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.
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 fiveandten.com, 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.
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 desertbistro.com 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 lovemuffincafe.com 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 paddlemoab.com. Josh (guide/owner) made the 2 ½ hour river trip exhilarating, entertaining and relaxing.
Linna Freeman at Landscape Arch in the Arch National Park.
Rick Freeman & Mike Curry in Canyonlands National Park.
Jim & Ione Darmiento, Rick Freeman & Mike Curry resting in the shade.
Ione and Jim Darmiento posing in front of Mesa Arch at sunrise.
Linna Freeman posing in front of the Delicate Arch in the Arch National Park.
Delicate Arch at sunset in the Arch National Park.
The beautiful Mesa Arch at sunrise.
Jim Darmiento was our driver during our road trip to Moab from Salt Lake City, Utah.
The crowd was waiting for the sunset on Delicate Arch.
Mesa Arch at sunrise in the Canyonlands National Park.
Rick Freeman at Landscape Arch in the Arch National Park.
Rick Freeman paddle boarding on the Colorado River near Moab, Utah.
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 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 barneyssports.com 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 roundtrip 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 moorage. 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.
Halibut rigs baited up and ready to go
We saw Orca’s all day
I brought both of these Black Rock fish at the same time on my halibut rod
Our third day of fishing, we limited out on Salmon and Halibut
Matthew Dorsey’s first Coho on our first day of fishing
Loading 5 days of supplies on the Halibut Hooker fishing boat
John Dorsey’s first Coho in the boat on our first day
Hunter Dorsey pulled in this jumbo 19lb Silver
Humpback Whale was lurking around us while we were fishing for Halibut…totally awesome
Hatchery Cove Lodge in blue awaits our arrival
The famous Halibut Hooker fishing boat
This was our first day of fishing; John & Michael Dorsey and Rick Freeman
The lodge and our fishing area was near the village of Chenega, Alaska
This was our first day of fishing, we limited out on Coho’s that day
We had a freezer full of Coho, Halibut and Rock fish fillets
John Dorsey, Rick Freeman, Hunter & his father Michael Dorsey
We saw so many whales during this trip you forgot they were around the boat
John Dorsey with his halibut
This was the largest halibut that I brought in for the tirp
Another great day on the water; Michael & John Dorsey and Rick Freeman
Michael, Matthew and John Dorsey showing off their Rock fish
Matthew Dorsey enjoying life in Alaska
A tub of fresh bright red Coho fillets
Hunter Dorsey was the Captain’s First Mate on the Halibut Hooker
John Dorsey enjoying our ride from Whittier to the Hatcher Cove Lodge
John Dorsey, Michael Dorsey and Matthew Dorsey
Captain Michael Dorsey on the famous Halibut Hooker fishing boat
Just leaving Whittier, Alaska; Matthew & John Dorsey
Rick Freeman’s Rock Fish
Our three hour boat route to Chenega, Alaska from Whittier
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.
My flight back to Seattle took us very close to famous Mt. Rainier
Patrick Story loving the .45 Kimber
The North Platte river at flood stage. This was a normal occurrence when I was a kid growing up in Cozad
It’s one thing that I do miss is the Midwest storms
My niece Zoe was in Cozad too, so I had a chance to stop by and say hi.
My good friend John Dorsey in front of his longtime friend…his boat.
Todd Morris, Andy Plaster, Nick Morse, Brad Wilcher, Jerry Story, Deb Hunke, Rick Freeman and Kelly Worrell.
Cozad has more cattle than people. This feedlot can hold 20,000 cows.
Erika handle the 9mm Kimber with ease
We call this Walleye a cigar because it’s so damn small.
The iconic grain bins in Cozad
We had a great time at the Eustis Wurst Tag event.
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.
City of Peoria; My view from my hotel across the Illinois River in East Peoria.
I had the pleasure to get a picture with Chef Dustin Allen after a fantastic dinner at his restaurant The Edge.
Douglas Hovel, Jason Hartley and Rick Freeman having dinner at The Edge in Peoria, Illinois
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.
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.
Most Seattleites either fly south to Mexico/Arizona area or off to Hawaii for a warm weather vacation. For some odd reason this will be my first visit to the Hawaii islands. My good friend Jim Darmiento set the ball a rolling by finding an enormous house on the beach in the town of Hana on the island of Maui for all of us to appreciate. When I say all of us I mean Linna Freeman (my wife), Ione Darmiento (Jim’s wife) Rick Massie (friend and co-worker), Scott and his wife Jesse (daughter and son in law to Ione).
We all flew the same airline and flight over to Maua on Hawaiian Airlines for only $300. After landing, we drove to Costco to pick up groceries for the week; we had no preset meal plan so we all just grabbed something we wanted to consume or cook up.
Once on the road the adventure begins right away with the famous twisty rode to Hana with hundreds of tight curves and single lane bridges. We just happened to hit a huge rain storm all the way to Hana; the torrents of rain was crashing down between the hillsides which was totally awesome to witness the power of rain-water. The guidebook stated that “Hana as a reputation for being a rainy place and receives over 80 inches of rain yearly”, our first two days clearly lived up to that.
We chose Hana for more a peaceful serene setting without the tourist influence. Our house was perfectly located near the famous Hamoa Beach…considered one of the best beaches in the Maui for body surfing. Our crew woke around sunrise (06:00) each day to start the day with a hot cup of Kona java and a hearty breakfast of bacon and eggs that was cooked up by our own Rick Massie. After breakfast each day was a short walk to Hamoa beach; most mornings we were the first ones enjoying the fine salt and pepper sand and the powerful waves.
We left our perfect location one day to hike the Pipiwai trail to the Waimoku waterfall. This is a very easy 2 mile trek of only 600 feet gain with a mystical 400 foot waterfall that awaits your arrival. Another day excursion we were off to one of the largest and coolest freshwater pools called Waioko by the Hawaiians or the Venus pool by others. You will find numerous deep spots to dive or jump in…depending how courageous you are. Jim Darmiento and I were the only daring among us to make the plunge in the darkish colored water from being so deep.
We had the pleasure to witness a beautiful marriage ceremony right on our own beach house. Scott and Jesse decided exchange wedding vows in Maui after being together for over 10 years.
We make a trip to Winthrop, Washington at least once a year for cross-country skiing. We took off from Seattle on Thursday making a four day holiday. Our group consisted of Rick Massie, Jim Darmiento and his wife Ione and my wife Linna Wei. About half way to Winthrop, we stopped for lunch at the Milepost 111 Brewing Company www.milepost111brewingcompany.com in Cashmere, Washington for a sandwich and beer.
We have been staying at the Cottonwood Cottage www.cottonwood-cottage.com for the last four visits. This three bedroom cabin is located on the outskirts of Winthrop right on the Methow River and walking distance from Methow Valley Trail System. The Methow Valley www.mvsta.com is considered to have more cross country ski trails than any other place in United States.
After settling into the Cottonwood Cottage we were off to our favorite pub house in Winthrop….the Old School Brewery www.oldschoolhousebrewery.com This small place has been around for years and if you don’t get there early on weekends, you will find yourself standing. They have live music on Friday and Saturday and usually a different band each night.
This year the state of Washington didn’t receive much snow including the Methow Valley which limited where we skied. We actually had to drive to higher elevation to find quality skiing.
It seems I make it down to the bay area at least once a year and every visit is fulfilled with fabulous restaurants, architectural site seeing, massages and cool neighborhoods.
I have always wanted to check out La Folie www.lafolie.com in San Francisco. Each course was spectacular and Chef Roland made the dining experience near perfect with his passion for French cuisine.
The next day we were off to the popular Yank Sing Restaurant in the Rincon Center. This is your high-end Dim Sum Chinese restaurant www.yanksing.com. This is a must hit when in San Fran….this place rocks, they have the best Xiao Long Bao.
After over indulging on some of the best dim sum in the Bay Area a hike up to the Coit tower was in order, this tower on the historic Telegraph Hill was built back in 1933 on a Federal Works project. If you walk from the bottom like I did it takes over 400 steps to get to the tower; after all of my sweating efforts it was closed for painting…totally bummed me out. After walking all day we stopped for a massage in China Town, this made up for the long stair climb to Coit Tower. I had a well deserved full hour full body massage.
The last time I was in Oklahoma was the same reason I flew back this time…a Trujillo wedding. Four years ago it was Miranda Trujillo marrying John Williams, this time it was Miranda’s younger brother Chaz marrying Jessica Cornell. I have known both Miranda and Chaz from birth and had the privileged to see them develop into wonderful young adults.
As soon as I landed in Tulsa I headed toward Jay, Oklahoma to visit my longtime friend Randy Trujillo and his wife Merikki. After a few beers and some bullshitting, we took off to see Jessica and Chaz…the soon to be newlyweds. Chaz was in the process of making a wooden bench for people to sign at the wedding.
Next day I met up with Chaz and his good friend Matt Rush at the J-Cafe for a hearty breakfast…the biscuits and gravy type. After filling the belly up with sunny-side up eggs and hash-browns Chaz took me to the quarry pit to shoot my 1911 style Kimber and Zig-M handguns; both are .45 calibers.
I wasn’t in the wedding, but I was invited to the wedding rehearsal and to the cabin at the Sycamore Springs Ranch goo.gl/YCceuG where the wedding and reception was held. After the dinner rehearsal the men of the wedding party and of course little ole me spent the night at the cabin. But before we passed out and woke-up to a few scorpions on the walls, Chaz and I did what any grown testosterone filled man would do…wrestled in the dirt. It was all good…bloody ear and a few bruises.
The wedding day was picture-perfect with comfortable temperatures; it rained earlier in the day…enough to settle the dust and cleanse the air. I found myself on the mechanical bull later in the night at the reception, not sure how long I rode but I think did pretty well for a city slicker. Next day my inner legs were bruised and arm aching from hanging on for dear life.
Before I flew back to Seattle the next day, I met up with my sister Dawn and her husband Ben Hosterman for lunch at the Atlas Grill goo.gl/QBfu5S. Located in downtown Tulsa in the Atlas Life Building, they serve up delicious breakfast and lunch…a must hit. They brought their handsome son Hayden along…an intelligent active young boy!
The last time I visited Winthrop goo.gl/7yrYi6 was January, 2012 for some bad ass cross country skiing with the same group on this trip; Jim and Ione Darmiento, Rick Massie and my wife Linna. My friend and co-worker Jim Darmiento rented the same cabin goo.gl/BJtMK6 this year as he did for the January trip and again…it was perfect. All four of us drove up on Thursday and met at the cabin and then headed off to town for some warm Mexican food.
Contrary to popular belief, not all Chinese know how to ride a bike; this was Linna’s first riding experience and just the little bit we saw in the parking lot….we were having doubts. She successfully rode the trails and only biffed it once after hitting a rock sticking up. After a shower back at the cabin, we headed to our favorite place in Wintrop the School House for some grub and beers. We ended the night back at the cabin sitting around the firepit.
Next day we hiked up Goat Peak to say hi to the famous Lightning Bill; he has manned the forest look-out tower every summer for 19 years. He was actually boarding up the tower for the winter as we summited. After a few pictures and munching down Linna’s legendary sandwich we headed back down for a hot shower to get ready for dinner at the Sun Mountain Lodge.
We packed up and headed toward Seattle Sunday morning stopping in Leavenworth, Washington for lunch.
First, let me say this about the perfect weather city…speedy drivers. Maybe it feels that way due to my years of driving in Seattle with some of the nation’s slowest drivers. Of course having numerous highways with several lanes through-out San Diego it made it a breeze to drive all over.
This was my first time in sunny San Diego where I spent the whole weekend in and around the city. My wife Linna and I flew down via Alaska Airlines to visit our niece Chloe Wei. She is spending four months with a host family while attending San Diego State University.
We met up with Chloe on Friday afternoon and ended up at a highly rated family owned Italian restaurant located in Gas Lamp district, same area where our hotel was located. I highly recommend Busalacchi’s, www.busalacchia.com especially on the weekends when the Jazz band is playing.
I had two main reasons for this trip, to see my sister Nova in Nebraska and to summit Mt. Elbert on my 52nd birthday in Colorado. I flew to Omaha via a Minneapolis connection by myself; Linna would join me later in the week in Denver. It was a smooth and sunny flight over to Minneapolis; the beautiful Cascades still had a lot of snow on top.
After flying into Omaha, I grabbed a rental car and drove over to my sister Alicia’s house in La Vista, Nebraska for a long overdue visit with her and her children Kason and Jolie. Later in the day I drove over to Lincoln to meet up with Brad Wilcher an old classmate of mine from high school. I lived with Brad and his family for a small stint my senior year in Cozad and we have maintained a worthy correspondence ever since. We ended up having a few beers at a local hot spot talking about old times, people and sharing a few laughs.
The next day was a leisurely drive to Kearney, Nebraska to meet up with my sister Nova where she was having some medical testing done. She was diagnosed with cancer about 1 1/2 years ago; she looked great for what she has endured. After her testing we met at the Alley Rose, about the only nice restaurant in this small college town of 30,000 people. I didn’t have any plans after dinner so I decided to call John Dorsey on a whim who lives in my hometown of Cozad. After a quick 45 minute drive I was sitting in John’s backyard enjoying a refreshing cold beverage with him and his son Mike Dorsey. Mike is a retired Marine and is living out to Johnson Lake for a few months before heading onto Alaska where he will guide big game hunts and fishing trips. John was nice enough to offer up a guest bedroom and a delicious brunch the next day. Before driving out to Johnson Lake for a swim I stopped by to chat with Deb Hunke, another old classmate of mine.
Later in the evening I met up with my ex-brother-n-law Brad Stallbaumer and his wife Gina Krysl Clyde at the local Elks Club. During dinner a woman came over to grab a spare chair from our table and to my surprise it was another classmate of mine Renee Rowe, it seems I run into her on every Cozad trip I make. After dinner we cruised around Cozad and to check out Brad’s house where he is adding another 2,200 square feet.
I left Cozad around 9:30 p.m. to head toward Denver; I thought I would stay at the Hampton Inn in North Platte about a 45 minute drive west. They were full, no biggie I said to myself…I will drive to the next town toward Denver. Well, the next town and the next town were all full too. I finally pulled over in a hotel parking lot and crawled in back of my rented Jeep and crashed about 1:30 a.m. After sleeping for about 6 hours I woke up in my same clothes I had on the day before and went into the Hampton Inn and had breakfast. I picked up my wife Linna at the Denver airport at 3:00 p.m. and headed for Mt. Elbert, my birthday hike.
Jim and Ione Darmiento was nice enough to invite Linna and I for a three day weekend in Bend, Oregon with their daughter and her husband. Bend is home to one of many microbreweries and to Mirror Pond which where our four bedroom rented house was located, right on the Deschutes river. We drove down on Thursday which was around 6 hours of driving from Seattle. They were barbecuing up chicken and hamburgers when we showed up.
Friday was mainly checking out the city starting with breakfast at a local cafe. I stopped at REI to get some local hiking maps and get the inside scoop on snowshoe trails and where dogs are allowed. After spending money at REI we headed for the local Safeway, Linna wanted to cook a huge pot of chicken thighs and vegetables that night for everyone. After Linna marinated the chicken, we decided to adventure out some and check out the snowshoe trailheads and determine if there was enough quality snow or not. After checking out three snow-parks, I was leaning toward this summer trail next to a snow-park which was directly across the highway from Mt. Bachelor. It had good snow and elevation, but it didn’t allow dogs. Jim and family went skiing as Linna and I were exploring, but we both made it back about the same time. Jim and I checked out the neighborhood micro-brewery before dinner, 10 Barrel Brewing www.10barrel.com that had outdoor seating…we didn’t have much time but we able to down two powerful pilsners before dinner was served.
Next day was snowshoe day and I decided to snowshoe up the summer trail on Tumalo Mountain even though dogs were not allowed. As we were getting our equipment on, a sheriff in a large Dodge Ram pick-up pulled in and parked for about 10 minutes, by the time we were ready to go he took off. We quickly got Macho out of the kennel and headed up. The climb was steady and straight up….almost perfect conditions for snowshoeing. The higher we got, the less trees there were to take cover from the warm sun. The whole weekend was in the mid-seventies and sunny, so waterproof sunscreen was a must. We made it to the top in about 1 1/2 hours and spent about a hour on top having our peanut-butter sandwich and taking pictures. That night we all went out to Chris’s Grill www.gregsgrill.com for dinner.
Linna and I got lucky this weekend in San Francisco with the weather and had a chance to soak up some sun for a couple of days. This was a short trip down South for a little shopping and of course some wining and dining. We flew late afternoon on Thursday and both of us were upgraded to First Class on Alaska Airlines; no dinner was served, but we did munch down the cheese plate with a couple of glasses of wine. Since we flew into Oakland due to lower cost flights, I booked our hotel in Concord, which was ½ hour East of Oakland. On our way to the hotel, we decided to have dinner at this Italian restaurant that I found on OpenTable during our flight from Seattle using the airline internet GOGO. Ottavio www.ottavio.com, is a local favorite in Walnut Greek and the place is so cozy…the Chef would come out to check on you.
Friday was pretty much a shopping day in San Francisco followed by dinner at a hip Japanese restaurant in Oakland. Ozumo www.ozumo.com is a lively young cool place serving authentic Japanese dishes along with premium sashimi. I would recommend using the valet, parking in the area was a challenge. Saturday was sleep in day followed by a visit to the Golden Gate bridge. Of all the visits to the Bay area, I have never actually walked on the bridge; actually you get more of a sense of the size, age and discoloration of the bridge. We flew out late Saturday afternoon to make it home to see a little snow in Seattle.