Late April 2021

Continuing my neighborhood walks: After the cherry blossoms, the pink snow,

IMG_3287

We go from pink trees

IMG_3313

to pink sidewalks in a week’s time.

And find them all through the neighborhood.

Dogwood trees and other flowers bloom,

IMG_3283

Dogwood

Interestingly cracked concrete catches my eye…

We went on two more hikes with amazing wildflowers:

Tom McCall Trail, OR, April 23

When we hiked here on March 11th, the slopes were covered with purple grass widows. Today, the balsamroot is the star!

DSC06726

Starting up the trail with friends.

DSC06730

Lower cliffs, balsamroot and lupine in full bloom!

DSC06736

DSC06737

Eastward view.

DSC06747

Every blade abloom under the oak trees.

DSC06748

Open slopes of balsamroot and Mt Adams.

DSC06760

Continuing up.

DSC06766

Paintbrush in bloom on the upper slopes.

Views from the top:

IMG_3290

West to Mt Hood.

IMG_3289

North to Mt Adams.

IMG_3288

Northeast, to the Cherry Orchard.

More views on the hike down:

DSC06788

Rowena Plateau.

DSC06792

Paintbrush! and the Memaloose Hills, with their yellow backs.

DSC06807

Parsley Alley….

DSC06810

And a few more flowers, for the day.

Bitterroot Trail, Catherine Creek, WA April 26

Aptly lived up to its name – the earlier blooming flowers have faded, but the bitterroot is just getting started today!

DSC06844

We began near the fairy ponds – now filled with camas lilies; the adjacent rock outcrops hosting glorious bitterroot flowers.

IMG_3296

Lewisia rediviva

DSC06862

Sprinkled across the basalt; bicolored cluster lilies speckle the meadow beyond.

We wind our way up the slope:

DSC06864

Eastward.

DSC06870

Camas lilies and shooting stars.

DSC06874

Death camas and purple camas lilies

DSC06883

Turn left at the balsamroot, while admiring the windswept views east,

DSC06885

and west…

DSC06889

We drop down the Rowland Wall trail,

DSC06890

One of the largest clusters of bitterroot buds I have seen…

DSC06894

buckwheat

DSC06898

A giant clump of cliff penstomen surprised us!

DSC06919

More bitterroot scattered across the rocky surface along our return trail.

DSC06918

This is their time to rise up!

Meanwhile…

We finally had a chance to see the heritage American Chestnut Tree in the Sellwood neighborhood. It dwarves the house, and there is an enormous stump of another chestnut tree behind it.

DSC06932

Rare American Chestnut, Sellwood, Oregon

DSC06933

Leaves just budding out.

Knitting

Quilting

IMG_3339

I’m making progress on the baby quilt.

Repotted plant report from Washington DC:

IMG_3302

Commentary on the verdict, and the path forward:

.

Blooms of early April 2021

The crabapple tree in our front yard finally bloomed during the second week of April. This tree was in full bloom the day we moved into our house in mid March almost 30 years ago.

IMG_3203

April 9th

IMG_3207

April 11th

IMG_3254

April 15th

Other garden blooms:

And some cupcakes for a friend’s birthday:

IMG_3195

Hikes:

April 2nd, Memaloose Hills, OR –

DSC06216

Begin at the Memaloose Overlook…

DSC06253

Today’s star is balsamroot!

DSC06232

Buttercup carpet in the woods.

DSC06243

Balsamroot all the way up Chatfield Hill.

DSC06254

Looking back.

DSC06272

North view from the top – Mt Adams, paintbrush, yellow parsley.

DSC06283

Columbia River, Columbia Desert parsley, balsamroot

DSC06294

Mt Hood to the west.

DSC06304

Willows and bees near the spring on the return hike.

DSC06310

Popcorn flowers on Marsh Hill.

DSC06313

View from Marsh Hill back to the Memaloose Hills.

More wildflowers:

 April 8, Coyote Wall, WA – Our first hike with friends in more than a year! We are all fully vaccinated!

DSC06322

Starting up The Old Ranch Road.

DSC06337

Service berry in bloom on the Little Moab Cliffs.

DSC06344

The edge of the Coyote Wall, yellow parsley.

DSC06357

And balsamroot, eastward view.

DSC06358

Southward view.

DSC06364

And we are going higher!

DSC06372

Upper cliff edge view.

DSC06378

A nice meadow near Atwood Road, as we loop eastward before hiking down.

DSC06392

A day when every blade of grass seems to have a bloom!

DSC06397

So many flowers!

DSC06398

Desert parsley along Old Hwy 14 cliff, return hike.

And more flowers:

Knitting

Some progress on two projects:

IMG_3216

I finished the yoke on this bamboo cardigan, and it is way too big, despite careful swatching, so this one is in time out for a while.

IMG_3213

A mystery project for a gift…

Quilting

I am starting a baby quilt for a new family member!

The rest of March, 2021

Tulips and cherry blossoms, three more hikes, a new knit along, a careful cross country trip, and our neighborhood loses our star author, as we continue into our second year of pandemia.

The neighborhood in bloom –

Catherine Creek East

March 26th – A beautiful day – we roamed on the eastward loop to see the latest of early spring flowers sprinkled on the grassy slopes.

DSC06113

White death camas and saxifrage all the way up…

DSC06140

Yellow agerosis and yellow bells

DSC06142

The first of the purple camas,

DSC06168

the last of the grass widows.

DSC06123

Monkey flowers, rosy plectritis and orobanche

DSC06157

Shooting stars and saxifrage

DSC06145

Larkspur, and purple Columbia desert parsley

IMG_2937

Yellow parsley and Mt Hood!

DSC06153

Meadow lark

DSC06172

Fairy ponds

Wildwood Trail,  milepost ~ 10 to 14

March 29th – A slightly rainy day, trilliums lining the trail on our loop. I have now completed about 20 miles of the 30 mile trail during the pandemic.

DSC06175

Wildwood trail on a damp day.

DSC06190

Trillium blooming all along the trail.

DSC06183

Trillium

DSC06174

Violets

DSC06181

Salmonberry

DSC06200

Coltsfoot

IMG_2953

Return along Leif Erikson Drive

DSC06197

Sky breaking out!

Cooper Mountain

March 30th – We took a quick loop around this mountain on the edge of suburbia, being reclaimed/preserved so that all doesn’t become concrete, while our son was at an appointment nearby. A few early spring flowers on view.

Knitting

I finished another hat, and continue to knit on the socks and cardigan.

IMG_3008

Plaid hat – a test knit for a friend.

IMG_3029

Sock and cardigan, in process.

Son’s trip to DC:

Travel is fraught in these Covid times, yet we needed to transfer one of our cars to our daughter on the east coast. Our temporarily unemployed son volunteered, so in the midst of the pandemic, he bubbled himself across country. With all appropriate masking and testing, he delivered the car. Then he flew back, and after more bubbling and testing, successfully completed his adventure Covid free.

IMG_2951

Postcards from the road

IMG_2959

Cherry blossoms on the National Mall

IMG_2958

More cherry blossoms, tidal basin.

Beverly Cleary

We live in Ramona’s neighborhood, the same neighborhood in Portland, Oregon, where the acclaimed children’s author went to school and roamed Grant Park and Klickitat Street. Beverly Cleary died last week, a few weeks short of her 105th birthday. Though she spent most of her adult life in California, our neighborhood honors her legacy. Libraries and schools bear her name. We have a walking tour of the neighborhood to see her world.  I remember getting my middle school aged son to read the books to his three year old sister while I was making dinner, and he never objected – he looked forward to it. “Is it time to read to Emily yet?” I especially enjoyed her two memoirs, recognizing many of the scenes from her childhood as replayed in her novels. I heard her say in an interview that she identified most with Ellen Tebbits. She got to live a good long life, and in our neighborhood we have her “ordinary” fictional children cast in bronze in the sculpture garden in the park, which doubles as a splash pad in the summer. Last week there were flowers in the sculpture garden in tribute to her memory.

IMG_1479

Ramona the Pest

IMG_1481

Henry Huggins

IMG_2987

Ribsy

IMG_2948

March 2021, so far….

We are sliding into spring around here. Flowers are blooming, with a few warm days between the rainy stretches. We were vaccinated at just about the one year anniversary of the pandemic, and I am grateful! I feel the hope of spring, yet I know we still have so far to go until everyone can say that. And then my daughter reminds me of our privilege in the world. I know. I can only live where I am, but I do know.

Knitting, reading, hiking, on we go, fuzzy days mushing into each other. Planning the weekly grocery list. Creating with my hands, my brain, I take notes. I try to find the distinguishing features of each day, and celebrate the positivity and the beauty. That is most of what I do, and will do, and am lucky to do. So….

Hiking

1) We snowshoed up White River on Mt Hood on March 2nd – clouds swathing the peak much of the day, but in a most artistic way.

DSC05859

Mt Hood in clouds, near the Sno-Park.

DSC05884

Lunch view, near the Timberline Trail crossing.

DSC05878

The snow on nearby Boy Scout Ridge looked unstable, so we kept our distance!

DSC05891

Return trip…

DSC05915

Last views – we can almost see the entire peak.

DSC05918

2) On March 11th we hiked Tom McCall Point and around Rowena Crest, east of Hood River in Oregon, to see the fields of  grass widows.

DSC05921

Thousands of grass widows on the plateau below Tom McCall Point.

DSC05924

Grass widows

DSC05925

More grass widows…

IMG_2867

Columbia River reflecting the Cherry Orchard cliffs in Washington.

DSC05943

Parsley alley

DSC05947

Mt Adams and Rowena Plateau, from near the top of Tom McCall Point.

DSC05969

Tiny flowers of spring whitlow grass.

Then we walked around Rowena Crest, closer to the river:

DSC05980

East view from Rowena Crest cliffs – kettle lakes in the foreground.

DSC05989

Westerly view.

DSC05998

One of the lakes on Rowena Crest.

DSC05999

Abstractions in the lake reflections…

DSC05997

DSC06002

And more grass widows!

3) The next week, on March 16th, we went out across the river to Lyle Cherry Orchard again. No squalls this time – a perfect hiking day, and the first of the bright yellow balsam root blooms were opening as we hiked.

DSC06009

Hiking up above the Convict Road.

DSC06006

Columbia Desert Parsley in full bloom.

DSC06056

Balsam root opening on the upper slopes.

Lots of flowers showing for the first time this spring:

Stunning views from the cherry orchard:

DSC06045

Eastward, one of the remaining cherry trees.

DSC06057

Westward, balsamroot

4) We also walked a fast loop through Tryon Creek Park, on March 17th, where the very first of the trillium were opening, a little later than last year.

DSC06093

Tryon Creek

DSC06098

First trillium of spring

Around Portland

My neighborhood is also blooming.

Knitting

I finished knitting a pair of socks for me and another hat and a cowl for the guild charity project, and cast on new socks and a cardigan.

And…

I hold the more difficult challenges to the outside world in my heart. This week it is yet another uniquely American gun violence episode in Georgia, another hate crime, anti-woman, anti-Asian. I know in my heart it is all true, and part of the work we all have to do – bring out all the biases into the light of day and see how they harm so many. I am listening and learning more each day, and it all rings true, and saddens me. I pledge to myself to be as much of an ally as I can recognize. Listen and learn. Validate. Search for the commonalities and not the otherness. From my place on the privilege spectrum.  That is most of what I do, and will do, and am lucky to do. And before I can publish this – yet another mass shooting at a grocery store in Colorado.

As a youngster with all the idealism of youth, I envisioned a giant magnet circling the world sucking away all the implements of violence, all the guns and weapons of war. On days like today with a heavy heart and a less idealistic world view, still I sigh and wish it could be true.

IMG_2823

Image 3-21-21 at 3.32 PM

And a volcano is erupting in Iceland!

Hiking in February 2021

Despite the mid-month ice storm, we managed three hikes in February – all in the eastern Columbia River Gorge of Washington.

Lyle Cherry Orchard / Lower Catherine Creek – Feb. 2nd

We were hoping for good weather east of the mountains, but were foiled by a squall.

DSC05612

Starting up the Lyle Cherry Orchard trail, we could see nothing but blue sky from the Convict Road…

DSC05610

But there are clouds over the Columbia River to the east,

DSC05609

and west.

DSC05607

We saw our first Columbia Desert Parsley of the season,

DSC05618

and scattered grass widows.

DSC05620

As we continued up the tiers of basalt,

DSC05624

we noticed more ominous clouds to the west.

DSC05629

We continued up,

DSC05630

to about this point, when we encountered wind and driving rain on the unsheltered slope

DSC05627

We sheltered briefly under one of the oak trees, then headed down. 

By the time we reached the car, the skies were blue again, so we decided to stop at Catherine Creek before going home.

DSC05649

We walked the Lower Loop, with views of the waterfall,

DSC05651 (1)

and of our Ponderosa guide tree, up on the slopes above the Labyrinth.

We saw a few early wildflowers, and finished just in time for another squall to blow through.

DSC05637

Blue jay

DSC05640

Bitterroot foliage

DSC05645

Rain in a vernal pool.

We saw rainbows in our rear view mirror as we drove back to rainy Portland.

IMG_2686IMG_2683

Coyote Wall – Labyrinth Loop – Feb. 9th

We started cold and overcast, but hiked into a bluer, warmer day.

DSC05653

Looking up at the wall from the trailhead – we would soon be looking down from there….

DSC05661

View to the east from the lower slopes.

DSC05662

Ice on the trail.

DSC05657

First yellow parsley of the season,

DSC05666

and first prairie stars, with salt and pepper.

DSC05663

A bald eagle below us, watching the river.

DSC05668

Continuing up the Little Moab trail to the edge of the cliff…

DSC05670

Heralded by this raven the whole way.

DSC05673

Looking down at the trailhead,

DSC05675

and up the edge of Coyote Wall toward our lunch stop.

DSC05686

Trail continuing up the slope…

DSC05688

to the rocky edge where we took our lunch break.

DSC05695

The clouds began to part after lunch.

DSC05699

We headed east toward the Labyrinth across the upper slopes,

DSC05701

into a bluer sky.

DSC05702

Icicles in the upper Hidden Creek crossing.

DSC05718

Eastward view from our Ponderosa guide tree viewpoint on the Upper Labyrinth Trail.

DSC05721

Continuing down, we could see Mt Hood on the skyline peeking out from the clouds.

DSC05731

Through my favorite oak grove,

IMG_2701

Past the columnar basalt buttes,

DSC05736

Following the waterfalls of Hidden Creek down the Labyrinth,

DSC05747

beneath the blue sky.

DSC05739

DSC05756

These falls were nearly dry in November,

DSC05758

now the pool is overflowing.

DSC05764

Goodbye to the ghost tree.

DSC05766

And back to the trailhead beneath the wall. A successful day!

Dalles Mountain Ranch – Vista Loop – Feb. 24

After two weeks of snow and ice storms, we were finally able to find a blue sky day at Columbia Hills State Park, an hour and a half east of Portland. A beautiful day, edged by snow on the skyline. Take a peek here if you want to see this trail in full spring bloom!

DSC05809

View south and west from Dalles Mountain Ranch trailhead – Mt Hood in Oregon, far across the Columbia River. We are heading downhill toward the river.

DSC05822

Looking back to the ranch as we hike down Eight Mile Creek.

DSC05824

Creek crossing.

IMG_2816

Our lunch stop along the Missoula Floods scoured lower bench. Mt Hood, Columbia River, The Dalles and Horsethief Butte. Lots of purple grass widows in the foreground.

DSC05849

Eastward lower viewpoint.

DSC05843

Salt and pepper, grass widows.

DSC05830

Yellow bells

DSC05827

Gold stars

DSC05856

Another desert parsley

DSC05852

Looking back up to the ranch on the return hike.

DSC05853

One tree to rule them all.

February 2021 ice storm; knitting

We did get the ice storm. Sunday morning, February 14th, the outside world was coated with ice; icicles hanging from the eaves and power lines; drifts of snow were frozen hard as cement and nearly impossible to shovel. We only lost power for about 12 hours – not long enough for lasting harm.

DSC05792DSC05794DSC05796

Sunday afternoon the thaw began. Icy chunks and spears crashed down for a couple of hours until the winter glaze was gone, leaving a foot of snow to melt away over the next few days. The crocuses made it, though they seem a little wilted.

IMG_2785

Knitting:

I finished and blocked my beautiful Habitation Throw. The pattern is by Helen Stewart, the 24 different mini skeins from my  knitting group advent calendar. I enjoyed the knitting, and I’m already planning another one.

DSC05803

Habitation Throw

IMG_2779

I took an online class about Knitting Marls with Cecelia Campochiaro. We learned about color theory and sequence knitting. I knitted my swatches from six colors of Malabrigo Lace yarn, and now just have to decide which swatches I will use in my class cowl project.

IMG_2671

Six colors of Malabrigo Lace.

IMG_2679

Marl swatches

Happy Valentines Day!

I was cheered on our icy Valentine’s Day by this lovely card and key chain from my sister who is also a Jane Austenophile.

IMG_2743

Skiing in Portland, February 2021

February 14th – When it snows in Portland, our city mostly shuts down. This only happens every few years. We don’t have enough plows to keep side streets clear, and often get sheets and layers of ice with the snow, so best to stay in if possible. This year, we were ready, having practiced pandemic life for eleven months. We have apocalyptic quantities of nonperishable food in our pantry, and can resupply for a week or more with each grocery shop. So no panic, just sit and watch the winter wonderland form, and hope the power stays on.

I took my usual walks around the neighborhood on cross country skis for three days. The streets are flat, with very few cars out. Traffic is mainly dog walkers, families going to the park with sledding accoutrement, other skiers and fat tire bikers. A few skate skiers whizz by, but I am happy to kick glide along, probably slower than I walk, enjoying the novelty of skiing through my snowy neighborhood.

DSC05773

Traffic on Tillamook Street

DSC05781

I always notice these opposing statues on Thompson Street:

DSC05779

Dogs staring at Lions.

DSC05778

Lions staring at dogs.

DSC05786

Tonite the ice storm cometh. So far we still have power, but parts of the city have had outages. Eventually we will thaw and the slush will melt away, and I will be back to walking, but I have enjoyed a few days of skiing. Today was a bit icier on the road, unlike the first day when the surface was fluffy. Today I had to focus, keep my weight over my knees, and stay aware of icy tire tracks diverting my ski path. I was reminded of myself, in my early 30’s, when I attended an annual party at a park with a high dive on the swimming pool. Every year I would make my way to the platform and leap off, feet first, trusting the water to break my fall, just to see if I could still bring myself to do it. Today I trusted my knees and balance to keep me upright on an icy road, sliding along on my 30 year old skis. Check.

Crafting:

Sewing: I finally collected 200 pennies! No one uses pennies anymore, yet they are the perfect filling for a set of pattern weights, pattern from an old Elizabeth Hartman blog post. I used some of my Jane Austen fabric. 

IMG_2663

A side

IMG_2662

B side

Knitting: I finished my Artists Garden Socks. I have made a goal to knit at least one item per month for the Puddletown Knitting Guild project to supply a woman’s shelter with warm items next winter. I obtained a pile of donated yarn from the guild, and have finished two hats so far, and started a cowl.

IMG_2682

Artists Garden Socks

IMG_2678

Quick Ombre Hat

IMG_2727

Barley Light Hat

Blooming:

Meanwhile, around the yard and neighborhood, before the snow, I saw crocuses, one daffodil, and a cherry tree. Hopefully they will all survive the freeze we are in now.

IMG_2705IMG_2704IMG_2696IMG_2706

 

 

 

 

NZ2020: Days 9 and 10, Deluge in Doubtful Sound

February 2nd and 3rd, 2020: Overnight cruise on Doubtful Sound, Fiordland, NZ

After our day off in Queenstown, we began the second part of our tour by meeting three new tour members, and an additional tour guide, in our hotel restaurant. We drove south and west, from Queenstown to Manapouri, in a steady rain, with two stops along the way.

Image 9-10-20 at 6.33 PM

Our first break was in the town of Garston – a small inland village with a speciality in honey production. We sampled some honey, then resumed our journey. Mountains, clouds, green fields full of sheep, elk and deer whizzed by, through the rain.

DSC06307DSC06308

We next took a short leg stretching break at a wilderness reserve that demonstrated the native plant communities that are typical of this cold, mountainous inland area before European settling and agriculture. We took in what we could, but the rain and clouds obscured mountain views and much exploring.

DSC06315

DSC06318

View to the Southern Alps.

DSC06321

DSC06324

Closer view of some of the plants.

Off we went again, this time to our final tour bus destination – Pearl Harbor in Manapouri, where we began our overnight in Doubtful Sound adventure. We said goodbye to one of our guides for the moment, as he was staying with the bus. To get to Doubtful Sound, deep in the mountains of the Southern Alps, one must take a ferry boat across Lake Manapouri, to the far shore.

DSC06325

Crossing Lake Manapouri by ferry.

DSC06332

Next we boarded a bus that took us over the steep, 13 mile long Wilmot Pass Road, then down to Deep Cove Dock at Doubtful Sound. There, we boarded the Fiordland Navigator, our home for the next 24 hours.

DSC06552

Fiordland Navigator, from the bus window, in the pouring rain.

The Navigator was a very comfortable ship with an experienced, multitasking crew that choreographed our time on board with a well crafted schedule. The 42 passengers were shown into the main cabin/dining salon. We received our safety briefings, and were assigned our sleeping accommodations – for us, a private cabin, but for most, four bed bunk rooms.

Then we were free to explore and wander, and hopefully see all the views, while the naturalist pointed out various features of interest. Steep glaciated gneiss walls rose up on both sides of the fiord, draped in brilliant green foliage, and streaked with tumbling white waterfalls in every direction. Our naturalist told us that they usually see a lot of waterfalls, but because of the steady downpour, we were seeing more than usual, and more volume than usual. We could see fairly well from the large windows in the dining salon and forward viewing cabin, and even from under covered walkways on the lower deck. How lovely it would have been to stand or sit on the upper deck as we passed through the fiord, but the drenching rain made that uncomfortable. We did go out for short forays, and longer moments during rain breaks, but really, it did rain most of the time this first day. We made the best of it, constantly, not always successfully, trying to keep water off camera lenses. We assumed that this much rain was typical. Later, we learned that this was a particularly wet stretch of weather – more so than usual, and that it would affect the next few days of our tour. Our intrepid naturalist spent most of her time out on the deck, narrating the landscape, seemingly unphased by the drenching.

DSC06365

Waterfall after waterfall…

DSC06373DSC06370DSC06374DSC06380DSC06383

DSC06359

Our intrepid naturalist…

DSC06406

A rain pause as we continue west toward the Tasman Sea.

DSC06400DSC06399

We travelled all the way to the entrance of the fiord with the Tasman Sea. We stopped to watch fur seals basking on the rocky islands in the sound entrance – also unphased by the constant rain. But of course, they are creatures of water and cold.

DSC06418

Fur seals on rocky islands near the mouth of Doubtful Sound.

DSC06413DSC06417DSC06425DSC06427

We turned back inland, still watching the waterfall-striped walls of the fiord go by. We reached the “activities” location and weighed anchor for a while. Here, most of the crew switched to guide mode. Most of the passengers, despite the rain, opted to go out in kayaks or rafts, to get a closer view of the walls and waters of the fiord. I might have joined in better weather, but it was still rainy and cold. I felt that just being where I was, in the middle of a fiord in the wilderness was a fairly extreme adventure for me. We watched the kayakers and boaters from the deck.

DSC06455

After they all returned safely, the crew changed roles again, and became ushers/servers for a delicious, many options, buffet dinner. It was all run like clockwork, yet not pressured or uncomfortable. Our little group sat in a booth with windows and enjoyed getting to know each better as the beautiful landscape drifted past. Later, we retired to our tiny stateroom and slept very comfortably in crisp white sheets. I peeked out our window occasionally, to see rain and dark and gray.

DSC06470

Dining salon.

DSC06356

Sleeping cabin.

The next morning, breakfast was run again in buffet fashion, extremely efficiently, and we packed up, ready to enjoy another morning of viewing in Doubtful Sound.

DSC06462

DSC06464

Morning waterfall viewing.

DSC06471DSC06485DSC06486

We traveled into the Hall Arm of the Sound, where we experienced a quiet moment – engine off, passengers in a preselected spot, five minutes of complete silence, during a break in the continuous rain.

DSC06492DSC06511

Afterward, the boat motored up again, dipped its snout into a flowing waterfall, and we eventually made our way back to Deep Cove.

DSC06516DSC06526DSC06519DSC06528DSC06529DSC06534

DSC06551

Return to Deep Cove.

During both journeys across Wilmot Pass by bus, the drivers expressed concern about the river ford being washed out. Both times we made it across, but there was plenty of heavy equipment at the crossing keeping the road clear. We reboarded the ferry to Manapouri, ready for our next adventure.

DSC06343

Waterfall from the bus windows on Wilmot Pass.

DSC06338

Wilmot Pass river crossing, from the bus.

DSC06561

Pearl Harbor – return to Manapouri.

Our next stop was supposed to be Milford Sound – a place we really wanted to see. We were supposed to drive to Milford Sound via Hwy 94, with a hike up Key Summit on the Routeburn Track enroute, and a short cruise on Milford Sound the next morning. Over the past 24 hours there had been over a half meter of rain in the area and more than a meter of rain during the four day deluge. All roads to Milford Sound were flooded. People there were stranded and moving to higher ground – no one could get in or out by land. It was several days before they were finally able to open the roads. Meanwhile, our guides and tour company had formulated a new plan for our tour. They found lodging in nearby Te Anau, accommodations that were open because the people with those reservations were trapped in Milford Sound, or because so many of the usual tourists from Asia this time of year were beginning to cancel travel due to a spreading coronavirus in that part of the world.  (I am finally writing this account about a year later, after almost a year of global pandemic. That was one of the early signs of it, though we didn’t really think too much of it in the moment.) Meanwhile, we had a new agenda for our tour, starting with a rainy walk on the Kepler Track near Te Anau.

We loved our Doubtful Sound experience. I might have liked it more had we had sun, but we had soo many waterfalls – I don’t imagine I will ever see more in such a short time. We got to experience an extreme rain event – a different sort of bucket list item, I guess. I am very glad we were with an experienced tour company for this time, because they very swiftly arranged new plans. I had been expecting a more rustic experience on the boat, but it was actually fairly luxurious – delicious hot meals, a dry viewing cabin, extremely comfortable bed with privacy, and amazing scenery. It was a beautiful immersive adventure!

Image 2-5-21 at 5.28 PM

Begin anew! January 2021

January 20, 2021 –  So far 2021 has not brought much change to our daily life, but the relief of having a new president casts a hopeful light on our future! We celebrated our 36th wedding anniversary this month, with homemade Indian food and leftover Christmas chocolate. We continue in pandemic lockdown mode, staying home unless doing essential shopping, going on neighborhood walks, or weekly out of neighborhood hikes. Vaccines are seeping into the community, mostly to health care professionals and long term care facilities. My husband has temporarily unretired and will be helping with vaccinations. Thus he was able to celebrate inauguration day doubly, as he got his first dose today.

Hiking: We have been on three hiking adventures so far. The first, on January 7th, was our annual trek to see the bald eagle nesting area along the Klickitat River near Lyle, Washington. We saw at least thirty birds, many of them juveniles that still have brown plumage. 

DSC05313

Bald eagles flying across the Balfour-Klickitat pond.

DSC05336

One eagle stayed perched in a tree nearby.

DSC05337

Closer view.

DSC05342

Many more eagles in the trees across the pond.

DSC05343

Zooming in, even more eagles can be seen disguised in the foliage.

DSC05359

Another dozen eagles were out on the sand bar where the Klickitat River flows into the Columbia River.

DSC05357

Two adults, one juvenile bald eagle on the sand bar.

DSC05369

Osage oranges along the trail here.

DSC05371

They are a curious fruit.

DSC05384

We walked a couple of miles along the Klickitat River trail.

DSC05396

Downy woodpeckers were in the bushes nearby.

DSC05404

This is a converted rail trail with a nice even tread.

DSC05421

We turned around at the Fisher Hill Trestle.

DSC05413

View down the Klickitat River from the trestle.

DSC05407

A side stream cascading into the Klickitat River.

DSC05424

On our return walk we saw a congregation of a couple of dozen eagles circling overhead.

On January 14th, we walked around Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge in Southeast Portland. The blue sky was reflected beautifully in the water, and we saw cormorants, herons, and a barred owl near the trailhead.

DSC05445

Blue sky.

DSC05456

Reflections in the marsh.

DSC05485

Winter foliage.

DSC05490

Muraled Mausoleum across the marsh.

DSC05498

Oaks Park on winter/Covid hiatus.

DSC05522

Cormorants and herons, Downtown Portland.

DSC05513

Cormorants.

DSC05548

Barred owl.

Back out at Catherine Creek, near Lyle, Washington, on January 19th, we found the first grass widow of spring, then hiked a long loop up Atwood Road, across the top of Sunflower Hill, then down the Desert Parsley Trail back to Rowland Wall, thus completing some of the gaps in our map there. It was a beautiful day – chilly, but conducive to hiking up hill at a steady pace to see the eastern gorge spread below magnificently.

DSC05557

First grass widow of spring!

DSC05560

Catherine Creek waterfall set in the winter landscape.

DSC05572

Mt Hood to the west.

DSC05574

The arch from Atwood Road.

DSC05578

An old stove near Atwood Road.

DSC05580

Lunch view from the top of Sunflower Hill.

DSC05590

Oak tree, Mt Hood, noonday sun.

DSC05602

Looking up at our guide Ponderosa from The Desert Parsley Trail.

Knitting: So far this year I have finished knitting a sweater and a gnome, I’ve started a blanket and a new pair of socks:

IMG_2511

Farallon Cardigan

IMG_2470

Here We Gnome Again

IMG_2641

Habitation Throw, using my “advent” yarns exchanged with my knitting group

IMG_2587

Artists Garden Socks

Quilting: I finished my Plaid Rectangles Charm Quilt, a companion piece to my Plaid Applecore Charm quilt.

IMG_2564

Plaid Rectangles Charm Quilt

IMG_2571

Companion quilts.

A New Day! After a long, satisfying hike yesterday, I got up way too early (for me) to watch the inauguration celebration. I felt some trepidation, due to the recent insurrection. I am very relieved to report that all proceeded beautifully. The participants were diverse, eloquent, hopeful, forward looking! I cried as I witnessed the swearing in of our first female vice president! The singing, the president’s speech, and the prayers were relevant, meaningful, beautifully delivered.  I adored the young poet laureate, Amanda Gorman, and the firefighter who signed as well as spoke the Pledge of Allegiance. The outgoing vice president was gracious in the transition. The colorful wool coats of the ladies brightened a blue sky day, when the Capitol, unfortunately, had to be surrounded by military lockdown, as the previous occupant never really conceded to his violent, deluded followers. I am disappointed that my daughter, sitting in her apartment about a mile away from the proceedings, could not witness the day. She assured me they remained safely within, while the din of helicopters continued above. Perhaps, going forward, the domestic terrorists will withdraw and think about the bill of goods they were sold, the lies told, the violence fomented by a greedy, disappointed narcissist who was only ever out for personal profit and aggrandizement, with no concern for the common good, no interest in public service. Good riddance! Meanwhile, executive orders and initiatives are already putting to right some of the damage, and asserting to the world that we want to participate in finding solutions for global problems.  

IMG_2624IMG_2626IMG_2623

 

2020 Review / 2021 Preview

Well, that was a year! When I reread my New Year’s post from last year, I wince and remember the saying about someone laughing when you make plans. I know that everyone in the world can relate – we did not forsee a global pandemic shutting everything down. We still don’t know what life will look like on the other side of the pandemic when we all have been vaccinated.  Nevertheless, I managed to accomplish about half of the things on my list of intentions. 

Travel: The  high point of the year was our month in New Zealand before everything shut down. Our plans to go to Washington DC and Italy were cancelled. We were able to take four midweek trips to hiking destinations within a few hours drive of our home – to Sisters, Yachats, and Prineville in Oregon, and Packwood in Washington (following all Covid-19 precautions). 

DSC07326

Hiking: I hiked almost 400 miles last year, almost 63000 feet of elevation gained, on 76 different adventures, 26 of which were in New Zealand. The hikes up Ben Lomond near Queenstown, and to the Sealy Tarns in Mt Aoraki National Park were my favorites there. Back home, we found a way to continue hiking in pandemic mode. At first we took several long urban hikes through Portland neighborhoods to high points or parks. We have hiked about half of the Wildwood Trail in Forest Park, and we have gone to farther flung, less popular trails, midweek. I feel lucky we can still get into nature.

Reading: I met my goal to read 64 books last year.

Image 1-18-21 at 12.43 PM

Knitting: I knit over 5000 yards of yarn into 20 different projects: 2 shawls, 1 scarf, 5 pairs of socks, 3 hats, 2 pairs of mitts, 2 sets of wash cloths, 4 gnomes, 2 acorn ornaments, and a toy dog sweater. 14 of the projects were gift or charity knitting.  Knitting was a main source of anxiety relief to get me through the chaos and unpredictability of this year. My knitting group has continued to meet on line, pulling each other through. I am so grateful I found this group in 2019, as it has been a great source of comfort for me this year.

Image 1-1-21 at 5.25 PM

2020 was a difficult year which tested resilience. I know I am privileged to have made it through in good health in a safe and comfortable home. I miss my family and friends. The worst part of the year was losing a brother-in-law to a noncovid illness in May, and not being able to travel to grieve with family. That loss haunts me every day, however correct the decision is/was for safety reasons. 

 2021 – The political upheaval and tension have been excruciating. The good news that we will have our new president, vice president and senate majority does not discount how hard it will be to undo all the harm caused by the lies, selfishness, and evil intent of the outgoing president. But it gives us reason for hope.  I hope for healing through an honest truth and reconciliation process. I hope it becomes widely accepted that racist agendas going back to the founding of our country have been used to convince the less advantaged to hate amongst themselves rather than to support government that is fair to all of the people. 

Image 1-9-21 at 10.57 AM

At some point, we will be vaccinated and be able to travel again. I hope to be able to see my farther located family members and friends. Meanwhile, I will keep on knitting, reading, quilting, hiking, and blogging. My blog has been evolving since I started it in 2017, as a way to document my life and my quilts – mostly as a scrapbook for personal use. I wrote my 200th post last year. I still have more than a dozen unfinished posts from our New Zealand trip, and a number of quilt story posts to finish. Those are my modest goals for the New Year. I hope when I look back next year, I will have had some new wonderful adventures in a calmer world.