Sunday, August 30, 2015

Sunday, August 30 ~September is Upon Us!

Where does the time go? Our wonderful trip to the northwest seems like such a distant memory.  It is great to take these amazing trips but when I return it seems there is always so much catching up to do. Our garden is just about gone,  My green beans came on while I was gone and they weren't much when I got back.  The raccoons once again managed to enjoy our sweet corn much more than we did.  We do have triplet fawns that have been frolicking around all of our apple trees, more than likely they have a little buzz from the fermented apples they have been eating.  The buckeye trees are loaded with nuts and they have already dropped most of their leaves into the swimming pool indicating another job that has to be done.

Our family did just return from what is becoming a family tradition, a trip to Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee before Luke and Lily head back for their school year.  It is the one trip that I do not have to mandate that Andy take because he so loves to go.  He has always loved the area and especially Dolly's theme park.  I think the first time we went the park was called the Silver Dollar something.  When we were in college, the Sigmas and the Zetas, our fraternity and sorority, would always spend a week end in Pigeon Forge in the spring so our memories go way, way back.  Of course at that time Pigeon Forge only had a few motels down along the Pigeon River and was simply a place to stop, grab a bite to eat and fill up before entering the Smoky Mountains.  Today it is a busy little city with restaurants, gift shops, arcades, outlet stores, motels, condos and rental cabins as well as the iconic Dollywood Theme Park.  I will give my usual plug for what we believe is the best "family" oriented theme park on the planet surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery in the country. 
Dinner, Monday evening, at the Dixie Stampede

Driving to Cade's Cove in the Smoky Mtns.

Our favorite ride at Dollywood, the River Rampage!

Sunrise from our condo, Rivershore Condos

Dolly's grist Mill

The church at Dollywood

Luke and I rode the all new, Wild Eagle roller coaster

Lily and Evie at the Dixie Stampede

Getting autographs after the show

Dinner at Paula Deen's new restaurant in Pigeon Forge

The fountain in the Island Square across from Paula Deen's

This year we chose a condo overlooking the golf course located just 2 miles from Dollywood instead of a cabin.  There was an indoor pool, a lazy river with inner tubes and you could walk along the Pigeon River.  Sara and Matt didn't have any time left after their trip to the Outer Banks but we picked up Evelyn on our way through Cincinnati.  We were a little worried about the weather forecast but we had perfect weather and because the schools start in early August in Tennessee, we pretty much had the entire park to ourselves.
September will prove to be just as busy as we prepare for our Childhood Cancer Walk at CHOP in Philadelphia and this year, my brother Bob, also has a team walking in the Walk to End Alzheimer's in Columbus on September 13.  Lots of walking for 2 great causes!
2014 CHOP Walk

2014 photo with the Rocky statue. This year the event is being held at a different venue, disappointed!


Monday, July 20, 2015

Sunday, July 19- Part 2- Mt. St. Helen's

Sunday morning, after a scenic drive to Reflection Lake and Steven's Canyon, we headed south towards Mt. Saint Helen's. I have been searching the gift shops for Bigfoot souvenirs for Luke. For future information, at exit 20 of I-5 we hit the mother load. We were in Bigfoot Country. We were told that there have been more Bigfoot sightings here than in any other part of the country. After a tasty lunch at the 49'ers Restaurant we drove to the observatory overlooking Mt. Saint Helen's and arrived just in time for a wonderful film showing the eruption that occurred on May 18, 1980. We listened to a young ranger explain a little about volcanoes and the rebirth of a mountain following an eruption. We were certainly in awe of the landscape.
    Our trip is rapidly nearing it's end and we will be returning to the rains, and mosquitoes, of Ohio on Tuesday. I hope you have enjoyed following along with us. We have had many laughs and have enjoyed seeing this beautiful country where we live and basking in her beauty. God certainly knew what he was doing when he created this earth we live on.

Sorry, Luke, I don't think he will fit in my carry-on
Mt. Saint Helen's landscape.
Johnson's Ridge Observatory

Life returns

I loved this t-shirt, Bigfoot doesn't believe in you either!

Sunday, July 19- Mt. Rainier ( no internet last 2 days)

Mt. Rainier was probably my 2nd favorite National Park we have visited this trip. The weather has been fabulous and our views of the summit have been nothing short of breathtaking. We stayed at the Paradise Inn inside the park so we were near the trailhead for several of the trails. We did a short trail at the Longmire visitors center called The Trail of Shadows and were treated to views of a wetlands area graced by about 5 evening grosbeaks. Not a life bird but a special treat for everyone in the group. Yesterday we hiked part of the Skyline Trail, the Golden Gate Trail and the Nisqually Trail about 4 1/2 miles but the Skyline took us near 1200 feet in elevation so it was pretty strenuous for some of us flatlanders.

Evening grosbeaks

An old "jammer" car

Mt. Rainier

Mt. Rainier in the background

Oregon junco

Saturday after breakfast we hit the trails. We were passed by a group of ice climbers, kudos to them! As we got closer to the ice fields and glaciers we could see climbers, from where we were they looked like ants.

Barb B identifying wildflowers

Golden-mantle ground squirrel

Hiking on the snow field, not us

In awe of her beauty

Coming down the Golden Gate Trail

A marmot posing for us
After a short rest we tackled the less strenuous Nisqually Trail. Although I didn't get a very good picture, we did see a Blue Grouse, a Pacific subspecies called a Sooty grouse on this trail. It was hooting so we were looking up in the trees for an owl when I noticed the rustling in the undergrowth. This was a life-bird for me.

Blue grouse, Sooty variety

The orange is his air sac expanding as he was hooting

The Nisqually River coming down Mt. Rainier