Friday, July 31, 2009


We came off the mountain after our second hike with exhausted and sore legs and thinking of needing a rest day. When greeted by the two non-hikers, we learn that Susan is headed home the next day and thus our Seattle day trip was set. We had originally planned to hike 3 days and then go to Seattle-but the new plan was best. I use the term "Rest Day" VERY loosely. As Philip has said, "You , People, don't know how to relax." Well-perhaps we all are just a little driven.

We set out at 8 AM for some sight seeing and Seattle adventure. It is a LONG way to Seattle-2 1/2 hours-and as I am sure you are aware with a car load of women-there is always a need for a stop along the way. We finally make our way downtown and park in a central location. If you have ever been to Seattle, you know that most of the action is between the interstate and the pier, and we parked right in the middle. We head to Pike's Market and OF COURSE a meal. Once again we all enjoy fresh fish and seafood and it was delicious! Then the shopping begins. Susan has to leave to catch her plane by 1:30, so we are on a mission-off to Pike's Market. The Market is the center of activity in Seattle and today was no exception since it was also Farmer's Friday. There were not only stands set up on the inside of the market, but also totally lining the outside. One of the vendor's laughed and said he had never seen ANYONE so excited over apples. The flowers, fresh fruit and veggies were overflowing. We tasted and smelled our way through a proverbial HAVEN.

One of the fascinating things to me was all the men that had stopped in to bring the women in their life a fresh bouquet of flowers. VERY reasonably priced ($10 for a large bunch) you saw legions of men and women walking away with beautiful bouquets. How LOVELY to have someone present you with a bouquet of flowers every Friday! Susan picked up a bouquet to take on the airplane with her. BRAVE WOMAN! One of our best finds was the Lavender Vendor. Fresh lavender as well as dried-WONDERFUL SMELL! We also hit the fruit and veggie vendors and left laden with delicious finds for the remainder of our trip including delectable fresh asparagus!

The time goes by quickly and we take our purchases back to the car and get Susan's bag so that she can hail a cab and head to the airport. THEN THE REAL SHOPPING BEGINS! We hit every "Gear" store in Seattle including REI which is ALL the way back at the Interstate. I can safely say that we walked at least 5 or 6 miles -IN SANDALS- that day. We stop for an old fashioned burger and shake for supper before heading back to the car and our trip home.

I drove under a beautiful new moon all the way home. We finally arrive back at home base around 11:00 and head to bed shortly. God sent us a wonderful shower as lullaby and off to dreamland we go knowing another big day of hiking will dawn tomorrow.

Note the couple sitting behind Sandra
The Flowers Draping The Roof Are All Over the HUGE Market
Happy Faces After All Our Finds

Which ONE????

A SERIOUS discussion over just what apple, cherry, or piece of fruit to buy.

The Lavender Lady

We Small Town Girls KNOW How To Hail A Taxi
You Don't Just Put Up A Hand
You Stand Out In The Traffic and Whistle

Thursday, July 30, 2009


Day two of hiking dawned with two of the group injured and staying behind. The only good thing about this is that they were able to drop us off at a trailhead and pick us up at another which saved us four miles of hiking-THANK GOODNESS! The day was cloudy and overcast and actually a little cool. We would wish for these temperatures later in the week!

Today's hike-High Divide Trail- included passing by Damfino Lake, crossing Excelsior Pass, and Welcome Pass-10 miles. This included passing through some of the most beautiful wildflower meadows that I have EVER seen. One of the stark differences in this year's hikes was the obvious absence of lakes. We passed by Damfino Lake early in the hike and learned the origin of the name (Damn If I Know) and it was very low. The absence of water leads to the absence of animals. During the entire trip we saw a couple of marmots and a couple of chipmunks-THAT IS IT! After last year's trip and multiple bears everyday-I must admit I was not that disappointed. Unfortunately one of the hikers was not on last year's trip and really wanted to spot a bear.

Mt. Baker and Mt. Shucksan were visible most of the way once we got out of the woods, but the high parts of both mountains were shrouded by the low clouds. Another sharp contrast was the absence of large number of hikers. We met more people on the weekend hiking, but the weekday hikes would sometimes have only a handful of fellow hikers. Most of the hikers we met were locals leading me to believe that the area is either under-rated or the economy is slowing traveling.

The climb to both of the passes was not extreme-just steady up. The end of the day and the final miles would lead to the discovery of what was REALLY the trying and difficult part of the hike. The last 3 miles lead to the sorest legs I have had since the last marathon. Surprisingly-the trial was on the downhill portion of the trail. 67 switchbacks at a steep decline for two miles led to PAIN! Keeping your brakes on for two miles is EXHAUSTING! I actually slipped and fell three times during the trek down. FINALLY we arrived at the Forest Floor only to discover another mile of trekking to get to the trailhead and a ride. I believe this was the MOST exhausted we were the entire trip. It was still worth EVERY ACHE AND PAIN!

Damfino Lake
Up the snowfield and over the fallen tree.
Emerging Upon The Meadow and Ridgeline.

The First Wildflower Meadow

It is MUCH more slippy than it looks and takes careful footing.

We often came across rock steps that had to be climbed.

Clouds shrouding Mt. Baker's Top

The Picture Does Not Do The Beauty Justice.

Our Resident Berry Spotter

Wildflowers Clinging to the Mountain Side.

Our "Boy Scout" gives us a geology lesson-GREEN STONE-GIRLS!

Looking Up Through Wildflower Fields

Many HUGE trees were splintered and on their sides.
The Ranger told us they have strong storms that cause this.
Check back tomorrow for Day 3 and a change in plans!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Another EXCELLENT HIKING ADVENTURE! I must admit that I anticipated this year's trip would be lack luster compared with the previous two-BUT I must say-while different-the hiking was once again truly "SPECTACULAR!" in the beautiful Northwest!

Our travel day began at 3:45 AM and we finally hit the bed at 1:30 AM the next day (LA time). Arriving in WA in waves, we finally loaded up completely and headed out around 4:00 PM Washington time. The FIRST sign we go by that advertises Washington berries required a stop and 3 THREE stops later, we are loaded down with fresh blueberries, raspberries, cherries and some veggies. A stop in Bellingham for a DELICIOUS dinner with the hit of the night being fresh salmon. We stumbled around in the dark woods on winding roads but FINALLY arrived at our destination in the deep Washington woods on the road to Mt. Baker.

Perhaps the funny of the evening-besides LA girls acting as if they had found gold when we hit the fruit stands-was our grocery shopping trip. We each took a portion of the list to expedite shopping. When we met at the front of the store, it seems Sandra had picked up 3 LARGE packages of multiple rolls of TP. THERE WAS PLENTY OF DISCUSSION about just WHAT she thought we would be doing all week!

The next day dawned early with some up with the birds. A big breakfast and off we go to hit the first trail-The Skyline Divide. In an effort to not over-do, we had decided to do shorter hikes this year in hopes of not coming in ready to collapse every night. The first day's hike was a mere 8+ miles. It turned out that the first two miles were UP AND UP-but we emerged from the mountain forest on a ridge and upper meadow COVERED with wildflowers. Today's hike involved plenty of up and down and up and down. We passed several small snowfields and took two detours WAY up peaks to get the panorama view. Hiking on through the woods, we ended up at the base of Mt. Baker. An IMPOSING and GLORIOUS mountain with snow covered peaks towering over the mountains surrounding.

The hike down the steep trail took its toll and two of the hikers ended up with knee and IT band problems. When Philip emerged from the woods and the trail-he was sock footed as he also discovered that his new hiking shoes were rubbing blisters. A tough beginning with multiple days of hiking coming!

We stopped at the small local grocery to only come out and find a flat tire. This lead to a LONG ordeal of getting it changed (no owner's manual) and we were EXTREMELY grateful for the two men along on the trip. We FINALLY got back to our house and all worked together to get supper on the table. A soak in the hot tub was quickly followed by falling into the bed. My night was filled with dreams of Julie Andrews twirling on the Alpine meadow and singing "The Sound Of Music"!

Here we go up the first forest trail.
It doesn't take long for the "Flatlanders" to need a break-LOTS of gasping-especially on the first day.
The first glimpse of Mt. Baker.

Philip and Jim enjoyed a roll in the cold snowfield

Philip feels the need to share a snowball with Sonja.

This is Mt. Shucksan which is by Mt. Baker.

Note how far up we are by looking at the mountains in the distance.

Susan appears to be throwing herself off the mountain.

Note the shadows on the Mountains caused by the clouds.

Down through the wildflower meadow

The trail leads all the way up this small peak and OF COURSE we followed it!

Headed to Mt. Baker

At the base of Mt. Baker

The rock monuments built as each climber reaches the peak.

All hands on deck for preparation of a delicious spaghetti supper.

This is not a farmer's tan-this is the dirt caked on the back and front of our legs from the dry and dusty trail. Looks like these legs might need a good soaking in the hot tub.

MORE TO COME-Tomorrow Day 2 of hiking!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


As you read this, I am HIGH in the sky making my way back home after a week of hiking in the Upper Cascades. Once again we were without cell service-so UNHOOKED from the Real World. That is not necessarily a bad thing. Our base of operations was a Home on Mount Baker. From there we hiked and took in all of the local fauna and flora as well as rocks, trees, and mountains. I am sure my camera is full of pictures to down load and I will bore you to tears over the next few days recounting the tales. HOPEFULLY this year there will be no "Bear Story".


One of MANY waterfall pictures to come!
The details will come-----as soon as I get my feet on the ground and dragging rear off the floor! I get excited just writing this post-KNOWING by the time that you read it the adventure will be over-BUT the memories will live forever!

Monday, July 27, 2009


I have pulled a "Fast One". I am not where you think I am. The question is:


I have pulled a "Fast One". I am not where you think I am. The question is:

Sunday, July 26, 2009


"Fear not, for I have redeemed you;

I have called you by name; you are mine.

When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;

and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.

When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.

For I am the Lord, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior." Isiah 43

"God is a great big God, though you can't see him or hear him, He is always with you." (John Ortberg)

We are the flyers and God-He is the catcher. Our job is to wait and remain faithful while waiting for Him to catch you. The same God that stood by Paul in Acts is also standing by me.

"The one thing you can count on is that the God you call upon will show up."Frederick Buechner

"Before you were ever born, you were beloved in the mind of God. This is the deepest secret to your identity. It cannot be earned or won, only gratefully embraced." Ortberg

"The irony is we spend our lives trying to earn the love that we can only receive when we admit our poverty of spirit."Ortberg

Comforting words on this Sabbath.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


Now after running ALL of these miles, you might wonder just what shoes I wear. After an exhaustive search and LOTS of trial and error, I wear ONLY Mizuno running shoes. You might say I am a shoe snob. I looked for the lightest shoe I could find first, BUT I also look for a neutral plus. This means that I have no correction in my shoe (I wear orthotics), but want extra padding. For an average sized person, I have a VERY heavy footfall. #1 daughter seems to have this same problem.
I have worn Mizunos the last few years and continue to buy the next generation of the same shoe every time I buy shoes. It would be best to get new shoes every 300-400 miles, but I don't always do a good job of replacing my shoes on time. The first SURE sign I need new shoes-I feel like I am running barefoot-DUH!
I swear by my Mizunos. This company ONLY makes running shoes-SO they KNOW what they are doing. No distraction of the multiple other sports that require shoes-just shoes made to run in!
Your welcome Mizuno Company for this free advertisement. Feel free to send me a complimentary pair as a little "Thank You."

Friday, July 24, 2009


Somehow I let myself get talked into another marathon about 18 months ago. WHAT MUST I HAVE BEEN THINKING! I think I remember thinking it would not be so bad since it was a winter (January) marathon. I still was not satisfied with my time and kept hoping I would SURELY do better. So WE all sign up for the Houston marathon. Not such a far trip-less expensive and an easy drive from here.

So some sign up for the half and others the whole-but I am a glutton for punishment so I put my name on the dotted line for the whole. It is just something about that 2 year period between marathons that my memory gets a little hazy.

Once again we train for 18 weeks, once again we peak out at 22 miles. WHAT FUN!

The official hotel is downtown right by the start, so we settle in for the night after a delicious pasta dinner (a marathon tradition). It is always difficult to sleep the night before the run, but you are so keyed up that you somehow survive. Fuel Fuel Fuel is the name of the game. While training you learn what to eat and when to eat. On the day of the race-YOU DON'T ALTER THAT PLAN!

The city of Houston does a great job putting on this marathon. The crowd support was as good as it was in Washington and there were not as many runners. You run through several of the Burroughs of Houston and each area did a superb job of cheering on the runners. There is not as much to see-but the crowds and entertainment along the way help make up for that.

The first 18 miles were fine-but I am running alone (NO FUN AT ALL). I am once again running my planned pace and thinking about crossing that finish line. Then I look up and see Running Buddy, Ivory. She is injured and is standing on the side of the road. We are out in the boondocks and there is no way back but on the two legs that brought you this far. I would have never lived with myself if I had gone by her and not stopped. So I stopped and determined what I could do. We get going again, but I have never seen ANYONE look like they were in more pain. It is a struggle of monumental proportions, but we both manage to get across that finish line. I actually had the best time by one minute that I had ever run, but I would have not been able to forgive myself had I gone off and left her. I am never going to be a really fast runner and will not ever qualify for Boston-but some things are much more important to me and the friendship I have gained from my Running Buds is all the glory I will ever need.

Will I run another? Who knows-for now I am not in good enough condition to even consider it. YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT TOMORROW MIGHT HOLD THOUGH!

Thursday, July 23, 2009


For some strange reason after about 18 months, a marathon will sound like a good idea again. And so once again, maybe to prove to myself that I can actually run a marathon, I saddled up again. This time we were running the prestigious Marine Corp Marathon in DC in October. NOT A GOOD THING TO TRAIN FOR A FALL MARATHON! This means ALL the tough training runs are in the oppressive Louisiana summer heat!

I must say it seemed like a good idea at the time! We followed the same training plan without exception. It seemed to be a winner by now. The end of October was the date and this was the 30th Marine Corp Marathon-thus 30,000 runners. THINK ABOUT THIS-THE ENTIRE TOWN OF RUSTON PLUS ANOTHER 50% RUNNING TOGETHER! The entire marathon was like running in a parade. You have someone by your side EVERY step of the way.

Babs was suffering from an injury and could not run much, but ACTUALLY walked almost the entire thing! There were two GREAT things about this marathon-you ran all through downtown DC-by the White House, around the Capitol, down the National Mall, through the monuments, through Georgetown-it was just incredible! Now the next thing made it even better-you ran with Marines or you had Marines manning the support stations, or just generally encouraging you every step of the way. IT WAS AWESOME! (Sorry BC-know you don't like that over-used word-but NONE OTHER describes it). On top of this, there were crowds along every square inch of the path. Now you would expect most to leave after the elites have passed, but this wonderful crowd cheered on one and all.

I can truthfully say that I hit the proverbial Wall in this marathon. Now remember we trained up to 22 miles. I was on track and right on pace through mile 23 and THEN. Between the heat of the day (much hotter than we expected) and exhausted legs and the mental challenge, I found I could barely pick up my legs those last three miles. I ended up having to walk almost every step of the way.

The last .2 mile are up the hill that leads to the "Marine Corp Monument"-UP HILL! Somehow I pulled myself up and managed to run up that hill. It was a matter of Pride! When you crossed the finish line, you were met by a legion of Marines presenting you with your Finisher's Medal, wrapping a warming blanket around you (actually not good to cool down too fast), and bending down to untie your timing chip.

IT WAS WORTH ALL THE AGONY and THEN SOME! I resolved to end my marathoning career once and for all. It just couldn't get any better than this.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Momma left us in May of 2001 and I had surgery in September after beginning my training for the Austin marathon (I think I have all this straight). The month off training after surgery put me out of reach of this next marathon. (The Doctor wisely told me I could begin running anytime after a week KNOWING I would not feel like running-WE HATE HEARING-YOU CAN'T!)

Someone in the group discovered Disney World had a marathon in January every year. That would make the training almost bearable knowing that we would be enjoying Disney World. The decision was made to go AND that our training would now last 18 weeks and we would run all the way up to 22 miles. I took a couple of training plans and modified them to suit our group and we commenced with the training.

All of this training was done in the Fall and Winter months-SO not too painful. I do remember running one run with Stephanie (The Flash) in the pelting sleet and freezing temperatures. Once again I completed ALL of the training. I felt ready and looked forward to the run.

The day of the marathon, we all were on buses to the staging area somewhere around 4 AM. It is not an easy task to get 17,000 (if my memory serves me right) runners to the starting line. Babs, Mona, and I started out together and I was enjoying the run and the sites. You run through each and every park as well as on the roads connecting them.

At mile 13, I started having a cramp in my upper-inner thigh that I had NEVER experienced before. It was EXCRUCIATING! I stopped at aid stations for massages and pain relievers. I walked-I hobbled-I struggled for the next 13.2 miles. It was one of the most difficult physical things that I have ever done. I was DETERMINED TO FINISH! Somehow-someway- I got across that Finish Line. I immediately headed for the First Aid tent. Not only had I suffered from cramping, but because I had to do SO MUCH walking, I had blisters on the bottom of both feet that covered the entire sole. IT WAS AN UGLY SIGHT! I left the tent with both feet completely wrapped in gauze.

We spent the entire afternoon after finishing running touring one of the Parks. My gait was not pretty! The trip home the next day was a symphony of moans and groans as we stiffened up each and every time we sat for any length of time. BUT IT WAS A MARVELOUS ADVENTURE!

I am most proud of that Finishing Medal and it always reminds me when I look at it that the human body is a marvelous machine-BUT the human will is a God Given Wonder!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


The first marathon I trained for was in 2001. Our small group (at the time) decided after running a half marathon that we should train for and run a full marathon. AFTER ALL THE HALF WAS NO BIG DEAL! We had run the half in Monroe in the Fall and had just enough time to train for the whole in February in New Orleans-The Madi-Gras Marathon. We did have to accelerate our training a bit, since we did not have the full 18 weeks we now use to train.

We went on line and found a training schedule for beginners and modified it to fit our time-table. We planned to train up to 20 miles since we had read that if you got to 20 miles-the next 6 would not be difficult. I am not sure WHAT GENIUS wrote that-but TRUST me the next 6 are a HUGE DEAL!

I ran EACH and EVERY mile of the training period. The last two weeks are the taper where you begin to back off and rest your muscles for the Big Day. The plan was to leave on Saturday and run the Marathon on Sunday. We were all set and THEN Momma became sick on Friday.

I took her to the ER and it seemed she needed gall bladder surgery. BC said "Go", as did my brothers, but my heart said, "No". He was mad and I was disappointed and in tears, but I KNEW I needed to be with her. God has a way of whispering those things to you-you know.

My buds all left and we sat in the waiting room while the "routine" surgery was performed. The doctor came out and it had not been so routine with serious complications happening. We sat while she was in recovery and then another hour or so later, the doctor appeared again. There had been a serious crisis while in recovery and Momma was headed for ICU.

The night of the marathon, I sat alone through the night in the ICU waiting room. Momma's nurse told me-"If it were my Mother, I would not leave." So I sat and the long hours of the night drug on.

I was trained up and ready for that first marathon. It was disappointing to miss the day-but I did the right thing and have never regretted it for a moment. There would be other marathons on the horizon, but there was only one Momma and, as it turned out, a limited time left with her.

Monday, July 20, 2009


There's been lots of action at the front of our neighborhood in "Downtown Vienna"! All the neighbors have been asking-"What's going in at the front of the neighborhood?"

It seems the lot or maybe even two lots at the front of the neighborhood on the main road which we turn off of have been cleared.
Here we are with a couple of pictures showing all of the work. The lots were covered in thick underbrush and trees that NOW have all been cleared.
The mystery was solved today with the sign below:

WELL-I am SO thrilled. REALLY-a honkey tonk within walking distance from our home! I look forward to many a Saturday night (and maybe Thursday and Friday) walking down to the Honkey Tonk for an fun evening of dancing and brawling. IT JUST DOESN'T GET ANY BETTER DOES IT?
Below you note the "Roadside Bed" about a quarter of a mile down the road South of Vienna. I suppose any tired motorist is welcome to stop and take a little snooze!

Sunday, July 19, 2009


Running Bud Ramona is the proud grandmother of identical twin babies. Lexie and Sydney
Her daughter Amy, had a rough go while carrying these little nuggets. Weeks on bed rest! Finally at week 32-the twins would wait no longer. Amy has had a few problems, but the twins have done great. The docs have said there is a possibility they could go home in about a week. We are all SO excited for "Honey" and her new grands.


Saturday, July 18, 2009


Son #2 was slightly insulted over my previous post. I actually thought it was quite funny! In an effort to get out of the dog house with him-here is a pic of Henry laughing at his Uncle's antics. Henry actually loved Uncle and Uncle was great with Henry!

Henry also seemed to LOVE Aunt #1 giving him a little sugar! It's really difficult to NOT kiss on those sweet little chubby cheeks!

The Two Uncles and Henry. #1 has always been a natural with babies. It could have something to do with the fact that he was 8 when his brother was born and 15 when his sister was born. He had LOTS of practice!

There is room in Poppa Bob's lap for all his boys. We just have a difficult time pinning them all down at one time!

In case you wondered if all we did all week was passing around Henry-NO!
Our sweet friends, The Thompson's were our witnesses we when were married. According to my count, we have vacationed together now for 32 years-since #2 was eighteen months old!

The Thompson's son and honorary nephew came for most of the week and his son stayed the entire week.