3 Mountains in 3 Days!

 

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Sally Strawberry, Penny Pineapple, and me (Jules Strawberry).  Hook ‘Em Horns!

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“Mom’s stripping, it’s fine,” Sally said to Penny.

I had stopped to unzip the lower half of my hiking pants, to convert them to shorts.  Penny had asked why we were stopping.

“That’s my daughter!” I said of Sally to Penny, showing her what I was doing, and that I was not, in fact, removing all of my clothes.

***

“Hike!” Sally responded when I asked what she wanted to do while she was here.

And so we did.

Sally Strawberry and Penny Pineapple came to visit last weekend, the second time since I’ve moved to California.  We hiked last time, too, but Blacks Mountain wasn’t very memorable.  And since we’re not beach people, our December trip to La Jolla was enough to keep Sally satisfied for a year or so.

We hiked Cowles to get a view of San Diego, and Sally said, “I’d rather see mountains than city.”

So I answered, “We’re going to Iron Mountain tomorrow.  It’s about the same level of difficulty and has great views.”

The next day, as we were huffing and puffing up Iron Mountain, Sally informed me, “This is harder than Cowles.”

“Oh, I guess if I can hike it, I figure it’s about the same,” I responded.

The view from Iron pleased my little girl, and Penny didn’t scowl too much (she’s not as into hiking as we are), so I figured it was a good hike.  At the bottom of the mountain, I had extra energy, so sprinted a few feet and back again, passing a road runner.  Meemeep!

Penny was looking like she was at the end of her energy reserves.  You know, kinda like a zombie, who keeps forcing one foot in front of another, determined to go on.  She didn’t argue when I offered to get the car and pull it around, saving her from walking 40 feet.

In the car on the way home, Sally asked me, “Should we serve enchiladas at your funeral?”

The question wasn’t totally out of left field.  That is, we’ve discussed my funeral before, when I told her that I wanted her to play, “One less problem without you,” by Ariana Grande.  I’ve always wanted more of an Irish wake then a tear jerker.

“That’s more of Mom’s thing,” I replied, referring to my mother, who passed in 2008.  She ate enchiladas almost every day.  She’d cook a large casserole dish of them and then eat one for lunch with a pile of chips and queso.  “Maybe gluten free pizza?”

“I’ll have to practice,” Sally said, referring to the family recipe that Mom perfected when she wasn’t cooking TexMex.  Of course, Mom’s version was full of gluten, so the recipe needs to be modified.

I laughed.  While we had been discussing my funeral arrangements, AC/DC’s Highway to Hell came on the radio.  “Is this a sign?” I asked.

Sally laughed.  “A warning!” she said.

On the third day, I took them to Mount Woodson so that we could get pictures on the famous Potato Chip Rock.  By “we” I mean “them,” of course.  I’m an engineer; I know that cantilevered beams will break after cyclic loads are placed on them.  The only question is, “when.”  And after seeing families of 4 and 5 people pose on the rock, and others jump on it, I avoided stepping onto it myself.  As in, hell to the no, I’m not getting on that thing!

The climb up Woodson was a lot longer than I remembered.  Like I said, if I can climb it, I figure it’s a good hike, but moderate.  The number of hours to hike or miles don’t register with me as much.

Two and a half hours later, when we reached Potato Chip Rock, I wondered if Penny would ever go hiking with me again.  She was breathing hard, sweating, and moving rather slowly.

Thankfully, standing in line to take a picture on Potato Chip Rock gave us time to catch our breaths.  We waited while an 8-year-old boy and his 13-year-old sister climbed up and posed for their parents.  Then we waited while their mother joined them and more pictures were taken.  And we waited some more while the father showed a nice stranger how to work the drone that he had brought (a quad copter), so that he could jump in the picture.  And they posed in several different poses.  FINALLY they declared themselves done and scrambled off the rock.

Then we waited while the next family did the same.  Damn.  Thing.  Except, everyone in that family wanted a picture of themselves alone on the rock, jumping, before they gathered as a family.  All the while, their little dog yipped and yapped, not liking all the strangers standing around him.  I may have told it to be quiet or shut up once or twice.

Really, people, if there’s a line, then take one or two pics and get off.  #Impatient #WTF #BeConsiderate

FINALLY it was our turn.  Sally and Penny climbed up as quickly as they could and sat on the edge of the rock.  They did not jump, and held only that pose while I snapped close up and wide angle shots.  One kiss, another pic, and down they came.  #ThatsHowItShouldBe #ShortAndSweet

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The climb down the mountain went more quickly than the climb up.  After all, the hardest part was behind us, we were refreshed, and there was the promise of air conditioning and a shower at the end.

“I’m starving,” Penny confided.  “Should have brought some cashews or something.”  The dried apple chips just weren’t enough for this 7.5 mile trail.

As we stumbled to the car, at the very end of this 4.5 hour hike, I thought, “They’re never coming hiking with me again.”

But then Sally said, “WE DID IT!” and I smiled.

We actually did more than *just* hike.  We shopped for Sally’s first professional business suit.  When we found out that Banana Republic was having a 50% sale, the clothes piled up, and we ended up buying Sally an entire wardrobe.  Then we found out that she could get an extra 20% off by signing up for a store credit card.  DONE!

One night, we met my friends Heather and Scott for dinner.  Sally loved them!

Scott’s first reaction to finding out that she’s an astrophysicist was to tease her, “Are you going to go after the really hard stuff, like Dark Matter?”

Her answer was, “YES THAT’S WHAT I DO!”

Then they were off on a nerd tangent that even I couldn’t follow.

Heather was equally charming and I think Sally was ready to move in with them.  “Can I invite them to my wedding on the beach next year?” she asked.

Wow.  After one meeting.

Of course, I shouldn’t be surprised, my friends are pretty darn amazing.

On Monday night, we had dinner with another friend, who was also named Heather.  When I first introduced Heather to Heather, I laughed and said, “I feel the need to watch the movie Heathers again!”

Since they are both a tad younger than me, and the movie with Winona Ryder and Christian Slader came out in 1988, I had to explain my comment.  “It’s a dark comedy about the popular girls and one other girl—Winona’s character—and how hard high school can be.”

“Oh!  It’s like Mean Girls!” Heather said.

“Ummmm…kinda?” I responded.  “But darker.  Christian Slader’s character is a bit like Johnny from the Breakfast Club, but darker.”  How does one explain Heathers without giving away the plot?

I scheduled a movie night at my house to watch it.  We laughed at the wacky plot and the 80’s fashion.

“Colored tights?!  I thought that was for children!” Heather exclaimed.

“The shoulder pads!” I said.

We’ve been fast friends ever since.  Nothing like bonding over old movies with retro fashion and homicidal plots.

Her last initial happens to be “S,” so I told Sally, “To keep them straight, remember that Heather S is Single.  Heather P is married.”

I felt a little bad assigning that label to Heather, since she is a beautiful, intelligent woman who may find a nice guy any day now.  But then I remembered that my last initial is also S, and I’m single too!  Doh.

We got on the subject of health, and Sally said, “My doctor told me that I need to take Vitamin D, since I’m not getting any.”  Her smile and reference to her lesbian lifestyle made it clear that this was an innuendo and the “D” stood for… “Dude.”  Yes, Dude.  We’re going with that.

Heather blushed and said, “I don’t take pills, I take my Vitamin D straight!”

WELL THEN!  I’m glad that my children are adults, so that we can have conversations like this.

Cheers!

P.S. My next post will be about Country dancing in California.  Yes, there are honky tonks in Cali, and I’ll compare one to Billy Bob’s.

P.S.S. As always, follow me on Instagram (jules_rules_strawberry) or Facebook for more pics!  And I tweet occasionally, too (@JulesSBerry)!

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Sally Strawberry, Explorer, Conquerer of Mountains

 

Romantic Thoughts (and Second Thoughts)

 

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“Will you marry me?” Daniel asked his girlfriend.

“Might as well, we’re already living together,” she said, distracted by the people rushing past her.

They went back into the concert and he told his parents, “She said yes.”

“Well of course she did!  Now be quiet, the show is about to start,” his mom replied.

Ok, I’m exaggerating.  Maybe everyone was a little more excited than that.

But here it is, a year later, and they are no closer to getting married.  The would-be-bride hides behind her frugalness with conversations like this one.

“That’s too expensive.  Why should I pay someone $2,000 so that I can get married on the beach?  It’s the beach, for God’s sake!”

Daniel replies, “There’s a permit to reserve the gazebo and chair rental.  Someone sets up the chairs and takes them down after.”

“Let’s have the guests bring some blankets and we’ll have the ceremony real quick, so that there’s not time for anyone to call the cops on us for not having a permit.  Sheez, who needs chairs for that price!” she answers.

And yet, a year later, no wedding date has been set.

Do some people really dream of someday attaining this stunning level of (non)commitment to the mediocre?  I want more.  I want someone who is fired up about marrying me.  My preacher spoke on that in his last sermon.  We should be fired up for God.  “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine!  Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!”  I’m not trying to compare myself to the Almighty, but I want some semblance of excitement in my intended, when the time comes.

I mean, just look at Sally Ann, my lovely daughter.  Just don’t look too close, ‘cause Penny will hurt you!

Joking!

But seriously, Penny is stronger than she looks.  Stand back.

Sally and Penny were engaged last July.  Sally has planned and re-planned the wedding.  She has Plan A and Plan B, and a smile on her face at the thought of getting hitched if it all falls through!

I added a Plan C, for California.  “Get married in Texas, however you please.  Then come renew your vows on the beach,” I told her.  Don’t tell the future Mrs. Daniel, but I’d happily pay $2k to see my daughter as a blushing bride on a La Jolla beach.

That’s how love should be – contagious!  Everyone should want to take part!  Originally they were going to wait until after she graduated with her undergraduate degree, but why wait?!  When it’s right, it’s right!

I don’t know whether things will work out with Daniel and his lovely lady.  After all, they may be perfectly happy fiancées  forever.  Or, they could decide to elope this weekend.

All I know is, I want what Sally and Penny have.  I want someone who shines for me.  And I want someone who lights a fire in me.

Really, it’s been too long since I’ve enjoyed a good, hot romance.  And that’s ok.  I’d rather have no romance, than a lukewarm one, any day!

Happy Valentine’s Day!  Or, as Nadia says, Happy VD!

Cheers!

Jules

P.S. Gary Mathews came to visit!  More on that in my next post.

 

Zion, Days 2 & 3

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“Gilmore Girls was a TV series featuring a single mom and her daughter, who she had when she (the mom) was 15.  They were so close in age that they acted more like sisters,” I explain to Corvus.

“We’re like the Gilmore Girls,” Sally adds, “I’m young and you’re…”

I glare at her.  She doesn’t finish her sentence.

Corvus laughs and changes the topic, “We saw some chipmunks today, but no big animals.”

“I saw a cougar!” Salty answers, looking at me.

I laugh and answer, “I do like ’em young!” Then I change the topic with, “Corvus, let’s grab a bottle of wine to drink at the hotel.  I’ll buy, to repay you for the gallons of water you picked up at the store.”

“You’re changing water into wine!” Sally jests.

Zion was awesome yesterday.  Bryce Canyon was amazing today.  We’ll return to Zion tomorrow, to splash through the narrows.

“What would you call a bad adventure? Tapioca balls?” Corvus asks, referring to the fact that we call put adventures, “Pudding.”

“Mm, tapioca!” Sally answers.  “No, what was that stuff your grandma made? Jello salad!”

“With cottage cheese and mayo!” Corvus adds.

“Ewwww!  Jello salad!  Or sour pudding.  Either way, let’s hope we never go there!” I answer.  “Then again, we had a little jello salad; the last trail was closed.”

“Just a small jello salad, like a spoon full,” Sally agreed.

Cheers!

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Baby’s First Kiss ~ Happy Mother’s Day 2016

 

My sister, the future Mrs. Cherry, kisses the top of my newborn’s son’s head.

“NO!” I say.  “That’s my baby!  I should get the first kiss!”

I should also be holding my baby, but Mom and Sister had been waiting at the hospital for over an hour while I was in recovery from the c-section.  I had to have a c-section because that baby had been sitting straight up with his thumb in his mouth, stubbornly saying, “I’m staying here!  If you want me out, you’ll have to come and get me!”

So the doctor had no choice but to forcibly remove the tenant from my womb.

After the surgery, as I was in a room trying to shake off the effects of the anesthesia, Mom and Sister stood in the hall looking at the babies in the nursery.  Well, staring at one baby in particular: Baby Jack, who howled in rage at being pried from his comfortable home, but who eventually gave up and settled down to sleep.

His biological father was there, too, but since he doesn’t add anything and disappeared soon after, let’s just say that he was there.  Somewhere in the background, with his chest swelled up like he’d done something extraordinary.

When I am first wheeled into my hospital room, Mom and Sister aren’t concerned about me.  After all, the doctors and nurses have been taking care of me all day; I must be fine, otherwise they wouldn’t leave me in my room.  At least, I hope this what they were thinking; something tells me that they weren’t thinking about me at all!  “Where’s the baby?  Call the nurse and get her to bring the baby,” Mom demands.

“Hi, uh, oh, ok,” I mumble, still groggy from the pain killers.  I ring for the nurse, who came in with a big smile on her face, then ran to fetch the baby.

When she returns, she stood between me and the rolling baby holder (bassinette?).  “Now, this hospital has a number of procedures to ensure that you and your baby are safe.  See this badge?  This is a special badge that only nurses in the natal care unit have.  Don’t give your baby to anyone unless you see that they have this badge.  Got it?”

I nod and reach for my baby.

The nurse ignored me and continued, “Good.  Now, you have a patient bracelet which…blah blah blah…the baby has a bracelet on his ankle and they match…blah blah blah.  Security, hospital policies, and procedures…”

OMG was this nurse ever going to SHUT UP AND GIVE ME MY BABY?!  Did she really think that I was listening?!

FINALLY the woman finished her speech and placed the baby gently in my arms.  Before my eyes could focus on my little bundle of joy, he was gone.  Mom held him, cooing at him, and sat down in the rocking chair to rock him.  Sister looked over her shoulder and waited at least 5 minutes before asking for a turn.  At the 10 or 15 minute mark, Mom relented and handed the child over.

Sister bent down and kissed the baby’s forehead.

MY baby’s forehead.  My baby, who I hadn’t gotten to hold yet, and she was kissing him—his first kiss!

“Nooooooo!” I said, but it was too late.  So when the baby needed his diaper changed, I invoked my rights, “It’s his first diaper change and I’m going to do it!”

My mom and sister exchanged looks like I was crazy.  No one was going to fight over that privilege, but by God, I proudly changed that first diaper.

Ya, let me tell you, changing a diaper doesn’t compare to planting a kiss on a baby’s forehead.  They are quite literally at opposite ends of the spectrum—or, in this case, the baby.  I definitely got the wrong end of that deal!

Baby Number 2

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Jules (me!) and Baby Sally (Not my best look)

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Mom and Baby Sally, 1997

So when I had my second child, I planted a kiss on her forehead immediately.  “There!” I announced to the room, which held her father Alan, my mother, and my sister, “I kissed her first!”

Alan shifted his feet and looked away.  I glared at him.  He had gone with the baby from the operating room, where the doctors were sewing me after my second c-section.  Which means that he had been with the baby for over an hour, out of my sight.  Which means that he might have…nope!  I kissed her first!

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there, whether they planted the first kiss or not!  Happy Mother’s Day, Mrs. Cherry!  Happy Mother’s Day, Mom, I love you!!  ❤ ❤ ❤

Cheers!

********

PS Tomorrow, Chapters 19 and 20, the conclusion of “How I Met Your Father.”

 

Animal Farm

 

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“Deer are so cute!!  They’re like puppies…but not at all,” Sally said.

Uh, what?

I think she meant that they’re cuddly and adorable like puppies, but you can’t snuggle with them because they’re so big.  At least, that’s how I interpreted her sage-sounding proclamation.

We were at the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center as part of our Elk-themed Christmas.  While Fossil Rim doesn’t have elk, it does have enough hooved animals to thrill my little (same size as me) girl.

She was like a young child with her wide eyed excitement.  Her favorite animal was the emu, a bird almost as tall as we are (5’4”).  The goats in the petting zoo received hugs, and Bambi (as the young deer were quickly named) was another favorite.  The giraffes were awesome, but due to the chilly 50F day they were shut in their habitat.  The cheetah and rhino were also behind fences (thank God), but Sally was still excited.

Jack was with us, but like me, he was more excited about spending time with Sally Ann than the An-imals.  (Eh, see what I did there?)

The day before, we visited the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth (about an hour’s drive from my house).  Pics are included here, because we quite enjoyed ourselves.  Not much to share beyond the various deer sightings.

Later, as we settled down for movies and a glass of wine, I asked Sally if the glass is half empty or half full.

She answered, “Depends.  If it’s wine, it’s half empty.”

She is wise beyond her years.

Cheers!  And may your glass be always more than half full!

At the Kimbell Art Museum, we found Jack’s doppleganger.

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Sally is a bow head!  Just hanging around at the Museum.  Note that she’s 18, so she dresses herself; I am not responsible for her, um, hair style.

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The Kimbell offered umbrellas and hats so that we could take a selfie with one of the paintings (a recreation, actually).  I’m not sure that we quite fit!

Elkton John Christmas

 

 

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Sally opens yet another elk present.

“I want to see an elk!” Sally first told me two years ago.

Two. Years. Ago.

For two years, she has talked about how she wanted to see elk.  She mentioned it on every hike and every time that we planned a hike.  I grew a little sick of the subject.

So, when I was in Colorado this past August visiting Gala Pear, we went on an Elk Hunt.  We were determined to find her an elk.

And we did!  Wilson Bearberry was the one to spot Elkton first.  We were in a gift shop in Evergreen, Colorado after hiking a nearby trail.  We also had eaten lunch, which was accompanied by a few cocktails, so we were pretty tipsy.

“HEY!  Look at THIS elk!” I said to Gala upon entering the store a few minutes earlier.

“That’s not an elk, that’s a MOOSE!” she told me.

“What’s the difference?” I asked.

Worst. Question. Ever.

“You don’t know the difference between an elk and a moose?!” Wilson and Gala said practically in stereo.

Then I was the recipient of a 30 minute lecture in the differences between a moose and an elk.  I’ll boil it down for you: the moose’s nose and antlers are different from the elk’s.  They’re probably different sizes, too, but you can’t tell on pictures so I couldn’t tell you which one’s bigger.  I do know that we amused the rest of the store’s patrons.  Just picture it: three drunk hikers stumbling around the store pointing at images of animals and naming them, “Elk!  Moose!  No, no, Jules, that’s a moose.  Yes, I’m sure, LOOK AT THE NOSE!!”

“You know what you need?” Gala asked.  “A stuffed elk head to go on the wall!”

“OhMyGod that would be GENIUS!” a very drunk and stumbling Jules answered.  (I only had two glasses of wine at lunch.  I think.  I’m pretty sure.  Maybe.)

“LOOK!” Wilson said.  There, hanging upon the wall, was a stuffed elk head.  Not a real one—that would’ve been gross—a teddy-bear-like plush head fit for a child’s pseudo-hunting lodge.

“IT’S PERFECT!” I said.  “MY LESBIAN DAUGHTER WILL LOVE THIS!”

Um, maybe I said that too loud.  The few patrons in the store had turned to look at us.  I smiled and waved at them.  “She’ll love it,” I reiterated, in a more normal tone of voice.

From there, the plotting continued.

“You can’t just give it to her,” Gala said.  “You have to put it somewhere where she’ll find it.”

“IN HER BED, GODFATHER STYLE!” Wilson said.

“YES!” we agreed.

“But wouldn’t that kinda, ya know, scare her?” I asked.  Then I looked into the elk’s eyes.  “Naw, who could be scared of this guy?!”

From there, the shopping continued.  “And after she sees him, she’ll open her Christmas presents, and they will all be elk!  Elk socks, elk shirt, elk…” I said.

Gala picked up a towel and posed with it and a cheesy smile.  The three of us were laughing so hard that we were crying.  “Elk towel!” she said.

“Yes!  Must…get…elk…towel!” I choked out between laughs.

Then we set out to naming the stuffed elk.  While Bacon may be an appropriate name for a pig, it was rejected for the elk.  So was calling it, “Pig.”

Later, it was Jack who named him, “Elkton John.”  So naturally, I bought him big plastic sunglasses to go along with his superstar appellation.

Naturally.

In the end, Sally’s Christmas haul consisted of:

  • Elkton John in sunglasses
  • Elk socks, two pair
  • Elk ornament (wooden)
  • Sven from “Frozen” (who is actually a moose)
  • Elk wrapping paper on one of the presents
  • Souvenir towel
  • Necklace (might have been a reindeer, but at this point it didn’t really matter)
  • Puzzle (Sven again)
  • Scrapbook: Elton’s earliest memories. We took pics when we found him, hanging in the store, and went from there.
  • Elk poop.  Of course, if you get an elk, there will be poop.  This poop happened to be chocolate-covered toffee.

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Elkton, a picture of one of his relatives, Gala Pear, and Wilson Bearberry

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Elkton’s nose was pickable (the hole went all the way through his nose, suitable for a ring)

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The saleslady said, “You want me to wrap this?!”  She was quite relieved when I said a bag would do.

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Sally was a good sport when she got to Sven the Ty baby.  “Really, Mom?!  REALLY?!”

 

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Sally enjoyed her other gifts and made a snow angel in the wrapping paper.

Sally did get some other presents, BTW.  The star-covered sweater she’s wearing is one of them, along with another star sweater, star undies, a shirt reading, “The Stars Love Me,” and some star-shaped paper clips.  My future astrophysicist loved them all. She also received three large boxes of pudding.

“Guess what we’re doing tomorrow?!” I asked my little girl.  (Who is my size.)  “We’re going to see…”

“ELK?!” she shrieked excitedly.  Apparently the gifts, while a ridiculous amount of elks, had not abated her desire to see the animal.

“Bison!” I said.  “Fossil Rim has a drive-through park where you can see all sorts of animals, including bison and…”

“Don’t tell me!  I want to be surprised.  And I don’t want to be disappointed if we don’t see one,” she said.  “Like the elk that you told me we might see.”  She looked at me hard.

I sighed.  “Ok,” I said.  “They’ll be a surprise.”

And they were!  More about that tomorrow.

Jack was there, too.  When given a USB flash drive, he said, “Cool!  I can fit tons of porn on this!”

Uh, ya.  Just what I wanted my son to say on Christmas morning.

Later that day, we were taking in some culture at the Kimball Art Museum.  Sally leaned over to me, pointed at one corner of the painting, and said carefully, “Mom.  That’s.  A.  DEER.”

Not to be out-done, I later pointed to the VW Beetle with festive Reindeer antlers.  Costumes for cars crack me up, but this one in particular made me smile, given the theme of the holiday.

Sally took one look at the vehicle and announced, “That’s a BUG!”

In the meanwhile, Elkton is chilling out on my wall.  I wonder if we should have named him Elkvis Presley instead; he is that cool.

Merry Christmas!  Cheers!

There’s still time to order Jules Rules for a friend for Christmas.  Or if you get Amazon gift cards, buy yourself a copy. 

Can’t wait to tell you about Fossil Rim tomorrow- and we got some great pictures!

Amazing Seattle Road Trip Part III: Pinky Promise

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“Hold up your pinky,” I told Sally Ann.

She regarded me suspiciously.  She knew that I had something in mind.

“Just do it,” I said.  “Show the world which finger I’m wrapped around!”  After years of accusing her father of being wrapped around it, I finally had to admit that I was there, too.

Sally laughed and held up her little finger with a big smile.

“Now we need to have a serious conversation.  I know that you’ve been dating Penny for over a year, and you probably want to start taking vacations with her.  Don’t answer until you think about it, but I’d really like to continue our annual road trips.  We’ve gone every year since—well, since you were 13, right?” I said.

“Since before that.  We used to go, with Jack, to the Johnson Space Center every year.  And one year, we visited Aunt Sharon in Kansas.  So, just about every year of my life,” she added.

I was a little surprised.  She was right.  Despite being a single mom and struggling financially, despite going to college for an engineering degree from age 28 to 32, I had made my kids a high priority.  We had taken trips every year.

I continued, “You’re right.  So, I understand if you don’t want to take vacations with me anymore.  But if you do, I’d like you to pinky swear that we’ll take vacays every year for the rest of our lives.”

Without hesitation, she held up her pinky.  “And we get to vote if we want other people to come.  And it has to be unanimous,” she said.

I smiled and my eyes teared up.  She didn’t even think about it!  I offered her my pinky.  “But that means that I can vote Penny off the island!  Or, at least, off the vacay!”

“And I can vote your boyfriend off, too!” she said.  “So you’d better be good!”

I laughed.  She could give it as good as she could take it!

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When we visited Mount St. Helens, what used to be acres of trees was now populated by stumps.  The historical markers said that the blast from the volcano broke them off.

“That must have been some eruption,” Sally said.

“I imagine it was like the pressure wave off the space shuttle when it takes off,” I said.  In 2010, we had attended one of the last space shuttle launches in Orlando, Florida.  On that trip, Sally had experienced a lot of firsts: first plane trip, first time at an ocean, and first space shuttle launch.  For the record, it was my first shuttle launch, too.

I stopped in my tracks.  “How cool is it that we can say that?  That we attended a space shuttle, and now we can talk about the pressure wave like it’s no big deal?”

“Ya!” she said.

“We’re badasses.  Oh ya,” I said.  “How do you think Seattle compares to San Francisco?”
“I don’t know.  We haven’t seen as much of Seattle as we did SF.  Still, I think I like SF better,” she answered.

“Me, too.  I think it has more local color, more parks, and more to do.  But then, we may just have to come back to Seattle and spend more time here to be sure,” I said.

We keep hiking.  We have too much that we want to see and too many places to go, to return to anywhere that we’ve already been.  I admired the Indian Paintbrush plants (red flowers) and bluebonnets (blue-purple flowers) that lined the trail.  They reminded me of home, of Texas.  As much as I love to travel, I love returning to Dallas.

“Where are we going next?  If I can afford to bring you, I’ll take you with me to Lilly’s wedding in Hawaii.  If not, where do you want to go?” I asked.

“I’d like to go to Ireland.  Maybe for my 21st birthday?  That would be GREAT!” Sally said.

PUDDING!  This isn’t the end, just a pause in the adventure.

Cheers!

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