Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I'm going to take a quick break from our B.C. trip, to tell about a fun experience we had over last week-end. My sister-in-law Peggy, mom-in-law Bethel, and I got our heads together and planned a special surprise for my dad-in-law Larry, to celebrate his 88th birthday on Oct. 17. Peggy made reservations at the Hotel in Diamond, Oregon for dinner. Diamond is a very, very, very small community approx. 60 miles southeast of Burns. It is in a valley at the base of the Steens Mtns, and has about 30 ranching families there. The hotel is probably one of three buildings that make up the 'town'. A history of the hotel states that it was there at the turn of the century (the last one), and their sign says it was established in 1898, so it is 111 years old.
We managed to keep it all a secret from Dad until my brother-in-law Cliff along with Peggy drove up to Mom & Dad's to pick us up in their pick-up, so we could all ride together. It took us about an hour, and was a fun and lovely ride. The hotel is a big wooden structure that holds 5 guest rooms and a dinning room. There is also a converted ice house out back that serves as a small cafe during the summer season.

The parking lot was full of cars, and I wondered where all the people came from, and how did they hear about it? The hotel was surrounded on two sides by a big screened in porch. Dad is just going through the door onto the porch above. We noticed that there were deer around, and soon four small bucks were grazing on the front lawn. While we waited for dinner, the insurance man and I sat on the porch and watched the deer. It was actually darker than this photo appears, thanks to flash photography. The sun had set, and it was a peaceful and beautiful evening.

Mom and Dad chose to stay inside and wait where it was a bit warmer....

Our reservations were for 6:30, and quite a large crowd had gathered. I began to ask questions, and found out that our reservations were for a 7-course wine tasting gourmet meal! No wonder so many were there. People had come from Nevada, California, Ontario and Beaverton Oregon. Seating was at large tables, family style.

Our table was just big enough for the six of us...perfect. Dad is sitting at the head, not quite sure what to expect. (We had informed the hosts that we were not drinking, so had only the one goblet at each setting for non alcholic sparkling cider, although a few of us tried a couple of the wines...very interesting. Other place settings had seven goblets at each!)

I am going to give you the menu...so you can see what fun we had. They featured all Oregon foods with many original Danish Scandinavian recipes. They were honoring the matriarch of the family who is of Danish heritage.
First course was the appetizer: Pickled shrimp, Danish Havarti Ball rolled in dill, and a plain Havarti Ball with homemade crackers.
Second course was soup: Winter vegetable squash chowder, served in individual bread bowls (see photo of Cliff and Peg above). Each course took about 20-25 minutes, so we had lots of waiting time to talk and have fun.

Third course was salad: Pear, avocado and tomato on fresh greens with Parmesan Vinaigrette and sprinkled bleu cheese, served with home-made pumpernickel bread. (The bread was delicious!) The family that runs the hotel and restaurant are ranchers that have been ranching there for five generations. It was truly a family affair. There was a large crew cooking, one for dishes, and the granddaughters did the serving. The grandmother is a widow now, and circulated around talking and making sure all needs were met.

While we waited for the next course Dad opened a few birthday cards and a gift from Cliff & Peg. That bag played 'Happy Birthday to You', and we got a kick out of that. Fortunately, it didn't play it too loudly!
The next course was Fish: Salmon and Baby Scallop Nadine ( in a puff pastry with cream cheese) and finished with a sherry mushroom sauce.

This next course was Sorbet: Tomato Jalapeno Sorbet!! Yes, you read that right, a HOT/COLD dish. In the photo above Dad is trying it out. Mom and Dad were both really good sports to try everything.

This is a laugh...we were all laughing by now at the very funny sorbet. Peg likes spicy things so was trying to get it down, but was sweating and wiping the sweat off and trying to take off her jacket. It was really good for laughing, and we had a great time. ME?? I only touched a tiny bit to my tongue (at every one's insistence) and that was enough! I couldn't believe something frozen could be hot?! They did explain that it wasn't that spicy when they froze it, but the flavors intensified (what about Jalapeno did they not know??) and by the time it was discovered it was too late, and they served it anyway. Everyone was laughing in the room by the time for the next course:
Main Course
Roulader- Slow simmered beef rolls A tenderized steak, rolled up around dill pickle slices and cabbage and simmered until tender.
RodKaal- Red Cabbage
New Potatoes with fresh parsley and butter
Most of us were so full by now that getting all this main course down was an impossibility. They passed around to-go boxes.
Our last course was dessert of course:
Kringle (Scandinavian pastry much like Baklava)
Chocolate-Mint Brownies (This was very different, no flour or cookies here. A little patch of dark chocolate mouse, next to a light chocolate mint mouse dollop...yummy!)
Sharp Cheddar triangle, with a dollop of homemade crab apple butter and a mint leaf. Oh so good.
It was a very fun and perfect birthday celebration. We drove home through a moon filled, star studded night, full and happy...(talking to keep each other awake) and got home around midnight.

Sugar Pears

The favorite white dish is back out. Has anyone ever heard of a sugar pear? My children saw them at Sam's Club and gave me such big puppy-dog eyes that I caved and purchased them. I didn't regret it. They made such a lovely centerpiece with their rosy cheeks. When they began to turn a little yellow, we tried out their taste and got a second delight. They're so good. Their small size made them perfect for children as well. An unexpected treat this fall. :)

Monday, October 26, 2009

We left the next morning for the Canadian border, and enjoyed the car trip. We stopped briefly to see my brother in Seattle, and enjoyed lunch in Lynnwood. The next stop was Blaine, known for being the border town in Western Washington. We got out at the park there and enjoyed the pretty gardens. The trees were not turning color there yet either. My friend Nancy had never been there before, so we walked over to the peace arch, a gift from Canada to the United States.
We weren't exactly sure what to expect at customs, as everyone had said that things were much different since 9-11. We all had our passports and got in line...
We found there wasn't much difference really...other than there were cameras that took a photo of your car and license to check. It took very little time, and we were soon on our way. We followed Highway 99, and found that we had to drive through downtown Vancouver to go north on 99. This highway crosses the main bridge in Vancouver, beside Stanley Park. It was dark by now, and we enjoyed seeing all the very tall sky scrapers, and beautiful buildings. After a 60 mile trip north we arrived at Whistler.
We had directions on where to go to check-in and that went well.
However the directions for finding our timeshare were sketchy to say the least, so we spent a good amount of time driving around on dark roads trying to find it. We breathed a sigh of relief, when we finally parked in the parking garage and made our way to a nice room and beds for the night.
The next morning we got up refreshed. This is our friend Glenn getting in a little reading time in the living area.
The week-end we arrived was the Canadian Thanksgiving week-end, so we quickly found out that everything was very busy and full at Whistler. It seemed so weird to have everyone wishing us 'Happy Thanksgiving' early in October, and selling turkey and holiday pies.
I will explain a little more about the village at Whistler tomorrow, but here is where we ate lunch the first day. The insurance man is not a beet lover, so I had to take this photo to prove he ate here. It was different, but good. I had a cream of carrot soup, and a roasted yam roll-up. The insurance man even found something he liked. More vacation tomorrow...

Friday, October 23, 2009

Vacation to Whistler

In some ways I feel that my contributions to our blog are sort of a travel-log. We have been so blessed to visit many unique and wonderful outdoor areas this past year, and I love to share them on the blog.
Last week we went on vacation with two dear friends to British Columbia...a vacation that was a year in the planning and dreaming stage. We left home for Eugene, as the insurance man had a business meeting the next morning. After completing that, we had the rest of the day to make our way north to Silverton where our friends live. We stopped by the town of Brownsville, as it is close to several familiar towns, yet we'd never been there. After a walking inspection, we had lunch in an old house turned cafe, that was quaint and good. Next we drove to Silver Falls State Park for some hiking. This park is about 12 miles from Silverton, but the insurance man had not been there since childhood. We found the park about deserted for the season, and had the trails mainly to ourselves. There are several falls in the canyon, and an 8-mile hiking trail connects them all. But since we had a limited amount of time, we chose to drive to the falls, and hike down to each. Here is the south falls, the first one we hiked to. The water flow was low at this time of year, but very pretty nonetheless.
This photo was taken from behind the falls. If you look closely at the above photo, you can see the trail that runs behind the water. We took this picture standing there, looking out at the waterfall. One more shot from behind the waterfall, showing the water falling into the pool below.
We hiked down to several more falls, and here the trail ends at the north falls.
On the last photo, the insurance man is standing at the top of the north falls, just before the river flows over the rocks in a free fall. There wasn't much fall color in the park that day. I think with the colder weather in the next week, the leaves really began to change while we were away.

We finished up our hiking just in time to get to Silverton and get something to eat with our friends after they finished up their work days. The next morning was our scheduled time to drive to beautiful B.C. So, I'll continue that thought next week.

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Nice Big Smile :)

Cecily got her portrait taken today. She's pretty hard to get to smile. I had to lay her down and tickle her and finally got this happy face. :)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Happy Blogging...

I will be gone for 10 days to British Columbia...so happy blogging while I'm away, and I look forward to returning with more awesome photos. After all, you have Baggins to keep you company.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Mystery Frog

As we were unable to consult our field guide, since it only covers northeastern states, we searched the web and found out that your little frog friend is a Pacific Treefrog, Pseudacris regilla. Some very nice pictures can be found here. He is apparently well-known for his big froggy voice, commonly used by Hollywood for sound effects. Fun! Thanks for documenting the little guy. The boys really enjoyed looking him up and learning more about him.

Monday, October 5, 2009

His name is 'Baggins'!

I have a lot of pictures saved up for some short posts, so hopefully will get a few shorter posts on in quicker time, esp. with snow and colder temps outside to keep me inside!
We were very fortunate to find a young out-of-work man, one of JoAnn's friends to help us out in the yard for the last few weeks. Nate was a real help, and since he had some landscape knowledge and experience we really put him to work. Here is Nate's back, along with the insurance man working on re-structuring a berm we have out front. It needed to be spread out and the grass removed, so the beautiful tree could be featured. This is a blue spruce that Grandma Bethel gave us as a small sprout. The insurance man also used up some of the many lava rocks he had dug up in his work in the back yard.
While working Nate found a frog and brought him or her to me. I told him to wait a moment while I dashed for my camera. I told him the 'boys' would be delighted to see his find.
This frog definitely had a smile on it's face. Sam and Will, what kind of frog is it? The markings were beautiful, and it wasn't very big. But it did have a big 'froggy' voice.
Will the four of you decide on a name for this frog, and leave it in the comments section? Then I will add the name to the title of this blog. You are so good at names after all.

Just one of the joys of working in the outdoors...God's handiwork.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Summer to Winter

We woke to this beautiful snow this morning. We had a snowstorm all morning long while in church, and I think about a 4 inch total. It was what we call a 'valley snow', moist and wet and heavy. We sat and enjoyed watching it with hot drinks in the early am. Yesterday we were working out in frigid temps till dusk working like beavers to get our yard finished up, and it felt so good this morning knowing that most of it was done.
Here's a photo of the back corner of the yard where the insurance man has been working all summer. Julie, here's the pergola although you didn't expect to see it in the snow did you? Dad just finished the floor of it yesterday. Whew!
The snow was so heavy there were a lot of tree branches down. Our neighbors tree lost the center out of it with broken limbs, and the insurance man was out helping them clean it up this afternoon.
The funny part is that a week and a half ago it was 92 degrees...what happened to autumn??

Last of my Seattle Trip

Towards the end of my week in Seattle, I met up with some high school friends that ended in my 40th class reunion.

At the age of twelve, after 6th grade, I decided to go to a private Christian school called King's Garden. My grandparents had saved all their lives so that if my brother and I decided to go to private school we would be able to. King's was a long ways from home in Edmonds, a northern suburb...so it meant a lot of long bus rides. I met some wonderful people in my six years there, and am still friends with many today. The campus was an old TB sanitarium and acreage, complete with a farm. In those years King's was one of the only boarding schools in the area, so we had many foreign students as well. The architecture of the buildings was and still is just beautiful...like a college campus in the east in many ways.
One of my good friends Martha was unable to come to the reunion, so I met her for an afternoon lunch and catch-up in Everett, just north of Seattle. Then another good friend, Lois, flew in from Chicago, and came and picked me up Saturday morning at my brothers'. We drove and picked up another friend Bev, and spent the day together. We were all friends from junior high at King's, as Bev left after 9th grade. We had a wonderful day in Seattle, with great weather to boot. (Not a small blessing in Seattle!)
We had lunch at Ivar's on the shore of Lake Union. Lois is on the left, Bev on the right. We asked a young man to take our photo, and when he asked what the occasion was we told him we were junior high friends getting together after 34 years. You should have seen his jaw drop : )

It was a beautiful and busy day on the Seattle waterfront. This was the view from our picnic table as we feasted on fish and chips (not hamburgers!)

We also spent some time at Greenlake, a famous Seattle lake and park, just being together and chatting.
After driving back to my brothers, we changed clothes and picked up the insurance man for our class reunion. We met at Anthony's, a nice seafood restaurant and you guessed it, right on the water, except it was Puget Sound in Edmonds, close to our old school. We enjoyed an excellent meal, and watched the sun go down across the water as we talked and shared stories. My graduating class wasn't very big, but now people are spread out literally over the U.S. and the world. So there were only nine of us there, but with our spouses it made a nice group for visiting. Here is a small photo of the insurance man and me enjoying the dinner. We had a great time, and the restaurant staff had to finally kick us out as no one wanted to leave and it was a beautiful night.

The following day after Church, we drove to the school grounds for an Alumni barbecue. My brother joined us as he had graduated there too, four years after I did. Here we are being greeted by a 'Knight', as the sports teams are the King's Knights (my grandsons should appreciate that.)
We got a better picture of the group of us in the daylight. We were missing just one from the previous night. Who are all those gray-headed people??

Going to a Christian school was a great blessing for me...more than words can tell. Each of the people pictured above is following the Lord down the path of life, and it makes for a very special bond and rich fellowship.
The insurance man and I left the barbecue Sunday afternoon and headed back down I-5 for home. It was good to get home, but I had a very special week and felt blessed.