Enchantment Thru Hike, Washington, August 2019

After four times, Linna and I agreed that this will be the last time we hike this one day grueling twenty mile thru hike in the beautiful Enchantments. Like most one day hikers we started at Colchuck trailhead and descended down to Snows Lake trailhead. This is truly a brutal trek with 4,500 feet gain and 6,500 feet descent on not so easy terrain. Our group of 9 friends started around 7:00 a.m. and made it back to the vehicles around 10:00 p.m.. I packed a cooler in the morning, so we had cold beers waiting for us.

Just one of many crossings on top of the core of the enchantments.
On top of Asgard Pass look back at the beautiful Colchuck Lake.
Linna Freeman resting after hiking up the brutal Asgard Pass. Dragontail Peak is keeping her company.
The Enchantments are filled with Goats. Some of the goats were still shedding their coats.
Matt Kerby, our designated professional photographer. The photos are Matt’s handy work.
Happy and Tired Freeman. I was taking a break as I was heading up the very steep Asgard Pass. From the Colchuck Lake you ascend 2,000 feet in only 3/4 of a mile to reach the pass….or the gateway to the beautiful Enchantments.
The girls at Colchuck Lake
Leprechaun Lake
Linna Freeman leading the way through the core of the Enchantments.

Georgia & Armenia Trip, July 2019

For my 59th birthday, my wife Linna worked with local Georgian guide Davit Berishvili to provide a well-balanced 10 day journey that included hiking, site-seeing, food/wine tasting and culture gathering. We invited our good friend Michael Curry to join us on this truly once in a life-time vacation packed excursion.

This will be our first vacation/journey that we hired a professional guide for the duration of a trip and looking back at it now, I am so pleased that Linna organized it that way.  There would have been a language barrier at many of the locations and restaurants we visited. Also, there is a unique way of driving in Georgia, similar to China….there are no set of road lines or rules.  People will pass with on-coming traffic and at the same time deal with local cattle wandering on the road. But, we were so fortunate to have the best tour guide in Georgia…Gaga Chechelashvili.  Not only was he a safe aggressive driver, but also a fun tour guide and a true gentleman. Gaga picked us up at the Tbilisi airport in his 4×4 right hand drive Mitsubishi Pajero. Not sure, but maybe 1 in 10 cars were right hand drive purchased from Japan because of their excellent condition and reliability.

Beautiful village of Mestia, Georgia. The Svan tower homes were family living quarters and offered protection to their owners and to their livestock. Usually 4 to 5 floors with the first floor lacking of doors or windows.
Rick Freeman & Mike Curry hiking from Mestia to a tiny village of Tsvirmi.
Having beers with Gaga Chechelashvili and Mike Curry at the farm house in Tsvirmi.
Village
We toured Baia’s Winery. Once the grapes are harvested, everything (seeds, stems, skins & juice) is tossed into a Qvevri which a very large clay pot buried in the ground. This method of wine making in Georgia has been recorded by archaeologists back to 6000 BC.
Clay pots are buried at Baia’s Winery.
I purchased a bottle of Tsitska Tsolikouri at Baia’s Winery…this is a dry white wine. I am with the wine maker Gvanca Abuladze.
Mike Curry, Rick Freeman and Linna Freeman in front of Shkhara Glacier. We hiked from the village of Ushguli.
The Bridge of Peach that is 490 feet long that connects the old Tbilisi with the new district.
Villige
Many of the farm/guest houses that we stayed in had wood fired stoves for cooking and keeping warm.

Austria & Slovakia, April 2019

Linna and I started in Munich and drove down to Austria and then over to Slovakia.

The Beautiful Village of Hallstatt on Lake Hallstatt, Austria.

I Just Happened To Get Pulled Over For Speeding In Slovakia By An Unmarked Police Car.
The famous Blue Church, officially known as the Church of St Elizabeth of Hungary. Built in the early twentieth century.

Japan Trip, March 2019

I think March is a wonderful month to visit Japan….perfect temperature for a big boy like myself. I flew to Narita and then onto Osaka where my good friend Moto Tanaka was waiting for me.

My good friend Moto Tanaka found a great Japanese restaurant in Osaka, Japan.
Delicious Kobe beef, it melted like butter in your mouth.
It only takes a minute of cooking over 100% natural charcoal.
My good friends Tetsuya Tokumaru and Miya Moto in Osaka, Japan. I have known Tetsuya for over ten years now.
“Somehow” I lost my Canali suit jacket at the Narita airport after I walked off the plane. But Moto Tanaka and Hilton worked together and located it. I was able to pick it up on my way out from Narita Airport in Japan. This is not the first time I have left a suit jacket at the Narita airport.
My good friend Tom has his own whiskey bottle at his favorite restaurant.

Nashville Trip, February 2019

Nashville is a great city for music, restaurants and bar hopping, it has that feel of Biehl Street but a bit cleaner and safer. Not only is Nashville the Capital of Tennessee, but home to Country Music Hall of Fame, Johnny Cash Museum, Grand Ole Opry House and the historic Ryman Auditorium. We also celebrated Linna’s 47th birthday in Nashville and attending a Fleetwood Mac concert.

Linna and I did a bourbon tour at Belle Meade in Nashville…we had a great experience.
A large Still at the Belle Meade distillery in Nashville.

We bought 6 bottles of select Belle Meade Bourbon to bring back to our highly whiskey taxed state of Washington. State of Washington has the highest state taxes on whiskey in United States. For each proof gallon is subject to a whopping $35.22 tax. Which means 50% of my whiskey cost in Washington is going to state and federal taxes. Tennessee state taxes is $4.46 for each proof gallon…thus the case of whiskey!
Visited the Space Museum in Huntsville, Alabama. Linna standing below Saturn V space rocket.
Space condom! This could be handy on long road trips. Or when you are overnight camping in a tent on a cold night.
Space Shuttle and Linna Freeman looking on.

Winthrop Trip, February 2019

Our good friend Jim Darmiento was celebrating his 50th birthday in Winthrop, Washington and asked a few friends to come along. He rented Hazel’s Overnight rental right across the street from Copper Glance restaurant in the heart of Winthrop. In fact our first night we had dinner and drinks at the Copper Glance. Due to a late night, we headed out snowshoeing Patterson Lake next day, followed with drinks and appetizers at the Sun Mountain Lodge.

Jimmy fell victim to a fast down slope on cross country skis, found himself face planted in the white stuff.
Paul Shinners having a blast on his first time on cross country skies.
Paul Shinners, Jim Darmiento, Rick Freeman, Linna Freeman, Mike Curry and Emelie Espling.
Linna Freeman
Totally recommend Hazel’s Overnight Rental. Located downtown Winthrop, 5 bedrooms and dependable fast internet.
Emelie Espling getting down in the tracks.
Michael Curry screaming for the love of life!

Mt. Pilchuck Snow Hike, January 2019

The cold air and heavy snow made this sweet basic Pilchuck hike into a cold ass kicker. Washington received tons of snow this year so every hike this winter has seen heavy snow pack. The winter route up to Pilchuck is steep and deep in snow…..but still very worth it.

This last steep part was the ass kicker. The look-out tower was only 5 minutes after this ass kicking steep area.
Michael Curry waiting on us.
Jim and Ione Darmiento
You had to crawl into the look-out tower.

Ione Darmiento and Rick Freeman
I finally put my jacket on as we got into the open….cold and windy.

Mailbox Peak Hike, November 2018

It was time for a calorie burn after Thanksgiving, so my wife Linna, niece Chloe Wei and my good friend Matt Kerby hiked up Mailbox Peak via the old trail two days after stuffing our face with roasted duck, lamb and cold Chinese sliced beef.  

Rick Freeman, Chloe Wei & Linna Freeman enjoying the peak of Mailbox Peak.  

The famous Mailbox Peak

We ascended and descended the old trail (red)…4,000 feet up in 2.5 miles.  I have descended the new trail (blue) a couple of times, but the 5 miles one way down seems to take forever.  My knees are tender and some of the larger step-downs send agonizing jolts of pain on the 2.5 miles old trail, but I will bear the pain to forsake the extended 5 miles. 

Wuyuan County (China), November 2018

We stayed in the Wuyuan County for a couple of days, known as the most beautiful countryside in China. Located northeast of Jiangxi Province and near Mount Huangshan that we just visited a couple of days ago.  We were ending our China trip that started in Shanghai a week ago.  My wife Linna Wei put together the perfect itinerary for twelve days.The beautiful drying racks in the ancient village of Wuyuan.

Immense sea of golden rape flowers.

We are enjoying a wonderful lunch.

Harvest time.

Amazon delivery.

We stayed in the Hongcun village before and after hiking Mount Huangshan.  The 900 year old village is located in the historical region of southern Anhui Province near the southwest slope of Mount Huangshan.

We stopped here twice for breakfast inside the Hongcun village.