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Sunday, September 24, 2017

A Bikey Adventure

For all summer, if not since last year, we've been saying, along with Blaubeere, that we ought to get together and go for a bike ride.  So we finally picked a day and did it!  We packed up our bikes and headed her way.  Turned out to be the hottest day of the summer, so far, too!  That part we could have done without.  You know, bike riding in 90 degree weather?  Yeah, but we survived.

Anyway, we picked a short but interesting ride.  There is an old train trestle that has been turned into a recreational trail, open for walking, jogging, and bike riding.  The trestle itself is actual about 3/4 mile long so to make it feel more like a bike riding expedition we started from a little neighborhood park several blocks from the trestle.
At the one end of the trestle is a lock, as in the kind that boats pass through.  With the trestle stretched cross the river the size of boats that can get past the trestle is limited to stuff short enough to fit under it, about 15 feet, if even that much.  So the lock allows taller boats to get by.  Right next to the lock was a small "lift bridge", like a draw bridge that could be raised to let boats by.
Its not a real big lock so its still limited to medium sized recreational craft, no big commercial ships.  And, unfortunately, the lock has been closed most of the time for the last couple years to prevent the spread of an invasive species of fish from getting downstream, into an inland lake.  But it was real interesting to see.
In interesting feature along the trestle was on some of the pilings they had installed mosaics.  There were probably six or seven of them, with people's names on them.  Some people had thrown pennies on some of them.
They weren't real big, and there wasn't one on every piling.  But it was a pretty cool decoration on those that had them.
So the ride across was fun, dodging joggers, other bikers, walkers, and a gaggle of moms and dads and their babies in strollers who were at the park celebrating a birthday.  A warm sunny day means lots of people out.
Across the trestle was a nice park.  We rode around a minutes scoping it out, looking for a nice, shady picnic spot.  We finally picked one where we were close to the playground and only had to move the table a few feet into some nice shade.
We unpacked lunch and began realizing all the stuff we forgot to bring, likes paper plates, cups, napkins, and cutlery.  Didn't bother the kids at all and the grownups made do.
Pretty soon we were chowing down on some yummy bagel sandwiches, juice, grapes, and other goodies.
The kids did very well at staying to eat long enough to get some good stuff in their tummies before they wanted to run off to the playground.
This little park actually has a very nice playground.  The kids had a grand time climbing, running, jumping, and generally playing.  And it was big enough that exploring the whole big area took them a while.
Little peanut was fearless, she actually was the first one to climb the rock
Then, just around the corner of a hill from everything else was a giant slide set into the side of a hill.  The nice thing about that is there was never any danger of a fall, yet the slide was plenty long, which the kids loved.
That kept everybody busy for quite a while!
Little peanut, ever fearless, had no trouble at all going down the slide.
Up the hill, down the slide, up the hill, down the slide, up the hill, down the slide, on and on. Loving it.
Then they began to try different ways to slide down, head first, laying down, all kinds of varieties of ways.
Even grandma took a trip or two or three down the slide.
On this trip we saw a variety of wildlife.  One green and speckled frog.  The speckles, however, were just stuff laying on the frog.  But he was sitting right next to a log.
All kinds of water fowl playing on the river.  It was interesting to watch the ducks paddling around, trying all the things they were finding to see if anything yummy to eat was to be found.
Lots of ducks.  Then again, we were not entirely sure what kind of bird some of them were.  These might have been from the duck family but they didn't look like normal ducks.
And then there were these birds, sitting in a big tree next to the water.  They didn't look like ducks at all.  They were a little bigger than a seagull, we saw plenty of those.  We saw pelicans, geese, and swans but these were definitely not any of those.
Right in the shade of the trestle there were hundreds of fish that would swim in the current, holding their position near the trestle while the water flowed passed them.  They were interesting to watch.
Eventually it was time to head back across the trestle to the park and the car.
And what outing would be complete without hitting a local ice cream spot.
Especially on a hot day like it was.  The kids got to decorate their ice cream with whatever toppings struck their fancy.
Gummy bears seemed to be a favorite.
And the afternoon was sprinkled with plenty of hugs, too.

It was a good day, despite being so hot.  It was a good ride, good company, interesting scenery, lots of fun at the playground, and yummy ice cream in the air conditioning to top it all off.  A very well spent afternoon.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Not as it Seems

Looks can be deceiving.  For example, There are times when, if you looked in our cupboard where we keep the breakfast cereal, when it may look like we're well stocked with plenty to choose from.  However, that is not always the case.  Cereals at our house tend to fall into one of two categories; squirrel food and sugar bombs.  The squirrel food tends to last a long time, Brombeere is the only one that eats it and she doesn't eat cereal every day.  The other kind goes faster. Himbeere is the one that eats the most of that stuff.  But its always hard to tell exactly how much we have on hand.
See, Himbeere has this thing about the end of the box.  If there is less than a full serving left he considers the box empty and moves on to the next box.  But he has this thing about throwing away empty boxes of cereal.  Maybe its because he recognizes that it really isn't quite empty.
So what you end up with is a few boxes with only a little bit left.  None with a full serving but all not quite gone.
So every now and then, when I notice that has happened, I will do the "clean up" and finish off the ends of all those boxes.
Granted, I don't finish them off entirely either.  I can't abide what I call the "dust".  Crumbs and sugar.  Nope.
But I actually enjoy a mix, a good variety of cereal.  Makes for an interesting flavor.  Back in the days of soda fountains, when a soda was made from concentrate and seltzer water, mixed in the cup after you ordered it, people would come in and order what was known as a "suicide", a squirt of every flavor available at the fountain.  I was never much of a fan when it came to soda but I do enjoy it with cereal.  It's one of the tough jobs at our house, but somebody has to do it.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

"I'm Good!"

The other day we were visiting Blaubeere and her family.  Everyone was out in the back yard enjoying the sunshine and nice weather.  I noticed little Peanut was over in the corner of the yard, playing on the swing set, on the high bar.  She was working pretty hard, too.
I watched her struggling to get up on the bar, working pretty hard, as it was.  Then, suddenly, as things were looking pretty precarious, out across the yard, her Mom yelled, "Peanut, are you doing okay?  Need any help?  You good?"
In a sure and confident voice, if not somewhat affected by the strain, came the clear response, "I'm good."
That was all that was said, and on she went, continuing with her struggle.  No intervention, no shouts of caution.  Mama just let her carry on.
This little girl has come so far from the unsteady start she got a few years ago.  I thought that what I saw this afternoon was right on so many levels.  This little girl is fearless.  And she is allowed to be fearless.
It took my mind back to earlier in the day when I had been at home, in my own back yard, watching some birds play in the trees.  I had remembered a quote I'd read some time before:

"A bird sitting in a tree is never afraid of the branch breaking because her trust is not in the branch but in her own wings."

It was a good afternoon.  I was glad I was there.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Under the Stars

We had tried to go camping earlier in the summer but that hadn't worked out so we had been thinking we weren't going to be able to get a camping trip in this year.  Then, surprise, surprise, our ward put together an activity at a nearby campground to have a day trip and use some of their facilities.  But the surprise was that, for those that wanted to, an over night camp trip was included.  So we signed up!  Pretty soon Schwatrzbeere and Maulbeere and their families were also planning on camping with us.  This was turning out to be pretty fun!
The day of the camp out arrived and we all got there in time to be able to put the tents up while there was still day light.  That was a nice thing!  That hasn't always happened over the years.
Our tent has two rooms so we were sharing the tent with Schwartzbeere and family.  Maulbeere and husband brought their own tent.
We were the first ones in the ward to arrive so of all the spots that had been reserved for our group, we got first choice.  Sweet.
Once we got the tents up we set to building a fire.  Our dinner was going to be tin foil dinners so we needed to get the fire going so it could build up some nice coals to cook with.  Brombeere has always been better with getting fires started than me - there's a (now) funny story behind that but that's one we'll save for a different day.
Anyway, we eventually got dinner on the coals, cooking.  Maybe we should have done all the cutting and wrapping at home, before arriving at camp.  It might have gone a little quicker if we'd done that.
It wasn't entirely bad, though.  There's something very relaxing about a camp fire.
Anyway, we got it all cooked and the dinners turned out very nice.  Brombeere decided to try throwing some cherry tomatoes in with the usual tin foil fare and it added a real nice touch to the meal.  We will probably do that again.
It was pretty good.  Something very nice about dinner cooked over an open flame.  Or at least over the coals.
Very yummy!
And, of course, we roasted marshmallows.  Maulbeere was the chief marshmallow cook, and she did an excellent job.  None of that burnt black stuff.  She was getting them soft and warm, lightly golden brown.  Just right.  Perfection.
And we had also borrowed Blaubeere's dutch oven.  Schwartzbeere made an apple crisp that turned out, oh, so good.  He threw a bunch of caramels in with it that added a really nice touch.  It was worth the wait.  Then, the best part of camping - sitting around the fire, watching it burn.  Throwing an occasional log on to keep it going.  Talking and having fun.  That's the best part of camping.  It was so fun we were the last ones in the ward to turn in and call it a night.  Except maybe for the tent full of Young Women in the spot next to us that were singing, laughing, talking, and clowning around until after we'd gone to bed.  We were able to tune them out well enough to sleep pretty good.
I'm not sure what it is, but it seems that no matter how late you're up, when you're camping you're pretty much up with the sun in the morning.  I thought I had slept in pretty late until I looked at the clock - 7:30 am.  Maybe its the soft sunlight playing on the walls of the tent.  Maybe it was the chilly night - it got down to 40.  Good thing we brought lots of blankets.
So, up early cooking breakfast, and getting the day started.  We'd had some leftover from the night before, and Schwartzbeere tried his hand at cooking pancakes.  That would have gone better if we hadn't kept running out of fuel for the propane camp stove.  Ran out twice, finally had to take the tank off the lantern but we figured we wouldn't be needing any more on this particular trip.  Despite the stove stopping twice, he still turned out some pretty good pancakes.
Then some more sitting around, relaxing.  Lunch was a potluck with the whole ward.  There had been about six families that had camped, plus all the youth, even those whose parents hadn't come.  The Young Women were on one side of us, in a tent.  The Young Men were on the other side of us, in the bed of a pickup truck, under a tarp.  That arrangement worked out well enough.  Then all the families that hadn't camped showed up for the potluck lunch, which turned out to be a pretty nice feed.
The youngest member of our camp party, turtle.  He did quite nicely.
Lots of people willing to hold him.  Must be nice to be so irresistible.
Part of the package deal was access to the swimming hole.  Frankly, with an over night low of 40 degrees and a high only in the sixties, I wasn't sure anyone was going to be brave enough to get in the water.  But they are made of sterner stuff than I am.
In they went, and swim they did.
Including basking in the sun, which wasn't providing all that much warmth.  After having been wet, this is where I think they really would have gotten cold.  But they didn't seem to mind at all.
It was a good time, sliding ...
and jumping.
He said it was harder than it looked, climbing on some of that stuff out there in the water.  Too deep to touch the bottom, and the equipment was big enough that getting up on it proved to be a bit of a challenge.  But they did it and enjoyed it.

It was a good time, While I had, at one point, had my doubts, particularly as we watched the weather coming and saw that it wasn't going to be any too warm, it was still a good time.  And we broke tradition! It didn't rain!  Everyone was able to relax and enjoy the camping.  And it was a good "dry run" for the reunion next summer, when we'll again be camping under the stars.  And the real plus is that next summer it will be warmer.  That will be very nice!