MC HACKS, ETC

I just returned from spending some time with my fellow actively aging Montana Chicks (MC) in the Colorado mountains. We try and gather once a year or so and have for decades.  We all go WAY BACK!

In addition to taking the free Enneagram Personality Test to figure out our types (no big surprises in the group), on this trip we had other interesting chats about wide-ranging topics including…

Travel hacks, such as:

  • Stuffing a neck roll with a puffy coat and shawl to serve double duty
  • Bringing a large square scarf that can be folded into a triangle and used as a bib
  • Freezing liquid (water, etc) so it can go through security as a solid
  • Grabbing the air sickness bag from the plane, just in case

Grammar mistakes, such as:

  • Using ‘between you and I’ instead of ‘between you and me’
  • Asking someone how they are and saying ‘good’ instead of ‘well’
  • Using ‘like’ in a sentence, such as ‘the weather is like amazing’
  • Saying ‘no problem’ instead of ‘you’re welcome’

Clichés, such as:

  • Just saying (my favorite)
  • In my opinion (another of my favorites)
  • It is what it is
  • It’s not my first rodeo
  • That ship has sailed
  • Hacks
  • See this LONG list for other ideas

As always, it was our time together to treasure and renew lifelong friendships. I’m already looking forward to our next adventure.

Some of It’s Magic, Some of It’s Tragic, But I Had a Good Life All the Way.

In memory of David Erickson and Mark Erickson, Vail, Colorado

Allene

CARRY ON – OH MY!

I am flying to the mountains next week and am in planning/packing mode.  I ALWAYS talk a good game about limiting what I bring to my carry on only.  And I ALWAYS bring too much!

On this trip I am going to actually try and ‘walk my talk’ and stick with what comfortably fits in my carry on.

I will likely check my bag on the front end but will plan on keeping it with me on my return flight.  And I have the additional challenge of needing to lift my carry on into the overhead bin ☹.

Back to the trip, I love autumn and I love time in the mountains! 

As we all know, weather is no longer predictable.  And I think that is particularly true for the mountains.  Every time I look at the forecast it changes and my packing list changes accordingly. 

As of now, the daytime highs are ranging from 69 – 72 degrees (long sleeves for me).  Nights are darn chilly and will be down in the 40’s.  There is a chance of rain so a dreaded raincoat needs to fit, as well.

A spa day is in the mix, so a swimsuit is the mix as well.  And I will need to bring some clothes for exercise.

All this quickly adds up to too much stuff!

I am down to:

  • 5 tops (one for each day, no spilling allowed)
  • A cardigan for the plane
  • 2 pairs of pants, which includes jeans for the plane
  • 2 pairs of shoes, which includes sneakers for the plane
  • Raincoat and lightweight vest
  • Swimsuit, cover-up, flip flops
  • PJ’s

I haven’t actually put all of this in my suitcase yet….but I am hopeful that I might have achieved my goal. 

I will report back!

“Just in case” is the curse of packing.

Alexandra Potter

Allene

FAMILY & BLUEBERRIES

We took a quick trip to north central Oregon on Sunday to see my stepdaughter and her family.  It has been ages since we have been down there, last October to be exact.

We like to visit in August so we can pick blueberries with them.  It was a warm day for picking this year, so this quote fits:

You’ll never regret eating blueberries or working up a sweat.

Jacquelyn Mitchard

Now back to the family.  This is one busy crew!

We were able to see everyone except our oldest grandson.  He is playing college football and has a packed schedule. 

Our youngest granddaughter is working two jobs this summer.  One of the highlights of our short trip was visiting her at one of her workplaces, Flowers and Fluff.  It is a darling shop with some great gets + coffee drinks and food.  We made two trips there 😊.  If you are on Oregon Highway 30 between Portland and Astoria, it is well worth a stop.  The lemon scone was amazing!

I also love their motto:

Providing a Place to Go Other than Work or Home since 1989.

Flowers and Fluff

Our son-in-law just started a new job as a school superintendent for a nearby school district, always a stressful time! So, my stepdaughter is busy juggling everyone’s schedule, caring for our very dear oldest granddaughter, and generally keeping it all together!

As always, I am grateful that they were able to spend some time with us.  It is wonderful to see them and to catch up. 

Dear Step Daughter, Thank you for loving me and trusting me. I am so lucky to be a part of your life and your family. 

Allene

The Mountain

People who live in the Puget Sound area tend to refer to Mount Rainier as ‘the mountain’.  The mountain is out; did you see the mountain today?; is there a view of the mountain?, etc.

While I see the mountain almost every day, I must admit that I have only been to Mount Rainier National Park twice.  Thursday marked my second visit.

As part of our ‘staycation’, my husband and I drove to Sunrise.  Sunrise’ elevation is 6,400 feet and it is the highest spot in Mount Rainier National Park that you can go by car.  It is a little over 2 hours from our house, including a stop for the inevitable summer road construction

We went on a Thursday and the (large) parking lot barely had a spot available.  There are a number of trails so fortunately it didn’t feel too crowded.  We did an out and back and checked out the Emmons glacier overlooks along the Silver Forest trail.  It is supposed to be an ‘easy’ trail, but it was plenty for us in the warm weather! It was pretty toasty for that high up – 72 degrees and the sun was blazing! 

The views of the mountain were spectacular, as were the views of Emmons glacier. Both can be seen from nearly every vista!  Normally, this is the peak of the wildflower bloom, but we had a wet spring.  The wildflowers are a few weeks late, but we did see lupin, paintbrush, and spreading phlox.  They were all so lovely!

“Of all the fire mountains which like beacons, once blazed along the Pacific Coast, Mount Rainier is the noblest.”

-John Muir

On another note, I think we all heard that the President tested positive for COVID 19 on Thursday.

I got an additional dose of the vaccine on Tuesday and breezed through it with just a sore arm and a little fatigue.

And for people who are 50 years of age or older, my message is simple: If you have not gotten a vaccine shot in the year 2022, if you’ve not gotten one this year, please go get another vaccine shot.  You are eligible for your first booster or second booster wherever you are in your vaccination schedule.  If you’ve not gotten a vaccine shot this year, go get one now.  It could save your life.

Ashish Jha, M.D., COVID 19 Response Coordinator for the White House, 7/12/22

The President clearly followed Dr. Jha’s advise and is fully vaccinated and has been boosted twice.  He is also taking Paxlovid and reporting mild symptoms.

Wishing him a speedy and uneventful recovery.

Allene

Staycation

My husband and I feel like we have been traveling non-stop for the past few months.  So, now it is staycation time for me!

STAY-CA-TION:

a vacation spent in one’s home country rather than abroad, or one spent at home and involving day trips to local attractions.

I am not a fan of the summer months in general but, since summer happens regardless, the Pacific Northwest is the place to be!  We usually have mild summers with temps in the 70’s.  We have occasional hot spells and sometimes a chilly marine layer.  But by and large, it is lovely here. And the flowers can’t be beat.

So why not enjoy a staycation for the next few months? And it feels like the safest call with COVID 19 on the rise again.

I do have a bit of work to do and an appointment or two.  Other than that, it is clear staycation sailing.

I am looking forward to lots of reading on my deck or front porch.  I will be taking daily long walks with some ice coffee as a treat afterward. I have friends nearby to meet for walks, lunch, and a happy hour or two.  I am sure there will also be at least one movie that catches our eye. My girlfriend and I just saw Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris and thought it was delightful. What’s not to like about Dior couture from the 1950’s?

But most of my time will be spent outside.

I hope we can catch up with some of our nearby family. My husband and I plan a day trip to Mt. Rainier for a wildflower hike.

Back to the topic of reading, I have a stack as usual.  I am now getting eBooks from the library and have more downloaded than I can possibly manage. 

Here is my list so far:

I just finished Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty and LOVED it!  It didn’t hurt that the main character is also 69 years old. I tried listening to it but the narrator’s voice irritated me 😊.  But I loved reading it!

I am just starting the Tommy and Tuppence mysteries by Agatha Christie.  They were first published in the 1920’s, just after World War 1.  The language is priceless, old girl!

My mystery club girlfriends are starting the Maggie Hope series, set during World War 2.  We will also be reading Crying in H Mart.

I’m carefully reading The Whole Body Reset which is based on a Mediterranean diet with a focus on spreading adequate protein and fiber throughout the day. It was developed by AARP for the midlife+ age group.

And I have a laundry list of other books in the mix, as usual.

“Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.”

Mason Cooley

I am sure more staycation ideas will pop up but, for now, I’m the one with a nose in a book!

Allene

Where did June go?

I can’t believe it already July 4th!  The month of June seemed to fly by and I am not sure I was always as fully present as I would have liked.

We came back from Europe on May 31st.  We had less than a week to recover before we moved into Road Trip planning mode.  We drove to Montana on 6/14 and I was gone for 12 days.  I came back and spent last week at doctor appointments and working.

I was chatting with my husband yesterday and we agree that June was kind of a blur. 

As I get older, it becomes even more important to me to LIVE and be present for every moment, because I know that more moments are not guaranteed.

Here is an article from 2018 that talks about taking time to savor life.

If you believe time seems to go by faster as you get older, you’re right – it feels like it does. The laws of physics don’t change, but according to psychologists, our subjective perception of time alters as we age, causing time to seem like it’s speeding up. That’s been my experience. For example, unlike when I was a child, the seasons feel like they fly by at breakneck speed.

Richard Hawk

Mr. Hawk has some familiar tips for habits that help life slow down, such as:

  • Be more mindful
  • Feel and show gratitude
  • Remember, your actions matter
  • Stay inspired

I had a wonderful time in Montana, which may explain why June flew by at breakneck speed.  I was able to spend some amazing time with family and friends, enjoying an early summer together.  Time really does fly when you are having fun!

Time flies.  It is up to you to be the navigator.

Robert Orben

Allene

The Richest Hill on Earth

My mystery zoom crew just finished The Richest Hill on Earth by Richard Wheeler.  It is about Butte, Montana and does a great job describing the Copper King era of the late 1800’s.

I’ve posted about Butte before but had an opportunity to pay it yet another quick visit on my recent trip to Montana.  I must admit that I had a deeper appreciation of this historic city after reading Wheeler’s book.

My dad was born and raised in Butte and I have fond memories of visiting Butte as a child.

Butte used to be the largest city between Chicago and San Francisco and is credited with ‘electrifying’ America with its copper.  Here is an article with a bit more about Butte’s history.

On this trip, I stayed at the Hotel Finlin (built in 1924), toured the Copper King Mansion (William Clark was one of the Copper Kings) and had dinner at Lydia’s Supper Club (not worth it anymore).  I took a walk on the Montana Copperway Trail (built on a Superfund site) and, of course, I took a lot of pictures.

I had lunch at Metal’s Sports Bar and Grill, which is housed in the old Metals Bank Building.  This was considered Marcus Daly’s (another Copper King) bank back in the day.

Butte used to have a population of about 100,000, but today it is around 30,000.  Uptown Butte is making a restoration effort and there are some buildings and houses in the area that have been well preserved.  It is so fun to drive around and check it out.  With each visit, a new gem emerges.

Like many places with industrial pasts, Butte is in a tough spot.

With increasing industrialization of the mining process caused the city to enter a period of decline that was most pronounced in 1955, when the Berkeley Pit opened. The pit marked a transition from underground mining to pit mining, which was much less labor intensive.

Jessica Wick, 4/30/17

In 1983, Butte was declared a federal superfund site. The Pit is filled with heavy metals and dangerous chemicals.  Here is a great article from the Washington Post that tells the story.  

Still, Butte is focused on getting past the stigma of Superfund. Matt Vincent, who grew up here, served as the local government’s chief executive and now works as an industry consultant, said Butte’s reputation as a waste site needs a drastic revamp. Given the years of delays and distrust, he knows that won’t be easy.

Kathleen McLaughlin, Washington Post, 2/11/20

I, for one, am cheering Butte and it’s proud residents on.  Without a doubt, I will be back.

Allene

Montana Family Time

We are on a long overdue trip to SW Montana – thanks to COVID for the delay! We haven’t been here since 2019. Our older grandson is now taller than his grandpa (!), he has his driving permit (!!), and drove us during our visit (!!!). The two boys are changing fast and it is so good to catch up!

We are staying at a cute condo in Manhattan, MT. Yes, there is a Manhattan in Montana too! It is a studio with air conditioning and a washing machine. The temperatures were in the 90’s, so both have been put to good use.

During our visit, we were able to visit some land in a remote area that our family purchased a few years ago. They have built a small log cabin last summer.

It was an amazing day and I am on awe of what they have accomplished on the property!

I do want to note that this is in a fairly inaccessible area that requires a hike in and out. It is one of the most rugged hikes I have done in many a year! It took me almost an hour each way on a trail the boys can probably do in 15 minutes flat. My excuse is the altitude of almost 6000 feet, when I am acclimated to sea level. If it wasn’t the altitude, I am sure I could come up with another excuse!

Our son-in-law works in Yellowstone Park. He had a Bird’s eye view of the recent flooding. It looks like it may be awhile before the northern part of the park is reopened. The wildlife is probably enjoying a break in the action, the tourist industry not so much!

It is always good to return to Montana. Every place is changing, but this area seems to be on an accelerated clip. I went to college here and I can’t find my way around 50 years later. Thank heavens we have great hosts who know this area like the back of their hands!

But the BIG sky and the clear air are magical as always! Each time we come back, we remind ourselves how important regular visits are. It is always wonderful to see our family and friends. We need our yearly dose of Montana.

Allene

P.S. masks indoors are a rare sight so far. Most people don’t react when we wear one, but a guy was grumbling about our masks when we ate out. I decided to take the high road and ignore him…just this once!

Packing Post Mortem

This may be my last travel post about our recent trip to Europe (or maybe not).  But I can’t be done until I talk about what I packed that worked…..or didn’t.

Just before we left, I was zooming with a friend who is a frequent overseas traveler.  She advised me to ‘pack what you love’.  Good advice that I wish I had followed.

I would probably give myself a ‘C’ on my packing this go around.  I could have done much worse, but I sure could have done better.

The weather was a bit of a challenge.  It was cool when we first arrived in Italy and then the heat came on.  By the time we left, we had a few days in the high 80’s with humidity to boot.  We ended our trip in Amsterdam which was a good 20 degrees cooler than Italy and a little rainy.

First, my coat.  I am giving it a ‘F’.  It was lightweight and packed well, but the sleeves weren’t lined.  As a result, my arms were wet every time I wore it.  I ended up leaving it at the hotel 😊.  I did bring a quilted vest which worked for the cool days on the front and back end of our trip.

I packed one too many pants and not the right ones.  I should have brought one linen pair, which would have been great for warmer days. 

My tee shirts were OK overall, except I brought 2 that I thought would work.  Mistake!  I ended up hating both because they don’t fit or look quite right.  I brought them home, but they are heading to Goodwill.

I always recommend packing clothes that wick.  I have had good luck with Zenergy crops from Chicos and packed a pair of cropped ones that I have had for years. I wore every warm day and could even wash them out in the sink.  I also brought one long sleeve and 2 short sleeve wicking tops.  I could have used more of them and less of my basic cotton ones.

Another ‘F’ was one of the pairs of shoes I brought (slip on Skechers).  I sprained my ankle wearing them and retired them immediately.  I replaced them with a pair of New Balance 574’s that I purchased in Italy and wore constantly. New Balance are a common sight on the Italian streets.  I also packed a pair of Isle Jacobsen flats and sandals and they were great for warm days.

One thing I’m glad I brought was a large, lightweight scarf made of modal.  I used it as a light blanket for naps and hot nights.  I wish I packed the satin pillowcase our daughter gave me.  It would have been perfect to keep my hair from going crazy since I wasn’t washing it daily.  I also wish I had packed the dry shampoo from her for the same reason. 

We went to the lavanderia (laundromat) twice when we were in Italy.  Each trip cost about 20 euros (about $21.50), so it isn’t a cheap date.  But we both now think it is better to wash a little more frequently than to pack too much in the first place!

Packing for a trip can be exciting. But unpacking is always depressing’. – Unknown

Allene

SNELKLINIEK

Well, we made it home after spending almost a month in Europe. Our last stop was Amsterdam. 

This is our second visit to Amsterdam and we left this time thinking we are just a bit too old for the central Amsterdam scene. Not that we don’t love the ubiquitous smell of weed 😊.

We did love our hotel though! We stayed at the Amsterdam Marriott which is near Museum Square and Vondelpark, the largest city park in Amsterdam (a great spot for a walk). The room was lovely and the staff were so helpful. The highlight was probably the very best breakfast buffet ever – I love their made to order omelets and wonderful brown bread toasted! 

We took a canal cruise (meh). We took the route that started at the City Center which was not great and involved a fair amount of open water. There are other routes that would have been lovely, but those were already booked (of course).

We also visited the Rijksmuseum. Yet another meh for us. The building is incredible, but it is completely overwhelming in size and many of their famous paintings were out on loan. On our previous visit to Amsterdam, we went to the Van Gogh Museum which we both loved and highly recommend!

A true highlight was the Anne Frank House. Talk about a powerful and moving experience! I was completely claustrophobic just going into the tiny rooms where 8 people lived together for over 700 days.  I think it is a must see for everyone.  Tickets are sold well in advance and I am so glad I made the effort to get ours.

There are many wonderful quotes from Anne Frank, but this one was so poignant to me because it was written just 2 months before she was arrested (4 August 1944):

I would love to go to Paris for a year and London for a year to learn the language and study art history

Anne Frank, 6 May 1944

We had to take a COVID antigen test, which is still required to return to the U.S. We had purchased tests from eMed for a ‘simple’ online process. We couldn’t get our passwords to work despite multiple tries. I was in a bit of a panic because time was running out and called the hotel front desk. They directed us to a nearby Snelkliniek and we were able to make an appointment for that afternoon. We got our results via email in 30 minutes and the service was excellent.

Note: It is a true miracle that our antigen tests were negative! We were in lots of crowded indoor settings during our journey and masks were rarely used by anyone but us.

I had some trepidation that we would be able to successfully navigate this journey and deal with the inevitable glitches, COVID 19, and the ongoing war in Ukraine, but we did fine! And we are so happy we took the plunge!

That being said, the Europe we saw was crowded with tourists, even this early in the season. Everyone seems to be trying to make up for lost time. I can’t even imagine what the summer months are going to be like!

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.

Mark Twain

Allene