Archive | September 2019

Mount Rainier Snowshoeing 2019

In February, Paula and I did a repeat of our snowshoe weekend.  We spent two nights at Mount Rainier over the President’s Day holiday.  It was glorious!

Last year, the road up to Paradise was closed the entire time we were there, due to avalanche danger and rain.  This year, we were able to drive up to Paradise and snowshoe up there!  We got up early and headed up early, driving up just after the road opened.  We were the first ones out on most of the snowshoe trail, and had the opportunity to snowshoe through fresh, unbroken snow!

That morning, we hiked out under a partly cloudy sky, with a spectacular view of Mount Rainier!  It was so beautiful!  We took lots of photos and selfies, because when you grow up around mountains, you know that the mountain isn’t always out, and you take advantage of the view when you can get it.  I love seeing this view!

We snowshoed out a bit further in the fresh snow, and on our way back noticed that Mount Rainier was now obscured by the clouds.  We were lucky to have gotten out there when we did – there is a benefit to being the early bird!

That afternoon, we snowshoed around the Trail of the Shadows, an easy 1 mile flat loop trail. I love it because it takes you by an old turn of the century cabin, originally built by the Longmire family, as well as remnants of the old mineral baths – they were advertised as having healing properties, if you could stand to soak in the sulfur smelling waters.

We renewed our ritual of sitting on the porch to drink spiked hot chocolate and wine, and also had a good time working on a new puzzle in the game room and making new friends.  We had grass-fed burgers and blackberry cobbler.  Both were to die for!

We were sitting on the porch just after they closed the gate to Paradise at 6 pm, and Paula spotted a critter making his way near the road.  We watched him trot across the road and realized it was a fox!  It was too dark and we were too far away for photos, but he was so adorably cute from afar!  This may be the first time I’ve ever seen a fox in the wild too!  Our room this year overlooked the road in the front of the hotel – it is so pretty there!

I certainly hope that we continue this tradition, either just the two of us or with other friends as well!  It was so much fun!

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Crazy Fall

Yesterday’s sunrise was beautiful!

The rest of yesterday was a crazy windstorm that left debris all over my yard, deck and driveway.  I have a lot to clean up today.

But at least it wasn’t raining!

September Do-Over?

September is generally a fairly dry month in the Pacific Northwest, with dry, sunny weather that lasts long into fall, even as the temperatures drop.  Not so this year.  Seattle’s monthly September rainfall averages 1.5 inches, but this year, we have already seen 2.77 inches of rain (as of September 23).  That was several days ago, and it has rained quite a bit more since then.  So we have had double our annual average of rain this month!

I’m over it.  Done.  I’m not ready to jump in puddles or scoop up soggy piles of leaves.  I’m not ready for the eternal gray dreariness of winter.  I want summer.  Or at least a dry, sunny, crisp beautiful fall.  I want to hear the leaves crunch under my feet and see a blue sky above.  I want to feel the crisp air without raindrops soaking through my clothes.  Is that too much to ask?

To make it perfectly clear….

This.

Not This…

Circus Trip 2018: General Lew Wallace Study and Museum

Day 23, Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Crawfordsville, Indiana

Marilyn took me to the Lew Wallace Study and Museum.  I had no idea this was in Crawfordsville, Indiana.  Wallace was born in 1827 in Brookville, Indiana, and lived in Crawfordsville at several points during his life, retiring to his family home after a long career in the military and public service.

Lew Wallace was a lawyer and a Civil War Major General (and also one of the youngest Union officers to ever hold the rank).  He played important roles in the battles of Fort Donelson, and Shiloh, and he went against orders to protect Washington, D.C. from the Confederates at the Battle of Monocacy.

At the conclusion of the war, he served as a member of the military tribunal who tried those responsible for assassinating Abraham Lincoln, as well as the tribunal that tried Commander Wirz, the infamous officer who ran the Andersonville Confederate POW camp.

 

After the war tribunals were over, he went down to Mexico to provide supplies to the Juaristas so they could kick the French out of Mexico, and he served as the governor of the New Mexico territory from 1878 to 1881.  During his time in New Mexico, he signed the execution warrant for Billy the Kid (who then escaped again and died after being shot by Sheriff Pat Garrett instead of being executed).

In 1880, he authored Ben-Hur, the epic biblical saga, despite the fact that prior to writing the book, he wasn’t a particularly religious man.  He also wrote several other books, including his own auto-biography.  Marilyn gave me her vintage copy of Ben-Hur, since I have never read it.  I haven’t yet, but plan to!

In 1881 Wallace was appointed by President Garfield as the U.S. minister to Turkey and the Ottoman Empire.  In 1882 he and his wife Susan made a pilgrimage to Israel.  Makes you feel like kind of a slouch, right?

 

Those accomplishments made him pretty spectacular already, but in addition to that, he also invented a fishing pole with an internal reel, and he even designed the study we visited.  Yes, you heard right.  Wallace wanted his own study where he could read, design and invent; basically the 19th century man-cave with fewer neon beer signs and flat-screen TVs with football games.

Wallace designed a gorgeous brick building, and had it constructed between 1895 and 1898, at a cost of $30,000 dollars.  It combines several different architectural styles; Byzantine, Romanesque, and Greek.  The outside of the study has a face on each side; each one a character from Ben-Hur.  He filled it with amazing books, art and historical artifacts.

 

I would love to have a study like this!  Our tour was wonderful, and I was so excited that they allow photographs inside!  Our docent had an incredible knowledge of Wallace and his accomplishments, as well as the historical details of the study.  This is truly a labor of love for these folks.

And get this – they had a little library in the shape of the Lew Wallace Study!

 

Circus Trip 2018: Covington Courthouse Murals

Day 23, Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Covington, Fountain County, Indiana

I didn’t make it a habit to check out courthouses or other government buildings on my trip, but the Fountain County courthouse in Covington, Indiana has something special.  It was built between 1936 and 1937 during the Art Deco era, and also the Great Depression.

The walls of the courthouse also ended up being a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project; an attempt by the federal government to create public projects to employ some of the millions of unemployed Americans at the time.  Eugene Savage was a Covington local, and an artist; he was hired to head up the project, a series of murals on the interior walls of the courthouse in 1939.

Savage was a professor for twenty-eight years at the Yale School of Art and Architecture, and during his career, he painted a number of famous murals, including one at Yale University.

The murals depict American life from before the Revolutionary War up through the period when the murals were painted in the 1930s.  They include scenes of joy and tragedy, happiness and sorrow.  There are battles and the aftermath, weddings, the industrial age, farming, and modern day inventions like the automobile.  The artists make their political and social views known through their art.

 

The murals in Covington are beautiful, and interestingly and unheard of at the time, 9 of the 10 artists that were commissioned to complete the murals were women (Savage himself was the only man).  Girl Power!  They were recently restored, and definitely worth the time to check out.  There were many more than I have shown; you can take an online tour of them here.

Book Review: The House of the Seven Gables

I never read this book when I was younger.  I didn’t even know it was written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, probably due to some mental mix-up with the Anne of Green Gables book, which seems so much more cheerful than anything Hawthorne would write.  I mean he did write The Scarlet Letter, with all those uptight Puritans.

But then I went to visit the House of the Seven Gables, in Salem, Massachusetts, where Hawthorne lived for a period of time with his relatives.  It was built in the 1600s and was the inspiration for the home in his book.  The gift shop was selling copies of the book, with a little stamp that indicated you bought it at the actual House of the Seven Gables.  And it was only $11, so I bought myself a copy.  Now I wish I would have read the book before visiting the house, but there’s nothing I can do about that.

First things first.  19th century literature is a challenging read.  Oh boy…  We think we are so smart these days with our constant connectness, but writers back then really poured in all the vocabulary words they had ever learned.  And the descriptions!  So much of the book is based on description, rather than action.

The novel centers around a cast of characters from the Pyncheon family, of whom three, an elderly sister and brother, and their barely adult niece, live in a 200-year-old home.  It was built by an ancestor of theirs and is rumored to be cursed.  The book alludes to, but never states outright, that the ancestor accused the original owner of the land of witchcraft in order to buy his property on the cheap after he was executed.  So that man did what any good witch would do and issued a gallows curse on his accuser.  I mean, even if you weren’t a witch, you are about to be executed, wouldn’t you be tempted to pop off and see if karma might have your back?

Fast forward to the mid-1800s, and the elderly residents of the home are poor and anti-social, hiding out like hermits until their young, fresh niece comes along to breathe some life into the place.  As the plot goes on, there is the constant theme of where is the money hidden, in the form of 200-year-old property deeds on long-contested land that would make the rich relatives richer and the poor ones, well, they probably wouldn’t see a dime.

So there you go.  Murder, mayhem, Puritans, witchcraft and a pretty, young maiden to save the day.  There’s a love story in there too of course, and a few twists to keep you guessing.  A good story if you can keep your eyes focused through all that prose.

Note: The photo above is not the edition I read, but this book has approximately hundreds of editions and versions and I’m lazy and just picked one of the photos instead of trying to find the version I read.  So there.  

 

Circus Trip 2018: Indiana’s Historic Cemeteries

Day 23 & 24, Tuesday & Wednesday, August 7 & 8, 2018

Vermillion County, Indiana

Marilyn knows about a million little roadside cemeteries and we checked out a number of them in those couple of days.  Some were tiny, some were larger, and they were in various states of being cared for.

The earliest graves we could read were from the 1830s.  We just don’t have that on the west coast, and I loved these little community plots.

Robert Highfill died on March 9.  Findagrave.com lists his death year as 1855, but the stone looks to me like it says 1835.  I’m sure the 1855 date is correct, as the census records show him marrying his wife in 1845.  Interestingly, he is buried in Highfill Cemetery, so apparently the cemetery was named after the family.

Here lies Frances Remley Johnson, the wife of Robert Johnson.  She died in October, 1837 at the age of 28.  The location of the grave has probably been lost, and that is why her stone is leaning against the tree.

Charlotte Allen’s husband had an unusual name.  Eliphalet means “God, his deliverance,” in Hebrew.  She died February 18, 1845, at the age of 31.  Her husband Eliphalet lived five more years, dying at the age of 54 in 1850.

William Malone was a Freemason; he had the Masonic compass on his grave.  William was born in 1785, and he died during the Civil War, but his death date is unknown and is unreadable.  If he did indeed die during the Civil War, he had a pretty long life…  He was married twice; his first wife Sarah died in 1851, and is buried nearby.

Tuesday evening we ate leftovers for dinner, went and got ice cream for dessert, and then decided to go find another cemetery in the back of a cornfield.  It seems weird writing that, but the Pisgah Burying Ground is an active cemetery, that is literally tucked in behind a cornfield.  It was getting dark when we visited, which made for some eerie photographs.

We went back to the Pisgah Burying Ground the next day in the daylight, and found a well tended graveyard that had none of the creepiness of the night before; the caretakers were there mowing the grass.

Here lies Sebert Pearman; Sebert is another unusual name, meaning “shining sea.”  He died on January 19, 1853.  He was born on January 16, 1793, which meant that he was 60 when he died.  According to information at Findagrave.com, “he was the son of Randolph Nelson (Randall or Randalf) and Judith Pearman. He was a millwright by trade. He was a veteran of the War of 1812 in the Kentucky Militia. He moved to Vermillion County, Indiana in 1829. He married Sarah Rose Nichols February 15, 1815 in Breckinridge County, Kentucky. They were the parents of: Malinda, John, Mary (Francis), Jane Weltha, Benjamin Franklin I, Samuel D., Elizabeth, Sarah Wright, Judah Ann, William II, Elisha, Martha, Sebert Jr., David and James.” He had 12 kids!  Well, perhaps better stated – She had 12 kids!  An urn on a grave is a symbol of the soul, immortality or penitence.

The next morning before I headed on my way, we tried to find another old family burial plot, this one on Marilyn’s land behind a soybean field.  Unfortunately, a few years ago, thieves stole the wrought-iron fence that surrounded the plot.  When we visited, we were unable to find the stones, but found the ground cover that had been planted marking the plot.  It would be sad if someone stole the headstones too.  The plot had been in that thicket of underbrush on the right side of the photo below; not exactly something you would stumble across.