Sunday, August 31, 2008

A Quiet Sunday

It’s unusually quiet this morning. Being the dead of summer, nearly every window is shut against the heat and humidity. It’s wet. Weeks of rains and high humidity. No children are outside playing. No birds are merrily singing. The drone of each neighbor’s air conditioning unit occasionally is heard. Feeder bands from Gustav stir the trees into a whirl with brief bursts of rain slammed against the windows. Then all is quiet again. My clock flashes 2:37 - reminding me it wants to be reset after the power outage last night. Stormy weather. A distant rumble of thunder, a swirl of the trees and then stillness. The only sound I hear is the click of my keyboard.

Perhaps I shall stay in bed this morning. I enjoy the soft rosy glow of the Indian Peach walls, the salmon colored shears and the golden flicker of the cypress rose scented candles. They add to the pink blush of my crisp cotton bedding. There is a warmth to this room that doesn’t exist outside of these four walls. I feel very safe.

Friday, August 29, 2008

ONE - Self

After I posted my poem, Self, I sent it to my brother.  He replied with a poem of his own, titled "One" (below).  I asked him if I could post it here in my journal, and he said,

       Sure, it belongs to you and you may use it as you wish. You may want to add a disclaimer that makes reference to the fact that the author has spent the past month on cloud nine.....

I liked it, and I hope you do too...


The caterpillar does not die
It grows into the butterfly

A person's need is not all greed
It is the spark that makes the growing seed

Living life with caring indulgence
Is a life that celebrates abundance

A person with an open heart
Grows to know she's not apart

Just as dust grew to be the sun
We grow to learn we all are one


Wednesday, August 27, 2008


An overshadowing loss,

A feeling described as blue

A mourning is taking place

What else could I do.

Sacrifice the selfish separate self

Deny indulgences and greed

Put away the denials

Suppress the carnal need.

I close my eyes with anticipation

Searching each evening dream

Looking for guidance - perhaps a clue

For a glimpse into the unseen.

The morning comes; I’m not ready

But life goes on, and so must I

I go through the day reminded

The selfish separate self must die.

Your Selfish Separate Self tho’ tough,

At thought of Death, is terrified,

And can quite frighten you,

When looked straight in the eye.

Reflecting back as carnival mirrors,

The master of deception

The Selfish Separate Self will fight,

To maintain its position.

A conscious conditioning

With each spoken breath

To speak my truth with clarity

Put Selfish Separate Self to death.

Speak one’s Truth with Clarity

Is not easy to learn

When bombarded with negativity

Around each daily turn.


-Michelle DeMars Mayher-


::Within and Without

Torn Between and Against

Mirrors on ALL sides

Split Inside and Out

Again and again

Thus is the Ignorant SELF::*

*The Children of The Law of One - The Lost Teachings of Atlantis”


Monday, August 25, 2008

Getting back...

This is somewhat like an overdue response to a correspondence from a friend; the longer it gets from the time you last responded, the harder it is to get to responding. So much to say, so much going on. My last entry was a fairwell to Fay. It looks like now we have to pay attention to Gustav.

Post -Fay, I managed to get caught up on the work that ‘s supposed to be done when we’re not in “Threat level 4” for emergencies. My younger daughter started her second year at the University and I’m enjoying the empty nest - again. She certainly has had an excellent summer vacation!

The weekend was a good opportunity to get back to focusing on MY needs. I decided to do a “detox”. I spent Saturday and Sunday on juices, and for lunch today I began with “Raw”. It’s kind of fun, actually, except for one bad “experiment”. Yesterday afternoon I juiced a whole bunch of stuff: I felt I was getting more fruits than veggies, so I added some spinach and some romaine to some carrots and half of a large beet. I love beets - cooked - even the greens in a salad, but this was my first experience “juicing” one. Wow. Wear gloves , for sure. The experiment probably wouldn’t have been too bad if I’d skipped the romaine, and used about one third of the fresh ginger. It was a struggle to finish it… but I did - not about to waste all that nutrition. A hot cup of lemon tea was quick to chase those lingering tastes. This evening’s meal was a salad with assorted greens, but the tasty part was half of a perfectly ripe avocado with fresh lemon juice. I topped it off with an excellent peach and apple juice, with a touch of ginger. (It was lick-smackin’ good!). We’ll see - not sure I can truly identify my motives… health, discipline, a need to clear my head… all of the above and more.

I have had very interesting dreams lately and I had this nagging feeling that the Universe was trying to get a message to me. That was reason enough to “detox”. So far, my dream clarity has “diminished”! It may be my body actually resting instead of being jolted with caffeine, alcohol, sugars and fats. However “communication” is a key theme for several days, now - and the number “5”. Not quite sure how it all will pan out, but I”ll be sure to let you know.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Good day, Fay

There is barely a occasional drizzle of rain.  It's 6:00 AM and Fay should be beating our beaches.....

hmmm.  unpredictable as weather, Fay's as flighty as a feather....

I just checked out the radar image (btw..there are some wonderful weather sites: is good, is good and is good) it looks like the east coast of FL is getting hit much harder ...harder than we are and I'd venture to say, much harder than the weather folks predicted.

As I stated in a previous post, I've been living in hurricane country for a lot of years.  I don't profess to be an expert, but I've been just as good at reading hurricanes as any layman.  I laugh at some of the local meteorologists.  yesterday, one fellow who looked to be about nine was on the TV with his maps and clickers, and he said "If Fay goes west, we'll have high surf...blah blah...  if Fay goes East, we won't.." Oh spare me. And he gets' paid for that crap?!! 

Yesterday, a local newspaper reporter was in Town Hall and said, "We're ground zero." When I asked what he meant, he said, "We're the main event.  There's national news crews all over the island."  So I asked "Where's Jim Cantori?"  If you follow Jim, you know what the weather channel calls ground zero.  Jim was in Naples, which is just south of us here. 

The last word from the boss yesterday was "don't come to work until I call you."  He's probably up by now, and watching the radar, waiting for Fay to move on by.

Some are disappointed when it's a "non event." Like my neighbors, who are new to SWFL (from Nebraska or some crazy place).  I heard them having a hurricane party, and complaining that this is the worst storm they've ever seen.  I see it as another learning experience. ..and another one down, and another one down. Another one bites the dust...


Monday, August 18, 2008


This fickle thing called Fay

I have lived in South Florida for thirty years. I have been through hurricanes. No two are alike. I have approached hurricanes on a personal level, until recently. In my position as Town Clerk for the Town of Fort Myers Beach, I become, the Public Information Officer..(PIO) within the Incident Command System (ICS). This system is required by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) in order for municipalities to get federal aid…aka…reimbursement.

Isn’t government such Alphabet Soup!!?! Acronyms acronyms!!

Friday afternoon, the boss sent an e-mail alerting key personnel to be available by cellphone throughout the weekend.

Saturday morning, the boss called and said I needed to be in the office at 10:30 Sunday morning.

Sunday morning, we were in standup mode.

We had a staff meeting today (Monday) at 8:00 AM. A Town Council meeting at 9:00 AM, to declare a state of local emergency. A “division commander” meeting at 10:00 AM ( I loved this! This is where the “men in uniform” come in… the fire chief, the police captain…haha! And the police guys “touch their guns” when they make statements! (and the fire chief has chewing tobacco in a can..yuck!”)

My role was pretty much to contact the county EOC (acronyms, again…that would be: Emergency Operations Center), establish a communication with the county PIO (that would be, public information officer) and scribe advisories, alert the media, etc. We (as a municipality) are committed to ‘speak with one voice” and so squelching the staff members who feel empowered when approached by the media was a constant housekeeping function,.

I put out advisories on our web site, (if you’d like to see my work: ) on our phone system: 239 765 0202, our hurricane hotline: 239 765 0919 extension 140, and we have a system called Code Red, that auto dials all FMB residents who have registered a phone number with us, to receive a recorded message regarding an emergency situation.

Dr. Steve Lyons is on the weather channel. I love him. He’s the best. Fay is a fickle thing, for sure. The 8:00 advisory has little wind, not too much storm surge… a heep of rain, maybe, but I think we’re outta the woods….

We dodged another one….

So far, so good!

P.S.:  Just for <<fun>>  ! read this:

and realize how crazy storm tracking really is....

welcome to my world....




Thursday, August 14, 2008

About a year ago, Lauren was shopping with me at a Bed, Bath and Beyond, and she stopped at a display of bathroom scales, and said, “ We need a scale.” That was enough for me, so I bought one. I have been overweight by the AMA’s charts since middle school. But lately, I have been losing weight, and it’s quite an interesting study.

About a year ago, I took up kayaking. I did it in order to have a recreational activity that wouldn’t strain my knee. ( I eventually had knee surgery in December 2007). What I found was how many other muscles of the body are used with kayaking. I began to notice how more defined various muscles of mine had become. Then, people began commenting on my body image. One day, the letter carrier came in to the lobby at work. I have known this man for 25 years. He looked at me and said, “ You’ve lost a ton of weight~! “ I was at a meeting for a civic organization, and some friends commented, “ …well, you’ve lost weight….” It was not a conscious effort ,and that’s the beauty of it. Oh it’s not some awesome success story ! Not by any means. But last night I ordered a jacket for myself from a catalog that I have frequently shopped. I’m comfortable with their clothing fit. Recent purchases have been returned for a smaller size. So, last night, I had to force myself to trust that this jacket would be a better fit in a smaller size. That’s the surprise.

From about a year ago this date - give or take a month or so each way - I’m down about 20 pounds, and have decreased body fat and increased muscle, and, have dropped about two clothing sizes.

My dietary habits have changed very little. I use less mayo and more mustard, I go more for proteins than starches - never did and will never eat mammals…

One thing I did…I started about 8 or 10 months’ ago…. Every morning… I have a mantra… It includes various “ I AM….” but relative to weight loss, I say daily, “…Every time I have a bowel movement, I lose body fat.” …..That is the power of Manifestation.

(no sh*t)


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Dream Notes

I was standing on a porch of a single family home – not sure whose home…the porch was about four feet off of the ground with a wooden railing.  I was looking out over the lawn which was bordered by tall grass and low trees and bushes (no sidewalks or streets).  I saw several deer – a buck a few doe,  fawns, all huddled together like a nest or den.  I exclaimed “Oh! Look!” and went inside the house and grabbed my camera.  The camera was plugged into the charger.  I grabbed it and ran outside and set the lens view on the deer.  The deer were under water – completely clear, calm water.  This factor was not unusual to me in the dream  (but rather unusual awake!) . I focused on the deer and clicked the shutter, but nothing happened.  Then I noticed there were no batteries in the camera.  At that moment, from the left of the lawn, came a large feline.  It was the size and shape of a lioness, with the spots of a leopard.  It was stalking and stealthily approaching the deer.  I ran inside, grabbed the batteries and ran back out, fumbling to put them in the camera and get a shot.  I dropped them over the railing and was afraid to leave the porch because of the lion/leopard.  I stood on the porch looking at the batteries in the grass below.  Someone… I don’t know who in my waking state, but I knew him in my dream was standing to the right of the porch, but on the lawn and offered to get them for me.  Then I awoke.


I see huge symbolism in this dream, but haven’t put together a possible message or meaning.  If you are reading this and are savvy in dream interpretation, I would welcome any input. 

Monday, August 11, 2008

And in the End.

Somehow I just can't seem to get a grip on "early to bed, early to rise" .  Vacation can be exhausting!  One full work week behind me, and then of course this past weekend's road trip, and I'm plumb tuckered out! It feels good, though, to get through my personal to do list - sell the house, take a vacation to the Pacific NW, buy a car, buy my daughters a car, ...and Some of the fun weird things on my list include taking dance lessons, taking weekend camping trips, figuring out how I'll get a road trip to the Smoky Mountains this fall for the flaming foliage.

But for now, I think it wise to end this day feeling fulfilled, accomplished, happy healthy, wealthy and wise!

OH...P.S,.:  Am I the only one disatisfied with the "mood" choices? 

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Good times

I just returned from a little weekend getaway.  I drove over to the east coast (of Fla) to visit my brother, Robert and his kids - they live in Dania, which is just south of Fort Lauderdale (he's about 15 minutes from Port Everglades). 

I had several reasons for taking this trip, and not in any order of preference.  I wanted to visit with Robert, and I wanted to do it in a way that he could relax and not be constantly tending to his children.  I wanted him to be able to enjoy a cocktail without worrrying about driving.  Usually, Robert comes over here - to visit Mom, to visit my other two brothers who live here in Lee County.  I used to live in Broward County - in another life - and wanted to see the old stomping grounds.  And I wanted a ROAD TRIP  for the New Car!! 

Last week I bought a 2008 Honda CR-V... "Nighthawk Black Pearl" with "Ivory" leather interior.  SUH -WEET!   I'm just silly-happy with this new ride! 

You who know me, know that I don't drive much. I'm a wimp on the interstate.  Perhaps it's from so many years of being married to a man that always "had" to drive , and did so very aggressively.  Add to it the fact that I live very close to where I work, and bicycle to work.  ..I don't drive much and so when I do, I'm wimpy.  But I decided that I am ready to expand my horizons, and I'd better just get back in the saddle.  With a brand new, fuel efficient vehicle, I have no excuse for road paranoia. 

The ride over was a breeze.  It's about 160 miles or so, Interstate nearly all of tthose miles, with 70 mph speed.  I love driving over Alligator Alley.  I remember when it was a narrow, dark two lane road with no rest areas or call boxes.  The speed limit was 65 daylight and 55 nighttime.  The panther crossings weren't in place and the fencing along the canals didn't exist.  The alligators basked all along the shores and frequently wondered onto the highway.  Now it's pretty super duper.  There are four lanes, with several rest areas,  fences, call boxes, all the modern conveniences.  The toll now is $2.50 (one way) and well worth it.  From toll booth to toll booth it's about 80 miles. I popped in some fave tunes, set the cruise control at 70 and just hummed along. 

The other side of the alley scares the crap out of me.  595 is a nightmare.  There's sometimes six and seven lanes coming from all directions, cloverleafing all around.  And those crazy east coasters drive like coke freaks.  Seventy miles an hour is crawling, and if you don't change lanes every ten seconds you're an old fart.  Several times I touched my bracelet and reminded myself "Courage". 

It was great visiting with Robert.  He was relaxed and candid and we shared a couple of bottles of wine and ate shrimp and chips and dip. We visited with a neighbor who is having a rough go of things, as his wife just left him with a five year old.  Bob's boys are something to see - they're 19 and 17 and probably six foot four and three hundred pounds.  But it was fun - they got to 'show off' their "ride(s)" and the woofers and tweeters or whatever. 

On the return trip across the alley, I hit some torrential rains.  Traffic slowed to a four-way-flashers speed of about forty for about five miles.  The rain over the 'glades is breathtakingly beautiful.  The darkness over the green sea of grass is nature at its finest.  Having cleared the rain and resumed to normal conditions, I was on cruise control, listening to Eric Clapton and feeling all groovy, when suddenly there was a car in front of me that was backing up across the two north bound lanes! WHAT AN IDIOT!  I slammed the brakes, of course, but was ever watchful of the semi that was on my ass.  All ended well, by the grace of God, I imagine. 

On several occasions, cars would be pulled off to the side of the road.  I recognized the signs of motorists with small children that "had to go!" and they'd be pulled over with the doors open to act as shields.  (no trees!)  Occasionally there'd be a vehicle broken down, some with drivers, a few without.  Then I saw a really strange sight:  A white pickup truck was pulled off the road with the passenger side door open.  I saw two people next to the door and as I got closer, I could see that they were Dancing!  He was spinning her and they were dancing.  ...One can only imagine.  (must be those crazy Miccousukees! )

Good trip, good time. 


Friday, August 8, 2008

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

MONDAY - July 28, 2008

I was ready for this leg of the trip. I was anxious to see Mount Rainier. We planned to visit Sunrise Visitor Center and Paradise Visitor Center, with lunch at Paradise Inn. We should be back in Spokane by Monday evening, and so knew we had about eight hours’ worth of driving sketched out for the day.

When someone spends time aboard a ship or boat, they develop sea legs. What is it that a flatlander gets, when they get accustomed to the heights and windings? …Mountain legs? (Whatever you mountain folk call it, I’d found mine about this time.)

Once entering the National Park, there were several pull-offs, observation decks, along the road. GREAT photo opps:



We arrived at Sunrise Visitor Center and I felt like I fit in. There were a few other cars, but I was pleased that it was not crowded. The gift shop in this particular visitor center was the best. I’m not a huge gift shopper, but being on vacation and bringing stuff back for loved ones, I spent time in them. This one, caught me. I bought myself several pieces of jewelry - for me. Unique. Comfortable. I commented to Debbie that a T-Shirt says where it came from - unique jewelry prompts conversation. Someone will say, “…where did you get that?” and then you can tell a story.

When I first walked in, I saw a wooden display rack on the counter top near the register. It held bracelets and key chains on a lazy susan. The display caught me eye, and I was drawn to it. The display was for ‘COURAGE” bracelets and chains. I admired them, and then went on. Shortly after, I was back looking at the courage jewelry. I picked up a pair of dream catcher earrings, and a necklace for Healing. I could not leave without one last look at the courage bracelet, and so, I bought it. We were barely back in the car when I took it from the bag, removed the tag and put it on my wrist. I love it.

I hope you can read this display: I found it so interesting that my way of preserving it was with this photo:

While in the Visitor’s Center at Sunrise, I heard Debbie asking the park ranger about avalanche lillies at Paradise. The ranger told her that much of Paradise was still covered with snow, and there was a slim chance of seeing avalanche lillies. While we were driving through the park from Sunrise to Paradise, I asked if Paradise was a higher elevation than Sunrise. I consulted the Park map, and much to my surprise it was actually the opposite. The elevation at the Sunrise visitor center was reported to be 6,400 feet, while Paradise was 5,400 feet.

Along the way to Paradise, we pulled over at various observation points. Here is one from Box Canyon:

Arriving at Paradise, we saw the greatest number of vehicles and visitors yet. We passed a free-standing sign that indicated the parking lot was full, and redirected vehicles to other parking areas. Debbie was quick to note and comment that most of the available parking was taken up by construction, as the Park was building a new Visitors’ Center. Our plan was to have lunch in the dining room at the Paradise Inn. Debbie was kind enough to drop me off at the entrance to the Inn, while she parked the car.

The Inn was very impressive. Huge beams fashioned from large timbers, oversized and overstuffed furniture surrounding stone fireplaces. A very “mountainous” rugged feeling.

I checked the dining room and saw a sign that said reservations not accepted, and I saw empty tables, and people being seated. All a good sign. I found the giftshop and began “shopping”! After a brief while, Debbie came in and commented that I was “shopping” again?! She suggested we get a seat in the dining room and shop later. Unfortunately, the dining room stopped serving at 2:00 PM and we’d missed it. (probably “by that much!”). There was a cafeteria/ snack bar option which we took, and it really proved to be more than adequate. We were able to get a nice Turkey and cheese sandwich (my choice) or Chicken Salad (Deb’s) with chips and a drink. We sat outside on the porch in the brilliant sunshine. I marveled at the large log-style railings and the fact that we sat in shirt-sleeves, with snow on the ground!

Finishing lunch, we walked the much longer than I expected path to where Debbie had parked. I realized then that she had quite an up-hill hike to meet me in the gift shop.

Here’s a pic of the employee housing:

And some of the scenery:

While we were walking along, Debbie pointed out a Marmot. I’d never seen a Marmot before! Of course (as you’ll see below) I missed the photo op: he turned his back to me before I could ready and zoom my camera. But I delighted at seeing this new wildlife!

The scenery from Mt. Rainer, through Yakima and up to Spokane was as unusual as was the beginning leg of the trip in the northeastern part of the state. The desert and sage brush was unexpected. I found myself again wondering how these people live their lives. Granted, Yakima showed signs of a good degree of farming, with many orchards: apples, cherries, peaches. The scenery was less than green as we distanced ourselves from the valley:

We pulled into the driveway of Debbie’s charming home nearing 8:00 PM. We had traversed 1100 miles! A fine 1100 miles it had been, too! We unpacked the car, opened some of that great wine from the night before, along with the local cheese and bread, and sat and shared our thoughts and impressions, opening up about our different views on being a child in the DeMars family, about the DeMars family, itself, and how that upbringing has influenced our lives. It was a wonderfully warm, relaxingand heartfelt exchange.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

SUNDAY - July 27, 2008

Since we girls were in the “penthouse” with no ETD , we took our time readying. Debbie, the always early riser, may have grown impatient with me, the lolligagger. None the less, we departed the Penthouse at a very reasonable, early hour. Our destination was downtown Seattle.

Debbie was very familiar with the neighborhood, and I just nodded in agreement as to where we’d park, etc,. I love this about cities in Washington State, that they agree to waive the parking fees on Sundays. What a cool thing for cities to do. Debbie found a good spot ..FREE!… near the Space Needle. We bought a round trip ticket on the monorail and then progressed to the Pike Place Market!




I LOVED!!! The Market!!!

God, I loved it! We had so much fun!!

Sampling all the fruits and veggies and nuts and candies didn’t dent the appetite we had, so we entered a restaurant whose name escapes me, unfortunately. But the cuisine was Bolivian. We had a great seat overlooking the Market.



We both ordered the Paella, and I ordered a mojito and Debbie ordered a marguerita. Absolutely superb, all around. The saffron rice was rich and delicious, the mussels tender and the chicken perfectly roasted. (If you’ve been reading these entries, you may think that we live to eat!! Lol!)

We left the market and headed down to Pioneer Square. We took a city bus and strolled in and out of various shops. We entered one antique shopthat seemed to go on forever; each room and another room off of it and so on. The shop was filled with so much, it was almost overwhelming. I spotted two pieces of jewelry that caught my eye. Some of you may know about me that I collect, and love to wear, bug pins. It started back in about 1990, after the death of my mother-in-law, Gloria. I inherited many pieces of her jewelry, and she had a couple of very interesting pins - a spider, a wasp, a bee. These pins were of the finest metal and stones - not costume jewelry at all - but I carried the theme with me to present day. So, I’ve digressed, only to tell you that there were two pieces of jewelry in this shop that I had to investigate. One was only partially visible, so I asked the shopkeeper to unlock the case so that I could see it. It was a spider pin. It was rather large for my taste, but appeared to be sterling silver with (probably) rhinestones inlaid on the ends of its legs. The body was a turquoise stone. The price tag was much too high for a piece that only somewhat appealed to me. I asked to see the other piece - in a different jewelry case, of course. This also was a spider pin. The body was a beautiful blush-pearl stone. It was nearly as large as the other spider pin, and not quite as pricey. But it had eyes and a ring around its neck that looked painted on, and almost carnival in its style. It didn’t seem to fit. I thanked the shopkeeper, but declined the purchase. Debbie was sitting in a chair waiting for me, I suspected. We had been on our feet a very very long time.

The Underground Tour of Seattle took place next door and it was one “attraction” that I thought would be interesting. It toured Seattle before the great fire in 1889 or something (don’t quote me). The tour was $30, and our feet were pretty tired. As we passed the entrance way, there were several “characters” hanging around the entrance, and we sort of put together the cost, the tiredeness of our feet, and the seediness of the area and decided we’d like to go sit down and have a cold beer.

We walked into a tavern, restaurant called Mitchelli’s which touted the world’s best Italian beer, or something. Sounded great to us. We took seats at the bar and ordered two drafts. We discussed how we’d spend the rest of our evening, even though by now it was probably 4:30 or 5:00. We talked about maybe taking in a movie, and the bartender was very friendly and helpful in showing us the local “what’s happening” newspaper tabloid with movie listings and times.

We left Pioneer Square, taking the bus back to downtown Seattle, taking the monorail back to the car, and driving back toward Bellevue. We passed through the downtown area and parked near Lincoln Square. We entered the several story shopping extravaganza-type building that housed the cinemas. Nothing seemed to appeal to us in terms of content and times. We hemmed and hawed, and decided to leave.

Driving back to our “Penthouse’ <giggle!> I asked Debbie if she could stop somewhere to purchase a bottle of wine. As we passed a “World Market”, Debbie said that I just had to see this place. She was right, it was awesome. I admittedly got carried away, but left the store with a bottle of local Washington State red, a bottle of local Washington State white, a couple of wedges of local cheeses (one goat, and one sheep - I think..?) a loaf of freshly baked bread and some marinated olives. Yummy. (this would be dinner!)

We returned to our “penthouse”, kicked off shoes, washed up, lit the fire in the fireplace, sliced the cheese, tore the bread and uncorked the wine. We spent several hours in great conversation, drinking, eating and relaxing. A great end to a great day.

Monday, August 4, 2008

How I Spent My Summer Vacation


SATURDAY - July 26, 2008

Today’s itinerary began with departing from Victoria B.C. to Port Angeles, WA aboard the MV Coho, with a 10:30 AM departure. We’re asked to arrive 90 minutes before departure, which seems excessive, but we were not on a tight schedule and sleeping in after such a full day prior was welcomed. As we sat “on deck” waiting out signal to board, I grabbed an opportunity to go for a fresh cup of coffee at a nearby café. They weren’t prepared for the number of customers looking for the same thing, and although I had a nearly 90 minute time allowance, I was growing nervous that the MV Coho might start out without me. I patiently waited for my espresso and biscotti, and then hurried across the street and down the ramp to Debbie’s car.

Shortly after, several uniformed individuals visited each vehicle in line. We guessed as to whether they were US Customs agents, or Canadian Customs Agents. I managed to see CSMP on a uniform patch, and guessed: Canadian Special Mounted Police. Shortly after the acronym game, a tap-tap came on the window, and a uniformed man was asking to see passports. They were US agents, and the acronym was Customs Service Maritime (Police or)Patrol. Debbie quipped that one would expect to be better treated returning to one’s native country. He wasn’t necessarily rude, but he certainly wasn’t exhibiting a good nature.

Eventually we loaded onto the ferry, right behind several motorcycles. It was interesting to see how they tucked everyone in. We advanced to the upper deck and found a really good seat about mid-ship. This was a private ferry company, and the size and polish of the vessel was evidence of that. I visited the gift shop and bought my daughter a T-short of the MV Coho Black Ball Line. (It worked out well, as the change from my earlier espresso and biscotti left me with $15.00 in Canadian money - which came out perfectly for the T-shirt!). I was really getting this ferry business down, and took some great photos. I’m especially fond of the one below:


We arrive in Port Angeles, and drove through US Customs, where the exchange was brief and pleasant, and I “declared” my seeds purchased at Butchart Gardens. We then drove toward Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Forest. The road up to Hurricane Ridge had several spots that were under repair, and drivers were warned to expect one-lane road closures. We sat with the engine off, for several minutes, in front of a “Stop” sign held by a road crew member. Finally, a pilot truck with a sign that said “Follow Me” pulled out and the “Stop” sign turned to a “Slow” sign. The roadway was gravel and pitted and there were some sections that had serious washouts. I was painfully aware of the need to support our National Parks. What a great resource they are, and how much they need the support of people - like you and me. I pledged then to increase my contribution to the National Parks Service. There were some scary moments on this road - deep drop offs and no guard rails and lack of solid roads. This flatlander was holding on without wanting to be obvious. Debbie, however, drove like it was second nature.



We arrived at the Visitors’ Center and saw several deer loitering in the wildflower filled meadows. What a beautiful sight. I wanted to know why it was called Hurricane Ridge - (had there been a hurricane?) and so I approached the Park Ranger who was very pleased to be able to explain to me that the winds off the Pacific are often of Hurricane strength. I’ll agree the winds were strong and the air was…not was downright COLD! Although I had a jacket, I exited the car leaving it behind. Do I look very COLD! In these photos?!!


Eventually we made our way back down the mountain pass, again being slowed by the one-lane road repairs. The late departure and the road delays within the Park caused us to reconsider whether to visit the HOH Rain Forest. We decided to have lunchand think about it. We returned to Port Angeles and had lunch at a Crab House with a wonderful view of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. I ordered a cup of Crab Bisque, and a crab salad sandwich. Debbie ordered a bowel of Crab Bisque and an appetizer of Calamari.

The soup was wonderful. Rich. With a flavor that was unique and not quite definable.

My sandwich was - a surprise. Again, not expecting a cold salad sandwich…. Guess I could have, should have asked. It was tasty, though. Debbie’s calamari was a let-down after the wonderful dish we had at Butchart Gardens, and she ate very little of it.

We decided that the time delays were significant to enough warrant skipping the HOH Rain Forest. We set out for Bainbridge Island, where we’d catch a ferry over to Seattle.

Shortly after a rich and full lunch, I, as passenger, was feeling very sleepy. I thought for a moment how nice it would be to just take a little snooze. I argued with myself that a snooze wouldn’t be fair to the driver, and resisted the temptation. It was about the time that I was fighting the urge to snooze, that Debbie said, “Talk to Me…” She was feeling the effects of a rich soup and over-fried calamari, a sleepy lazy afternoon. I darted alive and found myself scrambling for topics of discussion, speaking in an overly loud voice, switching from one subject to the next. And I was saying my prayers to keep the driver going strong and steady!

Eventually, and what seemed slowly and painfully, we arrived at the ferry docks on Bainbridge Island. We did not have reservations, as we had no clue when we’d get there, but we were timely, and it was a good opportunity to ‘rest our eyes’. We drove on to the ferry, for what would be a much shorter trip. This was nice as we were arriving at the Seattle port by water, which afforded many wonderful photo opportunities. Allow me to share some, here…:





We exited the ferry and made our way to Bellevue, where we had reservationsat the Marriot Residence Inn. We giggled about the reservation being for a “penthouse” in a two story building, with no elevator. We finally arrived and the room really was quite lovely. They called it a penthouse because it had an upstairs loft, and a downstairs. It was two bedroom, two bath, with full living room and kitchen, and it was just so incredibly comfortable. We found a book of “delivery restaurants” and that sounded just perfect. We ordered Chinese delivery and called it a night.

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Sunday, August 3, 2008

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

FRIDAY - July 25, 2008

We had reservations aboard the Washington State Ferry so we were up and out of the Anaco Inn by 7:15 AM. We drove to the ferry docks and sat in line waiting our turn to board. This was a completely new experience for me, not having been on a ferry like this.

I marveled at the accuracy with which vehicles and passengers were ticketed and boarded. We exited the vehicle and climbed to the upper deck.

How cool was this! There was a galley selling breakfast, a duty free shop, rows and rows of seats, some booths, newspaper stands, racks of brochures and windows all around.


There was a great deal of fog hovering over the San Juan islands as we coursed through them on our way to Sydney, B.C. Because of the fog, I didn’t take any photos, hoping that the weather would lift enough for a nice, clear shot. I enjoyed watching the other boaters, some kayakers and the houses that sat atop the various islands. I got up and walked around, enjoying the crisp cool morning air on the starboard deck. I enjoyed watching the other passengers: some as clearly novice as I, others who where sleeping or reading the morning paper, or ticking away on a laptop. Obviously, some folks take this morning commute on a regular basis. Exiting the ferry, we drove through Customs and a pleasant officer asked us questions about where we were from, where we were going, our business in Canada and how we knew each other. We navigated our way through the streets of Sydney and headed on up to Victoria, and Butchart Gardens.


Butchart Gardens

was truly a garden paradise. We arrived a little before noon, and had 12:30 reservations for lunch in the dining room. We strolled around the main entrance getting the lay of the land, and taking in the sights of the arbors and hanging baskets.

We strolled into the dining room and were pleasantly greeted and promptly seated. The dining room was painted a fresh sage to seafoam green, crisp white linens, bountiful vases of fresh flowers and spacious views of the outside gardens.

Our server was a beautiful young lady with a delicate British accent. I commented that she looked as if she could be British royalty; a Princess Diana look with an unassuming presence. We began with an appetizer of panko crusted calamari, preserved lemon raita, gremolata that was gently sautéed and the best calamari I’ve ever had. For my main entrée, I ordered the wild B.C. salmon fillet, Israeli couscous salad, lemon crème fraiche, with cucumber and a glass of Sumac Ridge Black Sage Cabernet Franc. Debbie ordered Line caught West Coast halibut fillet, “Panzanella salad” lemon vinaigrette, fried capers and a glass of Jackson-Triggs Grand Reserve Chardonnay.

My taste buds didn’t know what was happening! The salmon was cooked perfectly, sweetly flaking from the fork with just the perfect light seasoning. I have had a lot of salmon, but by far this was the best - the absolute best I’ve ever had. The couscous salad was a surprise, in that it was cold - but the coolness complemented the warm salmon in a wonderful combination of flavors and textures. The Cabernet Franc was a new taste to me, with a rich black sage aroma that filled in the crevices of my pallet with an explosion of sensuality.

Debbie offered me a taste of her halibut, and it was more delicious than one would expect. I also tasted her choice of wine, and found it to be a woodsy, buttery flavor that coaxed me to have a glass all to myself, which I did. Having enjoyed the appetizer, main dish and wine selections, we certainly couldn’t walk away without assuring that their deserts were equally as exquisite. Debbie ordered the Benvenuto gelato sampler, a selection of Butchart’s signature gelatos and sorbet. I ordered the vanilla shortcake, with fresh local fruit, lemon crème fraiche and fireweed honey. To die for. The shortcake was just the right amount of sweetness from the honey glaze, the crème fraiche drizzled atop with blueberries, strawberries and fresh cherries. Fresh coffee of course, and just not believing how wonderful my life is at this moment!

We strolled the gardens, with the Rose Garden being an absolute favorite. I have never seen so many beautifully perfect, abundant, large and well tended roses in all of my life!







The combinations of colors and height and various stages of bloom was artistry unlike any I’ve ever seen. The lilies - the day lilies, the Turks cap lilies, the calla lillies, the dahlias, the sweet alyssum, the salvia, the shasta daisies, kingfisher daisies, begonias, geraniums, sweet peas, foxglove…impatiens, hydrangea, hibiscus…fuchsia.. On and on and on. MAGNIFICIENT! I fell in love with a tree called aSmoke Tree. From my brief research, I don’t think it could grow in Southwest Florida. But, I’m not through trying! The Japanese Garden was tranquil, ever so zen, the Italian Gardens, the fountains… Just an absolutely magnificent display of flora and fauna. I could stay there forever!




I went into the gift shop and just absolutely had a ball. I bought vases and seeds and pressed flower jewelry. The delightfully British speaking clerk asked, “are these seeds going to the states?” and carefully packed them to be presented to customs when asked what did I have to declare.

We returned to our car parked in the Butterfly section (how delightful!) and found our way in to the heart of Victoria. We located the HoJo where we had reservations, and checked in. It was not the most luxurious, nor the most friendly front desk, but the rate was good and the bed and bath was clean. We poured ourselves a cocktail and perused the local “what’s happening” magazine. After such a full day, however, neither of us really felt like dressing to go out, and opted to grab a light bite in the hotel restaurant. The food was good, although the atmosphere and service left something to be desired. But at this point, we were well satiated and soon called it a night.

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

THURSDAY - July 24, 2008

We had an ETD of 8:00 AM and were loading up the Subaru at 7:50 AM, right on schedule. We headed out north and west along route 20. The scenery was quite a surprise. Washington is called the evergreen state, but you sure wouldn’t know it by the scenery on this first leg of the trip. Two hours of nothing but wheat fields. I marveled at the completely different lifestyle, wondering where kids go to school, if they do go to school, what do the women do all day? Bake bread? Who do they talk to?! I was reminded of how much I take for granted and made a note to myself to be more appreciative of the things I have.

We entered the Methow Valley, with Debbie pointing out that for years she pronounced it “Me- tho” but the native american pronunciation was “Meh * Tow”. She has frequently skied at Sun Mountain Resort, near Winthrop, so we headed up to the lodge for lunch.

We sat outside on the porch, enjoying a great view. The food was just so-so - I ordered halibut fingers and Debbie ordered a pesto pizza. The service was a little weak, also, but the scenery and the company made up for any shortcomings.


After lunch we headed over the North Cascade Mountain Pass. The wheat fields gave way to greenery, and the steeper elevations and twisting and winding roads increased. At one point, as I was grabbing the handle above the window to “hold on” through another winding turn, Debbie asked me if I was OK. I quickly asked if SHE was OK, as she was driving! She said there are occasions of flatlanders getting to this (and similar) mountain passes and they cannot drive. I said that would be me! I loved the expression, “flatlander” and decided that it was a perfect description for someone like me!

Eventually, we made our way to Anacortes and located the Anaco Inn where we had reservations. The Inn was modest, but lovely. I was especially impressed with the cleanliness. Each room also had microwave and small refrigerator, coffee and tea, a table and chairs, spacious bathroom and very clean and comfortable bed. All of this at a very reasonable rate of $79. I recommend the Anaco Inn to anyone planning to visit Anacortes.

For dinner, we decided on the Rockfish Grill and Anacortes Brewery. We called and were told that reservations are not necessary. When we got there, we were told there would be a ten minute wait. The ten minute wait turned into a thirty minute wait and reservations were not accepted. I enjoyed watching the people. Some chose to go elsewhere instead of waiting for a table. It was obvious that this was a local favorite, and there was plenty of local color. I found Anacortes to be pleasant little beach town. There was a decided “Northwest” flavor to the architecture and the clothing worn by many. I ordered the smoked salmon sandwich and a dark beer and both were delicious.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

WEDNESDAY - July 23, 2008

Debbie was gracious enough to let me sleep in her bed, which was very comfortable. I woke several times throughout the night, however - strange sounds in a strange place and sunlight as early as 4:00 AM. Debbie was already up and we enjoyed a breakfast that included home made blueberry coffee cake. We headed in to town with Manito Park our first destination. What a great resource for the people of Spokane!


After exhausting every aspect of the gardens, we went in to the downtown area, and lunched at the Davenport Hotel.

Very impressive! We ordered the Crab Louis Salad, the signature dish of the Davenport Hotel, topping it off with chocolate cheese cake and fresh coffee.

While strolling through a shopping mall, I mentioned that I would enjoy visiting some antique shops. We left the “new” stores and headed to some very funky fun antique shops. Having mentioned that I was in the market for some lamps, Debbie suggested a store that specialized in vintage lighting. We headed over to West Main Avenue, and stopped in at Revival Lighting.

I bought a great little lamp for my bedroom, and they shipped it for next to nothing.

We relaxed in Debbie’s garden enjoying the evening sun and cool breezes. We drank margaritas and explored the annuals and perennials and vegetables. Debbie cut two large heads of broccoli from her garden, and we laughed at her great heads!

The walnuts were large and green, and Debbie told of what master harvesters all the squirrels are. The apple trees were bearing fruit and the delicate fragrance from the sweet peas thrilled our senses.

We wound down the evening consulting maps and packing bags for the next day’s road trip.

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

TUESDAY - July 22, 2008

I woke early in anxious anticipation of a full day of travel. Bags all packed, passport secured and itinerary in place. Lauren drove me to the airport and as we passed under the signage for DEPARTURES, she exclaimed that she was excited for me.

Airport traffic was very light at this hour. The ticket agent at American Airlines was pleasant and helped me when the computer failed to recognize my e-ticket. Seems there’s a glitch with connections to Delta. She consulted another agent and I was on my way.

Sitting at the gate waiting to board, I enjoyed people watching as the seats slowly filled with passengers. Several young men arrived with a woman who had the role of team chaperone. One fellow walked passed me to throw away some trash. As he pulled something from his pocket, several coins scattered on the floor. The chaperone alerted him that he’d dropped something. He gave a disinterested glance and picked up one quarter. She pointed out that there was one more. He shrugged, ignoring the other coin and sat down. I sat looking at the quarter, so that when I got up to throw out my coffee cup, I picked it up. I walked over to the young man and handed it to him. He grinned and said something like “I didn’t have to do that..” and I said that someday he may need a quarter and sat back down. The chaperone quipped about kids these days and we shared a chuckle. Shortly after, we boarded the plane and I took my assigned window seat. As the plane filled up, I saw the quarter kid looking at me and laughing: he was assigned to the seat next to me. We laughed and joked and had a pleasant trip to Dallas/Fort Worth.

Arrive Dallas/Ft. Worth (DFW) 10:35 AM

Dallas airport was quite colorful. I mused at the snake skin cowboy boots and hats and belt buckles and the shops with Dallas Cowboys memorabilia. I passed a woman in a pink cowboy hat and thought it amusing, until I saw another woman dressed in pink cowboy boots, a pink full skirt cinched tightly at the waist with a big wide belt, a white blouse with pink embroidery and a pink cowboy hat. Wow - quite a number.

Arrive Salt Lake City (SLC) 2:25 PM

I had less than thirty minutes to connect with my flight to Spokane. Barely enough time to use the washroom and get to the gate as boarding was underway.

Depart SLC 2:53 PM

I had the absolute last seat on the plane. All the way in the back next to the toilet. In the seat next to me was a young woman I’d guess to be in her early twenties. She struck me as an athlete - built like a softball player. She was in gym shorts and a rumpled T-shirt, and was all over the place. First she pulled out a book and reading glasses, put the glasses down, pulled out some Tylenol, chewed them down, pulled out an ipod fiddled with that, put away the book pulled out a notebook and began writing, put that away and pulled out another book… and so on. She cast an air of contempt, like she had some chip on her shoulder. She was rude to the flight attendant and wasn’t at all interested in sharing the armrest.

Arrive @ 3:36 pm in Spokane,

Skies were overcast and a brief blast of cool air hit me as I exited the plane. Having been the absolute last passenger to exit, my sister was ready to call me to see if I’d been delayed. We hugged and chatted as we exited the airport. Her house was a short drive away.

Debbie had said that her house was “like a doll house”. It was small, one bedroom, one bath a den, kitchen and living room. Small for Debbie, as she’s always had big houses. Her home was very well decorated, as always - Debbie has very good taste. Her garden was most impressive!


Her son (my nephew) Aaron came over with his wife and daughter and we had a wonderful dinner and visit. It was 9:30 at night (12:30 “my time”) and I was tired. I couldn’t believe that it was still light out!! Aaron and family left, we chatted a little more, then turned in for the night.