog who would be flying down the trail behind me after fixing their flat. Ha.

Since we returned home Rick has continued expanding his culinary skills and has enjoyed himself immensely. Thanks, Lu!


Scaling the Peaks

Rick atop Eagle Peak Rick spent the first weeks of the summer sealing all the logs of our house, and then constructing a shade structure spanning the south-facing french doors at our terrace. Then he rebuilt much of his truck's engine and when he was finally finished he gazed at the ring of peaks surrounding our valley. And he said to himself, "I'd better get up on every single one of those peaks while I still can."

So, he did.

Each weekend Rick chose a peak, researched possible routes using his vast collection of USGS Topo maps, and set forth at dawn. Sometimes he bagged several peaks in a day, if traversing a knife-ridge to the next was simpler than coming down and going back up again - example, right. This was the most satisfying part of his summer.

Visitors

Roy and Ellen of M/V Our Turn came to Wyoming. We were very pleased to rendezvous with them in our town.

Rick, Ellen, RoyVisiting with boating friends in Wyoming was a strange experience - we kept switching back and forth between two different "languages". It was a great visit; we hope to see Ellen and Roy on the water this winter.

One evening our neighbor Irene called to ask about the fire. What fire? "The one above your house," she answered. Yikes! Lightening had struck the ridge and from her house way across the valley Irene could see flames erupt into the skyline as trees ignited. Thank goodness, the Forest Service crew was on it within the hour and they stayed all night; by the next day they had it safely put out. I hiked batches of cookies up to them a couple times, and on one trip retrieved loads of their equipment which had tumbled out of the truck during its rough and rugged ride up the mountainside, oops. I later hiked up to see the results of the fire - the blackened acre was steep and bleak, and smelled sourly of wet ashes and bitter chemicals.

Angie and Aunt Pat Another highlight was the visit from my niece, Angela. She's a novice but eager hiker so I dragged her mercilessly along on a multi-day backpack in the nearby mountains. Here we are, right, on a break after fording an icy cold mountain creek. On the third day we paused to reconstruct the skeletal remains of a deceased ungulate and to redistribute our supplies so Angie could carry the creature's vertebrae home for an art project.

And late the last afternoon, when faced with yet another night sleeping on the hard ground, we thought it might be even more fun to hike out in the dark. So we did that and it was fun, although we were bedeviled by a herd of black cattle in the murky night - their paired coal-fire eyes burned out of the darkness in the dim light of a headlamp. Woo-oo-oo!

Angie described the challenging trip to her Grandma, saying "I've never felt so bad and so good all at the same time." The rest of the week was easier, and just as much fun. Thanks, Angie!

Winter Arrives

Rick and I made a late-season visit to Yellowstone in September and that was it for overland travel in the mountains.

Winter sunrise Winter arrived and make no mistake. It was minus-4 degrees on Thanksgiving Day, followed by lots of snow. We were not taken by surprise, much. One day in a whiteout I navigated the gate OK but then slid right off the access road and into the ditch before I knew where I was. I asked myself "What would Xena do?" and the answer was obvious so I shoveled a path for the wheels and got back on (what proved to be) the road. We quickly remembered the joys of winter, although snow-clearing duties, below right, reminded Rick why he prefers to be in Florida for at least a few more winters.

Snow duty It kept snowing throughout December, including 28" in one three-day storm. One morning I skied out to the compost bin but I couldn't find it - I had to ski back for a shovel and then work my way down. This was all fun and games for me; but our neighbor, Joy, who has to go out in the bitter cold and feed cattle, was less entertained by the snow and cold.

While Joy was fighting the good fight Rick and I wetted our downhill, cross-country, and telemark boards, and it was as if we'd never taken them off, no worries.

More injuries were sustained crash-falling on the icy sidewalks downtown than on the slopes, and the less said about that the better.

Holiday Festivities

Carl and Millie While Goldie stayed home basking in the tender care of Irene, Rick and I journeyed south for the Christmas weekend. Family members came from four states to rendezvous for the combination Paul's 50-year birthday celebration / Christmas. We partied, played games, dined, talked, watched "A Christmas Story", and just in time went for some nice walks.

It was good to walk among red rocks again; we all agreed it's been too long since we've been in the slickrock country.

Left, my parents model their brand new, hand-crafted walking sticks, gifts from their son. They wondered whether Homeland Security personnel at the airport would allow them to stroll able-bodied onto the plane while wielding their new bludgeons. We suggested they fake a good limp until they were out of sight down the ramp.

Family Christmas Here is the gang, gathered at the very cool and historic Civilian Conservation Corps "cabins" at Valley of Fire. Left to right: Brad, Dean, Julie, Mom and Dad, Pat and Rick, Angie, Becky and Paul.

Absent were Dean's lovely fiancé Debbie who was unable to skip work, and nephew Bob who had already returned home - their company was missed.

We had a great time at a family Christmas that was just like the ol' days, except for the lack of snow (which nobody seemed to miss). Many thanks to Paul and his darling Becky for hosting the event. It was a lot of work for them and they kept up the good cheer. Thanks guys, and Happy Birthday Paul!!

South Bound

It was minus-20 degrees when we left Wyoming, and 60 degrees when we arrived in Florida at 2:00 a.m. What a miracle; one that we often take completely for granted.

Rick's mom, Lu, is doing extremely well! She is observing a stringent four-day-per-week BINGO regimen so we have hardly even seen her; she gets home after we're asleep and we're gone before she gets up. She and Rick leave notes for each other on the kitchen table...

Splash down Sea Gator summered just fine, she wasn't too green and moldy outside and there were no problems at all inside. We spent several days washing and waxing and buffing, and on Friday afternoon All American's crew lowered her gently into the water, left. Only a few problems arose: one sea cock was open which we thought was closed, oops, so the bilge was soon awash, but the water wasn't even deep enough to activate the bilge pump - I pumped it out by hand and we were good to go.

Tomorrow we'll head across the Harbor to la Marina des Collards for the final cleaning, prepping and provisioning. Then, we're off...

Take care, everybody! Stay warm...

Pat, Rick and Goldie

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