Sunday, April 26, 2020

Letter to Mom

Hey, Mom,

We're on a kick of watching Master Chef at night. We're almost done with Season 2, and there is a very arrogant and annoying guy on there that always comes *this close* to being eliminated but slips by. He always claims he's the best, he's going to win, no one comes close to his skills...blah, blah, blah.

Well, last night he made the final three by beating the other contestant in the "dreaded pressure test" by making a lemon meringue pie slightly better than hers.

We were highly disappointed. Shorty says, "If he wins, I am going to write to this show and complain." Now granted, I had been up with a headache since 3am so I hadn't had much sleep but I thought that was freaking hilarious. I could just see my husband sitting down with his poison pen:

Dear Sirs!

I am filled with umbrage at the crowning of that douche Christian as Master Chef Season 2 (from a decade ago). It was "stunning", but not in a good way like that venison loin you prepared, but "stunning" as in those uncooked eggs Jennifer tried to serve you.

You sirs call yourselves experts in all things involving chefery, yet you seem to have a blind spot concerning a-holes. Please look in the mirror for reference so you will not make this mistake again. I am tasked with suffering through your many seasons with my wife because she is obsessed with competitive cooking shows and we've reached the bottom of the barrel. If I have to put up with seeing arrogant, pretentious, insufferable pieces of excrement continually win, I will. I basically have no choice.

Good day!

Mr. Shorty

Of course this hypothetical letter will only be written if said a-hole wins, and we will find out tonight. I'm not the type to go Google it and spoil the drama.

But anyway, as often happens, I see something on a cooking show and then I'm inspired so today I took out your Betty Crocker cookbook and made a Lemon Meringue pie.


 Not too shabby. Dad used to request this for his birthday. "Don't buy me anything, just make me a lemon meringue pie." It would have been tons easier to go buy him some pipe tobacco or something, but I was always happy to make him something he loved.


I made cinnamon-sugar pie crust morsels just like you used to do. So yummy. I was thinking this has probably been a children's treat since pie crusts and moms were invented. These were probably a mom's version of a "hush puppy", but more so a "hush, and get out from under foot ya little rugrat".

Remember how I used to bake when you were at work and you would come home to a big mess but a (usually) delicious treat?

There was one time I made two pies. I think one was lemon, but I remember distinctly the other was chocolate. The lemon came out of the oven just fine, but that elusive chocolate one slipped from my grip and landed all over the oven door. Oh yuck! I was so discouraged and disappointed that you didn't even get mad at me for making the hugest mess of your oven. 

Well Mom, until next time, love you, 
Me


Tuesday, March 24, 2020

No Longer Puzzled

I had no new puzzles and with no stores open that carry such a luxury right now, I was starting to feel like those folks running low on toilet paper.

And then one of our favorite little knitting/cute kids stuff/books/fun decor stores downtown sent me an email with a Cocooning Survival Kit offer which was a choice of 2 books, 2 puzzles or one of each.

Heck yes! I jumped on that offer! I was happy to go pick it up shortly thereafter

With this cute little tea card thanking me for my order.
Oh, that fall color one on the bottom will be a challenge! But take a look at the other:
A Betty Crocker Cookbooks Puzzle! Now if you're just joining me, go to yesterday's blog post, read it, then rejoin me. I'll wait...

Oh my gosh, right!!!??? I'm pretty sure one of my guardian angels picked that one out just for me! (Also one of my guardian angels definitely would have picked out that fall leaves one for herself.)

There are tender mercies every day. Look for them and be thankful.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Betty Crocker Cookbooks

When I moved out for the first time at age 19, my mom gave me this wonderful Betty Crocker Cookbook:
This one was published in 1983. As you can tell from the cover it is well used and well loved. This thing was GOOGLE before Google as far as finding a recipe, converting measurements, substituting one thing for another, how to do anything whether it was cutting meat or measuring flour, and how to bake, broil, saute, poach, and lots of other words that I don't use while cooking despite Betty Crocker's attempts to enlighten me. Anyway, this book always had my answer! (but I usually called Mom for her opinion too).

Here's a couple more pages:

I mean, I never really used the fish garnishes, but they were there should I need them. Haha.

I inherited my Grandma Lou's Betty Crocker Cookbook from 1961. This is one of the few items that survived their house fire in the early 70's as you can see from the cover and pages:



In this one, Betty gives you handy tips on how to do a table service. I also like that it has my grandma's writing with some of her favorites noted (on the cover Thermidore, and inside Chicken Fried Steak). And how 'bout that table of desserts? There are far too few gold scale centerpieces these days!

My mom also had this 1961 book and I spent many a bored afternoon as a teenager baking from these awesome recipes. In fact, this is where my famous Bear Turds came from:

Finally, again, my Grandma Lou's Betty Crocker Cookbook from 1950:



This one had a surprising number of color pictures. Makes me wonder how pricey this was back in the day? One thing about these books, they always had the cutest little clip art throughout their pages.

It's just entertaining to flip through and read the handy tips for the presumed audience of housewives in their little cotton dresses waiting for their men to return from bringing home the bacon.

These cookbooks are definitely a part of our family legacy. My mom made a point of giving one to my sister and I to get us started as independent women (in the kitchen).

It looks like there is still a recent incarnation:
Cookbook3

Look at her all woke and whatknot with Pho!

(This has been a non paid advertisement for Betty Crocker Cookbooks.)

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Stir Crazy in These Crazy Times

Maybe it's time to start blogging again. This quarantine is no joke. I already had my mental break down but have decided I need to figure this out.

What's helping:

*Focusing small: Are my kids and grandkids ok? Are we ok? I can't take on anything else.

*Making a to-do list: it gives me a lot of options, and reassures me that I have distractions and productive things to do.

*Walking: duh, I love to take walks anyway.

* Doing a daily happy post to social media: #mydailyhappypost

*Baking challenges: today's was Paul Hollywood's baguette.

What's working for you?

So, Cameron posted yesterday his freaking perfect baguette he made using The Great British Baking Show's judge's recipe, aka, the very handsome, yet super intimidating Paul Hollywood. (Is that his real name? A little too perfect if you ask me.)

Cam's bread was definitely worthy of the very selective handshake from Paul when he is very (and very rarely) impressed.

First, the recipe calls for "scant" 4 cups of flour and twice calls for a non specific amount of water! Great, Paul, there goes my anxiety again! Luckily my son was able to talk me through it. When it comes to cooking, and especially baking, I like specific amounts. I'm not a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants girl.

So I mixed some of the scant flour and the yeast and a random amount of water together last night and let it do it's thing


Today I decided I needed the good mojo of my Great Grandma's stoneware bread making bowl to finish the process.

I left it to prove for one hour, but didn't check on it. Oops.


My over-proved loaf baked fine and tasted delicious though it's more of a blobette than a baguette. Paul would give me a disapproving look and sadly walk away. No handshake even if that were still a thing LOL.


Sunday, February 21, 2016

Honor Thy Parents

My mom's been gone for almost 14 years now. When she died I found ways to honor her memory and keep her with me.

I made her fabulous lasagna. I used her yellow Pyrex bowl to make chocolate chip cookies just like she did. I treasured her hand-written recipes. I made decisions based on what she would like or what she would think was a good idea. I tried to be the kind of mom she was. I started going back to church and embraced genealogy and family history. I ate and bought things that she liked, like See's candy and Hallmark cards and ornaments.

Keeping her alive in my heart has been easy and brought me so much comfort.

Now with the passing of my dad I am finding ways to honor him. I know that he was so proud of me for going back to school and for taking care of myself and my kids, and that brings me comfort, but I have really felt the need to get back to all the things he helped me fall in love with: fly fishing, camping, hiking, just enjoying nature and the great outdoors.

Camping trips were part of our life growing up, and as I became a teen and mom and my sister preferred not to do that type of thing and had work to contend with, my dad would take just me on trips up to our old home town in the mountains, where we would fish at Nelson Creek (he always said Crick for creek so that's how I hear it in my mind), and we would pack a picnic and visit the lookout towers, or drive through the game refuge and count deer at dusk.

He's the one that taught me that everything tastes better if you eat it outdoors. My grandma (his mom) lived alone and we would pack our lunches at her house. We began the tradition of putting just mustard on our salami sandwiches because  of the one time my dad opened the seldom-used mayo at her house and found it an off-putting shade of green! (We discreetly tossed it in the trash.) I remember eating those simple sandwiches paired with a couple nectarines at the top of a mountain at a lookout tower, and he was right, they were delicious! (And we always had a running green mayonnaise joke.)

He took me to "Secret Lake", which was a lake at the top of a mountain with no defined trail to it. Only the locals really knew about it, and it was a great place to catch native Brook trout. There was actually an even more secret, upper Secret Lake, and it was here that we found a patch of snow that had not melted and he pulled his rain slicker out of his pack so we could go "butt sliding" on it.

Dad knew almost all the names of the plants and he loved seeing the wildflowers. He also loved finding bear scat, and inspecting it with a stick to see "what the bears have been eating". I thought that was so gross!

Later, when he was no longer able to make these trips and I was grown and had kids of my own, he relished hearing the details of any camping trip I took and loved to hear about my kayak outings.

I'm making a conscious effort to start doing more of these things, and not someday, but now. I bought what I call my "adventure car" and plan on going and doing as much as I can, even if I go alone. I feel like I'm finding my "old self" again in some way, the old self that's been on hold for lack of money, or time, or someone interested in doing things with me.

I somehow feel like when a person dies their spirit is perfected and all those things that were holding them back in life, be it health issues, age, depression, anxiety, etc. are gone, and they go back to their most perfect self, the one that was carefree, and funny, and curious, and happy, and somehow by honoring our loved ones and channeling their interests and loves, they enhance our lives from the spirit world.

So now to honor my father, I will do those things we loved doing together. And I will continue to honor both my mother and father, in different ways and keep them close to my heart.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Movin' and Groovin'

I have a feeling that this year is going to be a year of flashbacks and nostalgia. Now with having both my parents gone, I like to think of all the times in the past and cherish the moments. I was blessed with great parents, and as such, have great memories!
 
One of the things I was thinking about was that I've always been into fitness. I remember getting Jane Fonda's Workout Book for Christmas one year when I was a teen, and setting up a studio of sorts in the garage to do my workouts.

 
I also joined a women's health club, and did Jazzercise classes.
 
 
The women at my mom's work challenged each other to lose weight, at one point, and I started doing classes for Mom and a couple of her friends in our livingroom.
 
 I remember planning the moves and picking the tunes we would workout to. I think the funniest thing is that I didn't have the technology to do a mix tape, so I just had 45 records that I had to switch out.
 
 At this point in time I was into country music. Oh my goodness, just thinking about all of us in the livingroom doing our workout to the likes of Merle Haggard and John Anderson makes me want to laugh!
 
Of course we wore those crazy leotards and leg warmers that were popular in the 80's, and did things like stretches, crunches, and donkey kicks, plus aerobics. You got the full-deal at my class! Haha!
 
Wow, it was such a fantastic thing when VCR's and workout videos came along! And now I can click on any kind of workout at any time of day and have it at my fingertips. My how things have changed!
 
I guess what I took away from this, was how my mom thought I was capable enough to do this little home fitness class and the lift in self esteem it gave me as an awkward and shy teen. And I still love fitness, from just daily walks, to belly dancing, to Zumba classes and most recently yoga, I'm still movin' and groovin'!
 


Monday, January 18, 2016

Car Problems and Confidence

I've had a pretty exciting weekend. I bought a new car! Well, a small disclaimer: it's new to me, and is actually older than my old car (which I am keeping for everyday driving). It's a gorgeous 2001 Toyota 4Runner, and man, am I proud of this thing!



I haven't felt like this about a car for a long time. Although I love my Civic, it has just been a car. It's certainly nothing fancy, and it just plain and simple gets the job done of getting me from place to place. The poor thing has 225,000 miles on it. I plan to just drive it until the wheels fall off.

This 4Runner really brought back memories of my first vehicle, my 1972 Chevy Blazer that I bought from my dad in 1982.
 
I really loved my Blaze, and regret ever selling it. Here you see me with the Blazer and my Suzuki RM 100 dirt bike (and some fancy red pants!). These were days full of adventure and independence and taking baby steps towards adulthood.
 
This morning I had a flash back to a time when my dad and I were in the Blazer on a trip to Portola, and we had stopped at Martis Lake near Truckee for some fishing. I noticed some leakage coming from the front of the Blazer and took a look (now mind you, at this time I had a high school sweetheart who worked on cars a lot, and that was also an interest of mine, so I knew a fair amount about basic mechanics). I determined that the water pump was leaking. Dad had a friend who had met us there for fishing who poo-pooed my diagnosis and said it was probably just a worn hose.
 
We decided to drive it to Portola and deal with it there. When we arrived, my uncle and cousins' opinions, after looking at it, were that it was a faulty hose as well, certainly not a water pump. Again I crawled under the engine and to me it sure looked like it was coming from the water pump. My uncle offered us the use of his shop and tools to fix it if we were worried about it. We probably just needed to tighten hoses, after all.
 
My dad asked my opinion after everyone else had had their say and I told him I was certain. He never doubted me. We went down the auto parts place, got the water pump and gaskets and such, and he let me go about changing it out.
 
Sure enough it had a big crack in it when I pulled it off. I felt pretty good that I stuck to my guns about what I had seen, but what really made an impression on me was that my dad totally trusted what I had to say over all the men-folk that gave us advice. I'll never forget that feeling of him putting my opinion over everyone else's.
 
It was interesting that that memory came rushing back this morning. I have thought about it over the years, but I guess my dad has been on my mind a lot. I feel like he would love my "new" car and approve of the fact that it will allow me to go camping and kayaking and such more easily. Also this car gives me that pride in ownership feeling. That little, "hey, that's mine" excitement when I see it, like that old Blazer did.
 
Thanks Dad, for trusting me way back then. It sure made me feel special and competent!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

#TheWeirdThingsMormonsDo

Well the youngest got the opportunity to go on our church's Pioneer Trek this year. It only happens every 4-5 years, and it's only for the youth (and those lucky adults who get called to be Ma's and Pa's), so I was glad she got to go.

The kids dress in pioneer garb, although they are allowed modern shoes and sunglasses. They pack their 3 days of belongings into a 5-gallon bucket which will also serve as their camp chair. Our trek took place in the high sierra, and the kids covered 17 miles of rugged country pulling their hand carts.

We have pioneer heritage in our family, so I looked up one of our ancestors for Natalie to walk in memory of. She walked for her 5th great aunt, Judith Oviatt who was 10 at the time she and her family travelled with a handcart company from Ohio to Utah.

The company she was with had to turn back on their first attempt because of "indian trouble", but left again a few weeks later without incident. They arrived in Utah some 3 months later.

Natalie was given a new "family" with new brothers and sisters and a ma and pa. There were about 8 families per company and three companies, so all in all, close to 300 people did this little trek!

When Nat returned she was filthy, but in good spirits, and full of stories of sleeping under the stars, her new siblings and the songs and games that they entertained themselves with. She was required to give a short talk at church a few days following her return. We had 12 youths go on the trek, and they all spoke. Most of the kids said a few silly things, but Nat was the only one with a prepared talk. Here it is:

Trek 2015

As said in the journal provided for us on the first day, this trek was both physically and spiritually challenging. Whether you were almost too exhausted to participate in scripture study or family prayer at night, or too sore to take another step after six miles, compared to the pioneer's 16 [per day], you found a way through faith, and the pure fact that there was only so many more miles until you could go take a shower and sleep in your own bed again.

One of the most challenging parts of the entire trek was the 200 foot stretch of steep, slippery, rocky, mountain that took about 15 people and a breather to get up, but the reward when we got up it was a delicious lunch.

What this taught me was that the path to heaven is not an easy one that you can get through alone, and that it's not a smooth ride--with the influences of satan, or in this case, rocks, but once you finish the reward is sweet, (or savory pulled-pork sandwiches).

But that was not the only lesson or connection taught. The first night we were at the campsite, my ma Kaity S., made a connection about our family. She said, "Our family at camp was picked by whoever would be good for us," much like our actual families back at home were picked for us by Heavenly Father. I knew as soon as she said it that it was true because our family for the three days really acted like a family, whether it was my crazy little violent brother being tickled by all the older siblings, or all of us singing Uptown Funk on the trail, I knew I had a newfound bond with my brothers and sisters that we would all remember.

Some of the most striking things about this camp that I'm sure I can never forget is like when we were going up that slope mentioned before, a lady began asking the young men helping out how many times they've helped the carts up the slope, and the lady said she got some good answers such as, "I lost count", but never a number. And when she asked how many more times they replied with "Until I can't do it anymore" or "as many times as it takes", but still never a number.

I was amazed by this because I only had the strength to push the cart up that hill once, but these young men were willing to help the other two companies until they passed out from exhaustion. The connection here was that every day all kinds of people pass someone in need without a second glance or thought because of fear or rivalry or social class or whatever, which brings me to what another person said.

This person talked about something that was holding them back from experiencing something until they conquered their fear.That person also challenged everyone listening to find what holds you back from accomplishing your goals and defeat it. I plan on accepting this challenge and I hope you do too.

I leave you with that person's challenge to search your brain for that negative thought that's holding you back, and get it out of your brain for good so you can accomplish something new, or serve someone in need.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Long Lost

I got a Facebook message from a high school friend who lives in San Diego, saying she was in the area, and could we get together! I was so excited to see her!

She was one of my few friends in high school, and we really hit it off. I was such a shy outcast, that I rarely clicked with anyone, but she was the exception.

She would come over and we would do weird hair conditioning treatments involving mayonnaise, and then style our hair into wild 'do's.

We spent some wonderful times together going to where I grew up in the mountains, with my dad. We would stay at my Aunt's house and in the evenings play rousing games of Rummikub and Uno, During the day my dad would take us to the lake, the fire lookouts, the game refuge, and to the riding stables--my personal favorite place in the world.


I also remember going to the state fair with her and her sister and hearing comments from the males in attendance of "Charlie's Angels". We kinda liked that.

I dropped out of school in my junior year (she was a sophomore), and soon went to work, so we gradually drifted apart. I remember last seeing her at her wedding, and my memory is that my son was about 18 months old at the time, so that would mean it was somewhere around 25 years since we had seen each other!

Nat and I drove to the town where she was staying with a friend and spent a terrific evening getting caught up on life. Her boys and her friends daughter and nephew and Nat ended up playing together and also having a good time, so it was a fun day.

 
We have an open invite to stay with her if we ever make our way south to San Diego. I truly hope we can do that. It's mind blowing to talk about not seeing someone for 25 years, when at the time we were hanging out as teens 25 years seemed like 100.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Nostalgia Walk

I took Nat and her friend to the movies on Sunday evening, but rather than sit in the theater, I brought the dog and went for a walk in the town where my first husband and I moved to when Cam was a year old.

I go to this town often, but haven't actually walked my old neighborhood in the downtown area in many years. It brought back a flood of memories.

We lived in this old yellow house that was actually a couple of small houses somehow spliced together. It's floors were sloping when we lived there and to my knowledge it hasn't been upgraded since.

 
To get to the back bedroom you walked (downhill) through the brown shag-carpeted bathroom (I do hope at least that carpet has been replaced!). It's sad to see that the big sycamores are gone and the yard isn't kept up. But this is the house that Cam and I spent our days hanging out together. Where he learned to ride his Batman trike on the porch (and infamously painted himself and rode the trike Lady Godiva style) and where Sis was born in that back bedroom with the local fire department in attendance!
 
We moved just 5 months after Sis was born, but the memories of taking walks through that historic old neighborhood with Cam came flooding back as I walked the roads with a different dog at the end of my leash:

 
Back then we had Dusty who was just as good and loyal as our Sue.
 
I remember oftentimes being lonely in that house. I didn't have any friends, and felt isolated from my family in Sacramento. Cam and I attended La Leche League meetings in Lodi (and hour and a half drive) and storytime at the Sonora Library to get a little bit of socialization.
 
I had my moments when it was really hard, of course being a first-time mom is a learning experience to be sure, but there were tons of good memories from those times too.
 
We loved walking downtown to the donut shop or to the park. We grew strawberries in our yard and Cam and the dog and I spent many hours in that yard playing, exploring, and even hanging laundry and cloth diapers on the old clothes line. I found an old bottle there and would often wonder who the other moms were who used this little drying yard for their babies' diapers.
 
Having my mom visit was always a treat, and back then there were quite a few cool shops downtown to look through. We also had some great family gatherings there for Cam's 2nd and 3rd birthdays.
 
We lived just behind the theater and what was then called Scott's Tavern. Walking past that corner bar on Sunday it still smelled of stale beer and cigarettes. There were quite a few evenings where we be woken up by a drunken brawl or loud partiers from the bar.

 
It was quite a nostalgic walk, and I will treasure all my memories from those times, both good and bad. Those were my first years as a mom, and the first years really being a real grown up.

Bathing and Birthdays

Natalie returned from Girl's Camp with the church on Saturday. Somehow as soon as she walked in, her luggage exploded (or she rifled through it like a raccoon looking for cat food).

 
She then opened her birthday presents after spending her 12th birthday day at camp:

 
I then encouraged her to take a shower after she proudly informed me that she had had only one shower in the last 5 days and only changed her socks twice.
 
From the bathroom I hear her call for me, "Mommmmmm."
 
"You need a towel?" I answer.
 
"Yes, and something else too!" she replies.
 
So when I arrive at the door to the bathroom she exclaims, "Mom! I haven't bathed since I was 11 years old!"
 
Good one, Nat!

Bookmark

While camping Nat was reading a book she borrowed from the library. She always brings drawing supplies with her where ever she goes so she took out some paper and colored pencils and made a bookmark for her book.

 and on the back it reads, "This bookmark has been specially designed and hand made for  this book only. If you take it please make one to replace it that is just as good if not better than this bookmark (yes I will check)."
 
I hope when we return it to the library they will leave it in the book for someone to discover.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

"To Camp or Not to Camp" is not even a question this year

Life is too short to put off camping. Every summer I tell myself I'd LIKE to take the kids camping, but I never do, due to work schedules, or lack of money, etc. This year I'm determined though, and with my tax refund I splurged on a few essential camp items. Walmart had a tent and two queen air mattress bundle online for Memorial Day, so I snapped one up along with a camp stove.

Now the tent I bought is not just an ordinary tent, it is a 60 second tent. Yes, according to the video, that's how long it takes to set up. According to me, it takes about 3 times that long. Seriously, it's pretty cool. The poles are already in it, one just basically pops it up. The 60 seconds does not include unfolding it or staking it down, this is going from unfolded to popped up, the rest of the set-up takes some time, but I'm very pleased with it so far.

Of course getting it back in the bag it came in? Not really happening. Who packs these things? I swear it's like trying to put toothpaste back in a tube! I think I've settled on rolling it up and bungee cording it, and using the bag for all the accoutrements.

Our maiden voyage for the tent took place at Lake Alpine. Natalie was the only one of my children willing and/or able to go (remember, I have a teenager!) We went from 100 degree heat to stepping out of the car and immediately looking for our sweaters!

Also the wind was trying to blow the hair off our heads! We had the kayaks, but one look at the white caps on the lake made us decide that bike riding and bug hunting looked much more appealing!

Our campsite was so beautiful. There was a carpet of these tiny purple flowers:

 
Natalie got out her dollar store bug house and got busy catching small butterflies and hellgrammites from the creek right next to our camp:

 
Next we went for a bike ride since Lake Alpine has a really nice bike trail. Boy, am I out of bike riding shape! I had to walk a couple hills, but it was fun, and Natalie found the last of the snow:
 
Straight across from our camp was this huge boot print from Paul Bunyan:




Is there anything more fascinating than watching a camp fire? ( well, probably, but when you have no electronics, this is pretty cool):

I was really excited to be camping when it was a full moon, and especially the prospect of kayaking with the full moon which was on Friday the 13th (dun-dun-dunnn). On the 12th, at 8:30pm this is what we saw:



 
So we figured that the following night would be perfect for our full moon paddle. In the mean time, after Natalie read aloud to us from the Spiderwick Chronicles, we spent a chilly night in our sleeping bags. Brrrrr.....
 
The next morning we had little boxes of cereal for breakfast. This is one of my camping splurges. I love to eat out of the cereal box when I camp, and eat sugary cereal I usually wouldn't buy or eat.

 
Again, the day was windy, but maybe a bit less, so we put off kayaking until evening when the wind died down.
 
In the mean time we saw this conglomeration of cones making a star:

 
and this hawk:

 
also, I was kind of proud of my Pinterest inspired paper towel holder/kitchen crate. I put one of our hot dog sticks through the paper towels and holes in the crate--it was very handy, and my dish towel hung in the handle opening. Then I packed everything up in the crate when it was ready to go. Not exactly awe-inspiring, but super handy and something I wouldn't have thought of on my own.

 
Natalie had neglected to pack a decent sweater, so we ran into "town" and found this cute sweatshirt that she LOVES:

 
After PBandJ's for lunch, it was off on another bike adventure where we found this nice granite "beach":

 
and my favorite wildflowers, Pussy Paws--they feel like the bottom of a kitty's foot:

 
Modeling her sweatshirt:

 
After biking it was off to the showers (this is from inside the tent as we gather our stuff to go):

 
$2 of quarters and lots of banging on the machine, buys you 5 minutes of shower time. No more, no less, and if you spend a minute and a half trying to adjust the water to somewhere in between SCALD and SUB ZERO, well that's your tough luck! But if felt pretty good nonetheless.

Later that evening this was the scene:
But the rest of THAT story will be found at my other blog THE UNLIKELY KAYAKER