Saturday, August 31, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 08-30-19: Jack and the Drive-by Truckers, Back to Richard Thompson, Peacharillo

1. Today was white water rafting day on the Clark Fork River in Montana for Josh, Jack, and Patrick; in the meantime, Meagan, Adrienne, and Debbie spent a short time in Missoula. To help them prepare for their outing, Jack and I made a quick shopping trip to Yoke's and picked up a few things. Jack was a very good shopping companion, talkative, well-behaved, and eager to help out. For the second time, when Jack and I were in the car, he put the Drive-by Truckers in the cd player and enjoyed blasting "Hell No I Ain't Happy" as we made our way to Yoke's and back again.

2. Until he called to work, Ed and I were going to make a trip to Worley. With the house to myself, I continued what Jack had started and gave myself a Drive-by Truckers concert. Soon Debbie texted me a request to make beef stroganoff. We had steak left over from last night and I had a pound of ground beef thawed in the refrigerator. I returned to Yoke's for some sour cream, mushrooms, and zucchini for the mess of fried corn and other vegetables Debbie planned to make. I made the stroganoff sauce and a pot of Jasmine rice and changed the concert music from the Drive-by Truckers to Richard Thompson and then Richard and Linda Thompson.

I especially enjoyed listening to songs Richard and Linda Thompson recorded between 1974-82, remembering when Jeff Harrison first played Shoot Out the Lights for me on a trip to Oakland to see the Grateful Dead in the late 80s and I happily recalled when I brought the cd Hokey Pokey to the Wednesday night Shakespeare class in around 1994 because I thought there was something Shakespearean in the way Richard and Linda Thompson played light and dark tones off of one another in the album's title song. I never saw Richard and Linda Thompson perform together, but starting in the summer of about 1991, I went to every Richard Thompson performance I could get to in Portland and Eugene over the next six years or so and heard him one last time in Eugene about 8-10 years ago. I fondly remembered nights at the NW Service Center, Aladdin, Roseland Theater, Washington Park, The Wild Duck, and other places I heard Richard Thompson whether solo, with a band, or as a duet with bassist Danny Thompson.

3. We ate our dinner on the deck. I'd been sitting on a 22 oz bottle of peach sour ale called Peacharillo from Urban Brewing for a few months, waiting for a time when someone else who enjoys sours might help me drink it. Tonight, I got to crack it open and Meagan and Patrick helped me drink this bottle of beer. It was fun. Since moving to Kellogg, I rarely have the opportunity to drink sour ales and I enjoyed drinking it the way I most enjoy sours -- as a dessert beer.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 08-29-19: Excursion, Slow Day, Steak Dinner and Cider Dessert

1. Adrienne, Jack, Josh, Patrick, and Meagan spent the day in CdA and Spokane. Patrick, Meagan, and Jack rode horses in Hayden. They all went to downtown Spokane, rode the gondola over the Spokane Falls, looked around, and made a stop at Pilgrim's in CdA. I don't think I quite kept up as they talked about their day of everything they did, but it sounded like a full day and they seemed happy upon their return.

2. I slowed down today. I listened to JJ Cale. I worked a couple crossword puzzles. I watched some poker being played on television.

3. When everyone returned home, we got dinner preparations under way. I had texted to Patrick that I wanted to "collaborate" on preparing the steaks, but what I was really saying was that I wanted him to take over. He likes to make a mushroom sauce for steaks. He enjoys meticulously seasoning and frying steaks and giving them just the right amount of cooking/resting time. I hung around the kitchen, enjoying a couple of Imperial IPAs, one from Ninkasi and one from Widmer Bros., in case Patrick needed anything, but he handled his chef duties masterfully. Debbie roasted corn on the cob in the oven -- it was superb -- and she made a very tasty tomato (leafless) salad.

Christy gave me a 22 oz. bottle of Cinnamon Caramel Cider from One Tree back on Easter. I'd tasted this cider once before, at One Tree, with Meagan and Patrick. I was thrilled to have this bottle of hard cider, but I couldn't drink it alone and I've been waiting for the right occasion to open and split it. Tonight was the night. After dinner, Meagan, Patrick, and I were on the deck and I suggested we drink the Cinnamon Caramel Cider together as our dessert. They happily agreed to my idea and we continued our conversations and thoroughly enjoyed our cider.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 08/28/19: Hiking with Jack, Hoop Shoot with Jack, Family Night

1. This morning, I was just about to head out the door and drive to Coal Creek for a hike, when Adrienne texted me that Jack wanted to go on a hike up the mountain. I'd been hoping he'd want to hike with me during his visit; I decided to go for a simpler hike. Jack and I walked over to the the trail that leads to the high school, walked to the head of the Health and Wellness Trail, and started up the hill. As expected, Jack was walked, ran, and skipped effortlessly up the trail, waiting at each of the benches for me to catch up to him. When he was close to me, Jack kept a running commentary going about flying crickets, how the trail must have been constructed, pine cones, and grass growing near the trail. We reached the picnic table, admired the view, looked across the valley at the gondola and Jack could see where he'd been the day before. We wound our way back down the trail. Jack could hardly contain his delight as he galloped ahead of me, calling up to me at different times. We had agreed he would wait for me at the bottom of the trail and Jack kept his end of the bargain. Scroll down for pictures.

2. After our hike, Jack and I rested for a while and then we went over near Teeter's Field and shot baskets. Jack loves dribbling and has a good shot. From about six feet out and closer, he buries a lot of his heaves at the hoop. I don't remember the last time I shot a basketball and I spent a little bit of time reminding myself of a few mechanics and putting them into practice enabled me to at least get the basketball to the rim some of the time, but, truth be told, about 85% of my shots were air balls. Mostly, though, I sent bounce passes Jack's way and he enjoyed hoisting up shot after shot until suddenly he said he'd had enough. We took a short tour of Kellogg so I could show him what road the local mine adit is at the end of and we took a drive by the house on E. Portland that our family lived in before moving, in 1962, to the house I live in now.

3. While everyone else spent much of the afternoon in Wallace, I stayed in Kellogg and napped, cleaned up, and hand watered the lawns that Ethan had fertilized twenty-four hours earlier. I also picked up another order of Charly's medicine. Everyone returned from Wallace and, at 6:30, Christy and Carol came over, then Paul, and we all sat on the back deck and yakked. After this party broke up, Josh, Debbie, and I yakked some more and waited for Patrick and Meagan to arrive. They flew into Spokane around 8:20 and got to Kellogg around 10:00. More yakking ensured and we got everything straight for what would be happening on Thursday, including a steak feed. Patrick volunteered to make a sauce for the steaks so I'm looking forward to teaming up with him and Debbie to cook up a fun meal. I really like the fact that we still have all the rib eye and sirloin cuts that came with our share of the beef we bought last year and that now the perfect time has come to cook them up and that it opens the door for Patrick to let us enjoy his culinary magic.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 08/27/19: Dryer Delivered, Mattress Delivered, Dinner and Book Talk at Radio

1. While Josh, Adrienne, Jack, and Debbie rode the gondola up to the Silver Mountain ski area, I got some things done around the house and I called Sherri at Watts Appliance to get an idea of when our dryer would be delivered. True to her word, she and Brock arrived around 3:30 or so and we now have a new large capacity dryer hooked up, ready to go. And, as is their practice, Sherri and Brock moved the old one out the door.

2. Debbie had made arrangements for Patrick and Meagan, when they arrive on Wednesday, to stay with our neighbor, Jane, but Jane has a guest staying with her who fell ill. By securing one more mattress so I can sleep on the floor in the Vizio room, we can make it work for everyone to stay in our house. I got to thinking that it was possible that Carol and Paul might have an extra twin bed mattress at their house and, sure enough, I was right. So after the dryer installation, I buzzed over to Carol and Paul's and picked up the twin mattress Carol told me I could use, along with sheets and blankets, and I brought it home and got it into the house with no problem at all.

3. While I was picking up the mattress and putting it in the house, Debbie, Adrienne, Josh, and Jack were at Radio Brewing for dinner.  I was glad the house was empty when I brought the mattress home.  It just made things simpler for me. 

I joined everyone at Radio and drank a ten ounces pour of IPA and enjoyed a delicious Korean rice bowl with shrimp. During dinner, Adrienne talked about the fascinating reading she's been doing. I especially enjoyed having some conversation about Toni Morrison which brought back some great memories of the one or two times I centered the WR 123 course around the book, Beloved, and students did research projects growing out of the book's subject matter. I thought to myself that if I were still teaching and if WR 123 were still being widely offered at LCC (the course is down to one section this fall), now would be a ripe time to work with Beloved because of the surge in research and writing that has been done lately on slavery -- especially the recently published 1619 project. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 08/26/19: The Arrival, New Dryer, Beer Party

1. Debbie and I hustled around this morning, vacuuming, scrubbing, sweeping, straightening, and laundering in preparation for Adrienne, Josh, and Jack's arrival shortly after noon. At one point, I had to laugh. In the middle of it all, our dryer went on the blink. No heat. It's over twenty years old. Mom bought it at the same time that she bought her washer and hot water tank, both of which have been put to pasture and replaced. I didn't deal with the dryer right away because Adrienne, Josh, and Jack arrived shortly after noon after a long day of travel from Cottage Valley to Newark to Denver to Spokane to Kellogg. We had sloppy joes ready to eat when they arrived and we sat on the deck and had lunch together. We started to get caught up on all kinds of things.

2. Soon, there was a break in the action. Josh and Jack took a Kellogg stroll. Adrienne and Debbie rested. I vaulted into the Sube and bolted to Pinehurst to Watts Appliance and purchased a new dryer. One of the many things I like about Watts Appliance is that they are a small store with a limited number of appliances on their show floor. I wanted a gas dryer. They had two available. One was white. It was on sale. My choice was easy. Now, all I have to do is wait for the phone call from Sherri or Lawanna and PRESTO! Brock and Sherri will deliver the dryer and take the conked out one away.

3. Late in the afternoon, Adrienne took Jack upstairs to read to him, help him settle down, and possibly go to sleep. It worked. Josh, Debbie, and I got a beer party under way and split cans and bottles of beer -- some were beers Debbie had brought to Kellogg from Eugene and others were the beers from the Boise area that Rocky brought me when we had our Still Alive at 65 party up the river. It's been a while since I'd drunk a variety of beers. I loved it. We sampled IPAs, a saison, a pale ale, and wrapped up our session with a thick and tasty coffee stout. I can't begin to list all the brewers, but I can say the beers came from Boise, Camas, Yachats, St. Louis, and points in between.

As our beer party progressed, we headed out back and sat on the deck and Christy joined us. She had made two delicious loaves of zucchini bread -- one a carrot/apple loaf and the other a chocolate chip -- for Debbie and me. Fortunately, Debbie and I hadn't eaten both loaves on our own -- but we could have! -- and so the pleasure of our beer sampling was augmented by these delicious zucchini breads (and some, so I hear, addicting pretzels that Debbie bought at Yoke's that came to Kellogg from North Dakota).

I hadn't stopped doing stuff during the day to nap and, by about 8 o'clock or so, I hit the wall and hit the hay, happy to have had such a good day with family and looking forward to Adrienne, Josh, and Jack being here until Sunday.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 08/25/19: Worship at St. Luke's, Breakfast and Errands, The Johnniez Win

1. I bounced up this morning, revved up the Sube, and rumbled over the hill to Coeur d'Alene and took a seat in a back pew at St. Luke's Episcopal Church. I eased my spirit into the familiar words and rhythms of the liturgy, joined the congregation in singing some old time hymns, and absorbed the challenging readings from Jeremiah, Psalms, Hebrews, and Luke. Father David Gortner preached a superb sermon, encouraging us to quiet the voice inside each of us that tells us we are too old or unimportant or unlearned, etc. to be of service and to trust that, in fact, each of us has much to offer, especially as we unite our efforts with the spirit of the Divine.

2. After the service ended, I went to the Breakfast Nook and sat at the counter and let what I'd just experienced at church settle in. I enjoyed a breaded pork cutlet with potatoes, eggs, and toast. I had some shopping to do and wandered around Fred Meyer where I picked up a few things, shopped with purpose at Pilgrim's, and filled the Sube with gas at Costco. My mind got off track and I forgot to go to Long Ear. For some reason, listening to JJ Cale almost non-stop in the Sube has put me in the mood for listening to Mose Allison and Dr. John. I had planned on looking over the Long Ear's cds to see if either were available and I just flat forgot to stop in.

3. One of the most fun things I've done in 2019 is get involved with two fantasy baseball leagues thanks to Cas inviting me to join the leagues that are pretty much headquartered at the Inland Lounge. My team in League 1 is having a mediocre season, but my League 2 team has been on a winning streak and is in the running for a playoff berth. League 2 is a head-to-head league, with a different opponent each week. Coming into this week, my team, the Kellogg Johnniez, had won three weeks in a row. The Johnniez held a surmountable lead over my competitor coming into today's last day of the week. My opponent made some daring moves with his roster coming into Sunday as an attempt to overcome the Johnniez's lead. All day long I almost obsessively checked our leagues' information on my cell phone, seeing if the Johnniez could hang on and win for a fourth straight week.

The Johnniez did hang on. My opponent's strategy of loading up his team on Sunday with starting pitchers earned him a lot of points, but I had some hitters perform well today and I edged out a win. 

Our head-to-head league has one more week of competition before the playoffs. My Johnniez will be up against a team I've never been able to defeat. It will be another nerve wracking week for me in fantasy baseball land.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 08/24/19: VFW Breakfast, Conked Out, *Different Drummers*

1. It being the fourth Saturday of the month, I hopped into the Sube and blasted up to Osburn for the once a month Saturday morning breakfast at the VFW Hall. I enjoyed a couple huckleberry pancakes, some link sausage, and scrambled eggs. I yakked a little bit with DJ while he was busing tables, said hi to Eileen, working in the kitchen, but didn't know anyone else in the room and quietly ate my breakfast and pondered things.

2. Back home, after an hour or so, I suddenly felt groggy, wiped out and I fell into a deep sleep. For the rest of the afternoon and on into the evening, I continued to rest, occasionally nodding off. On Friday, when I hiked into Cranky Gulch, I thought I had recovered from my demanding hike into Lower Stevens Lake, but today I thought otherwise. I took it easy all day, working crosswords, watching baseball and a little golf on television, and turning down an invitation from Debbie to join her at the Lounge.

3. Spokane's public television station, KSPS, has been running a program called Northwest Profiles for many years and, through my PBS membership, I have access to the program's archive. Before I went to bed, I watched a handful of profiles of different people and organizations from around the Inland Northwest. I took a particular interest in a segment that looked a movie, filmed in Spokane, entitled Different Drummers (2013), that was written and co-directed (with Lyle Hatcher) by a Whitworth graduate, a stellar pianist and artist of many talents, Don Caron. Don Caron graduated from Whitworth the year after me. I immediately recognized his name, but I can't remember if we were ever acquainted.

If you'd like to see more information about this movie, go here. If you are an Amazon Prime subscriber, the movie is available to you. It's a family movie. It's about a boy with MS who can hear God speak to him. Some viewers place it in the Christian genre. One viewer complained that it wasn't Christian enough. I'll watch it one day and see what I think (but I won't be holding it up to any Christian litmus tests).

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Three Beautiful Thing 08-23-19: Hiking Cranky Gulch, Friday Family Dinner, Nightcap at the Lounge

1. This morning, I hadn't fully recovered from hiking to Lower Stevens Lake on Wednesday, but by early afternoon, with the temperatures moderate and a the skies partly cloudy, I took off from Kellogg and drove to the Cranky Gulch Trail.  All I really knew about this trail was that its trailhead is right at the point on the Moon Pass Road when the asphalt road becomes a gravel road and that the hike begins at a gate, visible from the road. I walked on a road for a short distance and then the trail (#39). To my left, a narrow creek whispered through the thick foliage of wild flowers, berry bushes, and a variety of trees. Its sound calmed me, but the vegetation was so thick, I rarely got a clear view of the creek, a tributary of Placer Creek. The trail steepened gradually as I progressed. It had rained Thursday in Shoshone County. I quickly realized that I wouldn't be taking creek pictures, but that I could take close-up shots of flowers, leaves spotted with water drops, and berries.  You can see some pictures at the bottom of this post.

Because I was still recovering from Wednesday's hike, I decided to hike this trail for about an hour going out and then turn around and return to the Sube. I enjoyed this hour on the Cranky Gulch Trail a lot. The trail's lushness invited me to look at things growing very close to me. Rarely was I able to gaze very far away. My guess is that vistas unfold as the trail winds higher into the mountains, but I didn't get that far and enjoyed the feeling of being closed in by the copious variety of trees, berry bushes, and other plant life thriving all around me.

2.  After I enjoyed a small pour of Hisbicus Gose at Radio Brewing while Debbie sipped on a glass of red wine, we headed to Carol and Paul's for a rare Friday evening family dinner. Carol treated us each to a mojito garnished with mint from the Roberts' garden and before long she brought out a beautiful grilled salad featuring a variety of vegetables she and Paul harvested from their many beds. For a main course, we had slow cooked pork, jalapeno heated cole slaw, and tumeric rice served with small flour tortillas within which we could wrap any combination of the foods before us. The meal was refreshingly light and simple, tasty and satisfying, healthy and nourishing.

3. After dinner, Debbie and I stopped in at the Inland Lounge. The place was just emptying out as we arrived and our visit was a quiet and relaxing one. Jim O'Reilly and Harley and Candy Birchmeir came in after wrapping up another successful burger night at the Elks and I learned that Jim had made a most impressive debut as the evening's grill master, subbing for Keith, and had handled the demands of cooking up ninety-seven burgers with skill and grace.

*Here are some pictures from my Cranky Gulch hike. I also posted an album of Cranky Gulch pictures on flickr, here.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 08/22/19: Hiking at 65, Oblivion, Rice Salad Dinner

1. Today was a day of recovery after yesterday's hike into Lower Stevens Lake. My muscles weren't sore, I'm happy to say, but I was tired and needed to get recharged. I spent time in flickr and at YouTube and in some hikers' blogs looking at video and pictures and reading others' accounts of their hikes into Lower Stevens Lake and, for some, their hikes on up to Upper Stevens Lake and to Stevens Peak. Looking at the images, listening to commentary on the video, and reading different peoples' accounts divided my mind.

On the one hand, all of them confronted me with what it means for me to be sixty-five years old and trudging into the mountains. These hikers were all anywhere from twenty to forty years younger than me. Some wrote about the hike being a relatively short one. None of them showed much sign of strain as they blazed up the trail. One video showed two hikers making the trek in deep snow, one without snowshoes.  My experience contrasted starkly with these younger hikers. To me, this was not a short hike. The hike caused me some of degree of strain almost every step.

While on the hike Wednesday, Byrdman and I briefly encountered two separate young women on the trail. I never saw one of the women going up, but as she came down after a brief stay at the lake, she looked fresh, unfazed by the hike. The other woman passed me going up and she glided up the mountain. I have no idea what she looked like. She became an abstract picture of youth and fitness and ease as she swooshed by me. As I continued to stagger up the trail, she was on her descent and, again, I marveled at how smoothly and elegantly she slipped by me on the trail.

I suppose, seeing these younger hikers online and in person, I could have beweeped my outcast state and troubled deaf heaven with bootless cries and looked upon myself and wished myself to be more rich in youth, trim and effortless like her, or boundlessly energetic like the young guys online.

But, I didn't.

No. I thought good for me. I love the splendor of the natural world. I'm not going to let limited lung capacity, being overweight, my heart knocking at my ribs, and a body easily heated up stop me from feeling the awe of the towering larch and pine trees, being soothed by the songs of Willow Creek, admiring the chaos and remarkable stability of the talus, or enjoying the undisturbed cerulean tranquility of Lower Stevens Lake.  Do I dream of one day reaching a level of fitness that makes these hikes less of a strain? You bet I do. I also know that that dream may never come true, but I'm not going to stop hiking just because it wears me out.

2. I had the house to myself starting about 1 p.m. I started to fade. I lay down and fell into an abyss of sleep, a sweet and restorative oblivion, for nearly an hour.

3. For dinner tonight, I returned to one of my favorite meals. I fixed a pot of jasmine rice, let it cool, and put it in a bowl. I blended olive oil into the rice and then added cucumber, red wine vinegar, cilantro, sweet red and orange pepper, almonds, garbanzo beans, Kalamata olives, olive brine, fresh lemon juice, and feta cheese, stirred it, and enjoyed eating this flavorful rice salad.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 08/21/19: Ascending to Lower Stevens Lake, The Lake, The Descent

1. Right around 8:00 Byrdman and his two Pomeranians picked me up and we headed south and east of Mullan to the Stevens Lake trailhead, to undertake one of the most popular and arresting hikes in North Idaho -- or just about anywhere, I imagine. I had been so buzzed about this hike when I went to bed on Tuesday night that I didn't really fall into a steady sleep until after 1:00 a.m. My mind was racing in anticipation of taking this hike and wondering if I could meet its challenges.

Over the last several days, I read as much about this hike as I could find. Two challenges stood out to me. It's a steep hike and it requires maneuvering through a talus slope. But, I also knew that much of the hike was in shaded forested territory, that I'd see a variety of remarkable waterfalls, and that I would get to trek through a meadow thick with wildflowers and other foliage.

Almost from the get go, first the old rocky road and then the single-track rocky trail ascending the mountain was steep. Occasionally, the trail leveled out -- like in the meadow --, but for the most part, for me, this hike was a lung burner and a heart pounder. Early on, Byrdman spotted a sturdy stick nearly six feet long on the side of the trail and recommended I try it out as a hiking/walking stick. I eagerly accepted his recommendation. Little did I know, at the time, that the rocky trail and our treks through the talus slope would continually challenge my sense of balance. The hiking stick gave me a way to anchor myself, to plan how I would negotiate the many testy spots on the trail where I had to climb up rock steps, climb through the talus where the trail was nothing but big rocks, and deal with rocks and roots jutting out of the ground.

I hiked this trail slowly. I rested a lot, sometimes not walking more than twenty or thirty feet between rests. I hydrated frequently. I have seen pictures over the years of last place finishers in marathons or at Bloomsday who stagger across the finish line, having finished several hours behind the race's leaders. Sometimes these spent runners have to be carried to the finish. Well, I didn't have to ask Byrdman to pack me those last yards to the shore of Lower Stevens Lake, but as I maintained my slow, sometimes steady, but often stop and go pace, I felt like one of those last place runners. Luckily, I wasn't in a race. I had no need to hurry. My frequent resting stops gave me ample occasion to admire the thickly forested mountain sides, the stunning rock formations growing out of other slopes, and the staggering variety of the trail itself: towering old trees, wildflowers, the rush of Willow Creek, waterfalls, the huge irregularly shaped gray rocks on the talus slope, rocks looking ready at any time to resume their tumble down the mountainside, but not moving, providing us a remarkably stable passage through this part of the trail.

2. Had there not been a perfectly calm, sapphire lake, sitting in the bottom of an alpine cirque at the end of this trail, I would have been perfectly happy with this hike and its grandeur.

But, after one final push up one more incline, Lower Stevens Lake suddenly appeared. The driftwood logs on the shore were perfect seats and I plopped myself down on one. Byrdman had arrived at the lake quite a ways ahead of me and he'd found a stick to toss in the water for one of the dogs to swim out to and retrieve. I sat and marveled at the undisturbed surface of the lake, at the mountain slopes growing straight up out of Lower Stevens Lake, at the number of logs submerged in the water, and towering presence of Stevens Peak hovering to our south. I marveled. I drank water. I ate trail mix and an apple. Byrdman's dogs delighted me. Byrdman and I yakked.

If I were about twenty years younger, I would have loved to have hiked to Upper Stevens Lake. Once there, I would have enjoyed contemplating a scramble up to the top of Stevens Peak.

But, alas, I am what I am and making it to Lower Stevens Lake was enough work for one day. If someone could have helicoptered me in a tent and a camp stove and some food, I would have enjoyed camping here for the night, waking up to this lake, and done a little more exploring after a good night's sleep. Since none of that could happen, I was more than happy after about 45-60 minutes on the shore, to head back down the trail.

3. The descent from Lower Stevens Lake challenged me in different ways than the ascent. I gained traction and kept my balance by descending the steep trails slowly and by relying on my hiking stick. As I descended back through the talus slope, the sun's heat reflected off the rocks, making that part of the hike hot and demanding for me. At the end of the trek through the talus, the trail crosses West Willow Creek at a waterfall. The waterfall drops over a descending series of rock formations, making the water look like a series of spider webs coming down the mountain. I think it would be called a cascade waterfall, similar to, but not quite as dramatic as Proxy Falls near the summit of McKenzie Pass in Oregon. Waterfalls are the best air conditioners in nature. Crossing the creek, standing on its rocks and facing this waterfall cooled me off, revived me and I was ready to make my way back through the meadow and on to the forested area down below a ways.

In the forest, there's a makeshift camp site with pieces of log placed upright on the ground and a cleared out area for a campfire. It's a dark and generously shaded spot. Byrdman had stopped here to rest and I caught up to him. Even after cooling off in front of the waterfall, I was getting lathered up again and gratefully welcomed taking a rest in this area.

We resumed our descent. I continued to be cautious and slow, lagging well behind Byrdman. The single track ended and I started down the road. Hiking down this road was the easiest section of the descent, most of the time, but it seemed a longer stretch going down than it did going up. I succeeded in pushing back fears that I had taken a wrong turn somewhere, assured by the comforting sounds of Willow Creek to my left, that I was on the right track. About ten or fifteen minutes after my doubts started to rise up in me, off in the near distance I saw Byrdman, learned he had finished about fifteen minutes before I did, and I piled back into Byrdman's truck and we headed home.

I thought a lot about this hike for the rest of the afternoon and evening. Primarily, I imagined myself coming back, bringing my camera, and hiking sections of this trail -- I could see myself just going up the road as far as there is easy access through the woods to Willow Creek and going off road and just exploring the creek and its waterfalls. I could imagine hiking as far as the makeshift campground or ending a hike after going through the meadow and stopping at the cascade waterfall. I could have some very good hours on this trail without going to its end -- this is all I've done on Coal Creek so far and I enjoy partial hikes on the Pulaski Trail. That said, I've seen some pictures of Lower Stevens Lake in the autumn and on a clear cool October day, I'd love to go back to the lake and see those brilliant colors on the mountainside for myself.

Here are some pictures from Byrdman's cell phone. You can see me in the meadow, Stevens Peak, Jim and me at the lake shore, and one of the waterfalls on Willow Creek.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 08/20/19: Resting Up, Coal Creek on flickr, Crossword Puzzles

1. It was a restful Tuesday today. On Wednesday (Aug 21st), Byrdman and I have plans to hike into Lake Stevens. From everything I've read about the trail, it will be the most strenuous hike I've undertaken in many years. I've tried to prepare for it by doing some uphill hiking, trying to build my wind, cardio strength, and leg muscles. I want to be fresh for this hike, so no hiking today. Just resting.

2. I uploaded onto flickr just over thirty-five of the pictures I took on Monday on the Coal Creek trail. If you'd like to look them over, just click here

3. While taking it easy today, when I wasn't looking at pictures I've snapped, I mostly worked crossword puzzles. I put on the American Legion championship baseball game between Idaho Falls and Fargo, but it was suspended by rain and will resume on Wednesday morning.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 08/19/19: Hiking Mindset, Photographing Coal Creek, Evening with the Costas

1.  I am discovering that my mindset is important to me as I set out to hike. I'd say that starting back in June, I considered every hike a workout -- I was thinking of hitting the trails as going to the gym. That mindset works in one very important way: I am hiking about five times a week because I think regular exercise might help me fend off kidney dialysis. I am feeling really good and hiking helps me continue to feel good.

Recently, though, I've turned my attention away from the workout mindset and my hikes have become much more about enjoying the splendor of the woods and the water, the low lying foliage and the towering trees, the shade and the cool air, and the relaxation of being in the midst of the natural world. My hikes have become less about racking up steps and racking up miles. I've been hiking less with a physical destination in mind and, instead, have been deciding how much time I'm going to spend outdoors on a given day. For some reason, saying "I'm going to spend three hours on Coal Creek Trail today" instead of saying "I'm going to hike to the end of Coal Creek Trail today" has put me in a better mindset to take pictures. I've enjoyed that.

2. So, around 2:00 this afternoon, trusting in the shady coolness of the Coal Creek Trail on this fairly hot day, I returned to Coal Creek and told Debbie I'd be back home around 4:30. I hiked as far as the bridge which crosses the creek. It's at this landmark that the trail ascends into higher elevations and the hike becomes more strenuous. Some time soon, I'll give myself something more like five or so hours, get an earlier start, and hike to the end of the Coal Creek Trail. But, today, I hiked this trail for the first time with my Sigma 18-200mm lens mounted on my Nikon. I stopped frequently to take pictures. Because Coal Creek is so mesmerizing, it's tempting to only photograph the different moods of the water. I did that. I also gave more attention to pictures that didn't include the water. At the bottom of this page, I'll post some of my pictures.

I have a lot to learn about taking pictures in drainages like Placer and Coal Creek and others. When I returned home today, I discovered that for a handful of my shots, my shutter speed was too slow and the pictures were blurry. I am learning I have work to do in dealing with the varieties of light in these creek beds. I look forward to returning to the Pulaski Trail and to Coal Creek (and to other creekside trails). I hope to continue to learn how to take better pictures in these places. 

3. Christy, Debbie, and I went over to Dick and Renae Costa's condo this evening for a few hours of cocktails, snacks, and a delicious sloppy Joe dinner. Christy and I have known Dick for as long as we have memory. Dick Costa, Sr. and our dad were great friends. I was remembering tonight that the very first World Series game I ever saw on television was in 1961 at the Costa home when the Yankees played the Reds. I also have fuzzy memories of a camping/fishing trip our family went on with the Costas and others. Did we go up Senator Creek? I'm not sure. I think I remember Mom being very nervous about riding on the narrow bumpy dirt roads that were on the edge of steep banks in the CdA River drainage. I have a picture somewhere of Dad and me next to a case of Lucky Lager beer in the woods and I've always thought this picture was taken on this trip.

Christy and I go back about forty-six years with Renae -- she moved to Kellogg in 1973 and taught with Mom at Silver King and, later, she and Christy both taught in Kellogg School District #391. When we get together, a lot of friendly ghosts are at the table with us. Mom and Dad, Dick and Onnie (sp?), teachers from when we were young who have passed away, and, it seems, scores of people from around Kellogg and the Silver Valley whom Dick, Renae, Christy, and I knew. So, tonight, my concentration was on the present and what's happening with all of us in 2019. At the same time, I was also living in the past, experiencing rushes of memories and scenes that occurred long ago.

* Here are some pictures from the Coal Creek Trail, #41:

Monday, August 19, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 08/18/19: Short Hike, Before the Premier, Carol and Paul on the Big Screen

1. Often when I hike, I recover later in the day by napping. Today, we had a full late afternoon and evening planned in Coeur d'Alene around the premier of the locally produced movie, Across Bank Street Portal to the Clockworld. I hiked today. I got some exercise and some pleasure going up and down the Health and Wellness Trail, but that's all I did. When I returned home, I was watching the BMW Golf Championship on television and even though my outing had only been forty-five minutes long, I nodded off.

2.  I stayed awake for the rest of the day, as I hoped I would!  Debbie and I piled into the Sube and rocketed over the pass to CdA and were in the company of the movie's cast, production crew, and director for dinner at Azteca. Outside, cast member Gordon Turner interviewed people involved with the movie on a red carpet. The interviews are posted on Facebook. When I returned home, I watched Carol, and then, Paul, be interviewed. Their faces were flush with excitement. They were having a lot of fun.

3. The movie played in theater #14 at the Regal Cinema at Riverstone. It was fun to see Carol play the role of Pemphredo, the last Stygian witch, to see Paul alternate between playing Captain Hook and Mr. Peach, and to see both of them on a real movie screen. The movie was filmed mostly in the Silver Valley, primarily in and around Wallace, and I enjoyed seeing different locales on screen, especially the shots in the woods and of local waterways.  A few scenes occurred at Carol and Paul's house, so their house and yard, as it looked about two years ago before the recent paint job, are memorialized on film now forever!

I don't think any other screenings are scheduled, at least not in the near future, but I do think Carol and Paul will get a DVD copy of the movie. I had trouble sorting out the story on this first viewing this evening. Maybe I'd understand the plot better if I watched it again at home -- and maybe have Carol or Paul explain some things to me. This is a fantasy/zombie movie. It's not a genre of movie I ever watch, so I wondered if it might have been easier to understand for people with more experience watching this kind of story.

The movie is registered at  If you'd like to look at the names of all who contributed to its making and see about a half a dozen still pictures from the movie, just click here.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 08/17/19: Resting, Improvised Dinner, Blues Music

1. All day, my legs felt heavy and rubbery. I was tired. I rested all day. On Friday, I took nearly 40 black and white pictures on the Coal Creek Trail and, today, as I always do, I posted all of them on flickr. Some looked pretty good to me. Some of them looked better to me on flickr -- a pleasant surprise -- than they had when I first viewed them and others just didn't work very well. If you'd like to survey these pictures, the ones that worked and the ones that didn't, just click here.

2. I had much of the day to myself. I worked crossword puzzles. I cleaned the kitchen. I listened to more JJ Cale, read a little more about his style of music, and, eventually, I cooked myself a simple and delicious dinner of sauteed red onion, zucchini, celery, and mushroom over jasmine rice. In the middle of it all, I added a layer of two teaspoons of Kalamata olive dip, and topped it all with feta cheese.

3. Listening to JJ Cale prompted me to learn more about the blues, so I watched a couple of shows on Amazon Prime. The first was entitled The Story of the Blues. I'll look for other similar documentaries and watch this one more. The second was a documentary that tried to figure out how Portland and Eugene developed such vigorous blues scenes, especially in the 1980s and early 1990s. It's called Portland Mojo: How Stumptown Got the Blues and featured interviews with and performances by such Portland/Eugene blues luminaries as Bill Rhoades, Curtis Salgado, Paul deLay, Lloyd Jones, Paul Jones, Terry Robb, and several others. I enjoyed hearing all the stories and hearing bits of these musicians' music. If I could go back in time, I would return to Eugene and spend time at the Good Times, Luna's, WOW Hall, The Place, Taylors, and other venues that featured these musicians and listen to them. But, I was preoccupied with other pursuits back then, was going out listening to other kinds of live music, and never entered into the world of local blues music.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 08/16/19: Firefighters at Sam's, Three Hours at Coal Creek, Relaxing at the Lounge

1. West of Kellogg about 12-15 miles and about two miles north and east of Cataldo a fire broke about a week and half ago or so. A good sized crew of fire fighters were called in. Starting last Friday (Aug. 9), the local weather cooled off and rainstorms blew in for about three days and by the end of  this week, the fire was 100% contained.

I bring this up because as Brian, Jerry, Ed, and I were enjoying our regularly scheduled Friday morning breakfast, about thirty or more fire fighters descended upon Sam's. I've never seen Sam's so busy at 6:30 in the morning. It was an impressive sight. Young men and a couple of women calmly waiting while the the staff at Sam's scrambled to get water and coffee on the firefighters' tables, take their orders, and get the breakfasts cooked and served.

Once again, I got to add to my growing list of examples why I do not join in when discussions turn toward denigrating the youth of today. Again and again, the young people I encounter impress me deeply.

2. My legs felt a little rubbery after yesterday's two-a-day. This morning I decided to go to the Shoshone Medical Center and have my monthly vial of blood drawn and sent to Spokane and I bought some groceries and supplies at Yoke's. These tasks gave my legs a chance to rest.

The temperatures were moderate -- low 70s -- and, while I was over in the non-(human)food section picking up toilet paper, dishwasher pellets, and dog food, I suddenly thought I'd go to Coal Creek this afternoon and instead of having a destination to try to reach, I'd stay on the trail for about three hours.

So, that's what I did.

I reached the trailhead around 1:30. I had told Debbie I'd be back to town between 4:30 and 5:00 (I got back at 5:00). I set out, decided to take black and white pictures on this hike, and I got as far as I could by about 3:30, taking plenty of time to snap shots and stopping to rest often, especially as the trail left the creek bed and started to ascend into the mountains.

I don't know how far I hiked today. My pedometer crapped out on Thursday. I stopped often to rest and let my breathing and heart rate settle down as I hiked uphill. I also stopped to marvel at the beauty of the Coal Creek watershed. Old trees grow tall out of the area near the creek and along the banks. The higher up the trail I hiked, the more it seemed like I was in the tree tops, a stirring feeling. Down below, Coal Creek spilled over a variety of rock formations, creating waterfalls, and the higher I climbed the more the creek was running alongside rugged rock faces. When I'm hiking a single track trail like this with rocks and tree roots sticking out and with a steep bank immediately to my right (going uphill), I focus on the trail, careful not to trip over the minor obstacles in the trail.

Because in the midst of this splendor, I'm in a world that invites me to turn my gaze out, down the banks, and around the tree tops to enjoy the stunning sights all around me, stopping often gives me time to safely take in all the sublimity. I was very happy that I didn't have a goal for reaching a certain place within my time frame. I enjoyed hiking slowly, sitting on mossy rocks and old logs, giving my respiratory system a break, and taking in the rushing sounds of the creek and the sights of its magnificent home.

3.  Back in Kellogg, I needed some time to rest my legs, cool down, and hydrate.

Before too terribly long, the time felt right for Debbie and me to go up to the Lounge. I ordered myself a Makers Mark and ginger ale and took a seat at the end of the bar next to Renae Costa. Debbie joined us. Renae and I yakked about a lot of stuff, revisiting the days over forty-five years ago when Renae first arrived in Kellogg and carpooled to school with Mom. After school every day, Renae waited a few minutes while Mom popped into Stein's to buy Dad a six pack of 16 oz Heidelberg beers. Renae told me this evening that she used to marvel that Dad would drink that much beer in a single evening. He did. And sometimes more. It was fun thinking back to those days in Kellogg. I was in and out of town at that time, going to college, but living with Mom and Dad in the summers until the fall of 1976 when I worked in Spokane and then, three years later, moved to Eugene. Kellogg and the stories I heard were never far away, though, and it was a lot of fun reliving some of those times tonight before heading back home before 9:00.

*** It has been too long since I took pictures in black and white only. I was rusty today and, having reviewed my pictures, I have a lot to think about regarding shots I attempted that didn't work. Nonetheless, I thought I'd post some of my pictures from today, no matter what I think of them -- and, I'll admit, in a place as verdant as Coal Creek, I might have been nuts to shoot in black and white, but I think there are a lot of great monochrome shots in that watershed waiting to be taken.  I look forward to returning and seeing if I can improve.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 08/15/19: Two-a-Days, Golf at Medinah, Hike #2

1. Byrdman and I have a hike planned for this coming Wednesday that, from my reading about it, sounds more strenuous than any hike I've gone on this summer. To help get ready for it, today I decided to go back to my freshman year in high school, the only year I turned out for football (I hated it). We started the season in late summer of 1968 with two-a-day practices. I decided to try to prepare myself for Wednesday's hike by putting myself through a hiking two-a-day today.

This morning, I hiked up the Health and Wellness Trail, took a rest at the picnic table, and then continued on up the steep slope to the road I hike to when I want to end up in Vergobbi Gulch. Instead of walking this road and its much gentler descent, I hiked back down the steep trail I'd ascended, seeing how my balance and my knees and feet would hold up coming down the grade I had just climbed up. I did fine.

I'm learning more and more about how to hike steep trails in relation to my age and level of fitness. I am finally coming to full realize that I'm not in my thirties and forties any longer and that I cannot ascend these trails briskly. I'm also finding that if I make frequent short stops and breathe in and out 10-20 times standing still and then continue upward, that my body performs much better. I just cannot think about speed -- what I'm learning about myself as a 65 year old hiker out of practice, but getting in better shape, is that if I try to rush myself, I more quickly fatigue myself, but that if I hike slow and steady and stop to catch my breath multiple times, before my lungs are screaming for air, I do much better.

2. Back home, after my hike, I relaxed and rested my legs by watching the first round of the BMW Championship at Medinah Country Club. My brother-in-law, Brian, is a member of Medinah and is working this tournament as a volunteer. I kept my eyes peeled whenever I looked up from the crossword puzzle I was working on to see if I might catch a glimpse of him, but, so far, no luck.

3. Around 6:30, I returned to the trail and worked again on climbing uphill and back down. As far as temperature is concerned, my timing was very good. The trail was shaded and the cool North Idaho air of evening was beginning to move in. I still worked up a pretty good sweat, but I was never overheated, a condition I don't deal well with at all. I hiked close to the spot where I had hiked to in the morning. Darkness was falling. I wanted to get off the hill before dark, so I cut my hike just a little bit short. I thought I handled the upward grade better this evening. My way of hiking short distances and taking frequent short rest and breath catching stops worked really well. I thought I handled my descent better this evening than in the morning as I managed, somehow, to feel less strain on my knees.

When coming down a steep trail, I am always concerned about how my big toes will respond. Inevitably, I jam my toes into the front of my shoes while descending and both my big toes can become easily angered by any number of stimuli. But, not today. When I returned home, I was ready to sit and drink two or three cans of seltzer water and my toes were happy, unbothered by what I put them through today.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 08/14/19: Rest, Reading More Travel Writing, Crosswords

1.  Over the years, I've read that days of rest are important to physical health, interspersed with days of exercise. Today, my legs felt heavy and I felt sluggish after my hike on Monday and my bike ride on Tuesday. I took a day off to rest and regenerate.

2. With every piece I read, I am increasingly happy that I bought The Best American Travel Writing 2018. Here's a list of what I read today. 

I read Ryan Knighton's, "Out of Sight". Knighton is blind and his account of going on a safari in Zimbabwe is fascinating. It's here (under a different title).

Pam Houston recently published a new book, Deep Creek: Finding Hope in the High Country. The collection of travel writing I'm reading includes "Some Kind of Calling", the introduction to Houston's book. In it, Houston tells about her decision, in 1993, to buy the ranch where she's lived ever since. It's in the Colorado high country, near the headwaters of the Rio Grande River. Houston writes about how she has come to understand this turning point in her life over twenty years later. It's right here.

Rabih Alameddine, in "Hope and Home" describes and reflects upon his several visits with Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Greece. I wish this piece were published online. It's a striking portrayal of displaced people working to establish some kind of normalcy, largely through hospitality, in the midst of terrible loss and suffering.

Ryan Manning grew up in Flint, Michigan and chronicles his return to Flint, his personal history there, and digs into how the water crisis Flint is experiencing has its roots in the city's complicated history with the auto industry. It's here.

3. Tuesday, I ordered a book of 200 Wednesday (medium level of difficulty) New York Times crossword puzzles. It arrived today. I completed three puzzles today, adding to my day's rest and relaxation.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 08/13/19: Aimlessness, Biking to Big Creek, JJ Cale and Leon Russell

1. I thought a lot today about how much I miss wandering around aimlessly, whether on bicycle, while walking, or while hiking. When I was in my thirties, for example, I used to ride my bicycle aimlessly around Eugene. Sometimes I just whizzed along the Williamette River; other times I rode up and down streets south of the University of Oregon, thinking about stuff, but without a destination; sometimes I'd stop in at the Beanery for coffee or drop into a bookstore, say Black Sun, and browse; some days I was lucky and someone I knew would be out watering or sitting on a porch or out for a walk and we'd talk for a while. I often felt like a boy again, riding my bicycle just to do it, not for exercise, but because I enjoyed venturing aimlessly out in the place where I lived.

More recently, I used to do a lot of aimless walking in Eugene, often with my camera, taking pictures of easy chairs, sofas, benches, and other things to sit on in people's yards or on their porches and other subjects; sometimes I headed in a direction, say north, and ended up at Delta Ponds, not having planned to do so; often it was on these aimless walks that I checked out new businesses I'd read or heard about. I enjoyed taking similar walks in neighborhoods in Washington, D. C. For some reason, I enjoyed parking the Sube, on occasion, in the Brookland neighborhood. I walked aimlessly around it and sometimes ventured on out into what I think is called the Catholic Triangle to gawk at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception or wonder what it would be like to study at Trinity Washington University or at the Catholic University of America and live in this part of the city.

A couple of days ago, I panted and gasped my way to the top of the hill behind the hospital and the trail forked. I knew if I followed the right fork that eventually I'd starting winding down an old rough road and end up in Vergobbi Gulch. That's what I did. But, I wondered if the left fork might be the juncture in the trail where the two guys I talked to in June at the Health and Wellness trailhead went and wondered if that trail eventually went to Graham Mountain. When I was younger, I would have explored where the unknown trail went, confident in my energy, unconcerned about getting to a point where I'd have to backtrack and return, and excited by the notion that I might make some kind of discovery.

Right now, I don't trust that I have the energy to go wandering somewhat aimlessly into unknown territory. Especially when hiking alone, I am careful to stick to the plan I set out with, the plan I shared with either my sisters or with Debbie. I am concerned that something could happen while I'm hiking alone. If something happened after I decided to do some youthful aimless wandering and I didn't return home when I said I would, no one would know where to look for me.

2. I thought about all of this wandering on a bicycle ride today. After enjoying lox, capers, and cream cheese on a plain bagel with a couple glasses of water at the Bean, I pedaled east from there to the trailhead on the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes at Big Creek -- it's called the Shont Trailhead -- and back home.  This ride from my house and back was, at most nine miles -- probably closer to 8.5 miles. It's a gentle uphill climb from Kellogg to Shont (Big Creek) and my progress was (discouragingly) slow. I wanted to leave the trail and pedal aimlessly for a while around Elizabeth Park, but I didn't trust that I had the energy to do so -- I think this was the moment that got my mind thinking so much about my younger days, my stores of energy as a younger person, and aimless biking, walking, and hiking. 

I found a shady spot at a picnic table at the Shont trailhead, hydrated, and read a fascinating essay, "We Go It Alone" by Rahawa Haile. It was published in the book I bought at Shakespeare and Co. in Missoula, The Best American Travel Writing, 2018. Haile's essay explores her experience and her reflections as a black woman thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail in 2016. Her essay is online, right here. (Even if you don't read the essay, check out the picture of Rahawa Haile at the top of the essay. It's a stunning shot on the Appalachian Trail.)

3. Back home, I eventually settled into the Vizio room, hoping that one of my television content sources might have the JJ Cale documentary, To Tulsa and Back: On Tour with JJ Cale, available. No such luck, but one way or another, I'll get my hands on the DVD. I did discover, however, that Amazon Prime carries JJ Cale: In Session at Paradise Studio. It runs about eighty minutes, without commentary, and is a 1979 session featuring JJ Cale, Leon Russell, Christine Lakeland, Larry Bell, and other musicians playing a string of JJ Cale songs in Leon Russell's Paradise Studio.

I was mesmerized by JJ Cale's playing, his singing, his songwriting and loved the sound of this group of musicians. I loved hearing Leon Russell, not only playing different keyboards, but singing both solo and along with JJ Cale. If you'd like to take a peek at this session, it's available on YouTube, right here

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 08/12/19: Hiking with Turkeys, Map Studies, Tracy's Souvenir!

1.  Today I was determined to hike beyond the picnic table on the hospital's Health and Wellness Trail and huff and puff my way to the top of the hill and then make my way to the old road that winds down to Vergobbi Gulch. I did it. Because it was a remarkably cool August day, I didn't have to get out the door really early, so it was after 11:00 when I set out, and, to my delight and relief, the temperature barely rose while I was on the trail, making the hard work of humping up that hill not only bearable, but enjoyable. The thing I enjoy most about getting stronger, little by little, is that my focus is less on the chaos of my heart thumping and my lungs screaming for air and much more on the beauty of my surroundings.

Today I had moments of being enclosed by pine trees and wild shrubs, making it seem as if Kellogg had disappeared and I was enveloped in the sweet smells of wild berries -- I don't know what they are -- and other fragrant plants. I wasn't alone in enjoying this world above Kellogg. Over the course of my hike, over a dozen wild turkeys were my companions. I marveled at how deftly and effortlessly they scampered straight up the hill. It made me think back to when I was in grade school and used to scramble effortlessly up the side of this hill on the Mission Avenue side. I didn't know how fortunate I was not to need a trail, but with my youthful agility and energy could zoom right up these hills. My efforts these days are a far cry from zooming!

2. When I got home, I spent a lot of time studying the area where I'd been hiking. I studied my CdA National Forest Map and logged onto Google Earth. I wish I could go back in time to late June. I was waiting at the top of the steps rising out of the hospital parking lot for Byrdman to arrive. Two guys showed up and told me they were setting off for Graham Mountain. At that moment, I didn't think much of their plan, but in the weeks since then, I've become increasingly curious about their route and, with the map I have and with the help of Google Earth, I can't quite figure out what they must have done. I have some ideas, but no certainty. I'll go out to the Ranger Station one of these days and see what information is out there and talk with someone. Right now, I doubt it's a hike I'm in good enough shape to try myself, but, still, I'd like to learn more about what those lads must have done that day. 

By the way, the pleasure of my map studies was greatly enhanced by listening to the album by Eric Clapton and Friends (Tom Petty, Willie Nelson, Mark Knopfler, Don White, and others) called The Breeze: An Appreciation of JJ Cale. They recorded this album after JJ Cale died and it's a superb collection of JJ Cale songs covered exquisitely by Clapton and this handful of other artists.

3. Cas and Tracy and Seth and Angie finished their weekend barnstorming tour of L. A. baseball parks tonight. After seeing games on Saturday and Sunday at Dodger Stadium, tonight they were at Angel Stadium of Anaheim to watch the Pirates play the Angels. Well, as good fortune would have it, this game was my free game of the day on my smart tv's MLB television app, so I settled in and pretended I was there watching the game with them.

I knew where those guys' seats were -- Cas had described them to me soon after he purchased them earlier this summer. In the bottom of the first inning, with two out, Justin Upton hit a fly ball to center. Starling Marte calmly camped under it, caught it, and flipped the ball into the stands behind him.

The camera didn't follow the flight of his flip into the seats, but I immediately wondered if he'd flipped that baseball anywhere close to where I knew Cas and Tracy and Seth and Angie were sitting. I knew he'd flipped it in their vicinity.

Well, sure enough, a little while later Cas texted me a picture of Tracy holding a baseball. Starling Marte flipped her that ball! If only the camera operator had decided to show the entire flight of Marte's flip -- all those watching could have seen Tracy make a fine catch and we all could have seen the Lounge well represented at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. 

Monday, August 12, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 08/11/19: Catching Up, Shoes and Toes, JJ Cale Day

1. While I was in Missoula and when I returned to Kellogg late Saturday afternoon, I didn't post 3BTs on my blog, so today I spent much of the day writing, uploading pictures, and getting caught up. I had no reason to hurry. I had no reason to write short entries. I had fun blabbing on about stuff and putting more pictures up.

2. I enjoyed the testimonies and advice I received today from many friends about hiking shoes/boots. I'll figure this out one day, but I am hyper-cautious about buying a pair because the last pair I bought several years ago felt fine in the store, but turned out to be the very pair of shoes that first inflamed, swelled, and enraged my big toes. A few pairs of other shoes have done the same since -- but not the type of New Balance shoes I've been wearing for the last four years and which New Balance has stopped making. I'll keep looking, trying shoes on, and hoping for the best.

3. I continued to immerse myself in JJ Cale today:  interviews, songs on cd, solo performances on YouTube, performances on YouTube with Eric Clapton, and interviews with both Eric Clapton and JJ Cale side by side, and posthumous interviews with Eric Clapton about JJ Cale.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 08/10/19: Hiking Woods Gulch, Hours of Vitality in Missoula, JJ Cale and Others Carry Me Home

1. I popped out of bed around 7 o'clock and went straight to the kitchen and put the Mr. Coffee to work, drank a cup, and headed out the door and walked a half a mile or so to the Woods Gulch trailhead and started up the trail. I wanted to get back downtown in Missoula soon and wanted to save my energy for walking in town, so I knew I wouldn't go a long way on this trail. I hope to return someday, though, and hike more of it. It starts along a small creek. The creek is completely obscured by the thick vegetation growing along its banks, but I could hear it whispering all along the early part of the hike. Before long, the trail made a turn, crossed the creek, and started uphill. I enjoyed the surrounding hills and mountains coming into clearer view the higher I climbed and, even though forest fires burned in the general vicinity, the air felt clean and cool and bracing. I began to get a little warm as I continued uphill and took this as a sign that I should return to the trailhead and then on up the hill to the house where I was staying on Madera Drive.

Pictures are posted below.

2. Since I was staying in the general area of Upper Rattlesnake, very near the Rattlesnake Recreation and Wilderness Area, I decided on my way back into Missoula to have a plate of corned beef hash with eggs and sourdough toast at the welcoming, neighborhood-y Rattlesnake Market and Cafe. My breakfast was splendid: the portions were modest (just the way I like), the corned beef hash was not out of a can (a rare treat) and the service was friendly and efficient. I enjoyed the steady stream of regulars popping in to purchase paper cups of coffee. People knew the owner well enough to joke around, tell short stories, get caught up on local news and gossip, and be on their way.

Once in town, I parked on Fifth Street close to the Hip Strip. I strolled up Higgins to the Shakespeare and Co. bookstore where I spent time reading about hikes in a couple of Missoula hiking books, a few selected poems by Richard Hugo located in Missoula, and some bits from Best American Travel Writing 2018, a book I purchased. Shakespeare and Co. is just the kind of bookstore that discourages me from ever buying books online. It's independent. It's smartly stocked with a superb variety of books. I heard customers at the front desk asking the woman working there to order them books. The store is also furnished with very comfortable chairs and I accepted one chair's invitation to sit and read -- I was so comfortable and relaxed that I nodded off a couple of times.

When I parked the Sube on Fifth Street, I'd noticed Veera Donuts. As I left Shakespeare and Co., I was suddenly in the mood for something sweet to counter my savory breakfast, so I popped into Veera. The donuts looked like miniature cakes: they were good sized and decorated and stuffed with all kinds of combinations of sweetness and flavors -- maple, bacon, chocolate, strawberry -- well, here, you can look for yourself: check out this picture of their products, here. I glanced up at the reader board. A single donut cost four bucks. I have never eaten a four dollar donut! I thought, well, you only live once and I ordered a French toast donut and cup of coffee, sat down, and bit into the very best donut I've ever tasted. When I returned to Kellogg, I went to Veera's website and discovered that their donuts are vegan and I thought if veganism ever wanted to give itself a good name for the way vegan food can be explosively flavorful, the movement should begin by having people sample Veera Donuts. Others in the shop were also impressed as I overheard customers speaking to one another in awed tones about how much they loved their donuts. It took me over ten minutes to finish mine -- it was so rich and flavorful and thick. I could have stopped at three quarters, but I went ahead and cleaned up my plate and ate the whole thing.

Next stop: Rockin' Rudy's to look at used cds. Rockin' Rudy's turned out to be an emporium of incense, cards, jewelry, soaps, retro toys, a wide assortment of candies, beads, T-shirts, jewelry, turntables, journals, posters, trinkets, games, and, of course, cds, dvds, and lps. I would be happy if I found recordings my Brian Jonestown Massacre or O.A.R., but primarily I wanted JJ Cale. I succeeded. I purchased a double cd anthology collection of JJ Cale's and JJ Cale's collaborative effort with Eric Clapton, the remarkable Road to Escondido.

Now I was tired. Missoula's weather was heating up. The sun was out in full force. I had originally thought I'd go to Butterfly Herbs and try to find some Middle East spices, but I decided it was almost time to head home. I returned to the Sube, hopped in, stopped at Good Foods and walked around and sat in the dining area to cool down some more, and then hit the road.

3. I popped JJ Cale into the Sube's cd player and mild euphoria enveloped me as "The Call Me the Breeze" started playing. Ah! Yes! JJ Cale will be perfect for this drive back to Kellogg. Like me driving down the freeway, JJ Cale is never in a hurry. On a day like this one that I didn't want to come to an end, the easy rhythms and unhurried sounds of JJ Cale could, in the best way possible, make the next couple of hours or so on the road feel like a luxurious week. For many miles, I listened to JJ Cale and then I decided he'd enjoy Eric Clapton's company, so I put on The Road to Escondido and, right away, singing "Danger", JJ Cale and Eric Clapton kept my mild euphoria alive and my drive on I-90 continued as a great pleasure.

I took a break in Saltese at the Old Montana Bar and won some money playing one of my favorite slot machine games -- a game I had played with no money at stake online, but had never seen, until now, in a casino. It's called Wolf Moon. I drank a coke with some lime, cashed out, and upon returning to the Sube switched musical gears and let moe., O. A. R., Los Lobos, Trampled by Turtles, and the Yonder Mountain String Band carry me over Lookout Pass and back to the Silver Valley with their cover versions of Jerry Garcia/Grateful Dead tunes, "Loser", "St. Stephen", "Bertha", "Brown-Eyed Women", and, as I rolled into Kellogg, the heart of the Silver Valley, "Shakedown Street".

Just for the record, here are hasty pictures of the Woods Gulch Trail and a couple of the house where I rented a room Friday night:

Three Beautiful Things 08/09/19: Driving Montana and REI, Dinner and Live Music at the Top Hat, Jerry Douglas and Tommy Emmanuel Enchant the Wilma

1. I took Charly over to Carol's and Paul's, tidied up the kitchen, cleaned myself up, and hit the road for Missoula. I stay in my lane when I drive east of Lookout Pass as slowly as the traffic will allow me -- around 60 to 65 mph. I enjoy driving a little bit slowly and taking in the gorgeous Montana landscapes when I drive in Montana. Upon my arrival, I went straight to REI and spent a couple of hours looking at clothes, rain gear, books, maps, insect repellent, bear spray, first aid kits, and hiking boots. The shoes I hike in now are very comfortable, but I'd something thicker on the bottom for when I hike on rocky trails and, I think, a hiking boot or shoe might give me better traction. My feet are finicky. If shoes don't fit me well, my big toes get angry and inflamed and begin to swell. It's like faux gout. So, I'm very careful when buying shoes of any kind. I tried on four different pairs of hiking wear at REI.  I wasn't confident that any of them fit correctly so I didn't buy any and I will continue my quest here in North Idaho. I did however purchase a rain jacket, a pair of hiking pants that convert easily into hiking shorts, a first aid kit, and insect repellent. I'll get bear spray on another shopping trip.

I rented a room for the night in an airbnb about seven miles north of Missoula on a dirt road in the woods. It's a secluded and quiet house with fresh air and excellent views of the surrounding mountains. I arrived at the house around four o'clock, was warmly greeted by the host, Flannery, and I quickly settled into my room. I didn't linger long, however,  because I wanted to go downtown.

2. I drove downtown, turned off of Higgins Ave onto Front St. and, much to my delight, I found a parking spot almost directly in front of the Top Hat and just a hop, skip, and a jump from the Wilma Theater. At the Top Hat, I enjoyed a couple of refreshing gin and tonic cocktails and ate a splendid meal: mixed greens salad as a side to a plate of spicy shrimp and grits. Around 6 o'clock a short cool woman in a black dress who looked, to me, strikingly like Michelle Williams' character in Take This Waltz fronted an electric band who played a string of original and most enjoyable songs. Top Hat has a Family Friendly couple of hours on Fridays and the place was packed with children who took over the space in front of the stage and turn it into a toddler's mosh pit. Delighted moms and dads kept a close eye on their kids. Some joined in and danced with the tykes. Others stood back, crying out things like, "Good job, Liam!" and "Dance nice, Sophie!" and "Love you, Taylor!".  It was a very good scene.

3. I went to the Wilma to hear two of the best acoustic instrumentalist I know of: dobro player Jerry Douglas and guitarist Tommy Emmanuel. It was an uplifting, invigorating night of virtuosity in a superb venue. Jerry Douglas opened the evening and straight away played, "A Tribute to Peador O'Donnell" and my insides quaked and my shoulders shook, I was so happy to hear this composition of his, one I'm familiar with. As the concert progressed, Jerry Douglas finished his set, Tommy Emmanuel came out after intermission. I loved the variety. Both Jerry Douglas and Tommy Emmanuel played a generous number of original tunes, but they also covered songs by Tom Waits, Jimi Hendrix, Bruce Springsteen, Leadbelly, Paul Simon, Chick Corea, and others and Tommy Emmanuel played sublime versions of "Tennessee Waltz" and "Somewhere Over the Rainbow". The two teamed up and played for or five songs to end the show.

Last December, Tommy Emmanuel and Jerry Douglas played in Spokane at a time I was uncertain about some things and so I didn't buy a ticket. A while back, I was stoked to discover they were coming back to this area and playing the Wilma in Missoula. I loved this concert. My life now has been blessed by two superb concerts in Montana by masters of acoustic instruments. Back in 1992, I was out driving Montana over several days and nights.  I wandered into Bozeman and took a walk. I saw a notice stapled to a telephone pole that Leo Kottke and David Lindley were playing that night. I hot-footed it to the venue's box office and, thank God, the show wasn't sold out and, like tonight, I got to attend a stirring and uplifting night of music. Two shows. Twenty-seven years apart. Both unforgettable, both among the very best concerts I've ever been to. I hope one night, whether in Montana or another state, I can be so lucky again.

Three Beautiful Things 08/08/19: About Hiking, Return to the Pulaski Tunnel Trail, Subway and the S & R

1.  The more I go out and take hikes this summer, the more my mind is focused on the trail and not so much on any destination. I read as much as I can about trails online and often hiking sites feature readers' comments or reviews of the hikes. A few weeks ago, I read a hiker's description of her disappointment in the Pulaski Tunnel Trail because when s/he reached the end of the trail, the view wasn't spectacular. I realized, upon reading this, that I don't think much about what I might find at the end of the trail. Okay. Yes. Arriving at trail's end to the sight of Revett Lake was astonishing. But, before reaching the end of this trail, the variety of sights along the way, the outcropping of rocks, the small waterfalls barely visible through the thick foliage, the grandeur of the mountains in every direction, and the multiple wildflowers in bloom made this hike rewarding before Byrdman and I ever reached the lake itself.

One of the benefits of my body slowly getting into better hiking condition is that, as I meander up a trail, I can pay more attention to the beauty around me. When I began hiking more in earnest this summer, my mind was mostly on the hike as a way to exercise, as a way to possibly ward off kidney dialysis, possibly lose some weight. This aspect of hiking remains very important to me, but more and more I'm paying attention to the sensory experiences on the trail. I love the relaxing sounds of water flowing, sometimes rushing; the various shades of green in the needles and leaves of trees and the brush and other foliage growing so thick around these trails; the sight of fallen trees, especially when they have dropped into the creeks or form bridges over the water; the cool mountain air of the mornings; the outcroppings of rocks on the hillsides and the way moss carpets black rocks in the creek beds.

Lately, I've had more energy while hiking so I can take pictures. Taking pictures slows me way down. My camera tames any compulsion I might feel to hike more quickly and dampens any feelings I might have that I must reach the trail's end. The sun is my chief nemesis on the trail. Sunlight saps me. I try to get going in the mornings before the sun directly hits whatever trail I'm on. Because taking pictures slows me down, often, when the sun begins to appear and warm things up, I turn around and head back to the trailhead not having reached trail's end and that's fine with me. I'd rather stay cool, take pictures, and enjoy my surroundings than force myself to reach a destination.

2. So, this morning, I returned to the Pulaski Tunnel Trail south of Wallace, about a mile or so up the road from where King Street turns into Moon Pass Road. When I started my hike, the sun was hidden behind the steep hills to the east of the trail so the air was perfectly cool.

The trail meanders along the West Fork of Placer Creek. From the trail, it's difficult to take unobstructed pictures of the water because the foliage is thick. But, in several spots, I was able to leave the trail and easily position myself at creek's edge and take unobstructed pictures and I got some decent shots from the trail itself. Taking pictures, trying to figure out how to deal with obstructions, turned out to be the focus of my hike today and I figured that I would not reach the trail's end before the sun peeped over the hills and the air started to warm up.

I took about 70 pictures with my 50 mm lens. Next time, I'll take either my kit lens or my Sigma 18-200 so that I can zoom in on shots more and see how that works. I was reviewing pictures I took in May on the Sweet Creek Trail near Mapleton, OR with my Sigma 18-200. I pretty much liked them. I'd like to see how it I do with that lens on the Pulaski Trail.

If you'd like to see the pictures I took on the Pulaski Trail, I posted them on flickr, here. Unless my pictures are terribly out of focus, I post everything in my flickr albums so that I can study the pictures I think work well and study my mistakes as well.

I also posted a few of my pictures at the bottom of this page.

3. It got hot today. I didn't have much cold food on hand, didn't feel like going to the store, and didn't want to heat up (or further clutter up) the kitchen, so I made an online order at Subway for a sandwich, a bag of Lay's Original potato chips, and a bottle of Coca-Cola. I drove down the street, picked up my food, brought it home and thoroughly enjoyed myself. Doing this, and driving down West Cameron Avenue, reminded me of how Mom used to occasionally treat us to food from the S & R Drive-In, located across the street from Subway. If I remember correctly, in those days, Dad wasn't crazy about take out food and Mom would treat us to an S & R dinner when Dad was working at the Sunshine Inn or got a call out to the Zinc Plant. I don't order from Subway often and this evening I felt some of the same thrill eating food I didn't prepare that I used to feel when we got to bring home food from the S & R.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 08/07/19: Ham Stock, Staying In, More Coal Creek Pictures

1. I've been keeping an eye on, and occasionally tasting, a batch of ham stock bubbling away in the slow cooker for the last three days or so. The foundation of this stock is the ham bone and fatty meat leftover from when I sliced pieces of this ham for the Still Alive at 65 party. I had cooked that ham over a layer of brown sugar and had coated the meat with more brown sugar. When I removed the ham from the crock pot, I had about a quart of brown sugary ham broth. I saved that broth and, for this stock, I combined celery and onions and water with the ham bone and poured some of the brown sugar ham broth into the stock, slightly sweetening it. Today, I let the stock cool and filled containers and I was very pleased with the results, especially pleased with what the brown sugar broth added. My plan is to buy another small bone in ham sometime this fall, when the weather cools down, and fix ham and navy bean soup.

2. I couldn't see any good reason to go outdoors today. The temperature soared to close to 100 degrees and fires from northeast Washington state and from British Columbia, along with a new fire burning near Wall Ridge Road north of Cataldo made the air smoky and hazy. I got a few things done around the house and did my best to stay cool.

3. I had a great time today working with the pictures I snapped at Coal Creek on Tuesday. From my point of view, it was a photo session of mixed success. It took me a while to get my camera settings right and I probably deleted about a dozen or so of the pictures I took because they were out of focus. But, I took more good pictures than lousy ones and I uploaded a new album of twenty-three pictures to my flickr page. (If you'd like to look at the album, click here.) Here are three more of the pictures I took on Tuesday while hiking the Coal Creek Trail: