Sunday, October 27, 2013

Sail On

Tonight we are sitting by the fire at the bar at the Rosario Resort on Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands. The beauty of this place made my heart feel vulnerable as we sat next to the warm fire and listened to wonderful music. When Robbie Christmas began to sing Lionel Ritchie's 'Sail On' I knew I was in big trouble. There is always a moment on our sabbaticals that I am captured off guard by some seemingly small event and then the beauty of my world becomes crystal clear to me.  Tonight it was listening to beautiful music on beautiful Orcas Island.

We chose Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands for a very simple reason. Tom's grandmother Hazel was the Post-Mistress here for several years and so, for that reason only, we decided to go and check it out.

I cannot tell you how enchanting this area is. It is precipitous, unspoiled, and ruggedly beautiful. Surrounded by the ebbing waters of the Puget Sound, it is nestled in the Olympic Peninsula and was once an important trading post for the North Straits Salish Native Americans. The waters are a cross between emerald and turquoise and the Island itself is like a dream. It is named Orcas Island after Juan Vincente de Guemes Padilla Horcasitas y Aguayo, second count of Revillagigedo, the Viceroy of Mexico who sent an exploration expedition out to the Pacific North West in 1791. It has nothing to do with whales at all...

We chose the Rosario Resort which was once the private home of shipping magnate Robert Moran. The area is stunning and our room is part of his beautiful seafront mansion. We are excited to be here and after our walk we quickly decide we would enjoy the luxuries that this place has to offer. We cannot get enough of the beauty in this area and are pleased to be here.

The young man playing his guitar and singing looked like 
our grandson Dallas. That in itself endeared him to me. He began to sing the songs I had always loved. He sang so beautifully and for just a moment I wasn't sure if I were listening to Lionel Ritchie, Eric Clapton, or Neil Diamond. They were all the songs that captured a season of my life and like all good music, written so much better than I ever could have ever articulated that season myself. Good music can move me...almost as much as the beautiful  ocean or forest that surround me  while I am here.

When he began to sing…Sail on heartache…Good times never felt so good…I was reminded that I am in a good season and these times are good. I do not want to encumber my life with the things that rob me of the beauty of that simple statement.

When we rode the ferry back towards home the wind was blowing through my hair and I felt myself humming the song 'Sail On'. Yes Lionel, you were right…the good times never felt so good…

Saturday, October 26, 2013

All the Places Called Home

When Tom and I travel on our sabbaticals we are often incognito. It's not like we have anything to hide but we are usually off the beaten path and nobody knows us. And, we like it that way. I do have to mention that we once met a guy from Kingsburg  while we were in Zimbabwe which confirms our belief that this really is a small world. This trip has been different for us because we have seen so many people that we know…and it was all intentional.

We began our trip with a visit to our daughter Amy and her family.
We had a lovely time with them (too short) and then were off to visit friends of ours in Napa. It was lovely being in the hillside home of our friends Terry and Cindy Stigall on the outskirts of Napa. After much spoiling from them we were off for a while on our own. Soon we were at the doorstep of our daughter Crystal
who entertained, walked with us, and patiently waited for us as we shopped Portland and enjoyed the benefits of tax free spending. She packed us up with goodies and soon we were off to see Tom's brother Bob. Bob and his wife Carol drove us to Tillamook where we lunched on wonderful fish and then drove  us up the coast to Astoria.
From there we spent some in our log cabin and then travelled up to visit our dear friends Corey and Casara and their family where we stayed with them in their renovated coastal home on Whitby Island.

One of the hardest things for me when we travel is being away from family. I am thankful for the many faces and places of family and for the tender care given to us as we have passed your way. Home is the place where family comes together and so we are thankful for those places called home. We look forward to the next time we are together again.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Because We Can

This morning we were able to see Mt Rainier clearly and vividly from our 'backyard'. It was the beginning of a beautiful day.  It was cool outside and warm in our cabin. We laid in bed and had a cup of coffee chatting about our day. We decided to hike again this morning and explore this area a little more diligently. We are spellbound by the beauty here. As we follow the trails we find we are in a world inside of many worlds. The base here houses many operations and as we meander through the forest we seem to be worlds away from everything. Occasionally there is a reminder of where we are. We try not to cross into restricted areas and we watch for low flying aircraft. 

It is a luxury to plan the days events one thing at a time.
We knew we would hike today and then we knew…well, I think that's all we knew when we set out this morning. We have had a light lunch and glass of wine and I think we will take a nap. Then, well, we will see. We are nestled between Tacoma and Seattle and so, who knows what is next.

I am reminded of the many worlds within my world. I juggle many roles and callings on my life. Sometimes these worlds are very separate and sometimes my worlds all collide. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed and sometimes I have incredible peace. These are gifts from my Creator. It is an honor  to manage these well. He also desires for me to find delight in my days. I may not have the luxury of time that I have at this moment but I do have a choice. I am thankful for that reminder today as I sit content in my room after a day filled with delight and beauty.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Lewis and Clark State Forest

Nestled in the Lewis and Clark State Forest is the McChord/Lewis joint AFB. As we drive into this area we question where we are. It looks like fall on the East Coast and we are struck by its beauty. We have heard that American Lake is on this base and the military has constructed a few log cabins for use by both retirees and active duty families. We have decided that this will be our home for a few days.

 It is lovely and our cabin faces the lakes. It is a studio cabin and everything we need is within reach and yet, we have space to sit and read, watch movies, play games, or just sit on our front porch and look at the stars and moon. We have decided to really give our hiking boots a workout this morning so we will set off after coffee and a bite to eat. We were able to walk another eight miles along the lake today.
There was a nip in the air and the sun was warm and together it made for the perfect day to trek.

We found a place where we could get Turkish food and had a lovely dinner. We have decided to stay a few more days…we may dine tomorrow in Seattle…or maybe not. We will let you know.

Washington Park, Portland OR

Today we will hike a portion of the Wildwood Trail in Washington Park, Portland, OR with our daughter Crystal. The weather has been exquisite and dry and we look forward to being out in this sanctuary that is housed in the center of Portland.

This park is one of the oldest parks in Portland which was designated city property in 1871. The park began its renovation and early zoo life in the early 1900's. The first park keeper was hired in the early1900's and was a pharmacist and seaman from England.
He purchased 'exotic animals' from his sea-faring friends and thus the zoo began. Today the park is approximately 200 acres and the center of many beautiful gardens, children's play areas, a renowned zoo and acres of beautiful redwood trees. The views are spectacular of both Mt Hood and Mt Saint Helens. We are in awe when we reach the top.

We have opted for the eight mile loop which will take us up and around the forest and ultimately to the Pittock Mansion. The trails are beautiful and it is easy to get lost in our thoughts as we meander up and down the trails. We are absorbed in our conversations and then, equally in our quiet times where we enjoy the serenity of all that is around us.

We finish the hike in about three and a half hours and head for a bowl of Pho and a cold beer. We are ready for a warm shower and then some time in front of the fireplace. We have had an exquisite day.

Training Program

As most of you know we are in a training program. These may be dreaded words to some of our grandchildren but to us  it signifies the beginning of our 2014 sabbatical. In 2010, as we were driving through Spain and Portugal the dream to walk the Camino de Santiago began. This is a pilgrimage that begins in the Southern part of France and ends in the Northwestern part of Spain. As it is nearly 550 miles in duration, it is a dream we have had to think about for awhile. Towards the end of our work in Fiji and the Solomon Islands we both committed to this walk and thus began our training program. Tom was the first to let everyone/anyone know as to keep us accountable during this year of training. Opinions vary from "your crazy" to "we are proud of you, wish we were going". Either way, we will come out ahead just by training for the walk.

Our beautiful neighbor Kerry is a physical therapist/trainer/masseuse/cowgirl and all around great woman. She has agreed to help us with the physical training and has set up a "training program" for us. In addition to the regular walking program for endurance, we will be strengthening 'layers' of muscle to help us with the fifteen miles a day we will need to walk to complete this venture in a six week period. We have given ourselves some down days along the way as we are of the mindset that we are not here just to complete the walk but to savor all the places it takes us. A lot of people do it as a pilgrimage and as we put in the miles we begin to think and pray about that component of the walk as well. For me, walking is pray, a time of solitude where I am not distracted by anyone or anything that might take precedence. This began for me when the kids were little and I could sneak out for an hour or so at 4:00 a.m. and not be missed or needed by anyone. Matt will be twenty-nine in about five weeks and I still 'sneak out' for my walk and quiet time at this time in the morning.

 We also have become quite versed in our equipment and REI and its staff are like friends to us. We know the staff on a first name basis and part of our travels will bring us to the Portland REI where we know they carry the shoes we are looking for. Our daughter Crystal  graciously took us and sat for hours as we tried on shoe after shoe. Our friend Patty who works in Fresno had recommended a few brands of shoes and what to look for. When we met JoAnn, we felt as if we had met Patty's counterpart in Portland. She had Tom and I walk around the store and up and down the rocks to ensure a perfect fit. After a few hours we were ready and made this ever so important purchase.

Part of our travels will bring us to places along the Pacific Coast Trail and we hope to break in our new shoes. Not only we will get the miles in for our training, we will be together in some of the most beautiful forests and coastlines on the Western shores. We are happy to be together and will let you know how this goes.

The "…villes"

As we travel North, I am amazed at all the towns that end in …"ville." Geyserville, Marysville, McKinleyville, Garberville…the list goes on. We have taken a moment to stay in Garberville at a place called the Benbow Inn and Resort. It seems this lovely area was owned in the early 1920's by the Benbow family who saw this beautiful stretch of land in the redwoods and decided to build a large hotel and resort area. It was a place ahead of it's time. The Inn was designed by architect Albert Farr, who was most noted for The Wolf House — the home he designed for author Jack London. The Benbow family, nine brothers and sisters, actually built the resort and later the Benbow Dam and Power Company. They were infamous in this region for their hard work and committeement to excellence and their reputation still lingers on to this day. It proudly sits on a rock promatory above the Eel River.

We found it both beautiful and quaint. There are no elevators and so a bus boy carries our luggage up to our room.
 As the young man carried ours up to the third floor I suddenly felt bad for all the reading material I had brought in. We stayed in a historic cottage with a view of the garden and river below. A decanter with sherry was waiting for us upon our arrival. We took and opportunity to walk along the old Redwood Highway which is now very secluded and enjoyed the cool evening and then the full moon.

When we returned night had fallen and the Inn was lit up. The music of Ella Fitzgerald and Louie Armstrong were playing from the bar and I felt as if I were coming home. The fireplaces were ablaze and we were eager to have a warm bowl of soup, fresh baked bread, and a good glass of wine. It was easy to see why this place had been enjoyed by many before us.

We enjoyed this gem of a place and decided it was a place to return to and spend some time. For now, we are heading North into Oregon. Will let you know!

10,000 Reasons for my Heart to Sing

I am excited as this day begins…the millions of things that need to happen before we leave are done (I think). We are packed, the car is loaded, and we have said our goodbyes for awhile. This years sabbatical will be a bit different than our previous journeys in that we are staying in the USA and will only be gone a few weeks. The spirit of the sabbatical remains the same, the venue is the only thing that has changed.

It is beautiful at home as the leaves begin to change color and the weather starts to cool down. It is hard to leave both family and the beauty of fall but we are ready for this time away. We have a few planned stops and know we will head North along the coastline through the Pacific Northwest. We hear it is beautiful and we are excited to see for ourselves. We are comfortable in our car and find that we have packed much differently than we usually do. We have the luxury of home…in our back seat. Audiobooks, music, travel guides, pillows, and snacks…we are set!

As we drive, we have time to chat and catch up on conversations that we have put on hold until a time such as this. We talk about all that is happening and all that is yet to be. We look through our travel books and pick out the places we want to go and the things we may want to see. Then we let go of our agendas and we become spontaneous. I am excited about the little things…the coastline, the unexpected delights of the places we do not yet know, our time together, the coziness of our car, the time to think and the time to be thankful.

I find myself  thinking about a conversation I had with my Physical Therapist earlier this week. It was  the most beautiful conversation about family and the tidbits of experiences throughout our lives that formed us into the adults we had become and  then the joy the recollection of those memories bring. We laughed as we talked about some of things that were most memorable to us and I realized that sometimes the things are most influential in our lives were not really the big things but myriads of small things.

 As we have this time together I realize my life is so very full and rich and in this season of life I am very content and thankful. I take this time to reflect upon God's goodness to me and to acknowledge that are at least ten thousand reasons for my heart to sing. I know there are more to come.

For now, it is off to Sacramento to visit our daughter and her family and then to Napa. While it may not be India or Nepal we are excited just the same to see what lies ahead.