Sunday, September 6, 2009

Glacier National Park Adventure; Day 2

Where do we start? Glacier is possibly the most awesome mountain scenery that we have ever seen. We can’t wait to come back, maybe in the late spring while there is still some snow around in places. The weather wasn’t perfect -cloudy, overcast and drippy at times, but that didn’t hamper us from enjoying our day. The photographs do not even begin to describe the beauty that we experienced. It MUST be seen IN PERSON! We would recommend putting it on your “bucket list”.

We entered the park from West Glacier and traveled around Lake McDonald. There are so many lakes in this park, but the 2 largest lakes are truly huge (which is hard for Tonya to admit, you know being from Texas and all). Lake McDonald is the largest lake in Glacier National Park. It is approximately 10 miles long, over a mile wide and 472 feet deep.

After leaving Lake McDonald we continued our adventure up “Going to the Sun Road”, which is very appropriately named. This scenic drive is the gem of the park (in our opinion). Going-to-the-Sun Road is the only road through the park. It was completed in 1932 going over the Continental Divide at Logan Pass. A fleet of 1930s red tour buses "jammers", were rebuilt in 2001 to run on propane, offer tours on the road. We found it surprising that up to 80 feet of snow can accumulate on top of Logan Pass in the winter. It is quite narrow and winding especially west of Logan Pass. Prior to the construction of this road, it would take the earliest visitors 3-4 days to cross the park.

After winding our way over Logan Pass we headed eastbound toward St. Mary Lake. This lake is the second largest lake in Glacier and is located on the east side of the park. The Going-to-the-Sun road parallels the lake along it's north shore. Here, the great plains end and the Rocky Mountains begin in an

abrupt 5,000 ft. altitude change with Little Chief Mountain above the west end of the lake. It has a surface area of 3,923 acres, is 9.9 miles long & almost 300 ft. deep. During the winter, the lake often is frozen completely over with ice up to four feet thick.

It was a great day, one to behold and definitely on our “gotta do again” list.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Glacier National Park Adventure, Day 1

We began our adventure last night leaving as soon as Bill was able to get home and change. Tonya had the truck pretty much packed and ready to go, but she still needed his help to finish things up. We pulled out of the drive about 5:30. We knew that we wanted to get as far as Spokane on Friday so we had fixed ourselves a sack lunch so we could eat in the truck as we drove. We made it to Spokane just as planned.

Knowing we had several “points of interest” stops planned for today we opted for a “grab and go” selection. After weighing our options we chose the 5 star restaurants that sit under those golden arches.

While driving thru Idaho (which takes about all of an hour) we stopped at some odd, some sad and some interesting places along the way… after all isn’t’ that the best part of a road trip? The areas around Kellogg and Wallace there were several places where we were able to stop and investigate! The Sunshine Mine Memorial is one of those things that just make you pause and think just how precious life is and how quick everything can change. The May 2, 1972 Sunshine Mine disaster was the worst mining disaster in current history. A fire began carbon monoxide, heat smoke & gas swept through the mine. 83 miners were successfully evacuated while 91 died. This memorial to those miners is a 12 ft tall statue of a miner raising his drill. It is surrounded by plaques listing the names of the miners involved in the accident. Standing there and reading their names one could not help but wonder if they had suffered, what the impact was on their families and knowing that everyone in this small town was touched in some way and life for the most part will never be the same for them.

The town of Wallace, Idaho is like an official icon for small town America. Wallace is known for the fact that every downtown building is on the National Register of Historic Places and has long been famous as the "Silver Capital of the World". While we were there we also learned that it has a very low crime rate; due mainly to the fact that very little was illegal. While there we toured the Oasis Bordello Museum (yes that is correct, we took our Mother to a whore house!). The Museum is housed in a former brothel which was still in business as recently as 1988. The final ladies left in a hurry, leaving the upper rooms with their possessions as though they were going to come back.

Rumor has it that the FBI was coming to town so left with the intent of coming back, but for some reason they never did. A local resident bought the building in 1993, opening the doors once again as a reminder of Wallace's gaudy past. This was a fun and educational stop.

Our next stop was called Elmer’s fountain. We had noticed this fountain when we came thru here a few weeks ago. It’s very noticeable from I-90. At that time Bill offered to turn around but Tonya told him we’d catch it next time. This is really one of those “weird” roadside attractions that used to be so popular along Route 66 back in the 1960’s. The fountain is made from old mining machinery parts and fed from a lake that is above in the mountains. It looks like at one time there were several of the fountains however only one remains today. It was interesting, it was quirky. Something to see for those that enjoy (us) these type of roadside attractions!

We made our way into Montana (remember, the drive across the panhandle of Idaho takes only about an hour!) driving thru some beautiful mountain country. We realized that we really enjoy this state… hmmm wonder if there is an eBay listing out there for a small vacation place???

As we drove the mountain roads we went past Flathead Lake. WHOA! This lake is huge and just gorgeous! The lake is the largest natural freshwater lake west of the Mississippi River and is 28 miles long and up to 15 miles wide.

We made it to Kalispell this afternoon. It has been a good day…. We love road trips and haven’t been able to take many lately. We are enjoying ourselves and look forward to tomorrow, Glacier National Park.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Texas Bluebonnets vs Washington Wild Lupine

Every springtime Tonya allows a little bit of “home-sick” to creep in when she remembers how vivid the vast fields of bluebonnets were that bloom each spring back home. She remembers driving thru central Texas where many of the state's major roads were lined with bluebonnets and other wildflowers during this time of year, making for memorably scenic drives.

This has been the first year we have been able to get in a few hikes in the midst of the wildflower season in our area National Parks. This past Sunday happened to be one of those opportunities and the meadows were filled with a multitude of colors. Not only the lavenders & blues of the lupine but also, yellows, reds, pinks, orange and lots of white among the summer green plants. This was the first time we have noticed the wild heather. The air we took in had a flowery fragrance.
Bluebonnets and Lupine are not the same, but for us, they are sure close.

When we left this morning we really did splurge, stopping at McDonalds for some “take & go” breakfast. The drive out to the mountain was enjoyable, as we were able to spend quality time with one another. However the parking at the Paradise area at Mt. Rainier was left a lot to be desired. The parking sucks so bad that they Park has now instituted a “shuttle bus” to help alleviate the congestion of the parking area (we can’t imagine how horrible it would have been had the buses not been running).

After looking for a parking place in the vicinity of what was our original hiking trail plan we had to settle on Plan B and we were not disappointed. We parked down the hill from the Paradise Lodge and began our hike of the “Fourth Crossing” trail.

How amazing the fields of wildflowers were! The lupines that were blooming so reminded us of the Texas Bluebonnets, but in Texas you don’t have a huge active volcano in the background! It was a wonderful hike. It was a little steep in places but the beauty and fragrances helped take our minds off of our hearts beating in our throats. We stopped along the way (several times) to take in the view, and thank God for creating this site for us to enjoy.
After we survived (okay, it wasn’t that bad of a hike, but keep in mind we are middle-aged, over-weight and out of shape!!!) that portion of our day we took on a small jaunt to complete our trip. We hiked down more of the Paradise River on the Lakes Trail. Not as challenging as the first trail was but just as enjoyable. There were not as many wildflowers but the waterfalls and rushing waters by far made up for that.

It was a wonderful day. We were able to enjoy quality time with each other (well, except the 4 million other people on the mountain) today and enjoy God’s creations. Sharing all of this with your one and only is priceless.

Life if good.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

4 Days, 3 Nights & 2414 Miles

And we are home safe. As Dorothy Gale said, "there's no place like home..." . It was a fast, long trip, but one we are glad we made.

Rewind a few days…..

I’m sure that we mentioned that Whitney had been accepted at Southern Utah University a few months ago. Well, she left us last Monday (8/10) with her little car fully packed. Her car is not big enough to pull a trailer with all her apartment furnishings so the parents are called in to assist to pull a U-Haul trailer with our truck down to her, of course we were happy to help. So we arranged the time off from work, our good friend Jeff helped Bill load the trailer, we packed G’Ma Evelyn in the back seat of the pickup and off we go on Saturday morning, heading south to Utah.

We left home about 6:15 and before we ever got out of the neighborhood Tonya was pretty sure that she had forgotten to pack the IPod so we had to make the block so she could double check (pulling trailer thru neighborhood with large speed bumps,,,, Hey only 1 go-back is pretty good).

We had originally planned to make this a fast trip and leave G’ma at home alone, but Tonya was a bit concerned about leaving her alone for 4 days, so we pitched the idea to her that she go along with us. Making sure that she felt she was up the trip. We knew by taking G’Ma along with us on this adventure it would involve extra time since we would need to make some extra stops along the way in order to make the trip easier on her, but we were up to the challenge! We are so glad that we did. We all had a good time.

Saturday we spent 14 hours in the truck (this included stops for gas, potty breaks, breakfast, walking the kinks out and of course the “lunch crate at the roadside park” break). After driving 788 miles we arrived in Tremonton, UT., where we found the first motel and got a bed for the night! We were tired but all in all felt good. Once we got into our room Bill walked over to Burger King and picked up our supper.

Sunday morning we headed out, knowing that we had hoped to meet Whitney about 2 in the afternoon in Cedar City at her storage facility. We made the usual stops again and were right on time. Whit’s brother came along so he could help Bill unload the trailer, what a great help he was! We dropped the trailer off at her sister’s house so they could return it on Monday (seems that a lot of places are closed in Utah on Sunday,,,, go figure). It was so good to see Whitney’s sister, brother, nieces and nephews. After we said our tearful good-byes to Whit we get back in the truck…. heading back north on I-15 to Salt Lake City.

Monday morning we checked out of our hotel in Orem and begin our journey on I-15 hoping to connect with I-90 in Montana. Along our way we stopped at Temple Square in SLC. Mom had never been there and was very excited to see some of the places she’s always heard of most of her life or seen on television. We walked her around the Mormon Tabernacle as well as the grounds of Temple Square. She was very impressed with the buildings and of course the flowers. We think she enjoyed it a lot and getting a good walk in was good too.

Somewhere in Idaho, on I-15 we begin to calculating our time against when we needed to be back to work and had a change in plans. We had hoped to go to Glacier National Park on Tuesday morning then head back to Tacoma on Tuesday afternoon. We quickly realized that this would not allow us enough time at the park, so we opted to not take in Glacier at this time, we would plan going back over Labor Day. We arrived in Missoula, MT around 6pm, got a room and then treated ourselves to a delicious dinner at The Cracker Barrel. It is a good thing that the closest location to our house if over 400 miles! G’Ma E was so excited she got to have Fried Catfish for supper. Living in Washington she sure misses her Texas Fried Catfish. Tonya found the cutest t-shirt at the restaurant there, it really hit home since she quit “coloring” her hair a few years ago, "You call it gray hair, I call it STRESS Highlights"… this is Tonya’s new motto.

While passing thru Idaho on our way home we stopped at The Mission of the Sacred Heart State Park. The mission is the oldest standing building in all of Idaho and was constructed between 1850 & 1853. We were very impressed with the workmanship used in the construction of this building.

By Tuesday evening after 4 Days, 3 Nights & 2414 miles we are back home, safe and sound. The house is emptier with Whitney moved out, but we are oh so proud of her decision to go after a degree, we know she will do great at Southern Utah University and they are darn lucky to get her! Glad to be home… there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home, there’s not place like home.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Great Week-End With The Girls!!!

And you probably thought we'd fallen off the edge of the Pacific Northwest Coast, yes it's been a while since we've posted anything, but seriously life here has changed for us. Can't promise we'll do more frequent posting, but we will try.

We had a great week-end! Britt came up from SoCal! She wanted to get up to see Whit before she heads down to SoUt (background: Whit has been accepted at SUU and has been approved for a scholarship thru the tribe. She moves back mid-month).

It was a quick trip, way too short for us, but we still loved having her here. She arrived Friday afternoon and had to take off on Sunday night. We tried to pack as much into those 54 hours that we could.

Friday evening was probably the most quiet, we all went to Mama's for a nice dinner. The food was great as usual. When we got back to the house G'Ma was pooped so she relaxed in the house while we went out to the backyard with the girls to visit, chat, laugh; basically just enjoy life.

Saturday morning we got up, packed the Jeep (another story, Tonya calls it Bill's "Mid-Life Crisis") and headed over to Olympic National Park. We knew this would be a lot of driving and getting in and out of the vehicle so G'Ma stayed home. We stopped for breakfast along the way and enjoyed our day. We hiked around Hurricane Ridge, where we were able to see deer and field after field of wild lupine, it was soooo pretty. It was rather late when we got back home, we had a good time, but crawling in and out of that Jeep one can realize they have aches in places that shouldn't hurt!

Knowing that Brittany would have to fly out on Sunday night we wanted to find something to do that was close by. With Britt being an mechanical engineer she was quiet intrigued with the Narrows Bridge when we crossed it on our return from the Olympics so we decided to "walk the bridge". The Pacific Northwest is amid a heat wave here. We are used to summers in the mid 70s with the occasional 80.. right now 80 would be nice. The walk was great, the views; wonderful! The bottled water that was left in the ice chest in the back of the truck would have been a nice thing to take along with us! Need to make a better mental note next time we do this walk. Even though we were so hot and thirsty, it was still a great time and we are talking about walking it again.

We all enjoyed Brittany while she was here. She is great to have around, wish she could of been here longer, BUT we are just thankful she is back in our lives and we know there will be many more visits to come.

We are not looking forward to Whit's imminent departure.... she will be missed terribly.

Monday, May 25, 2009

As I Reflect On This Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day 2009 was an enjoyable day. Since I’ve been married to Bill he has always gone above and beyond to make sure it’s a good day for me. Typically it’s only been the 2 of us here on this day, but this year Whitney was back with us and G’Ma E was here as well. Bill has a regular routine for Mother’s day which begins with breakfast out and then shopping at my favorite nursery, Watson’s. It’s been our tradition for several years and one that I love. This year we shared the experience with my mother and she seemed to have a good time (Whitney opted to sleep in which was perfectly fine).

Once we get home we begin planting all of the new plants I have selected. Typically the nighttime weather is not safe to plant annuals here until at least Mother’s Day because of our late frosts we experience here. But once Mother’s Day arrives we feel it’s safe to begin spring. This year as I was out in the backyard digging in the dirt and planting my new “babies” into the composted earth home I began to reflect on my life. I know having my mom with us this year had a big impact on this reflection.

My teenage years were pretty much hell on my poor mother. Through my teenage years I took my mom for granted. She worked as hard as she knew how to be both mother and father to me. I was pretty sure that she existed purely to provide for me and at the same time stay out of my way and my life. We weathered a lot of “parent/teen battles”. We fought a lot.

She said that she knew me better than I knew myself - I was sure she had no clue (I was so mistaken). I was very rebellious during my teenage years; I was not a lot of fun to be around. She worried a lot about me and simply prayed for me and kept telling me that she loved me. Looking back I’m sure that at the time I thought my mom was responsible for everything that had every gone wrong in my life. As a teenager I was so self-centered. Looking back now and as a mother myself I have no idea how she put up with me and regret what I put her through. Seriously I would have beaten the living daylights out of me. I was a selfish-hormonal-teenage-brat.

Reflecting back I know that she had unrealized dreams of her own. She never expected to be a single parent at the age of 44 to a 9 year old daughter. She had hopes and plans that she set aside to simply love me through my tough years. Amazingly something happened to me along the way that changed everything. Something finally changed - I did. I grew up some, became a mother myself. I realized that my mother was a genuine human being with a heart that could be broken and feelings that could be hurt. Could it be that there was actually more to her than - “me”?

Motherhood is the hardest, most challenging job. We are rewarded with intense joy, pure and strong emotion, never-ending depths of love, and some unbelievably hilarious moments! I am truly blessed to have the mom I do and to be a mom!

Mom, I am proud of you and I love you very much.

Thank You Mom
I know how often I took you for granted when I was growing up.
I always assumed you'd be there when I needed you... and you always were.
But I never really thought about what that meant till I got older and began to realize how often your time and energy were devoted to me.
So now, for all the times I didn't say it before,thank you, Mom...
I love you so very much!
Author Unknown

Friday, April 3, 2009

Happy Birthday Tonya

Guess who turned 54 years old Sunday? You are correct, Tonya's is now 54 which also means that she is officially older than Bill is again. Do you remember the number???? 7 months, 5 days.. yes people, in a short 7 months and 5 day Bill will turn 54 and catch up to Tonya, again.

Bill loves Tonya's birthday, because she's older than he is, and for some odd reason, he finds this much more amusing than she does. Oh well, what all this really means, is that in 1 short year, not only will Tonya be older than Bill (AGAIN), BUT! she will be able to retire. Not saying she will, but the marker is there. Anyone taking bets on how long before Bill get's that phone call at work and Tonya says... "okay, I'm pretty much done, If you don't talk me off the ledge now, I'm going to hit the "submit" button to file my retirement paperwork..... seriously, talk me down now...." And then next year there will be more senior discounts at the restaurants to take advantage of next year. So bottom line, Tonya is probabaly enjoying this birthday for herself as much as Bill is enjoying it for his selfish desires.

Tonya did have a wonderful celebration, it was small, family oriented and low key but she enjoyed it none the less. Bill was so excited over one of his gifts he had for her that she was able to "talk him into" giving it to her early.... on Saturday night. Beautiful earrings, they are white gold hoops and called "inside out diamond hoops". Georgious!!!! Sunday morning she got up and found a huge orchid on the breakfast bar, it was yellow with hints of pink from Whitney. Whit normally gets her WOSM some type of orchid or violet for special occasions and her WOSM loves them. Bill fixed breakfast for everyone, light and simple, hot biscuits and homemade jam after which he presented Tonya with her other gift and nice new set of solar lights for her backyard. Now if the snow would melt, and sun come out and dry out the ground some, maybe she and Bill could actually get out into their backyard for the first time this year. We've all gone out to an early dinner. Tonya had requested BBQ for her birthday meal, but the little restaurant that she wanted to go to is closed on Sunday so we tried another BBQ joint that we had heard about. The ladies that own this place has participated in the Challenge from the Food Network, and this place has been washed away several time due to mudslides. We were really looking forward to some good "que" after driving 47 miles down there and waiting about 30 minute for a seat but sadly we were pretty much disappointed. Not the style of bbq we like. Still it was good to have a meal out with the family.

As we returned to home we decided to stop by the State Capital in Olympia. Tonya, Whitney and G'Ma E had not been there before. It was a nice little walk and can imagine that once the flowering trees all begin to bloom it will be so pretty. But the blooming daffodils were a nice sign that spring really might make and appearance afterall.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

We Are Thrilled To Present Mr. & Mrs. Cuttrell

(Yes, running about a month behind, still playing catch up with the blog.. life has been a little hectic lately around our house..)

Saturday February 28 Heather and Christopher were joined in holy matrimony bringing to our family a new daughter and 2 beautiful grandchildren. It was a wonderful family event. The bride was walked down the aisle by bother her fathers, the brother of the groom was the best man and the sister of the bride her maid of honor, our new grandson and granddaughter performed the duties of ring bearer and flower girl. The closest family members and friends were there to witness this most joyous occasion.

Rewind several days prior….
Tonya and Whitney had planned to fly from Seattle to Houston on Tuesday before the wedding. But as you know from previous postings Tonya was already in Texas with her mom who was ill. So here you might think, good deal Tonya was already in Texas so this should be more convenient, right? NOPE!!!! Keep in mind that Texas is a pretty large state and about 700 miles between point A and point B. We LOVE Southwest Airlines….. yes I FLY SWA!!!!

Whitney proceeded to fly to Houston on Tuesday and Tonya followed on Wednesday; and hit the ground on the run pretty much. Meeting C & H along with the kids (this included Whitney) for dinner, stopped by the florist to see what flowers had been selected, then to the store to purchase all the supplies needed to make wedding cakes. Whitney spent another night with C&H while Tonya went to Numero Uno El NiƱo and Dae’s house to crawl into a bed that wasn’t in a hospital room or on rollers for the first time in several nights. Slept like a rock.

Thursday started bright and early, as soon as J & D left for work and Tonya really realized that she was in a strange kitchen, but only had to call J once to find out where something was kept. By 8am the Kitchen Aid was running, the oven pre-heated and the start of cake, after cake, after cake going into and out of the oven. C and Whit came over after they dropped H off at work and the kids to school. We had a great day,,, well they played Wii while Tonya baked cakes and they all visited. But by 5:00pm all of the cakes were baked, the frosting was all make and we were pooped. J&D invited C&H and the kids over to supper that night; feta chicken (read Dae’s blog about our
pollotarian). Supper was great, enjoyed the boys, their women folk (Texas slang) and the kiddos. Family is great and we are blessed. The one thing that was missing that evening was Bill; and he was on his way (SWA of course) to Houston scheduled to arrive at 11pm. After the “women folk” went to the airport to gather Bill, we got home and went to bed and Tonya began thinking thinking about decorating cakes the following day. If you want a bit more information

The night before the wedding we got together at Heather’s parent’s house with for dinner, drink and good company. All of our out of town guests were included. It gave the bride & groom an opportunity to visit with and in some cases actually meet family that had come a long way to celebrate this blessed occasion with them. We appreciated their hospitality so much, Christopher is really getting himself some great in-laws.

The wedding was gorgeous, the bride and groom were perfect (not that we are biased). We are so happy to have these new additions to our family. We are thrilled that Christopher has found a woman that loves him as much as he loves her, and the kids, well they couldn’t love Christopher anymore if he was the biological father.

Tonya’s heart-felt thank-you to the very host and hostess of the most prestigious JDC Bed and Breakfast! You guys were awesome!!!! Not only did they open their home and kitchen to us, they made sure we had nutritious and very tasty meals and snacks. They also wanted the opportunity to get to know Bill’s brother and sister better so the evening after the wedding, she invited them all over to dinner.
Still more information....

We have been blessed with some of the best daughter-in-laws on the face of the earth. Technically they may be daughter-in-laws, but we consider them our daughters.