Friday, September 20, 2013

Walking to Say Thank You


 Last Sunday, I joined my daughter, who is an employee of Children’s Hospital, and my two granddaughters in The 36th Annual Briggs & Al’s Run & Walk for Children’s Hospital.

It was a gorgeous morning and the city of Milwaukee was cleaned and polished for the event. I noticed Verde grey lamp posts lining the street, overstuffed flower baskets, clean historical buildings and beautiful Lake Michigan lying ahead of us. My nine-year-old granddaughter, Jazzy, was able to walk side-by-side with us while my eight-month-old granddaughter, Bella, rode in a stroller, a big smile on her face, unaware it was all about her.

            We joined more than 12,000 other people in the event and collectively raised more than $1 million. Wow! But our motive for participating in the walk was far more personal. Bella spent almost a month at Children’s earlier this year fighting salmonella poisoning. We nearly lost her but through God’s grace and the care she received at Children’s Hospital, she’s a healthy, robust toddler.

We walked together to say thank you, God bless you, and keep up the kind of care you offer to patients every single day of every year.

 How very blessed we are to have Children’s Hospital within our reach.



Sunday, September 1, 2013

Seattle, Washington


What a great finale!
Seattle.
I never expected to like it as much as I did. When I thought of Seattle, I mistakenly associated it with gray skies and rain. Our Amtrak excursion from Vancouver to Seattle certainly proved me wrong. 

The very first adventure we decided to take was a visit to the Boeing Space and Flight Center. After touring the facility, we signed up for the ninety-minute factory tour which turned out to be fantastic. I had no idea that more than 40,000 people worked at this facility. The tour detailed every step of the way in building the 747, 767, 777 and 787 jets. We saw it all!

Pike Place Market overlooks Elliott Bay waterfront in downtown Seattle and is most likely the top tourist attraction, but I just had to see it. I wasn’t disappointed. Even though it was late in the afternoon by the time we arrived, the market was full of people shopping for fresh fish, colorful, large flowers, and beautiful vegetables. It was everything I expected and more. We decided to share a thin crust pizza and a couple of mugs of cold beer and took in all the excitement around us. On our way home, we spotted the Space Needle and agreed that our vacation was one of the best we had ever had. We were fully satisfied.

Until next time, enjoy the life we are blessed to live,

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada


Okay, I’ll admit it….I love the double-decker bus tours. We arrived in Vancouver, British Columbia, on Friday morning. After disembarking the “Radiance,” we decided the best way to take in the sights of this coastal seaport city was to hop on a double-decker bus.



We toured the entire city and soon learned that more than two million people live in Vancouver and its origin was a tiny settlement called Gastown. The area caught our attention, and we decided to hop off the bus and catch some lunch at a small Italian café. If you have ever visited Greenwich Village in New York it may conjure up the same type of experience in Gastown. Cute little shops and cafes line the tree-lined streets welcoming lazy afternoons sipping cappuccino or espresso or a cold ale.

On Saturday, we decided to experience a walk across the Capilano Suspension Bridge. It measures 460 feet long and 230 feet above the Capilano River! Eight hundred thousand visitors visit the bridge annually! I was grateful to see its original construction of hemp ropes and cedar planks had been replaced with a steel cable system. Still, it moved with the wind and the traffic of those who braved to venture across. Once on the other side, we walked through Treetop Adventures, a series of seven mini-suspension bridges that allowed us to view the natural habitat of a rainforest.

We ended the day at Grouse Mountain, one of North Vancouver’s tourist attractions. We all packed into a large tram that held 150 passengers and made our way up into the clouds traveling four thousand feet to the top of the mountain. There, we

 

 
 
 
chose to skip the lumberjack show in order to watch a couple of grizzly bears. It was fascinating to get that close to the giant bear, watching them having a good time in the water.
Vancouver is definitely a city I would highly recommend visiting. Next to Alaska, it’s quite something to see.




Before departing Vancouver, we heard about Steveston. I seem to be drawn to small fishing villages and Steveston, now part of the city of Richmond, British Columbia, was no exception. If you can envision a fish and seafood farmer’s market set on Fisherman’s Wharf, you’re in Steveston. It was an absolute wonderful experience to watch the locals and the fishermen haggle out deals. We spent the day walking leisurely though the city gravitating to the water’s edge and enjoyed a lovely supper at twilight. I wish I could visit it again when I find myself in the mood for shrimp scampi or panko crusted halibut. What a find!

Until next time, enjoy the life we are blessed to live,

Ketchican





Wilderness kayaking around Tatoosh Islands sounds adventurous, doesn’t it? After coming ashore, we traveled 40 miles to the campsite where our two-man, colorful kayaks waited. We paddled along the inside passage in the Tongass National Forest and glided along spotting eagles and sea lions while watching for whale.

It was the first time we had ever kayaked in a boat with a rudder. Our guides explained that women are better at the rudder since they have a finer sense of touch. Now, you might think that working the rudder is pretty simple, and for the most part it is, but don’t forget you’re working your arms and using your sight and hearing all at the same time. I must admit, more than once I steered us off course, but I could hardly find fault with myself. I was busy cataloging and storing everything that surrounded me. All of my senses were in overdrive!

As you many of you know, I’m already in love with kayaking and when placed in what surely feels like God’s Country, it really lifts the experience into a whole new dimension.
Until next time, enjoy the life we are blessed to live,

Icy Straight Point





We arrived on Icy Straight on the island of Chichagof on Tuesday. Just a few miles from the town of Hoonah, this fishing village was a pleasant surprise. Although we followed the Spasski River to peer at the bear feasting on salmon, it seems you have to be at the right place at the right time for that to happen.
 
The most fascinating part of our tour of Icy Straight Point was the Hoonah Salmon Canning Factory. After devouring a bucket of King Crab legs on the cannery dock, we licked our fingers clean and set out for the factory. By happenstance, we ran into a local who had shared his fond memories of the ship maintenance operation in its glory days. A man of about our age, his hair was shoulder length, silver colored, tied back in a ponytail. He wore thick jeans, a flannel shirt, and sturdy boots. He spoke of the big ships that used the tide to come ashore. They were manhandled onto their sides so the needed repairs to the hulls could be made.
We peered through the iron fencing to the work stations as he continued to describe each area in vivid detail. “If they couldn’t get a part in time,” he said, “they made it right here.” It was a conversation filled with bittersweet nostalgia as he looked around to the tourists who breezed through his past. “It was a wonderful way to grow up,” he said. We stayed with him for as long as he was willing to share his stories and left thankful for the experience.

Until next time, enjoy the life we are blessed to live,

Juneau and Skagway





 

Juneau was absolutely stunning. A hike to Mendenhall Glacier was a great way to get oriented to the area. We spotted fireweed, bunchberry, white yarrow and mountain ash plants under Black Cottonwood, Shore Pine, and Western Hemlock trees, but when we came upon the Nugget Falls, the powerful roar of the waterfall actually drew our attention away from the glacier. It was so captivating. Of course, a quick visit to the Red Dog Saloon was a must!

You may not know that Skagway was part of the setting for author, Jack London’s book, “The Call of the Wild.” Once you step foot in the quaint city of Skagway, you will soon see why. It has the small village feel in the midst of the Alaskan wild.
The first experience we had was simply watching the salmon making their way up the river. I took countless photographs and was fascinated by their journey. Although I’ve seen this many times on television, seeing it in person is watching Mother Nature at work.

Skagway is noted for his gold mining history, so we booked passage on the White Pass & Yukon Train Route that took us over the border into British Columbia. As we departed from the train depot, we climbed from sea level to almost 3,000 feet at the Summit, traveling approximately 20 miles. Terribly steep grades followed by train tunnels and windy tracks seem to be frequent. Originally operated by steam in the late 1800s, the train has been converted to a diesel engine and is a tourist attraction. It was constructed by thirty-five thousand men who all shared in the dream of becoming rich by discovering gold and by doing so created the Klondike Gold Rush.

Until next time, enjoy the life we are meant to live,

Author Events

It certainly was busy this last month attending two Author Events. One at West Allis Library and the other at New Berlin Public Library...