Saturday, July 28, 2007

Bike Blurb

Bicycling is a major pastime. A church parking lot close by provides tons of smooth, paved, safe practice. Heather and Sam each have new cruisers so everyone is set. Spencer cruises through the woods easily and learned to pick up enough speed to make it through some pretty sizable squishy mud puddles. But the driveway is the usual spot -- a regular peloton up the driveway, around the tight turn at the gate, back down through walkway into the yard for a little offroading around the back of the yard and past the sand box, then down to the walkway, and back down the driveway.

Here's Owen, Sam, Pops, and Spencer at the church parking lot.


Monty and Sam off to the store with Spencer and Owen in the trailers.

Another run to the store on the new cruisers. Sam said they hadn't been on a ride, just the two of them, for some ten years. It's really just been seven or eight.

Owen -- so tricky. Riding forward, facing backwards. I still play that "trick" regularly; you'd think I'd learned by now.

Spencer is amazingly adept on a bike. Depending on his mood and the circumstances, he will ride a trike, a 12", or a 16" two wheeler. On the 12" bike, he takes runs with the bike to get up some speed then flies onto the seat. Very cool to watch -- this little guy with such skill on the bike. Here he is with the 16" bike. This is one he rode through the puddles at the church parking lot.


Bikes figured fairly highly each day of our visit. Sam and Monty even got a ride in on the cruisers just the two of them.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Other interests on the Michigan front

While bikes did command most of our interest, we did do a few other things. The sand box was a powerful second interest, and walks and a bit of cooking were fun. One morning we went to the Y and all got in the pool for a splash and swim. Owen and Spencer had a blast jumping into Monty's arms. He pretended to be a catcher telling the boys to "put 'em here, put 'em here" while socking his fist into the opposite open palm. They laughed like crazy, summoned their courage, and and with a deep breath, eyes squinched jumped into his arms. Laney would have nothing to do with either of us in the pool. Without our glasses and with our hair wet and slicked back, we became foreigners.

Here are a few additional photos.

Owen cogitating the next sand box strategy.

Monty with Spencer and Owen in the sand box.

On one of many walks. One day the kids found a frog in the woods in an area that was drying out. So we all decided to take it over by the pond, "a better habitat," Spencer declared. It was a bit like that "Wild Man" show. Sam sank to his knees in the slimy pond muck and had to yank his crocs out of the sucking mud. Spencer squealed with delight as he followed Sam and became stuck, but Owen found it all a bit disconcerting. When they were back to the path, coated in pond slim, exclaimed, "I have a great idea!" -- a tender one to share his water bottle to let them clean up a bit. Another day, letting go yet another frog, Sam found a toad. Pretty exciting stuff!

Baking cookies -- a recipe Sam and Max and Anna made as kids which "requires" mixing and squishing butter, oatmeal, and sugar with your hands. They taste pretty good, too!

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Michigan Contingent

Here they are.



Heather. She baked this amazing cake. I contributed the leaves. See more at her blog


Spencer, their oldest


Owen, in the middle


Laney, bringing up the rear (in a dress I sewed).


Mister, Chief Cat. He shares the house with three other underling cats. Note the pillow - my lavender sateen covered down travel pillow. This cat knows comfort.


There is a significant extra-family contingent outside as well. This little guy chowed down at our feet one late afternoon, one of many squirrels, birds, and chipmunks enjoying the backyard provisions. Last night a cardinal perched on the empty sunflower feeder, chirping loudly in clear protest and red regal demand.


Our Trip to Alaska: Sights Blurbs

Summer in Gustavus and parsnip and lupine blanket the entire glacial plain, in some spots as far as the eye can see and as tall as you are. We arrived at the peak of this bloom. As these fade the fireweed replaces it, just as tall and widespread. Incredibly beautiful.


Vast fields of parsnip and lupine.


This was the first remarkable sight of the visit. Our national bird thrives in Gustavus. This one was perched in a tree just above us as we approached the beach for the first time.



Toward the end of the five day visit, I snapped this pair on the dock. I approached as near as I dared and took a first picture. These blase fellows were so nonchalant, I took another six steps to snap a closer shot. I was able to do this four times before they took any notice. I might have been able to get even closer but I was called back down the dock to board the fishing boat.


Our Trip to Alaska: On the Water Blurbs

So I ran down the dock to board our boat for the fishing trip. This is our captain, Bethany, and my brother, Phil, the engineer on this fishing trip. Phil moved to Gustavus about two years ago, but has enjoyed living in rural Alaska for almost twenty years now.


Things move a bit slowly in this part of Alaska. No McAnything here (I only counted four stores -- general store, hardware store, gas station, and gallery/ice cream combo) except this fish. Bethany took us to her favorite spot and Phil landed this 70 pound halibut within instants of getting his lure all the way to the ocean floor. I caught two fish. A 18" halibut that was far too small to keep and a flounder, too tasteless in the minds of those in the know on board. But that 70 pounder filled the bill for my mom and me. What a sight as it came into view! Bethany found the perfect spot and Phil is the expert fisherman.


Phil chartered a boat for sightseeing. The Great Sea is designed to maximize the view both on deck and within the cabin. The best photo from this trip is in my mind -- a humpback whale and her calf breaching multiple times. I had never seen it before and the image is burned into my senses. It is too easy to miss an experience in the attempts to document is, so during this time, I just put the camera away. Sea otters, sea lions, eagles, seals and whales surrounded us in the teal roiling waters off Point Adolphus. If you come to this neck of the nation, the Great Sea would be a great boat to charter - sleeps 8.


GiGi (Great Gramma), nephew John, and me. My brother crafted the railings.