Saturday, June 29, 2013

Beautiful Grandchildren


I have been spending time with my beautiful grandchildren. My little angel Zoey just told me I was her very best Grandma (mission accomplished).  These past five years have been very difficult for me, not being a daily part of their lives.  I don’t know if they will ever know and love me, as I knew and loved my Grandma… so I’ll settle for them just “remembering” me.


After swimming lessons, I got to braid Zoey's hair... while she warmed up with hot cocoa. Then I got to read them a story, AFTER they came out and explored my van home. This one remembers EVERYTHING (and I hope me).  Next week they begin swimming lessons each weekday morning.  I am going to get a Pool membership and swim laps in the morning, before their lessons, or maybe during their lessons.  Its about to get really hot in Wenatchee, and $44 for the rest of the time I am in the area, a place to exercise and keep cool and spend time with them… not a bad deal at all.  They live nearby.

Yesterday was a great day. In the morning, I WON a new Global Sun Oven, in the afternoon I spent time at a wading pool park and my little granddaughter was coloring a picture, so I showed her my sketchbook… now she introduces me as “This is my grandma, she is an artist and kayaks everywhere.” At one point she reached over and hugged me and said “You are my very best grandma! I love you.” Well, there just isn’t any way a day can get better than that. When the solar oven arrives, I will be showing them how to cook in it and that too will be a fantastic day.


I won a Solar Oven – this was the winning photo.  I can’t believe it.  There are five more ovens being given away over the next five weeks.  Check out the Contest. Just enter your email address for a chance to win.  For the rest of the story about what was going on with this little critter, see my Facebook Album on the Sun Oven Contest.

I'm thrilled. In Jan 2014 at the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous in Quartzsite AZ, I will be drawing tickets to give my old Sun Oven to another vandweller. I never won anything before, but others have helped me along the way, so this is my way of paying it forward a little. There are other photos in this series... and I wish now I had video-taped it... it was so funny watching this little critter trying to get into the Oven.IMGA0250

Will has an engineers' brain... a real problem-solver. He is also kind of a loner. I watched him happily play with water for a very long time, very capable of entertaining himself.  Very very smart.


This is where I took the kids kayaking the other day – Walla Wall Park in Wenatchee.  You can clearly see the little alcove if you click on that link… an ariel view.  I could not get photos myself, but my dau-in-law took some and I'm hoping to get copies to post here.  Nice little alcove with an island, which had Mulberry Trees on it.  Columbia River is behind the island.  Zoey and I picked Mulberries from the kayak.  Neat.


June 28th, I joined them at this small park for water splashing and climbing on the playground, and coloring.  Nice little park with Recreation Staff keeping a close eye on all the kids, making sure they Play Nice in the water.


Zoey in playground jail.. she is trying to look worried and afraid.  Will, or Buddy (Grandpa was nicknamed Buddy and his dad was called Bud… so cute), being his devilish self.  Look at those sweet faces.

How the heck can it get better than this?  If it does, my heart might explode.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Snake River, Idaho Paddle

Last week, Lauren and I paddled the little neighborhood lake of Lake Lowell… then a few days later, we headed out to visit Fred, a family friend, who lives on the banks of the Snake River. This is his yard below.  What a view.



Fred's driftwood fence. God, I love that thing.


Fred is quite the guy, and Mary is a lucky lady... she also kayaks and canoes and is real adventurous. And they even like rocks. Doesn't get any better than that.


Lauren Neher had agreed to help Fred repair his little camper trailer, with some fiberglass work... and after the project got started, Fred took us to breakfast at this quaint little place.  Thanks Fred… great breakfast.


While Laure worked, Fred supplied me with a lot of reading material.  Great book on the area in Alaska where I hope to kayak.  An area in Baja CA where I also dream of kayaking (how did he know)??  And then an area I had not considered, but may now... at least one section of these Idaho rivers is Class IV or V... because I don't do Class I, II, IIIs.

Fred has kayaked and canoed a lot... and does a lot of water volunteer work for BLM and Forest Service, etc. Very experienced guy.


Very handy fellow too, that Fred. I am assuming that he made this bench. I love it.


And this swing is to die for. Isn't it beautiful? The home has a lovely breezeway between the house and the shop. A SHOP... on the banks of the Snake River. How good can it get???


After breakfast Lauren Neher was back hard at work, patching the door of the Casita.  Lauren Neher is just about done with the patch job and we are getting ready to head down the river.


And off we go, in windy choppy water. That's Lizard Rock over there... it used to look even more like a lizard.


A little too choppy for comfort and I stop and put on my life vest (PFD).  Lauren borrowed a fast little kayak from Fred, and this was my view most of the 10 miles we paddled… as my fat old kayak could not keep up with this slick little fast kayak.


You devil you, running off down the river without me. By the way, that's Fred's place right above Lauren Neher's head, off to the left a bit.


There are lots of islands in the river... and the Islands are ALL National Wildlife Refuge. Really special.


Wood duck nesting boxes. Fred makes these and goes out and installs them on the islands. What an interesting guy. (I want a FRED!) (don't shoot me Mary). 


Beside Fred’s house are about are more new Wood Duck nesting boxes… which Fred (and Lauren) are going to take to the islands in the river and set up/mount.


The water is very clear... but I guess sometimes the O2 level can get pretty bad, even to the point where fish die. And the water is very low right now, at one point it was only 1 foot deep in the center of the River.


Good, the wind has calmed down... we aren't working so hard to "float" downriver now. Interesting island coming up ahead, to the right of Lauren Neher's hat.


Something I'd never seen before, a Cormorant rookery on Snake River, ID. There were hundreds of birds in those trees. You could see parents feeding babies. I wonder why most of the leaves are off the trees??? I was enthralled and amazed.


Most of the nests looked like they had three babies in them. Boy, that has got to be a lot of work.


A little past that rookery was this large nest... and I wondered who might live there. I saw something move out of the nest and onto that branch, but you can't make it out here.


There it is. There were a pair of adults, I think red-tailed hawks??? There flew over us, screaming at us. Really neat.


Must have gone about seven miles by now. I'm tired, and just can't keep up with Lauren and his fast little boat. I'm glad the winds have died down and the water is calmer.


Was watching this guy feed, then he took flight. So much wildlife here... makes me wish I had a good camera with a large telephoto lenses.


Waders??? Don't know which species.


Just chillin' on the Snake, we finally caught the current..



Finally, we come to the end of a great paddle... 10 miles on the Snake, in less that 4.5 hrs., and we took our time, only paddling hard when the wind was strong.


Fred meets us to shuttle us back to Lauren's truck.  What a guy.  Thanks for all your good help, Fred.


Best part of the visit was getting to know Lauren's wonderful mom, Dottie Neher. She is an absolute jewel, as is her son.  Lauren Neher and his crazy dog Lillie.  It’s been a really great visit.

Note to Fred and Mary (and Dottie and Lauren):  Find a “Fred” for Swankie!

Oh, and lastly, I never thought about where mint comes from before… of course someone grows it, I just never thought about it… until while driving around the area with Lauren, I smell mint… strong mint.  I realized we were surrounded by fields of mint being grown commercially.  Wow, what a good smell.


So, I learned something else new.  Doesn’t get any better than this, until tomorrow.

Who is Swankie?

My photo
Anywhere, USA, Full-Time USA traveler, United States
In 2006, I was shopping for a wheelchair. By 2007, I had new knees, better health and by 2008 a kayak. In Aug 2013, I kayaked my 49th state, Alaska, at the Holgate Glacier and in May 2014, I kayaked Hawaii, my 50th state, to celebrate my 70th Birthday and the finale to the wonderful adventure of Kayaking America? Next up... Solo Hiking the Arizona Trail, 820 miles? Maybe. Still healing from shoulder and trying to decide.