Friday Harbor Lunch Flight, August 2017

Our friend Catherine Howe is currently living in the flat state of Texas and she decided to come back to her previous living area of beautiful Seattle area to visit friends over a long weekend. She stayed with Linna and I in our recently new address of Fall City after living in Seattle proper for 21 years.

She asked if she could fly us from the Renton Airport to Friday Harbor for lunch in her Cessna 172 Skyhawk. The Cessna 172 is the most produced plane in the world with over 43,000 assembled and is still in production today. Her plane is hangered at the Renton Municipal Airport about 12 miles southeast of downtown Seattle near the south end of Lake Washington. The Renton airport is where all new Boeing 737’s take off for the very first time after assembly, the Boeing plant is right next to the runaway.

It was a perfect day for flying, it was sunny and warm with a light breeze. We flew off towards the North and headed in the general direction of our house, in ten minutes we were circling our Fall City compound of 4.5 acres. After a few photos, Catherine put the heading towards Friday Harbor.

Friday Harbor is part of the San Juan Islands and is the only island that is incorporated. There are over 400 islands that are part of the San Juan chain. Friday Harbor is a small town of 2,500 people and mainly caters to tourist people like us. Catherine smoothly landed the plane at the small Friday airport and taxied to a visitor parking lot for small planes. After securing the plane to the ground, we walked just 10 minutes to the quaint little town of restaurants and boutique shops.

We found a perfect spot for lunch over-looking the ferry boats coming in and the many tourists walking by. After lunch we departed and headed straight for the Renton airport…what a fabulous day.

Rim To Rim Hike, September 2016

Epic North Rim to South Rim hike all in one day with my wife Linna and 7 other good friends.

Athens, Georgia Trip, January 2016

Athens is one of my favorite little metropolitan cities and home to R.E.M., B-52’s and the Georgia Bulldogs. One must stay in the downtown area where the streets are filled with college dive bars, cool clubs and of course lots of great restaurants. It seems the night-life in Athens is always active with live music, drink specials and numerous college folks walking around. Maybe it’s why the Georgia Bulldogs ranked number two in the nation for best partying schools. Make sure you have your driver license on you, they card everybody…even people like me in my fifties.

One of my preferred places to wine and dine is the Five and Ten, this place is actually a couple of miles south of downtown so you will probably need to drive; there is plenty parking behind the restaurant. Owner and Chef Hugh Acheson is famous for his cotemporary Southern cooking and was named one of Food and Wine’s 10 best new chefs.

This trip I was very fortunate to meet up with some longtime friends, AJ Hudjins and his wife Colleen. I first met AJ in the winter of 1979 in Cozad, Nebraska and slowly we became best of friends and roommates at times. AJ and Colleen are now living in Hartwell, Georgia…a small city about 45 minutes Northeast of Athens.

Moab Trip, September 2015

Our Moab adventure started early in the trip with my good friend Jim Darmiento and his wife Ione missing our 6:00 a.m. flight from Seattle to Salt Lake City, Utah. So it was my wife Linna, me and my longtime friend Mike Curry on the flight to Salt Lake City. We ended up picking up Jim and Ione at the Salt Lake City Airport four hours later in our BMW (Bigass Mormon Wagon)…also known as a Chevy Suburban. After everyone was loaded up we headed down to Moab with a lunch break at the beautiful Sundance Resort.

Our first day in Moab we hit the Jail House for breakfast on Main street and then we were off to Arch National Park which was totally awe-inspiring and just a five minute ride from Moab. Note to oneself…start very early, it’s much cooler and less people! I am pleased that Linna convinced us to go back to the park at sunset to watch the Delicate Arch change from a sandy brown color to a vibrate orange. We finished our day with a 9:30 p.m. dinner reservation at the Desert Bistro which was the finest restaurant in Moab.

Linna was able to convince the group a second time to get up 5:30 a.m. and head off to Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park to watch the sunrise and see the sun rays turn the Mesa Arch from a dull sandstone color to a fiery glowing orange. This was completely worth waking up damn early, I absolutely recommend this. We hit the highly rated Love Muffin café for breakfast after we got back to town, great food but long lines and ordering at the counter gave me negative vibes. We still had plenty of time for a nap before our river adventure in the afternoon.

If you only have time for one adventure in Moab during the summer…I highly recommend paddle boarding on the Colorado River with Paddle Moab Josh (guide/owner) made the 2 ½ hour river trip exhilarating, entertaining and relaxing.

Alaska Fishing Trip, August 2015

Not too many people in this world get a chance to go on an epic fishing trip in Alaska for Salmon and Halibut, but I did and with the blessing of my beautiful wife Linna and I took it. My long-time friend John Dorsey asked me to come along on this grand fishing trip with both his sons. His son Michael Dorsey is a professional fishing guide during the summer and hunting guide during the winter at the famous Hatchery Cove Lodge on Evans Island near the tiny village of Chenega, Alaska. Michael is the Captain of Halibut Hooker, a new 43 foot fishing boat equipped with two 310hp Volvo engines owned by Bob Hodsons. Bob is also the owner of Barney’s Sports Chalet a specialty outdoors shop in Anchorage, Alaska. A special thanks goes out to Bob Hodsons to let me live the dream for a few days!

John and his other son Matthew Dorsey from Fort Collins, Colorado flew into Seattle from Denver where we met up and the three of us took the same Delta flight to Anchorage, Alaska. Delta Airlines is starting to match routes with Alaska Airlines and Delta was offering this killer deal for $180 bucks round-trip from Seattle to Anchorage…oh hell yes.

Michael and his son Hunter were waiting for us in Anchorage, I haven’t seen Michael for a couple of years and I didn’t recognize him at first sporting a thick Jeremiah Johnson reddish beard. We picked up groceries in Anchorage and drove over to Whittier where the Halibut Hooker was mooraged. We quickly loaded up the boat with 5 days of supplies and took off on a three hour tour to the Hatchery Cove also owned by Bob Hodsons.

We fished for 4 days nearly limiting every day on Coho Salmon, Halibut and a bunch of Rock fish. We were allowed 3 Coho (Silvers) Salmon and 2 Halibut each day, but 50 miles to the East in Resurrection Bay near Seward, Alaska you were allowed 6 Coho a day.

When it comes to fishing, the Dorsey clan have so much fishing experience that you will be assured there will be fish on the boat and a lot of it. Even though I held my own, the Dorsey’s out fished me each day; they are also gentlemen when it comes to splitting the vacuum packed fillets at the end of the trip.

Nebraska Trip, June 2015

This was a perfect trip…lovely weather, worthy friends and a bit of nirvana.

I had an opportunity to visit my hometown of Cozad, Nebraska and I took it…or I should say my lovely wife Linna gave me her blessing to fly back home for 4 days to see friends and classmates. I also had a motive, my good friend and classmate Jerry Story was coming back from Finland with his family and we haven’t seen each other for a couple of years or so. Plus my other good friends and classmates Brad Wilcher and Nick Morse from Lincoln, Nebraska were coming back too. My ex-brother-in-law Brad Stallbaumer opened up his 6 bedroom house to Wilcher and I and we used it for home base the whole weekend.

First night back we all met up at the local Elks club for food and beverage, we had other 1979 classmates that showed up too; Andy Pflaster, Todd Morris, Deb Hunke and Kelly Worrell. Of course we closed down the Elks and a few of us walked over to Big E’s…the only bar left in my small town of 3,500 people. Even though I finally got to bed in the wee hours, I answered the bell for breakfast at the Green Apple restaurant in Cozad…of course my classmate Todd Morris had to call me out of bed though.

Breakfast was followed by a fishing trip with a long time buddy John Dorsey out to Johnson Lake about 15 miles from Cozad. We usually limit out on decent size Walleye, but our fishing rods were only bringing in small rubbish fish. Not to waste any precious time during this well-deserved hometown visit our group took off to Eustis, Nebraska for Wurst Tag for the evening; this is more or less one big ass party that is similar to Oktoberfest. This was actually a fabulous time to meet up with many old friends to share stories. One major gripe I have is the light beer they were serving during a major German type festival…your only choices were Coors Light, Bud Light and Busch Light! Who in their right mind would serve such crap beer for a major German festival?

My last day was another Green Apple breakfast followed by some target shooting with the Story family. I brought back my 9mm and .45 Kimber 1911 style guns from Seattle and we shot 200 rounds of ammo. This was the first time shooting for Erika and Patrick Story and I know they appreciated it.

Peoria, Illinois Trip, January 2015

Can you believe it…my first trip for the year and I choose Peoria, Illinois. We all know Peoria is not a vacation spot or a destination spot, but it still has certain qualities about it to provide a comfortable life for most people. Peoria is the largest city on the Illinois River and if you have a view from a riverfront hotel you can see the many barges being pushed by the huge tugboats through-out the day. I just happen to travel to Peoria a couple of times a year and I usually make the best of it.

There’s not a lot to do in Peoria, but they do have some great restaurants and I typically try to find a new one (if there’s one) when I am in town. This trip I discovered a treasure and found the The Edge during my Open Table search when I was up in the air 36,000 feet flying from Seattle utilizing Gogo internet. The Edge edgeinpeoria was opened by Chef Dustin Allen promoting a farm to table experience. I totally recommend this restaurant and you would be a fool not to make a reservation here.

I had the distinct pleasure to enjoy my lovely dinner with a couple of friends, Jason Hartley from Washington and Douglas Hovel from Illinois.

Albuquerque Balloon Festival, October 2014

I have always wanted to attend the Albuquerque International Balloon Festival and this year I made it happen. My wife Linna and my good friend Mike Curry joined me for a four day weekend of relaxation and fun. The world’s largest hot air balloon festival usually takes place the first weekend of October with over 700 balloons and considered to be the most photographed event in the world. I don’t think I saw one person without a camera, Linna must have taken over 400 pictures herself.

Mike and I flew in earlier than Linna on Thursday so we headed to the Marble Brewery www.marblebrewery (off of Marble Avenue) in the warehouse district in Albuquerque. This is a hip pub that brews an variety of seasonal beers on draft, they also had a live band playing that night…bonus!

Friday morning was our lift off in a hot air balloon for the first time in our lives…exciting! The three of us decided on a more personal flight so we paid extra for a basket only for us and of course our pilot; some of these baskets will hold up to twelve people. We hooked up with Rainbow Ryders www.rainbowryders which I would totally recommend. They are experienced, organized, entertaining and safe. The flight lasted only for an hour, but it was so peaceful and serene I could have floated all day; your flight time is limited to the fuel you have aboard.

With plenty of day left after our first ever balloon ride we were off to Santa Fe for some leisure sight-seeing. We met up with Garth Heuchert and his wife Patricia Chou for dinner at MÁS – Tapas y Vino back in Albuquerque. I have to give Patricia credit on finding this wonderful restaurant that specializes in tapas located in the historic Hotel Andaluz. Garth and Patricia are friends of ours from Seattle and now live in the cool city of Austin, Texas.

Colorado Trip, July 2014

The last time Linna and I hiked in Colorado was two years ago during my birthday week where I summited Colorado’s highest peak Mt. Elbert. This trip we flew an early morning flight from Seattle to Denver via Alaska Airlines. Once we landed we still had a 4 ½ hour drive from the Denver airport to Crested Butte…this can be a little tiring after a while driving two lane highways behind large trucks and RV’s.

This year we met up again in Crested Butte with basically the same group of friends but with a few more people this time. Our group rented a huge house in the Mt. Crested Butte area overlooking mountains and the Crested Butte village.

We spent four relaxing days enjoying fabulous homemade Chinese food, local hiking and the mountain scenery. Our first group hike was off of CR734 on Augusta Mountain with an elevation gain of 3,000 feet. This was supposed to be an easy hike but we took a different route and ended up adding more adventure to this hike with a river crossing and some rock scrambling.

Our second hiking day was the opposite, it was supposed to be the longer hike up to West Maroon Pass but was pretty much a photo shoot of beautiful wildflowers on West Maroon Valley. An easier hike was totally cool with me especially with the first few days consisting of flying, driving and hiking.
The four day trip ended up with a stupid move on my part by leaving our car keys in the vacation rental house…our car was parked at the SeaTac airport; I called a good friend of mine Mike Curry for a ride home.