Sometimes Mondays

. . . look a bit like a travelogue.


Tom's been on an extended fishing trip . . . to Patagonia!  He just returned yesterday, and I've really enjoyed hearing all about his adventures and looking at his trip photos.  

Want a little peek at southern Argentina?


Tom was at "fish camp" -- a remote fishing lodge featuring comfortable accommodations, excellent food and wine, and knowledgable guides.  (They were a rugged 5-6 hours from the nearest town.)

While he could see mountains in the distance, he was located in the high plains.  Rugged.  Windy.  Desolate.  Starkly beautiful.  (Think eastern Wyoming. . . but with water.)


The Patagonia winds are crazy, and can get this still water churning with waves quickly.  The Atlantic and Pacific Oceans are both nearby, stirring up strong wind currents -- that blow down from the nearby Andes Mountains.

The fishing was rough -- but rewarding!


Beautiful, BIG rainbow trout!

And LOTS of them.  Tom fished for 7 days -- catching 30-40 fish just like this each day.

He was in fishing heaven!


Tom had fun watching the non-aquatic wildlife, too.  He got a real kick out of seeing rheas (ostrich-like birds), which were abundant.  He also saw many guanaco -- in the llama/alpaca family.


Mostly, Tom fished in inland lakes and lagoons, but there was also a nearby river cutting through a canyon where he was able to fish one day.  Fishing was even tougher here -- it's super windy and narrow, with treacherous footing.

But . . . worth it!

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(It's hard for me to believe that a fish that big came out of water that narrow!)


 I'm happy to have Tom back home -- but I'm even happier that he was able to have this Grand Adventure . . . fishing in Argentina.




Three Tourist-y Things


Vicki and I  didn't just hang out at The Factory this past week on our big adventure.  We also visited a few area hot-spots and had some tourist time.  Here are three things we did: 

1 -- Wichahpi Commemorative Stone Wall (Te-lah-nay's Wall)


This wall (one mile long and 4-6 feet high) is the largest unmortared wall in the United States.  Tom Hendrix (who died earlier this year) built the wall to honor his grandmother, Te-lah-nay, who walked for 5 years back to Alabama from Oklahoma, where she had been displaced by the Indian Removal Act of 1830 (Trail of Tears).


The wall is quite amazing.  Powerful.  Spiritual.  It feels like holy ground.  Visitors leave offerings along the way.


It's an amazing place -- and I'm so glad we took the time to drive out and wander the path.

2 -- The Swampette Tour


To set the tone, let's have a bit of a soundtrack (click here).  (This is some 1974 Lynyrd Syknyrd realness here; kinda fun.)
Did you catch that third stanza there???

Now Muscle Shoals has got the Swampers
And they've been known to pick a song or two
Lord they get me off so much
They pick me up when I'm feeling blue
Now how about you?

I had always wondered what the heck they were talking about.  Muscle Shoals? Swampers? Huh?


Well.  Now we know!

There were two major recording studios in Muscle Shoals (Fame and Muscle Shoals Sound Studio), and the Swampers were the studio musicians with a unique and awesome sound.  R&B, gospel, country, and rock stars from around the world came to Muscle Shoals to record with with Swampers.


We toured the studios (Fame is still in operation; Muscle Shoals Sound Studio is now a museum) where so many (SO, SO many) hit songs we all know and love were recorded.  It was AWESOME.

(Want to learn more?  There is a great documentary out there called Muscle Shoals that tells all about the studios and the Swampers.  Fascinating.  Tom and I watched it as soon as I got home.)  (Here's a link to the trailer.)

3 -- Cheekwood Estate and Gardens


When the workshop was finished, we drove to Nashville for a couple of days.  We spent Sunday afternoon at Cheekwood Estate, visiting the gardens -- which are beautiful in any season.


The gardens were in the midst of their holiday transformation when we were there -- with staff installing amazing light displays on the grounds.  So . . . half-price admission.  Bonus!


It was a lovely afternoon -- so nice to get out in the fresh air and walk around for a bit.  Time in a garden is always restorative.  We also visited two special exhibits in the estate, and they were wonderful.  (Unfortunately, the estate museum itself was closed for holiday decor, so we missed out on seeing that part of the grounds.  From what we glimpsed from the upper levels, it looks wonderful.)

It's always fun to play tourist in a new place!


Join Carole for more Three on Thursday posts. 





We're back from our trip.  And it's Friday. . . just in time for TGIF.


T - Thinking About

We just spent a week in Colorado -- half of our time in Boulder, visiting Brian and Lauren, and then I spent the other half in Fort Collins, getting together with my sister while Tom visited his family in Cheyenne.  Tom and I lived in Fort Collins for several years in the early 80s.  He was in grad school at Colorado State University; I worked there.  We got married when we lived in Fort Collins.  Our life together . . . began in Colorado.  But visiting now?  I have to really search to find The Familiar!   So much has changed in 30 years . . . Every now and again, as we were driving around, my "spidey-sense" would tingle, and I'd know I was close to something familiar.  If you want a sense of time-marching-on, well . . . there's nothing quite like a visit to your old stomping grounds.


G - Grateful For

Spending time with people I love!



I - Inspired By

While in Fort Collins, my sister and I made a visit to The Loopy Ewe.  I've never seen a more organized, neat yarn shop!  So. Much. Yarn.  We had a great time.  I ended up with enough Wollmeise to knit a sweater (soon. . .), and my sister cast on for a Churchmouse Easy Folded Poncho that very afternoon.  If you're ever in the vicinity, I highly recommend a visit.


F - Fun

While in Boulder, we had a great time playing disc golf with Brian and Lauren.  Tom is a long-time disc golf player - starting with his grad school days at CSU (and he actually introduced Brian to the game years ago, back in Kalamazoo), so this was a real treat.  (Disc golf . . . really needs it's own blog post; maybe next week. . .)   We also sampled lots of Colorado microbrews and played pinball -- so there was plenty of fun!


Enjoy your weekend, everyone.



California Dreamin'

A busy, whirlwind trip to California has left me a bit "lagged" and kinda foggy . . . but with great memories of 4 fun days with Erin.

As you may remember, Erin is doing a summer internship with LinkedIn -- and that's what brought me to the Silicon Valley. . . LinkedIn Intern Day last Friday.


It was really fun to spend a day on the LinkedIn campus, learning about the company, meeting Erin's "team," and being totally WOWed everywhere I looked.  (What you hear about tech companies?  Pretty much all true.  It's like a wonderland . . . )  Probably what I liked best, though, was the Intern Fair -- where each intern presented their summer work to the rest of the company.


The LinkedIn interns work on "real," meaty projects during their tenure.  They work very hard!  Erin works in the engineering department -- doing internal software documentation.  I think my favorite part of the day was watching Erin explain her project to engineers.


This internship has been a great experience for Erin -- she's learned a lot, lived independently in a new place far from home, and set herself up for future success.  (Even though she misses Keith and her kitty terribly, and whines about her roommates incessantly.)  It was great to be able to see Erin "in action."  Burst-your-buttons-Mom-pride is still a Thing . . . even when your kid is a grown-up 28!

After the Intern Fair, I stuck around for the weekend so Erin and I could spend some time together and take a couple of day trips.

First, we took the train in to San Francisco and spent a day sight-seeing.  (I've been to San Francisco many times, but Erin had never visited.)

In true San Francisco style, what started out like this . . . 


ended up like this!


We had a great time on Fisherman's Wharf, eating sundaes at the Ghiradelli Chocolate Factory and sourdough bread at Boudins, sipping Irish Coffee at the Buena Vista, and taking a whirlwind tour of the city from the top of an open-air bus.  It was a really fun day . . . plus THIS just never fails to thrill.


The next day, we decided to drive down the coast a bit on famous Highway One to visit some California beaches.  We stopped in Santa Cruz for brunch (so many surfers!), and then headed further south to Monterey.


(And, no.  We didn't have time to visit the aquarium.  We'll save that one for next time!)

Erin loves beaches.  (Loves.)  So she made the most of our brief time in Monterey.


We really had a great time together, and I'm so glad to have had this chance to go out for a quick visit.  (The only thing we didn't do that we had hoped to do . . . was shop for jewelry for her to wear for her upcoming wedding.  Oh, well.  There's still time . . . )


This week, you can be sure I'll be humming California Dreamin' all the time!








Dogs on Vacation

Although our dogs come up north to our cottage with us all the time, they usually have to stay at home with a dog-sitter when we go on vacations to other places.  It was a Grand Adventure, then, for all of us, when we brought the dogs along to Beaver Island for our vacation.


Beaver Island is completely dog-friendly - beginning with the island ferry, where the dogs got their own tickets!


Both dogs did just great on the 2-hour ferry ride out to the island (which is in the middle of northern Lake Michigan).  They were well-behaved and pretty relaxed.  (It was tougher on our way home because the water was really rough that day, and they were somewhat uncomfortable about that.  But still good dogs!)


On the island, we stayed in a cottage right on the lakeshore for the week.  It was pretty much dog-heaven -- with the water and the woods and the turkeys and the snakes.  So very much to check out!


One day, the lake was super calm -- barely even a ripple on the surface.  A perfect day for swimming!  


We had hoped for a dog-swimming-day and planned accordingly, packing water toys -- including one of Jenny's favorite blue floatation cushions.  The dogs LOVED swimming in the "big lake!"

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The shoreline of the island is mostly rocky, so it's challenging to "walk the beach" -- but there are a few bays with sandy beaches.  They are very dog-friendly (unlike most of the Lake Michigan beaches nearer to home, where dogs are not allowed - even on leash) and the dogs were welcome.  We were able to let them off-leash where they could walk along with us, free to explore and roam a little.

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They LOVED it!


And we did our part to keep the beaches walk-able for everyone. . . 


It truly was a Grand Adventure for all of us -- J-pups included.

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And, as an update, Jenny is feeling much better.  (She got into the trash at our cabin on the last night of our vacation. . . )  We're still waiting for her to pass whatever "interesting thing" she ate -- but she's eating again, and acting like her usual cantankerous self!

Vacation (Home Again)

We had a wonderful vacation.
(And now we're back home.)


So relaxing.
(And then we came home to a full schedule of appointments and events and meetings.)

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We did a good job of unplugging.
(But now we're making up for it -- catching up on paperwork and email.)


We had no distractions.
(But now we're dealing with our sick, garbage-eating dog.*)


We just listened to the waves and enjoyed the ever-changing shore.
(Now I'm coming to grips with the weeds-gone-wild after 11 days away.)


We sat around and just kicked back every day.  And ate ice cream.  Lots of ice cream.
(And now we're hitting the gym.)

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We're back home.  And happy to be here.
(But missing the relaxed pace.)


(And the beach. . . )


* Jenny eats ANYTHING.  And she ate . . . "something-interesting-but-not-identifiable" while we were on vacation (according to the x-rays the vet took on Tuesday) . . . which will now work it's way through her digestive tract.  (Lucky.Us.)  




A Bit of Pampering

I have returned from my visit to Pittsburgh.

This time, my trip didn't include any sightseeing.  No trips to gardens.  No pilgrimages to special restaurants or brew pubs.  No shows.  Nothing fancy.

Just . . . a bit of pampering!

Erin, as you may recall from earlier posts, is in the Technical Writing graduate program at Carnegie Mellon University.  This program is intense, highly competitive, and quite grueling.  Erin, who works really hard and has Very High Standards for herself, really needed a good rest and some restorative time during her spring break.

Mom to the rescue!

My strategy was to just . . . keep things low-key.

We did some shopping.  (Baby needs a new interview suit. . . )  (And a new pair of shoes, too.)


We enjoyed an indulgent spa day.  (Massages and facials, all around!)


We ate out a few times -- and I also cooked a Mom-dinner in Erin's kitchen.


We had a great time playing with Erin and Keith's silly kitty, Dash. 


There was a whole lot of kicking back and just relaxing.  I even pampered myself -- with some wine and stitching (both knitting and Alabama Chanin) -- back in my hotel room every night.  (Gotta love my hotel wine glass!)


And . . . a special bonus!  While Erin spent some much-deserved sleeping-in time, I met someone very special for a coffee date!


Kat (yeah . . . THAT Kat) and I spent hours and hours chatting and catching up and even getting a bit riled up together at a Starbucks somewhat-near downtown Pittsburgh.  

Time flew!

I can attest that her incredible daily stitching project is even MORE awesome up-close-and-personal than it is on Instagram (and it's pretty dang awesome on Instagram).  I think Kat knit a few stitches while we were together, but my bag-of-sock just sat there on the table for the entirety of our visit.

As always, it's wonderful to meet a blog-friend in real life . . .


My time in Pittsburgh was perfect.  Restful and relaxing -- with plenty of pampering.




Party Like It's . . . 1979!!!

We usually do . . . something . . . to celebrate New Year's Eve.  Sometimes parties.  Sometimes just staying home.  Usually going out for dinner.  (That's our recent MO:  a special dinner with friends at Food Dance - one of our favorite Kalamazoo restaurants.)  Whatever we do . . . we always watch the ball drop and count down to the new year together.  

Nice . . . in that kind of quiet and predictable way.

But.  It wasn't always like that!

Let's just send the clock back to . . . 1979 . . . shall we?  Back when this guy (looking a bit Luke Skywalker-ish) and this girl (with her Farrah-'do and oh-my-god-painter's pants) were A Thing.

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Yep.  Tom and I were reunited for Christmas break (he was a senior at Boise State University; I was a junior at the University of Wyoming) -- and we were headed off to San Francisco for the New Year.

Because . . .  why not?  

A friend of ours - Steve - was headed to San Franciso for a medical school interview.  And he needed driving help.  (Isn't this how many adventures happen???)  Tom and I and another friend - Dave - were only too happy to oblige.  It became our most memorable New Year's Eve ever.  

We drove through the night, made a stop in Reno (where the boys all had fun gambling and I got kicked out of every casino we visited -- because they were all 21 - but I was not), and ended up in San Francisco.

While Steve interviewed, Tom and Dave and I took in the city. 

We visited Golden Gate Park (in the fog).

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We climbed Coit Tower and enjoyed its exquisite views.

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And this land-locked Illinois-to-Wyoming girl saw the ocean for the first time in her life.  

This is Seal Rock -- (where we actually did see seals).

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And we spent some time on Baker Beach.*  (The waves kind of freaked me out -- because it was cold and I didn't want my shoes to get wet.)

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And then - best of all - we celebrated New Year's Eve with the crowds (throngs) on the streets of San Francisco.  

It was SO AWESOME -- and so adventurous -- to welcome 1980 this way.

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I'll never forget . . . me and the boys . . . on the streets of San Francisco.  No other New Year's Eve party or gathering will really compare.


*How do I remember - after 37 years - exactly where we were in San Francisco on that trip?  Why . . . because I made sweet little notes on the back of each trip photo.

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This post is part of Think-Write-Thursday.  Be sure to read other New Year's Eve stories here, and sign up for the weekly prompts here.