Friday, December 21, 2012

Merry Christmas 2012

Larry and I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and may God bless you in the new year.  This Christmas video is just a small glimpse into a wonderful year we experienced and we hope you enjoy.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A-Z Bread


Tuesday was the GRADS (Graduation, Reality And Dual-Role Skills programs leading to high school graduation and economic independence) board meeting.  I was responsible for early morning snack so I pulled out my mother’s famous A-Z bread recipe that she has been making for forty plus years.  I am not sure where she found the recipe but it is a family favorite as a breakfast bread, a snack in the afternoon, or an evening dessert.

The recipe is one basic batter that varies depending on what two cups of A-Z that you choose to add.  I decided to make pumpkin with raisins and banana with walnuts but instead of baking them in two loaf pans, I used a bundt pan.  The breads turned out beautiful and after they cooled, I drizzled them with a thinned down butter cream frosting. 

My daughter Kelly insisted several years ago that I use Glad Press’n Seal plastic wrap instead of various other brands I have used, discarded, tried, changed, etc.  Kelly liked the way Press’n seal actually stayed where you put it instead of coming loose.  So I covered the breads first one direction and then the other. 

Tuesday morning I filled up my bags with fruit, juice, plates, napkins, and on the second trip to the car I loaded the breads.  When I arrived at school I realized I was going to have to stack the breads on top of each other to carry everything in at one time.  My arms were full when a couple headed into early bird class kindly closed the back door to my SUV.   The main door to the school has a handicap button so no problem getting in except I couldn’t see the button for the second set of doors.  Okay I can do this!  Just as I opened the door and turned to go in, the top bread began to shift and what seemed like slow motion, but took just a second, was a worst case scenario--The bread flew forward, flipping upside down, and landed with a splat several feet ahead of me.  Trying not to drop the other bread and thinking, okay one of these breads should be enough to feed the board members, I slowly bent down and turned the bread over.  The Press’n seal held the bread to the plastic plate and because it was a dense bread you couldn’t even tell I had dropped it.  The bread was sealed and perfect even if the edge of the plate was cracked.  I stacked the breads, slowed my pace and walked the length of the school and down a short corridor to the GRADS classroom.  Brenda and Vicki helped me unload the morning goodies and laughed as I told them what had just happened.  Everyone enjoyed the breads and I shared the recipe with several members later by email.  All is well that ends well, but, really, not breathing and holding my breath for several seconds as a potential disaster played out before me called for an extra stop at Starbucks for coffee after the meeting.

Here is my mom’s recipe.  I hope you enjoy.

A to Z Bread


3 c. flour                                                         
1 tsp. salt                                                        
1 tsp. baking soda                                          
3 tsp. cinnamon                                              
1/2 tsp. baking powder                                  
3 eggs
1 c. oil
2 c. sugar
3 c. A-Z
3 tsp. vanilla
1 c. nuts, chopped (you can eliminate this if you choose)

Sift dry ingredients.  Set aside.  Beat eggs in large bowl.  Add eggs and sugar.  Cream well.  Add A to Z and vanilla.  Add flour mixture.  Mix well.  Add nuts.   Spoon into 2 greased loaf pans.  Bake in preheated oven at 325° for 1 hour.  Makes 2 large loaves or use a Bundt pan twice.

A to Z - use one of the following or a mixture of the following except as indicated to equal 2 c.

apples-grated
apricots-chopped
bananas-mashed, 2 c.
carrots-grated
dates-pitted, chopped
peaches-fresh or canned, chopped
pineapple-crushed, drained, 2 c.
prunes-chopped, 1 c.
pumpkin, canned, 2 c.
raisins
rhubarb-finely chopped
yams-cooked, mashed
zucchini-grated, well drained, 2 c.

try your own

Saturday, September 29, 2012

A Leisurely Fall Saturday


Friday afternoon when I was driving into town, I was stopped at an intersection and noticed across the street six or eight small size trucks turned monster-trucks.  They were parked and displayed in front of a gas station and I was sorry I didn't have my camera with me.  I thought maybe when I returned home I would come back and take pictures, but when I got home we were having a impromptu celebration dinner.

Saturday morning we decided to head out and get our vehicles washed by a local Boy Scout troop that our friends’ son belongs to and is sponsored and supported by the local Kiwanis club where my husband, Larry, is a member.  I called about going to get my new boots with bling but since they don’t have a real store front and do lots of local events, there was no answer; so I will have to wait until one day during the week.  We dropped off the truck for its wash job and headed out to take pictures of the monster trucks.

Just my luck, the trucks were gone.  Disappointed, I vowed to start carrying my camera when I go out (let’s see if I can remember that).  Larry remembered someone had posted about a vintage car show at the local Chevy dealer so we headed that direction.

We pulled in and sure enough on the back lot we could see the cars and trucks.  We found a great parking space and began to wander and I started snapping photos.  There is just something romantic about the old cars from the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s.  Stock, they are cool but customized they are spectacular.  Oldies music was blaring on the outdoor speakers and that added to the ambiance of cruising the aisles looking at the cars and trucks of every make, model, and color.

We ran into a friend of ours, Gary MacDonald who was showing his  Plymouth Road Runner.  We haven’t seen Gary in a few months and running into old friends is always a pleasure.  Gary was just about to leave; his grandson had a soccer game and that trumps cars.

Okay this made up for the missing the monster trucks, but I am still sorry I didn't get pictures of them.  We headed back to pick up Larry’s clean truck and he will stay and get my car washed.  It was a nice leisurely fall Saturday doing running around doing small town errands.  








Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Tomato and Cucumber Salad


A family favorite recipe:  


3 c. peeled and chopped cucumber, bite size pieces
3 c. chopped tomatoes, bit size pieces
1 sweet onion, diced
Salt & pepper
1 c. sugar
1 c. vinegar (reg. rice, apple)

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl and refrigerate.  Let sit at least an hour for the flavors to blend.  Taste to see if you need more vinegar or sugar.  This should be a sweet tart mixture.

We like to double the recipe.

Nicole loves this salad but when she found out it had all the sugar in it, she said “no wonder I like it.”

Kelly likes to add a few red pepper flakes in her salad and she uses Splenda to reduce the calories and carbohydrates so that should help Nicole out.

Larry does not like cucumbers so when I make this salad I don’t have to share, but it still does not last.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Chalk Paint


My daughter Kelly first told me about chalk paint.  I did a Google search and read lots of articles.  For anyone who still doesn’t know about chalk paint, you don’t write on this; it is the texture and finish that make this paint unique.

There were lots of articles on how to make your own chalk paint and I read and bookmarked a number of them.  The DIY approach many people had to making their own was about the cost of the Annie Sloan paint at just under $39.00 a quart.

After reading and reviewing other people’s opinions and personal hands on experiences, I decided to invest in the real thing.  Luckily for me there is a distributor not too far away.  I purchased “old white” asking, when buying the paint, if they had any tips that might be useful.  I was told to have a damp brush when applying the final coat.

After looking at Pinterest and admiring the transformations of old dining room hutches to useful studio storage space, I began browsing Craigslist for something that caught my eye, spoke to me, said buy me, and was a bargain.

I lost out to several hutches by a phone call and gave up on the ones where owners were clearly asking way too much and would not bargain.  Perseverance paid off and I finally found a unique hutch with doors and drawers below and leaded glass doors with glass shelving on the top.  A few emails to the seller to ask questions and we closed the deal.  Larry and drove just a few miles away and transported my new project home in two trips.

On the website for Annie Sloan:  www.anniesloan.com this why they say their paint is special.

“Why our Paint is Special – Reasons Why It’s Good

Chalk Paint is a very special paint for very many reasons

1. It's the BEST paint for painting furniture by a long way
2. No need to prime or prepare
3.Extremely low VOCs so it is good for the environment
4. You can use it on any surface, indoors and out (the outside of our shop was painted in it- perfect!)
5. You can use the paint by diluting it with water to make a wash to show the wood grain
6. The colours are mixed intelligently and the web site shows how you can adapt your colours for your use
7. It's a girls' paint, but boys can use it too.
8. It's flexible so you can be creative and change your mind
9. It allows your walls to breathe so it is perfect for cottage walls
10. You can use it as an impasto (thickly) - leave the lid off to thicken
11. We've been making it since 1990 so it's tried and tested.”

My hutch is oak and was originally painted green when the previous owner acquired it.  He stripped the hutch down to bare wood but family obligations are the reason he sold it to us.  I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I was going to paint it after he seemed so proud of the fact that he was restoring it.
I started with the base of the cabinet, removing the doors and drawers.  The paint went on smooth and easy--I liked the texture, and it dried fast.  Two coats is what the website stated would cover the furniture.  I did some more online reading and several bloggers said depending on the piece it could take three or four coats to get the required results.

A little more research and I decided I needed a plan B.  If I needed to paint four coats then I was going to use a good primer sealer first and save the good paint for the final coats.  I purchased Glidden Gripper primer/sealer in white (they also sell grey for dark paint) and did all remaining pieces in two coats before applying the Annie Sloan paint.  This not only is a more economical thing to do but made the Annie Sloan paint go on much smoother.  The Glidden Gripper also bonds to everything so there was no sanding or prepping before I used it.

I did not buy the Annie Sloan wax which they recommend, instead buying Renaissance Wax Polish developed by the British Museum.  I have usually finished wood furniture pieces with a clear poly blend so this was all new to me using wax.  Having removed years of old built up wax from a dining room table I was a little hesitant about using wax.  I used a soft lint-free cloth to apply the wax and buff it.  I think I might invest in the Annie Sloan soft wax or The Fiddes & Sons wax and a good round wax brush if I do many more pieces.

This was a learning experience using a new paint and a new wax.  I am thrilled to have my hutch finished and filling it up with treasures to display in a dust free cabinet with storage for art supplies in the drawers and cabinets.





Barns...a rich life


My cousin Reta read my blog post on barns and tried to comment.  When blogger would not let her leave a comment, she sent me this note and I wanted to share her thoughts.

Billie

Just read your article and enjoyed it but would not let me post comment. You are right!!! We did not have fond memories of farm life for many years because of all the hard work and long days. Also, I always thought we were poor farm kids. We did not have the same things that town kids did and alot of store bought clothes or toys and bicycles. Many years later, I came to appreciate being taught all the hard work and appreciate what I have and not what others have. I also realized that our milk barn was one of the few milk barns around and that all our farm equipment was paid for. We had lots of equipment that other farmers did not have, so Dad did custom work for others for either money or a share of the crops. We had herds of cattle ( dairy and beef), sheep and hogs, not just a few. Instead of bicycles, we had horses!!! As for the hard work and long days, we still found time to go swimming at the spring or just running all over "our" 500 acre park!!! When we built the new house it was paid for with cash, as was everything else was paid for. So we were NOT POOR farm kids!!!  We had a very good life and would not change any of it. And I do have fond memories of all the hard work and play of farm life that town kids will never know. Enjoy reading you articles.  Love Reta

Friday, August 24, 2012

Barns...a love affair and childhood memories


Several weeks ago Larry and I took off on the bike to explore our own backyard, Whatcom County, on the roads less traveled.  We headed north, zig zagging on roads we hadn’t ridden in a long time and roads we had never ridden on.  We had no destination in mind and you can only go about fifteen miles north when you hit the Canadian border, and about four miles west from our home we hit the Straight of Georgia, so we knew we were going east until we hit the foothills of Mt. Baker.

I began snapping photos of barns almost as soon as we left home.  Some of those shots didn’t turn out so well.  When you suddenly realize there is a really great barn you are approaching, you need to turn on your camera and shoot going 35-50 miles/hour.  If it had truly mattered, Larry would have stopped the bike to turn around and let me take the photo again.  Another day.

Some of these barns were in various stages of decay and some were old and weathered but still being used.  The newer barns don’t hold as much interest for me because they are built to be cost effective, functional, and efficient without any thought to style, cupolas, color, or heritage.  Each barn is unique even if they are similar to other barns just down the road. 

The stories they could tell of haying days and old time milking.  When cows were brought in from the pasture not kept captive in holding pens and barns were used for storage, milking, birthing, and tending sick animals.  Barns where meant for children to play in haylofts full of hay that would feed the cattle in the coming winter months.  There were barn cats that kept the mice at bay and were always underfoot during milking time waiting for a bowl of warm milk.

Seeing these barns brought back childhood memories of spending time at my Aunt Elma’s dairy farm.  I am sure I have a softer, much more romantic memory of those times than my cousins who had chores of helping with the cows and milking.  In the summer time I remember walking with my cousins across the road, through the pasture and trees, over the rise to find the cows and  herd them back to the barn for the afternoon milking.  Once the cows were penned, they went up one of two ramps into the dairy barn and into a stall with a open gate which was closed and the next cow moved down to the next open gate.  The cows were given some feed and their teats were cleaned and someone took a small sample from each teat before the milking machine was attached.  This sample of milk was put in a bowl on the barn floor were a number of cats eagerly awaited their twice daily treat.

I don’t remember getting up early to round up the cows in the morning but I am sure my cousins David, Joyce, Carl, Reta, and John can vividly remember.  I do remember going to the barn after the cows arrived for the morning milking, watching, staying out of the way, and loving every minute of being in the dairy barn.  Only when the milking was done was it breakfast time.

My cousin Rita sent me the history of the family milk barn:  “It was built in 1950, has 6 stanchions where most were just 3. We used air milkers (no pipe line back then) where the milkers had a air hose attached to the milker. Under the concrete risers you can see the air pipes in the picture with Carl Jr. and Dad. When the barn was first built, the air compressor was not electric. Dad would back the tractor up to the feed room door, in which the compressor was kept, and run a belt from the PTO (power take off) on the tractor to the compressor to run. There was a feed room, a storage room, a bathroom and shower, front parlor which where we cleaned and stored the milkers and water cooler to keep milk cool. The cooler would hold 15-18 can of milk, which was picked up daily. We would keep bottles of pop in the cooler and sometimes they would turn over and we would have to fish them out. If you ever fished one out, you know how cold that water would get. The picture of Carl Jr. and Dad was taken in about 1952 when we went totally electric in the house and barn. Electric compressor in barn and electric cook stove in the house!!! Joyce and I went thru pictures today to find these; of course it took us hour’s because we would get off onto talking about other pictures. So when I have a few minutes more to scan pictures there is more to come that I hope you will enjoy.”   Love Reta




My grandmother was famous for her hot rolls, and when my family visited I remember grandma taking dough from the starter and working quietly on a flour covered surface to make the rolls.  There was cereal which all the kids liked, eggs, sausage or bacon, milk, and coffee.  My mom told me that my grandmother grew up on a diary farm but didn’t like to drink milk.  My grandma Melton loved her cornflakes and she poured a little bit of coffee over them because she wouldn’t even use milk on her cereal.  These are the memories I cherish and I can tell my kids and my grandchildren about.

I have had a number of people over the years tell me I should be riding my own motorcycle.  I did own a quad years ago and liked it.  A car accident has left me with reduced strength in one arm, turned my quick thinking left brain into an artistic right brain with a short term memory loss.  I enjoy riding behind Larry on the motorcycle, it gives me time to enjoy all that is around me while we are riding and to write stories in my head that I later try to remember a small percentage of my thoughts and capture them onto paper and post to one of the blogs. 

Today we were on our own riding, a slower pace than when we aren’t keeping up with a group and needing to be mindful of staying together. There was sun, warmth, a mountain glistening above us, very few vehicles of any kind on the roads for such a beautiful day.  We ran parallel on the US side of the US border to the Canadian highway 1 and we stopped west of Sumas to watch the air show in Abbotsford, Canada, hugged the foothills as we skirted Silver Lake,  enjoyed a long leisurely ride on Mosquito Lake Rd., lunch at The Blue Mountain Grill, across Skagit County and up Chuckanut Drive.

Just a little one hundred and sixty mile lunch ride.  








Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Wonderful Surprise


When everyone realized Larry and I were serious about remodeling the kitchen, Brenda mentioned if I was not keeping the doors on the island she would like to have the chicken.  Well Larry teased her that he was keeping them and hanging them up as art (he knew I didn’t want to keep them).  When the time came to remove the doors we gave them to Brenda.  The smile on her face was all you needed in the way of a thank you, but really I was the one who needed to say thank you to Brenda, because they were out of my house and on to a new life with someone who wanted them.

Fast forward to the kitchen reveal party we had yesterday for friends.  Dave and Brenda arrived with a way too cool reusable shopping bag filled with fun colored tissue paper.  Can you tell I like the wrapping as much as what is in a bag or box?  Think of the art work I can use the tissue paper in and I will be styling when I shop now (because Bellingham has a no plastic/paper unless you pay for it ban).

What was in the bag!  Dave had taken one of the doors, the one with the cow and turned it into a birdhouse.  I was overwhelmed with such a thoughtful gift.  Dave and Brenda had been conspiring and couldn’t even reveal what they were up to on Facebook because they knew I would see the post.  There is even a little tag attached with a ribbon made from a piece of the birdhouse with our name on it.  The birdhouse now sits on the mantle for all to see and for us to cherish.

The words thank you can never say enough for your creativeness, thoughtfulness, and friendship.







Monday, August 06, 2012

2,034 miles, 8 days, 2 countries, 2 provinces, 3 states 4 bikes, 8 friends, priceless memories




July 21st Bellingham to Clinton BC

We (Dave, Lorie, Dave, Dawn, Bill, Marla, Larry, and me) headed out from Starbucks on Bakerview at 8:00 AM.  We were suited up for rain because the clouds were hanging low over Whatcom and the weather prediction all the way to Whistler BC was rain.  We took Northwest and angled over to the Guide heading to the Lynden crossing.  A few quick questions and we were on our way.

Getting through the Vancouver traffic snarls, road improvements, drivers who think only they have the right of way, and large foreign objects in the middle of our lane was probably the most stressful part of the trip today.  But then Vancouver traffic is always like this.

The Sea to Sky highway is beautiful and we stopped for gas before we arrived in Whistler and then gazed in amazement at all the new condominiums, and houses that have been built since we last passed through Whistler right before the  2010 Winter Olympics.

We stopped in Pemberton at The Pony for lunch before climbing up and over the mountain to Lillooet.  A stop at the bottom of the mountain to remove the last of the rain gear and as many other layers as we could take off.  We started out in the high fifties when we left this morning with rain and now it is around eighty-two degrees. 
We are only one hundred kilometers or about sixty miles to Clinton where we are staying for the night.  We have been as far as the turn off to Cache Creek but have never gone farther north.  A new road, a new experience, a new memory.

Riding the canyon road far above the river you look out to the dry and parched high desert hills ahead.  A few twist and turns and we are down in the valley with small farms stretching out on either side of us.  Horses meander by small streams in the lush green fields while herds of white cattle stand in fields on the opposite side of the road.  Small vineyards are beginning to sprout up in the rich farmlands. 

We pass old log homes, barns, lean-tos, and outbuildings in various states of decay and disrepair.  Occasionally we would see one of these barns with a coat of paint that while maybe several years old, shows that someone is still using it and trying to preserve a part of history.

We checked into the Cariboo Lodge Resort and the owner Darla had a full crew to welcome us and chat.  With the bikes unloaded and settled into our rooms it was time to socialize.  We were on the second floor and had tables and chairs so we could sit around, relax, tell stories, and laugh. 

Clinton was originally known as 47 Mile House before being renamed Clinton in 1863 when the Cariboo Wagon Road was completed and only had a population of about six hundred.  The Cariboo Lodge was built on top of the original lodge and is constructed of spruce logs and even has a western saloon.

The lodge had a restaurant so we didn’t have to ride someplace else for dinner.  The waitress was one of the ladies who helped check us in and she was vibrant and fun.  She kept up with our jokes, dinner orders, and everything else in-between and the smile never left her face.  The patrons behind us even joined in several times.

Back at the ranch we sat on the balcony talking and laughing.  We have ridden with this group many times and it is always a pleasure whether it is a day ride or a multiple day ride just to be with them.  No drama, no worries, just friends who care about you, and with whom you enjoy spending time.

July 22nd Clinton BC to Prince George BC

We were on our way before 8:00 AM.  We only have to travel about 250 miles today.  No gas stations open in Clinton on a Sunday morning so we went north to 70 Mile House to get gas which was only about thirty miles.  The good part was they were open, but the bad part was they only had regular gas and our bikes run on premium.  Dave and Bill had enough till we got to 100 Mile House but Dave and Larry each put a couple of gallons in so we were not running on empty.

We stopped for breakfast in 100 Mile House which got its name because it was 100 miles from Lillooet.  The original name of the town was Bridge Creek House.  The area has a population of about 20,000. 

We stopped at Smitty’s for breakfast with lots of laughter and then topped off our tanks with premium with a higher grade.  Back on the road… You could say it is a pretty straight shot because there were not a lot of noticeable twist and turns in the road and every few miles there were passing lanes.  The roads are fairly well maintained and lots of improvements in the works to add more lanes in some areas and more passing lanes in lots of areas.

A few eagles, three deer, and one possible fox sighting was the total animal count for the day.  Well, we also saw a few cows and lots of horses.

Farmland stretched out on either side of us, farmers bailing hay and some fields looked like they had been planted a second time.  Fields were dotted with round hay bales and open sided barns were filled.  We passed several large lakes and small communities but the wide open spaces with farms and forest land is almost more than you can comprehend when everyone is talking about how populated the world is.

More homesteads, barns, and out buildings built with logs lay abandoned and replaced by newer houses built from the early nineteen hundreds to the current date.  Split rail fences lined some of the old farms and numerous cattle chutes stood deserted.
A couple of stops to stretch our legs and we pulled into Prince George around three o’clock.  We headed to the local Harley dealer and it normally would have been closed on Sunday but a HOG group from Vancouver BC had arranged for the store to be open for their arrival.  A little shopping and we headed to our hotel.

Prince George is the largest city in northern British Columbia and was named in honor of King George III.  Logging and lumber mills are still the primary employers.
Mischief…we don’t look for it, it just sort of comes our way. All the girls are people watchers, not stalkers, we just watch people to see who they are and what they are doing. We laughed about the guy whose car broke down and hired some local guys who work on machinery for the logging industry to hammer, pound and bang away at this guy’s SUV trying to fix it.  They met at an ATM and I can’t imagine hiring anyone who looked like they did--no recommendations, no real shop, they just arrived at the motel with some tools and spent hours hammering away at fixing the bearing on his vehicle.

Ok, we went to dinner, laughed way too much and thought we would just go back to our rooms, socialize a little more and call it a night.  That was the plan.  The guys sort of were talking guy stuff and the girls were still just laughing and joking innocently enough.

 A car pulls into the parking lot, a woman gets out, low cut top, high heels, lace tights, short black skirt, (a lady of the night)  and proceeds up the stairs to the room of the out of town guy who had his car worked on by the sort of odd repairmen.  The door is open, she goes in unannounced but expected, about five minutes later the door is locked the curtains closed and we can’t believe there is a prostitute in our motel.
A few minutes later a pickup truck with two guys pulls into the parking lot taking up two spaces and this is what gets us to look at them because it seems all the trucks in the lots think they need two spaces.  The motor is running, and they just sit there.  We begin to think they are with the hooker when they don’t get out or leave.  Well they finally roll down the window; say something we can’t understand, get out of the truck and go into Wendy’s which is right across from the motel.  More speculation on our part and super sleuth detective Dawn decides to investigate.  She walks over to the motel entrance driveway and can see the two guys in Wendy’s having a cold drink watching the motel.  One of the guys is looking up at the room where we all firmly believe a transaction and exchange of money has taken place for sex.   Are these the pimps, the husband, the boyfriend, the brother who worked on the guy’s car…we don’t know, but they seem interested in the room.  About twenty-five minutes after she went in the room the two guys finally come out of Wendy’s and leave slowly.
About this time our husbands are thinking it’s getting late and time to head to our rooms so they come to check on us.  We told them our story and they sort of looked at us like we had been reading one too many novels or watching one too many police shows on television.  Well the innuendos rang out from the guys and a little singing with the girls saying shhhhhh and laughing.  Thirty-five minutes after the hooker went into the room, she left.  Lorie timed her. Then the guys believed us.
Speechless is what it came down to.  How could you ever imagine that we would stay in a motel and we would watch a hooker do business in front of us?  What happened in Prince George BC is public knowledge…the names were not changed because we don’t know who they are, but these are the facts, nothing but the facts, this is our story and we are sticking to it.

Night, night, 5:45 AM is wake up and we need to be in full rain gear, breakfast finished and on the road by 8:00 AM.  It is not a long day by miles, about two hundred and fifty miles, but rain, thunder, and lightening is predicted.

July 23, 2012 Prince George BC to Jasper National Park, Alberta

Bill said there was a sixty percent chance of rain today and it rained all but about fifteen minutes of the two hundred and fifty or so miles we rode from Prince George to Jasper, Alberta on the Trans-Canada Highway #16 also known as the Yellowhead Highway.  It misted, sprinkled, rained, poured, and dumped on us all day.

In those early morning hours you could see the heavy fog clinging to the side of the mountains.  Occasionally it would dip low into the valley and we would ride through this veil of mist.  There was never a clear hole in the clouds ahead; instead it was a grey cold day, all day.

The roads were pretty good with only an occasional rough spot and lots of passing lanes.  The traffic itself was not bad until we neared Jasper and then most of it was going east.  We did see our first moose running parallel to the road on the opposite side of the road from us.  What a magnificent sight. 

We were pretty much enveloped in a forest for the first one hundred and twenty-five miles.  It is almost unimaginable to think of this much land that is uninhabited except for an occasional farm or provincial park.  Of course this meant there were no towns for gas or breaks. 

When we finally arrived at a rest stop, I think McBride, we did stop for a short break and to add more layers, tuck existing  layers in, and try to find whatever else we had packed that might keep us warm and dry.

Back on the road our trip was interspersed with small clearings that farmers had carved out enough forest land to grown hay.  Occasionally a few horses could be seen huddled together in a field.  The rest of the day was forest and farms until we reached Jasper and then everything just seemed to change to canyons and rivers. 

A very slow moving train that must have been over a hundred cars moved westward between the road and the river.  To the west of Jasper, we crossed into the province of Alberta.  The main highway between Canada runs through Jasper National Park so you have to pay to go through it.  Dave and Lorie were the lead bike and paid for everyone so we wouldn’t have to stop for each bike.  When we pulled into for a pit stop a few minutes later the train had crossed to the other side of the road and the engineer blew his whistle and waved to us as he went by.  The thunder clapped overhead and it was time to ride.  Several minutes later we saw our first elk grazing under the tree branches on both sides of the road as we arrived in Jasper.

We drove from one end of town to the other and the street was filled with clothing stores, restaurants, and souvenirs shops.   We found our hotel and began pulling of layers of gear and clothing.  Water had managed to seep into and under rain gear, soaking shirts, pants, shoes, and socks and under the protective covers for our nylon bags strapped to our tour packs.  The hotel had a laundry so some items went straight to the dryer; other items were placed over the heaters in the bedrooms to dry.  My boots stayed dry but others were not as lucky, including Larry.  My helmet is another story and not sure how the whole lining became wet when I was wearing my hood from the rain gear.  It acted like a big wick which made for a fuzzy head of hair.
Everyone brewed a pot of coffee in their rooms to try and get warm and some of us had to go to the office for more coffee and towels.  Hot showers felt great and dry clothes even better.

Rather than ride to dinner or walk we found a local pizza place that also had sandwiches and salads so we ordered in.  Good idea!  Marla took our orders and called it in.   And still the rain is coming down.

It was a quiet evening visiting with our friends, watching a little television, and resting.  The funny thing is last night and tonight both the television had all three of the major Seattle channels so we could catch up on everything that was going on at home.
The plan is to have breakfast at the hotel at 7:00 AM and be on the road by8:00 AM. 

July 24th Jasper BC to Lake Louise BC and Radium Hot Springs BC

Food, dry clothes and we are ready to ride.  We were on the road by 8:00 AM.  The skies are grey and we are dressed for rain.  Going south we hope to leave the cooler weather and rain behind sometime today.

The pass through the mountains is beautiful.  We stopped at Sunwapta Falls to take pictures and had a short break.  It has been a steady light shower but nothing like yesterday.

We are pretty much following the valley floor next to the river.  You can see high the water marks when the spring floods come from melting snow.  The Canadian Rockies are breath taking and Larry said it was like riding through the North Cascades on steroids.  We stopped at the Columbia Ice Fields to take a break and admire the amazing scenery.  Marla fed crackers to a Canadian blue jay which sat on Bill’s windshield waiting to be fed.  We had our first mountain goat sighting.  Dawn spotted three teeny tiny white dots up on the mountainside that if you watched would slowly move.  We made one more stop at Crossing Café and motel for a break.

We stopped at Lake Louise for gas, food, and sightseeing.  Not as many tourists as I thought we might find considering the parking lot was full.  The lake is beautiful with its green ice cold glacier water and up high you can see the glacier that the water comes from.  Sometime after we left Lake Louise we crossed back into British Columbia.
Around every bend you think this must be it, but the road just keeps going past more amazing mountains, cliffs, and rock formations.  We began to see lots of deer alongside the road as we moved farther south. 

We arrived in Radium Hot Springs about 3:30 PM and checked into our motel.  We walked down to a German restaurant for dinner and it was early to bed for an early departure tomorrow morning.

Radium Hot springs is a small town of about eight hundred people in east Kootenay BC.  It is named for the hot spring in Kootenay National Park.  There are radioactive elements but they are insignificant.  We did not, however, decide to join the several hundred other people in dipping our toes in the hot springs.

July 25th Radium Hot Springs BC to Columbia Falls Montana USA

The sun is shining and while there is a little fog surrounding the valley, there is no rain in the forecast.  We filled our tanks and looked across the street to see seven male Big Horn Sheep having an early morning meal of plants and leaves on the center median.  They looked calm, not afraid of people, and no fear of vehicles. 

We crossed back into Alberta and passed Frank’s Slide near Crowsnest Pass.  Turtle Mountain collapsed April 29, 1903 and in one hundred seconds, rock, wind, and dust blew through this little valley killing seventy to ninety people.  This was one of the largest landslides in Canadian history and the deadliest.  The slide area looks almost exactly as it did the day it happened.  To see half a mountain side gone, spread out across the valley floor with boulders as big as semi trucks is truly remarkable.
We passed many lakes and streams, crossed the Columbia River, Kootenai River, saw deer, and cattle in the farmlands.  The forested lands gave way to farm land that changed into dry land covered in sage brush.

The border crossing was quick at Chief Mountain  and we drove through open range land and slowed for cattle that couldn’t decide, when they heard our loud pipes, if they wanted to cross the road or just stand and stare at us. We stopped at St. Mary’s on the east of Glacier National Park for lunch.   A half hour wait at the small restaurant (they make homemade pie) was more than we wanted to wait, so we grabbed lunchables and rode on.  There are only a few restaurants and gas stations for miles in either direction and this is a popular rest stop and accounts for the large crowds at any time of the day.
We entered Glacier National Park on the east side riding the “Going-to-the Sun” to the top of mountain.  Clear blue skies with white fluffy clouds that Montana is so famous for filled the horizon.  We stopped at the top of the mountain and saw big horn sheep, mountain goats, and ground squirrels. 

Glacier National Park is over one million acres and borders Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada.  The two parks are known as the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park and was designated as the world’s first International Peace Park in nineteen thirty-two.

We were on the mountain side going east to west towards Columbia Falls where we would be staying for the night.  A long stretch of the road was one lane and long lines of cars, trucks and motorcycles were led through by a pilot car as we crossed the Continental Divide at Logan Pass.

We checked into our motel for the night, the guys washed the bikes, we found ice, soda, chairs, glasses, and settled in to socialize.  We ordered pizza, salad, wings, and sat out in a little covered barbeque area behind our rooms to eat dinner. 

July 26 Columbia Falls Montana to Sandpoint Idaho

A beautiful sunny day and I am starting the day out without having to layer on or plug in the heated gear.  From Columbia Falls we went south along Flathead Lake to Elmo where we went west and south to Hot Springs Montana which is about half way between Kalispell and Missoula in the Cabinet Mountains.   After a brief stop for cold drinks and Dave J. tried to peek into the wizard’s room and got caught, we were back on the road again.

We stopped in Thompson Falls Montana for lunch at Minnie’s Café.  Great service, good food, and we had the whole back room to ourselves or maybe they wanted to keep us bad bikers away from the regular customers…haha.  This is a cute little town with businesses on one side and the railway on the other side of the street.

We got stopped somewhere before Sandpoint Idaho for road construction.  We had about a fifteen to twenty minute wait before a pilot car led us out of the construction zone.  We headed northwest to our destination and our route took us next to lakes and rivers, slowly leaving the farmland behind and climbing into forest. 

We arrived in Sandpoint Idaho in time for a quick rest before we gathered to as Larry likes to say “laugh and splash”.  We choose McDonalds for dinner rather than ride and it was only about a hundred yards away from the motel.  Something for everyone, salads, chicken, burgers, mocha frappes, and ice cream in waffle cones.  What a way to end the day

7-27 Sandpoint to Omak

Continental breakfast in the motel and we were ready to go.  It is going to be another warm day.  We heard before we left that Republic had winds over one hundred miles an hour the week before.  Downed power lines meant power outages and we weren’t sure what to expect on the roads.   Republic has been our go-to Fourth of July get away for several years.  We broke from tradition this year, instead just passing through on our week long ride.

The roads are less traveled in this part of the state, mostly locals and vacationers.  I missed the sign saying we had crossed into Washington State but the landscape didn’t scream, leaving Idaho, entering Washington.  In fact it looked a lot like the mountains of Montana and lower British Columbia and Alberta we rode through. 

We stopped at Beaver Lodge Resort and Campground located at Tiger Pass in the Colville National Forest for a break.  It sits next to Lake Gillette and Lorie said it is one of four interconnected lakes of Little Pend Oreille Lakes chain.   

We stopped for gas in Colville and continued on toward Republic.  We ran into road construction in several places but were lucky enough not to have to wait in the heat today.

 We continued on past Kettle Falls, over Sherman Pass, and began our descent into the valley to Republic.  We began to see trees snapped in two or completely uprooted.  Several trees were downed and laying on top of outbuildings.  Road crews had been through and cleared the road leaving chain sawed remnants beside the road.  The closer we got to town the more devastation of the forest we saw. 

We stopped at Sportsman Roost for lunch.  Our waitress said the town had been without power for about a day and a half but some places lost power for five days.  Right before we finished and left the restaurant a tree crew came in for lunch.  They were from Seattle and had come to help clear trees so power could be restored.   

We rode to Tonasket for a pit stop, shade, cold drinks, ice cream and then finished the final leg of our trip today in Omak.    Did I mention it’s hot, really hot?  Checked in we had air conditioned rooms, time for showers, and naps before dinner.  We walked across the parking lot to the Koala Street Grill for dinner.  This is our last night together.  We stood around the parking lot after dinner talking, laughing, watching the wind pick up, and finally blowing tumbleweeds across the road which was our sign to call it a night.

7-28 Omak to home

We had continental breakfast in the motel and then we mounted up and headed home.  We stopped in Twisp for gas and then breezed through Winthrop.  Heading up the mountain we could feel the cold air and were thankful we had layered up for the trip home.  There is still snow on the sides of the roadway and we pulled off at Rainy Pass for a rest stop.  Next stop Marblemount for gas and drinks.  We have decided to stop at Bob’s Burger and Brew in Burlington for lunch.  It’s been eight days since we pulled out of Bellingham and the time has gone quickly.

We can’t wait for the next adventure and we are genuinely thankful for true friends to ride with.  A special thank you to Dave M. for planning, arranging accommodations, details, and making this trip a success.









Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Southern Sweet Tea Part II



When I was very, very little, my dad would let me drink coffee with him.  My dad drank his coffee black and way back then I didn’t have a problem with that.  Now, I need all the additives to drink coffee--flavored creamer and Splenda to sweeten it.

Last year our daughter Kelly and our one and half year old grandson moved in with us while our son-in-law Kyle was deployed.  The baby is very attached to his papa and they sort of took over the living room each morning to read the paper and have coffee.  The little guy would crawl up on papa’s lap and get his two sips of coffee while they talked and read the paper or played a game on papa’s phone.  Just two sips of coffee that was the limit.

Now you may be wondering what coffee has to do with southern sweet tea.  Kelly and the little guy returned home right before Kyle returned from deployment.  Kelly usually has a batch of sweet tea or sun tea on the counter during the hot months, which would be most of the year, and began filling the little guy’s Sippy cup with iced tea for an afternoon treat.  He would take his sip of tea and say, “coffee.”   It has been almost a year since they returned home but the little guy still has his occasional Sippy of tea in the afternoon and still says, “coffee.”

Kelly said she needed to start him off right learning to drink and appreciate southern sweet tea, part of his heritage. 

Monday, July 09, 2012

studio remodel part I

Well the whole house has been painted, updated, remolded, and spruced up except my art studio.  Since the kitchen/multi room expanded remodel took more time and lots more money, my studio will have to wait for new lights to replace the fluorescent ceiling fixtures, a new chandelier to replace a fan that I never use because of paper, trims, gold leafing, threads, etc. layered on most surfaces in my studio.   Someday I would like to replace the old cupboards with a better system from IKEA.  And last but not least would be a fresh coat of paint on the walls and ceiling in a bright white with a metallic shimmer and maybe paint the countertops something other than green.
For now I am starting small by removing art, decorative items, and things that don’t appeal to me anymore.  Phase I of this transformation is a new china hutch that we bought today on Craig’s list.  I will move the chest I have owned since my parents bought it for me in fifth grade to one of the bedrooms upstairs.  The new piece needs a coat of paint to make it more updated shabby chic.  I am going to use the new chalk paint by Annie Sloan that everyone is blogging about because it can be applied directly to the finished surface already on the hutch without sanding, primer, or any other prep work.  I will need to paint the hardware or find a suitable replacement.  I have time to decide on that.
The nice couple we bought the hutch from had already stripped the paint from the hutch which in its former life was green and now is typical oak.  Anyone who knows me knows that I am not an oak person and yet there are still several pieces in our home that have yet to be painted or replaced.  More time, more money.  The hutch is going to be “old white” (referred to as lead white but contains no lead).  I didn’t have the heart to tell the sellers after all their hard work stripping the paint off, that I was going to paint it. 
With three clear leaded glass doors on the upper part of the hutch I can now display a small collection of my wooden thread spools and industrial thread/yarn spools.  Photos, collectibles, and treasures will now have a home without dust.  The hutch also has two lights in the top which will be nice to highlight the items displayed on the glass shelves.  The base has six drawers and two doors with shelves to hold art supplies. 
I am excited to begin painting and more excited to see the finished product in my art studio.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Southern Sweet Tea

Family time reminiscing about relatives, places, and food bring back so many memories.  I grew up drinking Southern sweet tea known in some places in the south as “house wine.”  I can’t ever remember a time when mom didn’t have a pitcher of sweet tea on the kitchen counter or a pan of tea brewing on the stove top.

Because my children grew up with Friday night dinners for the whole family once a month, special holiday dinners, special weekends with the grandparents, and let’s just stop by grandma’s because we are out running errands, they learned also that grandma always had a pitcher of iced tea.

All three of my children drink tea cold and hot.  Jim likes his hot tea without sugar and cold tea sweetened.  Michael drinks mostly hot tea and uses honey or drinks it straight, but always likes his grandmother’s tea.  Kelly drinks her tea hot but usually fixes cold tea and likes making a batch of sun tea which she learned from my mother.

Growng up, soda was something we only had for special times and then we always went for Dr. Pepper, orange, grape, or strawberry Nehi.  My grandpa Harry and grandma Chloe owned a small stone county store and gas station in Missouri when I was little and it was a treat to visit and they let us pick a soda.  Sometimes, if we were visiting their home, we would get soda with our meals.

My aunt Elma was a soda girl.  She loved her RC Cola (Royal Crown Cola) until she became Coke girl and always had a little area near the freezer where she kept it stored.  Aunt Faye loved her RC Cola also but probably became a coke girl when her son Ron delivered Coke to the local stores.  My cousin John also delivered for Coke,

Now, when mom makes tea she makes two batches, one sweet tea with sugar and one without sugar that we can add Splenda to sweeten it with.

Red Rose tea is my preferred tea to use and I remember mom always giving me the little ceramic Wade animal figurines which have became very collectible and the older figurines can now fetch several dollars to several hundred dollars for just one figurine.

Lipton Tea was my mother’s other tea of choice and the two brands were interchangeable and mom would usually buy which ever was on sale.

 Mom also bought green glasses known as Boopie, Bubble, Berwick, Inspiration, or Anchor Hocking in the grocery store filled with loose tea in the 1950’s.  I don’t know the brand of tea but I have several pieces in two sizes that mom has given me, now displayed in our new hutch in the kitchen.

Southern Sweet Tea

 4 family size tea bags or 8 regular tea bags
4 c. cold water
1 ½ c. sugar (use more for a sweeter tea)

Place water in pot and bring to a boil.  Turn off heat and add the baking soda and tea bags.  Cover with a plate and let steep for 5-7 minutes, then remove teabags and discard.  When tea has cooled down to warm, empty into a gallon container and add sugar until dissolved then fill remaining pitcher with cold water.    Pour over ice…do not refrigerate.

 Makes ½ gallon

Optional:   add ¼ tsp. (a pinch) of baking soda (the soda takes out the bitterness and darkens the tea, but does not change the taste).
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