Monthly Archives: August 2012

Bon Voyage to the Fiechters!

I first met my friend Christine a little over a year ago.  As I started to write this story I had to go back and check my horse paperwork for the exact date, because it seems that I have known her for much longer than that.

Christine was referred to me by our mutual friend and veterinarian, Billy Maupin.  She had a pony that her sons had almost outgrown and she was thinking about selling him.  I had mentioned at the veterinarian office that I was looking for a horse or pony for Annabelle.  Billy put two and two together, and Christine gave me a call.

I almost didn’t go to look at the pony because he was more money than I wanted to pay, but out of respect for Billy I made what I thought was a courtesy call to check him out.  I liked Christine as soon as I met her, and I thought Reno was the cutest little black pony I had ever dreamed of (literally, but that’s a story for another time).  To my happy surprise, Christine offered to lower Reno’s price to my exact maximum budget (without me even asking) and a deal was made.

Reno and Annabelle hit it off immediately, and it was hard to tell who was happier, my little blond girl or her fuzzy black new best friend.

Annie Rides Reno

I sent Christine a few follow-up photos so she could see how well Annabelle and Reno were getting along, and a couple of months later we arranged  to go ride together in the Boise foothills.

That ride was the beginning of a great friendship.  We rode together many times over the course of the next year.  As Annabelle says “Mom, we wouldn’t know ANYWHERE to go if it wasn’t for Christine.”

We went for long rides together at Avimor.

Christine and Annabelle Dog I did a couple of rides with Christine and her friend Valerie too.

Avimore 2

Christine is one of the those people who can best be described as, well, competent.  I know the word competent doesn’t sound very glamorous, but it should.  Annabelle soon refused to go with me to any new place to ride without Christine, because Christine always carries a gun and she never, ever gets lost.

She is also quick to take charge of any situation, and to help as needed to get things ironed out.  Like adjusting Annabelle’s saddle before descending down a steep trail, for example.

Christine Fixing Reno

After we had ridden together a few times, Christine invited me to join her Ladies’ Marksmanship Group, a small group of women who meet monthly to practice shooting handguns at a local range.

Although I hadn’t shot for years, I felt comfortable going with Christine. She helped me load my gun, set up the target, and reminded me of the proper grip and sighting sequence to be able to hit what I was aiming at. Sometimes.

Just look at her. You can tell she knows what she’s doing!

Christine Shoots

It wasn’t long after I met Christine that she mentioned in conversation she and her husband Mark and their two boys, Logan and Cole, were avid sailors.  She told me that she and Mark planned to spend their retirement on a sailboat, sailing in the Bahamas.

A few months after that, Christine casually mentioned that they were thinking of moving their sailing adventure up in time.  From that conversation forward, it seemed that every time we spoke the sailing date was scheduled to arrive sooner and sooner.

I knew that this whole plan was real when Christine put her lovely horse Loretta up for sale, and sold both the mare and her horse trailer early this spring.

Christine really loved this horse, so when she let Loretta go I was sure there was no turning back.

Christine Loretta

The planning process for taking on an adventure the size of the Fiechter’s is mind-boggling.  Christine methodically began the process of making lists and spreadsheets; selling excess belongings and learning the basics of home- (or boat-) schooling for Logan and Cole. Her husband Mark began the arduous and time-consuming task of traveling to Florida to check out boats for sale, while still continuing to work at his long-time engineering job at Micron Technologies.

Through it all, Christine made time to keep riding with me and Annabelle.  Once she sold Loretta, she began riding my mare Spice, and we continued to go to our old haunts together, with Annabelle on Reno and me nudging along old Grumpy.

Rocky Canyon Christine

On each ride we would get the update on progress toward the trip.  My respect for Christine grew and grew as I slowly began to understand the complexity of the undertaking this  family was preparing for.

I have never known anyone who completely turned their life upside down to follow a dream.  Well, that’s not exactly true.  I do know people who did that, several of them, but not people like the Fiechters.

The Fiechters are some of the most conservative, responsible and pragmatic people I have ever met.  The fact that they are willing to disrupt their structured, predictable, and carefully planned life for this adventure speaks volumes about their dedication to following their long-time aspiration.

That dedication is something that I find awe-inspiring. I am thrilled to even know people who are just so freaking cool, and even more thrilled to call them friends.

The other thing I find extraordinary about this plan is how much it involves the whole family. The Fiechter’s two boys, Logan and Cole, are wholeheartedly on board (couldn’t resist, sorry) and are so very excited about experiencing the world as few people ever get a chance to do.

Besides their home, school and friends, two things the boys have to leave behind are their beloved guinea pigs, Snowy and Zoe.  Christine emailed me a month or so ago and said that they needed a temporary home for the girls.  After a quick consultation with DH I said yes.  I held off on telling Annabelle and Zach for a while, since I knew they would bug me non-stop, and sure enough, once I sprung the good news they pretty much nagged me ten times a day about when their new house-guests would be arriving.

Zach calls our house-guests “Skinny Pigs,” and has done so since he first heard their names. Annabelle tried and tried to get him to say the name ‘Guinea Pigs’ correctly, but she finally gave up on trying to correct his grammar and  has taken to calling them Skinny Pigs as well.  Just like me.

This last Sunday the Fiechter’s came over to deliver the girlies.  My kids had decided to get rid of Zach’s bed (italics intended) so the guinea pigs could sleep in the same room with them.  If you have read my blog much before, you already know that Zach has refused to sleep in his own bed for several months anyway, and instead sleeps on the end of his sister’s queen bed.  Like a dog.  So getting rid of his bed was not as big of a deal as one might expect.

Here is a picture of the cage sitting where my little boy’s bed formerly resided.


And here is a picture of the kids holding the pigs.  They are the first thing the kids play with every morning and the last thing they say goodnight to before bed.

Kids and Piggies

If you have never been around Skinny Pigs before you are missing out.  They are the funniest little pets I’ve ever seen. They are totally tuned in to their humans, and figure out right away who does what.  When I walk down the hall, Snowy stands up on the bars of her cage and squeals at me.  It sounds kind of like a cross between a ground squirrel and a mouse, and occurs in rapid succession until I stop in and say hi.  Or better yet, deliver a couple of carrots or grapes for a snack.

We are thrilled to have the pigs for the time their real humans are traveling.  Being the planner she is, Annabelle has already procured a verbal contract with me to purchase her and her brother their own Skinny Pigs when Snowy and Zoe return home.  I am sure, since she is now in kindergarten, that a written contract will be required once she learns how to write all the words.

I stole the Skinny Pigs real owners’ pictures off of their blogs.  They really are super cute kids.  And extremely smart.

Here is Logan.


And his brother Cole.


Our Marksmanship Group held a little goodbye party for the Fiechters last week at our friend Katie’s house.  Seeing the genuine respect and support that was exuded for this wonderful family by each and every person there made it obvious that I am not alone in my strong admiration of my friends.

There were not one but two cakes.

Party Cakes

Thoughtful gifts.

Mark and Christine Gift

And much camaraderie shared.

Christine and Mark and the boys set off today for their grand adventure.  Their house is packed and will soon be rented out.  Almost all of their belongings are in a storage unit awaiting their return.

My friends will slowly make their way to Florida, where their 37” Hunter Sailboat, Truansea, awaits them.  Isn’t that an awesome name, Truansea?  Sometime in late fall the family will set sail for the Bahamas.  For at least the next year they plan to live aboard the boat and experience a side of life rarely seen by us mere mortals.

I am so jealous.

But I am also happy that they are planning on documenting their travels in a blog. It is already up and running, at  I encourage you to follow their adventures too. I think we can all learn something from people with the courage to so passionately pursue a dream.

Mark and I share a favorite quote, which he has on his blog page and I will steal and put here.  I think it best sums up the spirit of the days ahead of them.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain

Fair winds, my friends.  We will surely miss you.

Categories: Horse Adventures, Travel | 3 Comments

Annabelle Starts Kindergarten

Yesterday was my baby girl’s first day of kindergarten.  We have had a very busy month with travel, company, horse shows and various social activities, so there hadn’t been a lot of discussion about her starting school prior to this week.  We were prepared, though, and had gone shopping for school supplies and shoes, and picked up her freshly pressed uniforms from the embroidery place.

On Tuesday morning we took baby brother Batman to his pre-school for a whole day so that Annabelle and I could spent a last day together before the commencement of her formal education.  I had planned a nice long trail ride, with a little lunch along the way (cold fried chicken, maybe) and lots of time to talk about the life transition that I knew was coming.

Annabelle had other things in mind.  As we pulled into the driveway after dropping off Zach, I said “Let’s run in the house and change our clothes before we hook up the horse trailer.”  My daughter sighed.  “Actually, mom, I decided I would rather just ride here today.”

I was incredulous.  Trail riding has always been our thing.  I love everything about having my little daughter as a captive audience to just walk and talk and look at the wildlife and birds.  “Really?” I said.  “Why?”  “Well,” she answered, “I just think that I need to work on Grumpy a little bit here.”

“Well, it’s your day,” I replied, “but I was really looking forward to going for a nice long ride.”  She affixed me with her beautiful blue eyes and smiled gently.  “Well, if that’s what you really want to do then I will, but I’d rather stay home.”  “No, that’s OK,” I said, trying to hide my disappointment.  “It’s your day.  We can stay.”

Annabelle bounded out of the pickup and ran in to change her clothes.  She raced out and caught her horse, and I soon saw what she needed to “work on.”

She was feeling the need for speed.

Poor Grumpy.  My daughter set up three “barrels” (which were actually upside grain buckets) in the grassy area next to the house, and proceeded to lope Grumpy around and around and around them.

kg What a Picture

She had a blast.  I had so much fun watching her that I couldn’t even feel sorry for myself as I spent the morning scrubbing water troughs and moving hay.  She was in her element.

kg What a Pair

I don’t think Grumpy minded either.  He looks pretty good for an old man of 22, dontcha think?

kg Pretty Circles

When she was done running him around she wanted to give him a bubble bath.

kg Bubble Bath

She scrubbed and scrubbed until he shone.  After he dried we put his new tail braid in and went in the house for lunch.

kg Nice Clean Tail

Annabelle was happy.  She had done just what she wanted to do on her last free day before school.

But wait.

As if the day couldn’t get any better, Auntie Kris called and invited us to come to work cows that evening.  We had been invited to go out to the feedlot and mess around with the bovines before, but had never been able to fit it into our schedule.  Since we were free for the rest of the afternoon, it seemed like Kismet.

Annabelle was wildly excited.  She has wanted to work cows forever, and now she finally had her chance.  As part of her special-day-before-school-starts-celebration, no less.

It couldn’t have been more fitting.

She got to ride Auntie Kris’s horse Chic for the big event, and all the big boys (and girls) just stood back and watched while she worked her very own fresh cow.  It was awesome.  She started out just following the cow back and forth across the fence.

She didn’t think Chic was going fast enough so she was kissing and clucking to him all the way.

kg GittyupChic

Once she got the hang of it Chic started going a little faster.

kg Im Not Scared

It was pretty amazing to watch this horse, an NRCHA World Champion Reined Cow Horse, take care of my little girl.  He is a horse that has won over $50,000 aggressively turning cows at full speed on the fence with a professional rider on his back, but that afternoon he went just as fast as Annabelle could handle, and no faster.

It was thrilling beyond belief for her.  You could see her smile from the far side of the arena.

kg Laughing All the Way

She worked the scruffy white steer until he would hardly move any more.

kg Thats a Big Move

When she was done, we shared a birthday cupcake with Auntie Kris (Happy Birthday again, Kris!) and then headed home for a bath and a good night’s sleep.

All the way home she talked about her cow work. I knew it was the perfect confidence builder and prelude to the next big “first” for her.


Morning came awfully early after all the previous day’s excitement, and it took my girl a few minutes to wake up. She sat in the chair and held Zoe the “Skinny Pig” for a few minutes to get her head clear.

She seemed supernaturally calm about going to school.

Like it wasn’t even happening.

kg All About the Pigs

We finally got ready to go and DH took a picture of us before we headed out the door.  Doesn’t she look cute in her uniform?

kg Ready to Head Out

When we got to school she put on her cardigan and backpack like she had done it a hundred times before.  She still seemed very calm.

kg So Grown Up

Once we got inside we saw some new friends, Pandora and Angelina, who we had become acquainted with at “Meet the Teacher” day.  Angelina took another picture of me and Annabelle by the welcome sign.  Annabelle was getting a tiny bit clingy at this point.

Notice the two-hand grip on my arm?

kg Welcome Sign

We went into the classroom and I could tell that reality was starting to sink in a bit.

Her smile was a bit forced when she posed by the backpack cubbies.

kg Hanging up Backpack

And she required lots of hugs and kisses before she went with the other kids to sit in a circle around her teacher, Mrs. Martinez.  But she went and sat.

If you look closely at her face, though, you can probably tell what is about to happen.

kg Storm Clouds Brewin

Yep. That’s right.

kg This is not Good

A complete and total meltdown, complete with loud hiccupping sobs.  The other parents looked at me in sympathy. People in the hallway stopped and stared. I was thinking I should have left when I had the chance.

Mrs. Martinez was very kind.  She took Annabelle’s hand and said “What’s wrong honey?”

Mrs. kg Martinez Helps

My tough little cowgirl, who will climb on a 1,000 pound horse and run him around an arena after a cow without blinking, said in a quavering voice “I miss my mommy.”

Then I started crying.  Silently, though.  I wasn’t hiccupping.  I’m not a baby you know.

Mrs. Martinez said “Just you wait, the day will go by so fast you won’t even notice, and she will be here to pick you up.”

Annabelle looked over toward me.  She sobbed “Well, can she at least come and give me a hug?”

Then I cried a little louder.

kg Trying to Regain Control

I gave her a big hug.  Mrs. Martinez gently peeled her off of me and restrained her while I left.  I cried all the way home.

The day took forever, and when it was finally 3:00 I couldn’t wait to get to school.  I spotted Annabelle right off, waiting with her friend Brendon outside.

kg Waiting for Mom

I loaded her up in the truck and she told me she had a great day.  “I got control of myself right after you left mom,” she said matter-of-factly.  She told me about her hot lunch in great detail (It was really really good!  White rice with that chicken we tried the other day at Costco!”), which was an Orange Chicken sauce like they serve at PF Changs.  She has good taste.

kg It's All Good Now

All was well.

Until this morning.

This time, Kari Loomis, who is our friend and pediatrician, and Brendon’s mom, peeled Annabelle off of me in the hallway, and took her sobbing into her class.

I don’t know if I am big enough for kindergarten.

Categories: Kids Are Funny Creatures | 2 Comments

California Comes to Idaho

A couple of weeks ago our family was thrilled by a visit from some old friends of mine from “back in-the-day”.  I have known Tony and Sandy for something well over fifteen years.  I don’t like to think about exactly how long because it makes me feel old, but it’s been a long time.  I met Tony first, when I went to work at a company in Alameda, California called Ascend Communications.  Sandy came along a couple of years later, and she fit right in with our eclectic group of friends.  So well, in fact, that she and Tony were married a short time later.

Ascend was a small start-up company when I began, with only about fifteen employees.  As was the case with most of the Silicon Valley start-ups, we were a close-knit group, bonding over “Friday Feast” (a big company-sponsored drunk-fest held every Friday afternoon in the company break room) and lunches out at the excellent Thai or Sushi restaurants the small town of Alameda offered.  With the mega-hours we spent at work, you would think that the employees would avoid each other in their rare off-hours, but that wasn’t the case.  Our group spent lots of time together outside the office too, mountain biking and hiking in the summer and skiing or taking a trip to Mexico together in the winter.

We all worked during a spectacular time in the Silicon Valley.  Our company went public on a Friday the 13th, 1994 at $13 a share (and I still think 13 is a really lucky number).  Shortly after our IPO we all enjoyed the meteoric rise of our stock, and the commensurate disposable income afforded both to us individually and as company employees.  The days of first class airline travel, five-star hotels and competitions over who could order the most expensive port and cigars were legend, and they will surely never be repeated in most of our lives.  It was definitely an over-the-top time.

I left Ascend in 1997, and Sandy and Tony retired within a year or two after that.  Our company had grown to a world-wide company with thousands of employees, and it was no longer the familiar and cohesive place to work it once had been.  I moved to Idaho, where I met Desperate Hubby and got married for the first time at age 36.  Sandy and Tony built their dream house in Pismo Beach on California’s central coast, and started splitting their time between there, a mountain cabin, and their home in Mexico.

We hadn’t seen each other in all these years, so I was wildly excited when I got a message via Facebook that they were planning a tour of the Northwest and wanted to stop by for a visit.

I’m embarrassed to admit that I also had a few trepidations about my friends’ stay.  Since I moved back to Idaho my life has changed dramatically, in all ways for the better, but I was a long way from the lithe blonde driving down Interstate 80 blasting country music in my Porsche Cabriolet that my friends had known.  I am truly happier than I have ever been, but my current life offers few of the trappings that I felt were important way-back-when.

Would they find me frumpy, I wondered?  Boring?

I set about planning a schedule of activities for my friends’ visit that would introduce them to some of the wonderful things that our great state has to offer, and give them a taste of the ridiculously awesome life that I am fortunate to enjoy.

Annabelle and I were flying home from Seattle the same evening Sandy and Tony arrived,  and we would start the trip off with picking them up for a whitewater rafting trip at 7:30 the next morning.

As soon as I pulled into the hotel roundabout and saw my old friends sitting on the bench outside the door all of my nervousness flew right out the window.

Just take a look at them!  You can see how down-to-earth and wonderful they are with only a glance.

CA Tony and Sandy (2)

When they climbed into the truck it was as if I had seen them just yesterday. Sandy sat in the backseat between Batman and Annabelle, and they were jabbering away a mile a minute before we even hit the highway. Tony and I started getting caught up with all the events in each other’s lives as though it had been days instead of years.

The drive to Cascade Raft Company flew by as we all talked a mile a minute in the car.  We got checked in and loaded up in the  rafting bus for the short drive to our launch site.  After being fitted with our life jackets, aboard the raft we climbed.

I admit I was a little nervous about the rafting trip.  I had had a (literal) near-death experience while rafting some years ago in California, and I hadn’t been on a boat much since.  Our guide was Jeremy, who is co-incidentally the son of one of the local well-known equine veterinarians who had helped me with my horses tremendously over the years.  Jeremy was personable and competent, and that helped us all relax and have a good time.

And have a good time we did!

The kid started off in the back of the raft, sitting on the middle supports.  They thought that was pretty swell.


Then Jeremy convinced them to move up front where they could get more action from the waves.  They both gamely climbed up and really enjoyed the next couple of rapids.


Until this happened.  Yep, they’re there.  Up in front.  Completely submerged in whitewater.


I think the look on Batman’s face afterwards pretty much says it all.  The kids politely asked to return to the back of the boat, where they rode out the rest of the trip in a little more controlled fashion.


We counted our rafting experience a big success, and after a hearty lunch in Eagle, we headed back to Caldwell to get ready for our next event.  The Caldwell Night Rodeo.

The evening activity was Desperate Hubby’s first chance to meet Tony, and they hit it off immediately.

CA Tony and Greg

The kids took the opportunity to work on our dentist’s retirement fund with a little cotton candy.  Batman looks a little sugar-crazed, no?

CA Kids Rodeo

We all had a great time at the rodeo, and then returned to our house for a few more stories and cocktails.  I’m not sure exactly what time my friends headed back to the hotel, but suffice to say that we celebrated their arrival with great zeal.

The next morning arrived earlier than any of us were really ready for.  Tony was scheduled for a flying lesson with Greg’s instructor, Darren, and I had to rouse Desperate Hubby out of bed shortly before eight o-clock to go and introduce the two.

Desperate Hubby had work to do, so Batman hung out with him while Sandy, Annabelle and I went to Eagle Island State Park for a nice horseback ride.

I’ve always known Sandy’s email name to be Samantha Cowgirl, and she lived up to it that day.  Despite not riding a horse for the past twenty-something years, she climbed up on Grumpy like a pro and we set off. She looked like some sort of cowgirl movie star up on old Grump.   She even had the hat!

CA Saddled Up

We had a beautiful ride along the trail, over bridges and through a variety of summer foliage.

CA Crossing Bridge

Grumpy tested out Sandy’s skills by stopping to eat and refusing to budge a couple of times, but she lined him right out and they got along great for the rest of the trip.

CA Sandy Rides

When we finished riding, some shopping was in order.  After a quick stop by Costco we were set for a big barbecue dinner.

With a special guest.  It was our adored neighbor Grandpa Vernon’s birthday, and somehow we had convinced him and Kay to share the evening with us.  He even made us a fantastic peach pie.

And a small banana cream one for Annabelle.

She is so spoiled.

Sorry about the picture Vernon.  I didn’t get one with your eyes open.  I know you hate having your picture in the blog anyway, and I’m sure this doesn’t help!  You’re still handsome, though.

CA Grandpa Vernon

Our dinner was filled with lively conversation, great food provided by Desperate Hubby and Grandpa Vernon, and grand stories about Tony’s first time piloting a small aircraft.

Sandy and Tony and I had the chance to get all caught up on everybody from our past life, and I was so happy to hear how all of my old friends were doing.  It had been easy to imagine that everyone’s lives had stayed exactly the same once I left the great state of California, and it was great to hear that everyone (well, most everyone, with a couple of notable exceptions) had grown up and settled down to one degree or another.

After another late night, we were all tired the next day.  Tony and Sandy took the opportunity to do some laundry, take a nap and get ready for the next stage of their travels, and we reconvened for an early dinner at Smokey Mountain Pizza.

I’m not entirely sure what Tony is talking about in this picture.  Let’s just say it is a fishing story.

CA Tony Fish Story

When we got back to our house we had to pose for a few more photos.  Annabelle didn’t want to be in the picture with our family.  She wanted to be in the picture with Aunt Sandy and Uncle Tony.

I am sure she would have left with them if they had let her.


But at least Batman stood with me and Desperate Hubby. Kind of like a partial family photo.

CAOur family

Later that evening we sadly bid our friends farewell.  They were scheduled for an early morning departure (which ended up being delayed by an optic-emergency, incidentally) and they wanted to get to bed early.

It was so gratifying to see my old buddies again.  They fit right in here in Idaho, and I think that a little Chateau in Caldwell would be an awesome fourth home for them.

What do you think, guys?

Categories: Random Musings, Travel | 5 Comments

Mother-Daughter Trip to Seattle

Our family has been on a whirlwind pace the past couple of weeks. No sooner had we returned from our  camping trip to Bull Trout than Annabelle and I turned around and headed to the great state of Washington for my friend Melissa’s wedding.

Melissa and I have been friends for many years.  We met through little brother Rob when he and I lived in California and Melissa was living in Seattle.  Rob and Melissa’s then-boyfriend were buddies from working together in Alaska (are you following so far?) and Melissa and said-ex came down to California to watch the Rose Bowl. Rob had told Melissa that she and I HAD to meet me because we were exactly alike.  Sure enough, we hit it off immediately, and have been friends ever since.

Melissa and I made a few trips to Mexico and traveled  all around the state of California together (well, OK, mostly we went to the wine country a bunch of times and spent a month in Palm Springs once at a horse show).  When I moved back to Idaho I convinced Melissa to move here too.  She was with me when I met Desperate Hubby for the first time, and was the only person to know that we were eloping when we flew to Las Vegas six months later.  We’ve laughed and cried, gossiped and counseled, and shared many a bottle of Veuve Clicquot over the years.

Through it all she has been one of those friends who is always there, and whether I see her every day or once a year our friendship never changes.  Though she has been back in Seattle for a few years now, she is never far from my thoughts, and no one could have been happier for her when she met the love of her life, Kelly Martin, and planned her dream wedding.

Wild horses couldn’t keep me away from the big event, so Annabelle and I boarded a plane really, really early in the morning to head to Seattle.

Really, really, really early.

Speaking of really, I’m sure I don’t really look this old.  It was probably the dry cabin air.  And the three hours of sleep.

Seattle Plane Over

Our flight got us to Seattle just after 7:00 a.m. so we had the whole day to explore before we were due at the rehearsal dinner that evening.  Our friend Kris (owner of Chic-The-Wonder-Horse that Annabelle shows) was kind enough to volunteer her Seattle-ite brother Mark for a day of sightseeing.  Mark was kind enough to accept the challenge, so we drove our rental car straight to his house from the airport.

We were greeted by Mark, his lovely wife Jennifer, and their beautiful daughter Sylvie in their charming home just a few miles from downtown Seattle.  Mark made us breakfast and we sat and chatted in their perfectly manicured back yard for a couple of hours, during which time Annabelle played gleefully with their cat Buddy and somehow scored a bunch of cool dress-up clothes, several stuffed animals and a nice plastic dinosaur she picked out for Batman.  Which necessitated buying another bag for the trip home, incidentally.  But that’s another story.

Eventually we loaded up in the rental car and headed downtown.  It was a picture-perfect summer day in Seattle.  Warm and sunny and just right for a nice walk-about.  First stop was a splendid little wine store, which didn’t interest Annabelle much. But I liked it. Then we got on the train and headed on to Pike Place Market.

That was much more entertaining.

Especially when viewed from atop Mark’s shoulders.  Did I mention what a nice guy he is?

Seattle Fish Market

We did all the touristy things…….

Seattle Pig

bubble gum alley…….

Seattle Bubble Gum Alley

which was cool until Annabelle tried to eat a loose piece of gum.  Gross.

Then we visited the trained parrot.  I forget his name, Booker maybe?  But he did all manner of tricks and  was pretty neat.  Annabelle even got to hold him.

When he was playing “Dead Bird.”

Seattle Parrot

We made our way down to the waterfront, and Annabelle was extremely disappointed at how long the line was for the giant Ferris wheel.  She was appeased by a ride on this gorgeous vintage carousel though.

Seattle Carousel

We were all getting pretty hungry so Mark took us down the street to the iconic Ivar’s Acres of Clams.  Mark was a veritable fount of knowledge about all things Seattle, and Ivar’s was no exception.  Seems Ivar was quite a character in local history. Among other crazy things, he advocated feeding the seagulls.  And his restaurant still allows it today.

Mark showed Annabelle how it was done.

Seattle Mark Feeds

And then she was unstoppable.

Seattle Feeding Gulls

She fed them……

Seattle Gull

and fed them.

Seattle FF Gulls

It was getting later in the afternoon, and Annabelle and I needed to start the drive up north to Everett to get ready for the rehearsal dinner.  Mark walked us back to our car and then boarded the train for home.  He had been a fantastic travel guide, patient and very knowledgeable.  Thanks again Mark.  You are a gem!

We headed to our hotel, the Holiday Inn in Everett.  Although we arrived only about a half-hour before official check-in time our room was not yet ready.  My little girl was fading after her 4:30 a.m. wake up call, so I did the only thing I could think of to keep her going.

Fed her sugar.

Seattle Sundae

After all the unique activities of the day, it was the hot fudge sundae at the sad little Everett Denny’s that prompted my daughter to say “This is the best mother-daughter-day ever!”  Kids.

When we finally got checked in to our hotel and changed into clean clothes we headed over to the rehearsal dinner in the charming nearby town of Snohomish.  The dinner included out-of-town guests as well as the wedding party, so it was quite a crowd in the little restaurant.  The food was delicious though, and I met some wonderful people.  My new friend Elaine changed my life by telling me how to access the Navigator application on my smart phone.

Really, I mean it.  She literally changed my life.  Plus she was super-cool.  As was her handsome hubby Rick.

There was a sort-of-strange balloon-animal guy there making various creations for the guests.  He made this lovely wedding hat for Melissa, but she accidentally left it in the ladies’ room almost immediately after he presented it to her.

Lucky for Melissa, Annabelle had to go potty right after that, and I found the hat and returned it to her.

Seattle Rehearsal Dinner

You’re welcome, buddy!

It was heart-warming to see my beautiful friend so happy.  I loved her groom-to-be, Kelly, just as much as when I had met him the first time a couple of years ago, and it was just awesome to see Melissa’s family and friends again.

After the dinner, we headed back to the hotel for a much-needed rest.  Annabelle was such a big girl she insisted on sleeping in her own bed.

Seattle Own Bed

The wedding was the next afternoon, so we spent the day just mostly relaxing and swimming in the hotel pool.

Annabelle loved that pool.

Seatle After Swimming

In mid-afternoon we got all spiffed up and set out for the drive to Melissa and Kelly’s home in Snohomish for the ceremony.  Thanks to the Navigation feature on my Android, the drive was a piece of cake.  You really did change my life, Elaine.

We arrived at a property so beautiful it almost made me cry.  The whole thing was absolutely gorgeous.  Truly.

Guests approached under the beautifully draped driveway entrance and walked up a tree-lined drive to the huge yard where the ceremony was to be held.

Seattle Entrance

The setting was picture-perfect.

Seattle Beautiful Setting

And the ceremony was so perfectly-Melissa that I almost cried again.  The couple had written their own vows, and they were just what I would have expected.

I just have to say it again. Perfect.

Seattle Vows

I was again overwhelmed with happiness for my dear friend.  She deserves a wonderful life, and I know she will have one with her soul-mate Kelly, living in the beautiful green oasis that is their home.

After the ceremony there was a wonderful reception.  With dancing.

Seattle A and M

And cupcakes.

Seattle Yummy Cupcake

And a wonderful dinner.  It was the best wedding ever.


Congratulations and much love Melissa and Kelly.  I wish you a lifetime of happiness!

The next day I dragged Annabelle around a bit for some more sight-seeing.  She did not want to make the drive into Seattle, so we poked around Everett a bit.

She was very intrigued by all the sailboats docked in the marina.

Seattle Sailboats

We had a wonderful brunch and then headed on over to the Boeing factory, which was right nearby.  Annabelle was too short for the actual tour, but we had fun looking at all the exhibits.

Seattle A Big Engine

Annabelle looked so tiny next to the big airplane parts.

Seattle Plane

And we got to practice flying a 727 too.

Seattle cockpit

We didn’t even know until after we got home that Melissa actually works at the Boeing factory!  Duh.

We spent the last couple of hours of the day swimming in the hotel pool, then Annabelle got to experience her first taste (literally) of room service.

Oh yeah, Holiday Inn?  Sorry about the spaghetti on the towel.  At least I covered up the duvet……

Seattle Room Service

The next morning we slept in and then headed to the airport for our early afternoon flight.  Annabelle was proud to pull her own new rolling-duffle with all her loot from Mark and Jennifer’s, as well as a few other knickknacks picked up along the way.

Seattle Own Bag

We had a wonderful mother-daughter weekend.

Even if Annabelle’s favorite parts were the Everett Denny’s and the Holiday Inn pool.

Categories: Kids Are Funny Creatures, Travel | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Camping at Bull Trout Lake, 2012

My family and I have just returned from our 2nd Annual Camping Extravaganza at Bull Trout Lake near Stanley, Idaho.  This year we camped for five days.


It takes a lot of stuff for a big family to camp for five days.  It was piled outside.

Piles of Stuff Outside

It was piled inside.

Piles of Stuff Inside

My brother-in-law Mike was joining us in our camping adventure for the first time, and he came over to meet us and caravan for the two and a half hour drive.  He was a little taken aback by the sheer quantity of stuff I had assembled for our trip.


He said something like “I thought we were just going for a few days.  No one told me that you were MOVING there!”  What a smarty-pants.

So I got back at him.  I made him load all the stuff.

Mike Loading

We had rented a travel trailer for our trip this year, so once we got that and the pickup loaded to the gills we were ready to head out.

Travel Trailer

Of course, we took all three horses.

Horse Trailer

We made it to Stanley in good time and got the horses settled in first thing.

Horse Settled In

Batman immediately started whining that he wanted to watch movies.  Our travel trailer was equipped with a small television, and he demanded in increasing volume that I put a movie on for him.  He said he was soooooooo booooooorred!

Instead I set up the badminton net and gave him a racket.  He started hitting the birdie back and forth across the net all by himself.

He never mentioned the TV again.

Batman Plays Badminton

Annabelle pursued her own interests too, putting a halter on Grumpy and climbing on him bareback.

Annabelle rides Grump

We sat about preparing camp.  It took no time at all to get everything set up.


Uncle Mike put up his tent and sat outside in peace and quiet for a moment.

Mike Tajmahal

In a couple of hours Brother Rob and Mel arrived with Benson and Emma.  They had so much stuff stacked on the top of their car they called themselves the Clampets.

Rob hummed the “Beverly Hillbillies” theme song while everyone helped unload.  Well, just for a minute, anyway.

Unloading Rob

Rob carefully raked the ground where he had decided to set up the tent.

Rob Rakes

And a group effort eventually got everything set up perfectly……

Robs Tent Takes Shape

right on top of a giant pile of biting ants.  We talked about moving the tent, but finally decided to just take action.

Mel sprayed and sprayed the fly spray we had brought for the horses.  I guess it worked, because they never complained about the ants.

Ant Problem


About the time we all got settled in we saw a huge beautiful motor home towing a Jeep pull in to the campsite right across the trail.  It was truly a sight to see.

Piper's House

I thought for just a moment that our friends the Points were surprising us and arriving with her mom and dad in their travel ensemble.  But then I noticed the Texas plates.  Nope, these were strangers.

But not for long.

In just a few minutes a beautiful little girl came skipping over looking for kids to play with.  Three year old Piper was absolutely adorable.

Piper Looks

The kids took to her right away, especially Annabelle.  She introduced her to all the horses and her toys.  Piper seemed interested in the horses, but she was clearly a little scared of them.

We were ready to head down to the lake to let the kids swim, so we invited our new friends to go with us.  We were even going to let them ride in the Redneck Limo, but for some reason they decided to drive their own car.

There's the Limo

When we got to the lake we found a nice little spot near the beach to park, and the kids piled out.  Uncle Mike immediately started earning his keep, coaxing the kids into the cold mountain water like the Pied Piper.

Mike Pied Piper

Speaking of Piper, she did try the water, but as I mentioned, it was really, really cold.  She curled up on her Mama Donna’s lap instead.

Piper and Donna

After the kids were suitably frozen we all headed back to camp for some dinner.  Piper and her Papa, John joined us for a while longer.  We had learned that our new friends were traveling the country full-time in their luxury coach.  John is an attorney who specializes in securities work for independent filmmakers, and a sought-after speaker who travels all around the US to address groups and help them with their legal and financial needs.

John and Donna have full custody of Piper, who is Donna’s granddaughter.  It was obvious that the couple doted on the little girl, and I was impressed by how well-adapted they all seemed to life on the road.  Of course, Piper is always on the lookout for friends to play with.

And she sure found them here.  She was at our camp first thing in the morning, ready to play.  She joined right in with the big girls in hauling water for the horses.

Piper Carries Water

She even helped the kids gather firewood.

Piper Flying Pig

I told John that I was going to saddle Reno, and asked if Piper would like to ride.  “I don’t think so.” he said.  “She has never been near a horse before and I don’t think you will get her on him.”

We worked up to it slowly.

Piper Helps Groom

It took a little coaxing but eventually we got it done.  How cute is this?

Piper Smiles on Reno

Once we got her on, we couldn’t get her off.

Piper and John Reno

And her adventurous spirit even rubbed off on her Mama and Papa.

John looked perfectly at ease on Grumpy.  Well, except for the barrel racing saddle and short stirrups.

John Rides

Donna had done quite a bit of riding in her younger years and she hopped right up like she had been on a horse yesterday.

Donna Rides Grumpy

We walked around the campground loop and talked.  Donna and I discovered that we had a very similar background. She had been working at Apple Computer during the same time frame as I had been at Ascend, and we shared stories of the highs and lows of the Silicon Valley hay-days.

Piper and Benson trailed along behind, holding hands.  They were adorable.

Benson Piper Walk Back

We had so much fun visiting with our new friends, but they had to leave for a lecture in Boise so we bid them farewell.  We hope to see them again someday on their travels through.


We quickly settled into a routine of sorts around camp.  Like home routines, the camp days were delineated by mealtime and planned daily activities.

The early morning campfire was always a welcome sight when I emerged from the trailer.

Morning Campfire

The kids drank hot cocoa and the adults coffee.  Winston ran around trying to eat off of everyone’s plates.

Speaking of eating, Desperate Hubby was the primary food preparation guru.  His assistant Mike helped too.

Nice Bacon Cookie!

Breakfasts were bacon or sausage, with huge helpings of hash browns and eggs cooked to order.

Dinners weren’t too shabby either.  It makes me hungry just looking at it.

Dinner is Served

A couple of nights Aunt Mel took charge of dinner.  Her spaghetti was just delicious.

Mel with Spaghetti

Uncle Mike’s table runner provided a touch of class to our little camp kitchen.

Pretty Table

Which apparently Uncle Rob thought we needed, since he didn’t even trust us not the eat the bait.

Worm Cooler

The kids had several camp chores that they carried out with remarkable enthusiasm.

They were in charge of hauling water for the horses three times a day.

Carrying Water Back

And gathering firewood.

A Whole Tree Boys

By any method necessary.

Bring some Firewood

One day they found this giant stump and worked for what seemed like an hour to get it back to camp.  It was really, really heavy.

Flying Pig

When they finally got it back to camp and sat it down Batman made an observation.  “It looks like a Flying Pig, mom!”

And the Flying Pig it was.

Triumphant Pig

I thought it was so cute that I demanded the Pig be spared from the fire, and Pyromaniac Brother Rob reluctantly agreed.

The Pig served a very useful purpose as the Camp Drying Rack for the duration of our stay.

Flying Pig Rack

And then I made Desperate Hubby save room for him in the back of the truck.  The Flying Pig now lives in the gravel bed in front of our house.

Really.  Come on by and you can see him.

Flying Pig Loaded

At night all the kids settled down in our trailer with us.  After the first night they were so tired that they actually went to sleep peacefully with no fighting.  It was heavenly.

The boys shared a bunk.

Boys Sleep

As did Emma and Annabelle.

Girls Sleep

Desperate Hubby got his own bunk because it was too small for us to share.  I slept in the teeny tiny bunk above his.  I didn’t mind.

Daddy Sleeps


I have to take a second here to tell a funny story about my little boy.  We really tried to be good about putting bug spray and sunscreen on all of the kids during our trip.  But we obviously missed Batman’s face on the first evening, and he got two very symmetrical mosquito bites on each side of his little forehead.

Zach Grows Horns

By the second night Batman sported two large bumps on each side of his skull.  He pointed out the bumps to me and I exclaimed “WOW!  You must be growing horns!”

No more thrilling words has my little boy ever heard.

He snorted and tossed his head.  He proudly told the other kids about his sprouting horns.  Benson was so alarmed that he said he did not want to sleep with his cousin.  Not if he was going to grow horns, that is.

Poor Benson didn’t calm down until Mel took him aside and told him it was just a joke.

But it wasn’t a joke to Batman.  He carefully felt his horns every few minutes to see if they were growing.  He made me lift him so he could look in the tiny mirror in the trailer. He was positively ecstatic about the horns.  He told tales of how large the horns would grow, and refused to wear a hat because the horns might poke through.

After a day or two he became concerned that perhaps the horns weren’t growing after all.  He was disappointed about that.  It wasn’t until we got home and he looked in the bathroom mirror that he sadly said “Mom, I don’t think they are horns after all.  They are just bug bites.”

When his dad got home from work that evening he said “Dad, I am not growing horns after all.”  Desperate Hubby feigned surprise.  “Really buddy.  No horns huh?”    Batman said no.  In fact, he said “Dad, even if I asked Santa Claus for horns I don’t think I would get them.  I am not meant to have horns.”

It was a somber evening for Batman.  But he’s recovered.


The kids and men spent a great deal of time lakeside.  Bull Trout Lake itself was freezing cold, so they searched around until they found a nice little lake down the road that was much warmer but without the moss and icky stuff that resides in a lot of warm lakes.

It was beautiful there, too.


Our Swim Master, Uncle Mike, wasted no time getting the kids in the water.


And Winston.

Winston Swimming Lessons

After Uncle Mike hauled Winston out in the deep water where he couldn’t touch he let the poor traumatized dog swim back.  Amazingly enough, Winston was still willing to go in the water after a stick.

Over and over and over again.

Fetch Winston

The fetching looked like so much fun to the kids that they got their own sticks.


And thus was born an amazing and fun new camping game.

Kids That Fetch

Zach Swims

We threw the sticks out for them over and over, further and further.  Safely ensconced in the comfort of their life vests they fetched again and again and again.  It was a wonderful way to wear them out.


Every kid fetched.

Annabelle Swims

And Benson even took the game up a notch by walking on all fours for a remarkably extended period of time.


With all this time at the lake there was a little actual fishing that went on.

Batman Fishes

And a couple of fish were caught.  Batman loves to hold a nice slimy fish.

batman loves fish

Actually, this is might be the same fish.  Maybe they only caught one.

Rob with Fish

Anyway, the lake provided hours of entertainment.


They included, as previously mentioned, several Badminton tournaments.

Batminton Tourney

A little Horseshoe action.


Intellectual stimulation was provided by the occasional game of Checkers.

Everyone Checkers

And hours (it seemed like) of BB Gun Range Practice, supervised by Uncle Rob.  He is a police officer, you know.

Batman Shoots

The kids hardly ever beat him.

BB Guns

Annabelle loved to shoot Emma’s pink BB rifle.  She was pretty good, too.  No empty can was safe around our campsite.

Annie Oakley

And we can’t forget Uncle Rob’s famous rock juggling.

Rob Juggles Rocks

And of course I would be remiss to leave out our nightly campfire entertainment, provided by Desperate Hubby after he finished his cooking and cleanup chores.

Campfire Entertainment

Even with all this campsite fun, we did have time for a few major excursions away from our campsite.


I was itching to get out on the trail, so on our first full day we saddled up the horses and headed out to the Kirkham Trail Head.  We had three horses and four riders, so Mel and I took turns riding Spice and walking.  I really needed the exercise, so I wanted to walk most of the way.  So did Mel, but she was a good sport about it.

First Day Ride

The ride started out well enough.  The beginning was mostly flat ground which wound through the marshy area near the creek.  Spice wasn’t crazy about the little wooden bridges that crossed the marshy areas.  They weren’t more than two feet wide, and had no rails.

Scary Bridge

We had to cross two of these bridges to get to the high country.  We got Spice across the first one but I could tell she was pretty nervous. When I led her across the second one she panicked and slipped off the edge, pushing me partly into the murky mud below.  It was icky.

One Muddy Shoe

We soldiered on, with me trying not to think too much about the return trip and crossing the bridges again.

The trail was breathtaking once we started to climb.    We went through acres of burned down trees whose skeletons stood like sentinels guarding the new baby trees growing up.  It was a little eerie.


Up on top we could see forever.  If we would have kept going on that same trail we would have made it all the way to Lowman.

Hillside Trio

We had been riding for a couple of hours already, though, so we turned around and headed back.

Toward the bridges.

I was leading Spice as we got to the first bridge and she made it across OK, but she was considerably agitated by the unknown elements lurking just under her feet as she clonked across the wood.

As we started to cross the second bridge disaster struck.  Spice walked carefully, but stepped just off the bridge with one hind leg.  That leg immediately sank in the deep mud.  The mare panicked and floundered, pulling the reins out of my hands and falling off the bridge with all four legs, bolting away from the bridge through the muck.

I caught her and held on to her beside the bridge.  I told Mel to go on across with Grumpy and Emma.  Then disaster struck again.  Grumpy, who had made every prior crossing with the aplomb he has shown as a superstar trail horse, started over the bridge.  Emma was scared, and I am not sure exactly what happened, but Grumpy fell off the bridge too.  He floundered trying to get to his feet in the deep mud.  Emma fell off.  Right under his feet.

I am usually very well composed under adverse circumstances, but in this case I lost it.  I started screaming, watching my 10-year-old niece on the ground next to the shod scrambling hooves of a 1,000 pound horse.  Grumpy is smart, though, and careful. Somehow he managed to miss stepping on Emma.

We all re-grouped.  I decided that there would be no more bridge crossings that day.  I took Spice and walked up and down to find a place to cross the creek. Once I found it, it took me about twenty minutes to convince Spice to cross.  She was trembling all over with fear from the bridge, but she is a veteran water crosser.  Once I got her in the creek she stopped for a nice drink.

Spice Finally Crosses

Then it was Grumpy’s turn.


It took quite a bit of coaxing but I finally got him across too.  He jumped the whole thing in one big leap.

Then it was time for Reno.  I walked back over the bridge to him.  I attached the long lead rope I had been using to lead the others across the creek to his bridle. As I started to lead him toward the creek he took off, marching across the bridge all by himself, with me following him.

He is such a cool little horse.

This is how it's done

We made it back to camp safely, exhausted from our ordeals but still grateful for the beauty we had seen that day.

So we decided to do it all over again.


This time we couldn’t talk Emma into going along.  I can’t say that I really blame her.

It was just us three girls that headed out.  And Winston.  At least nobody had to walk this time.  Except Winston.

Second Ride Posse

This time we headed in the opposite direction, to the Bench Creek Trail.  Another rider we had encountered the day before talked of the beautiful views from the top of the trail.  He told us there were no bridges to cross this time.

He was right on both counts.

The trail started out flat, then wound high up on the ridge of a mountain.

2nd Ride Trail

The terrain was so steep that the trail was a zig-zag, going from one switch-back to another up the side of the mountain.


Once we got to the top though, the views were nothing less than spectacular.

But a little smoky.

Up High Smokey

Of course we had to pose.

Top O Mountain A and M

All of us.

Top o Mountain A and P

Our ride home was without incident.  It was one of the most beautiful trails I think I’d ever seen.

Until the next day, that is.  When we embarked on


The horses were tired a little sore from their strenuous climbs the previous two days, and even Winston wasn’t interested in doing another ride by day three. With all the hiking and swimming he had done he was Dog Tired.  Har har.

Tired Winston

I had one more trail in mind though, and despite going for a five-mile run after our trail ride the previous day, Mel was more than happy to humor me by agreeing to go for a hike.  My experience the other day trekking along with the horses made me remember how much I like to go for nice relaxing hike, so I was thrilled to head out.

Heading Out Hiking

When we set out on a moderate climb up the side of a mountain, we had no idea of the wonder we would soon experience.

Hiking the Trail

We’d hiked about an hour or so when we saw a few butterflies. A few turned into many.  Many turned into hundreds of thousands.  They covered acres of meadows on the side of the mountain  It was breathtaking.


They ranged in color from a bright orange to a more mild version of that same color.  Every one was beautiful.

Mel Butterfly

We stared and stared at them.  I had seen the migration of the Monarch Butterflies in California before, and this was a similar phenomenon.  Although these butterflies were the same color, they were much smaller than a Monarch and they were spotted rather than striped.  Whatever they were, they were simply beyond words.

Closeup Butterfly

Beautiful.  Just beautiful.

Butterfly Closeup

After we played with the butterflies for a while, we continued our hike.  We came upon a huge tree that appeared to have been felled by lightning.  The base of the tree was so big we could actually sit inside it.

Lightning Tree

Se we did.  The bright orange vibrancy of the wood was truly a work of art.

Mel Lightning Tree

We hiked further.  Past bushes with a mysterious red fuzz growing on them.

Red velvet vines

More fallen trees.

Mel Fallen Tree

And lots of beautiful flowers.

Pretty Pink Flowers

We crossed a couple of streams.  One small, one bigger.

About to Cross

We hiked into a high mountain swamp to examine hundreds of lily pads floating serenely in a pond surrounded by tall, tall trees.


We finally walked back to the campsite in the heat of the afternoon.  Mel’s GPS watch showed we had hiked just about 6.5 extremely steep miles.  I was sweaty and tired.  My breath came in heaves and I felt like my legs might collapse at any minute.  Mel trotted along the trail as if we were just starting out.  She is a goer, that girl.

We walked into the camp to see the unexpected sight of the children giving poor beleaguered Winston a bubble bath. That’ll teach him to wimp out on a hike!


Rob and Mel headed out that evening for home.  We woke up early the next morning to a light drizzling rain.

The kids sat under the camper awning playing with their pet worms.

Final Morning

We loaded up the camper and the horses and headed home.  The smoke that had been a beautiful plume in the previous four days now pervaded the valley.

Smoke Plume

We made it past the fire controls near Banks and home in good time.  The kids were tired and ready to be back.

But Batman said what we all were thinking.

“I can’t wait to go camping again, mom!”

Categories: Horse Adventures, Kids Are Funny Creatures, Life in the Country, Travel, Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Canyon County Fair 2012

The kids and I had a busy week last week.  In addition to swimming lessons, birthday parties and horseback riding, we made time in our schedules to visit the Canyon County Fair on two occasions.

I’ve been taking the kids to the fair for years, since I pushed them both in my double jogging stroller with Zach sleeping as an infant on one side and Annabelle trying to reach through the bars of each pen on the other. The kids love the fair.

Our first visit on Friday was mainly to see the animals.  Naturally, the kids had to look at each exhibit and pet as many as possible of each variety.  Their favorite seemed to be a toss-up between the goats and the sheep.  They loved the rabbits too. 

The highlight of that  first trip was a viewing of the 4-H kids showing their dogs.  Annabelle was pretty enthralled with that, and I fear I may see Dog 4-H in my future.  Eek.

The second fair visit was much more thrilling.  The kids got to do something that they hadn’t previously gotten to do at our local version of fair. 

Ride the rides.

CC Fair A Airplane

Since the rides are only open in the evening and on the weekends, we just hadn’t made it there during the times they were open in any of our past visits. 

My munchkins made up for lost time.

CC Fair Z Plane

From airplanes to carousels, giant slides to four wheelers, they tried them all.

CC Fair A Slide

Zach loved each ride more than the last.  Annabelle enjoyed them too.

CC Fair Z Caro

By the way, what do you think of Batman’s fair attire?  Pretty snappy huh?  Especially the socks.

CC Fair A &Z

Annabelle rode the carousel like a real horse. 

CC Fair A Caro

The four-wheelers didn’t look all that exciting to me, but the kids liked them.

CC Fair Z Four W

But I think the motorcycles were their favorite.

CC Fair A Motor

After two books of ride tickets, I finally lured the kids away with promises of ice cream and a chance to watch the Cowboy Mounted Shooting that was taking place in the rodeo arena.

Cowboy Mounted Shooting involves a rider shooting a specially loaded .45 Caliber Pistol to pop balloons arranged in a specific pattern in the arena.  It is a timed event.  There was one little girl riding in the competition.  She didn’t actually shoot a pistol, just loped through the pattern. 

Annabelle announced that she thought Grumpy would make a mighty fine Cowboy Mounted Shooting horse.  She’s probably right.

CC Fair Cowboy MS

The best part of the day was probably the ice cream and root beer.

CC Fair Ice Cream

Batman enjoyed his chocolate cone immensely.

CC Fair Cho Face

On the way out of the fairgrounds some nice young girls from West Valley Medical Clinic gave the kids each a helium balloon.  When we got home they used the balloons to play Cowboy Mounted Shooting, running through the living room, into the dining room and back out through the kitchen, making loud and pretty authentic shooting noises until Desperate Daddy threatened to lock them in their rooms. 


I was really glad the balloons only lasted for one night.

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Grayback Gulch and the Thimbleberries

This past weekend Annabelle and I headed out for a nice Sunday trail ride with one of our favoritist people, Christine.  We love to ride with Christine because she is smart and funny and kind, and because she knows how to use a GPS so we will never get lost.  She also carries a gun at all times.

Annabelle loves Christine to distraction and I think she secretly wishes that I would learn how to use a GPS and carry a gun at all times.  Actually, that isn’t a secret wish of hers.  But I digress.

Christine was taking us to a new riding destination for this trip, which is another thing we love about her.  As Annabelle says “Mom, if it wasn’t for Christine we wouldn’t know anywhere to ride outside of our own pen.”  There is some truth to that.

Our destination this Sunday was Grayback Gulch Campground, about 35 miles southeast of Boise near Idaho City.

It was a lovely wooded trail at about 4000 feet, so it was a little cooler than down here in the valley.

GB Up the MtnWe rode up and around the mountain on some old logging trails, diverting to a nice little single track for part of the way where we saw a lizard and some chipmunks.

I was riding Grumpy because Christine sold her sweet little mare Loretta earlier this summer in preparation for her upcoming adventure of a lifetime.  But more about that later.  Christine was riding Spice, my adored bay more who loves her more than me.  Mainly because she doesn’t wear spurs.

Grumpy doesn’t really enjoy packing me around, chiefly because I way almost 100 pounds more than his owner Annabelle.  But he’s a good sport about it.

As you can tell by the way he’s gnashing his teeth.

GG Mom Grumpy

We came to a lovely little rock outcropping that just called out to me, so naturally I forced the girls to stop and take some pictures.

GG AC Rock Smiles

And Christine took some of me and my little woogums.

And Winston.

GG A M Winston Rock

Then we rode on.

GG A and C

And on.

GG M A Down Trail

Annabelle had shed her outer shirt about halfway through the ride, and then she procured Christine’s water-filled neck cooler.  That girl is a scammer.

But cute, huh?

GG ACool Neck

Yet another of the super-cool things about Christine is her awesome inventory of wilderness knowledge.  She knows all about edible plants and berries, and it was she who taught me to eat Rose Hips high up on the mountain at Avimor.

On this trip she identified some little red berries called Thimbleberries.  These berries reminded me of a slightly tart raspberry, and they grew all along the trail in almost every shaded ravine.  My daughter loved them.

She jumped off of Reno and scrambled up every draw we saw with Thimbleberries growing.  She called them Bumbleberries.

GG Halfway Hill

She even shared some with the horses.

GG Feeding Spice BB

We rode for almost five hours and it was getting hot by the time we got back down the mountain.  Even Winston was stopping at every patch of shade for a rest.  He is a smart dog, that Winston.

GG Winston Rests

By the time we got to the truck everyone was hot and thirsty.  Christine had brought us a delicious saddle-bag lunch, which we had eaten early on in the ride.  She also brought us a special after-ride treat of ice-cold lemonade.  It tasted so good after a day in the saddle.

Winston drank and drank from his dish.  When he was finished Annabelle gave the horses some water.

GG A Waters Grump

By the way, watering horses with a dog dish and cold sports bottles is not the most efficient method in the world.  But she insisted.

GG Refilling Water

And each horse got to wet their whistle a little before the ride home.

By the way isn’t my girl Spice a lovely, lovely mare?

GG Watering Spice

Reno didn’t really drink.  He just played in the water and splashed it on Annabelle. What a jokester.

GG Watering Reno

We so enjoyed our ride with Christine in the Boise National Forest.

Our day was all the more precious because my friend is about to leave us and embark on a wonderful excursion with her family:  sailing from Florida to the Caribbean Islands for one whole year.  I am sad she will be gone for a while, but I cannot wait to hear all the stories about their travels (and to read the family’s blog accounting of their magnificent trip).  I’ll keep you up to date as that comes along.

Plus, we are keeping their beloved Guinea Pigs, Zoe and Snowy, hostage while they travel.  Oh, I mean we are babysitting them, so I know they will be back!

Categories: Kids Are Funny Creatures, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Miss Emma’s Tea Party

Last week was my sweet niece Emma’s 10th birthday.  I can’t believe she is already ten.  And so grown up.  My oh my how time flies!

This is beautiful Emma.  This picture is from the end of the party.  She doesn’t usually wear feather tiaras and heavy eye makeup.  Or carry a wand.

But she could if she wanted to.  I think she pulled it off nicely.

EB Pairs 5

Emma’s birthday party was held at a lovely little restaurant in Meridian called Miss Tami’s Cottage & Tea Room.  Miss Tami’s Cottage is a darling Victorian-themed house-turned-restaurant with a nice selection of shopping in the front foyer.

Emma got to choose five friends to invite to her party, and Annabelle was excited to be one of them.  The girls got started with a little crafting while they waited for the last guest to arrive.  They made little door hangers with their names on them.  Annabelle decorated hers with dragonflies and flowers and it hangs on the outside of her room.

EB Arts and Crafts 2

After the crafting was done the party got down to business.  The guests all got big-girl makeup applied.

EB Girl's Makeup

And their nails painted a beautiful glittery silver.

EB Nails Done

Annabelle looked just like a teenager when she was finished.  Well, not really. But like a more grown-up version of a five-year old, anyway.

EB Makeup Finished

After the primping was finished Emma got to pick out jewelry for each of her guests to complete their outfit.

EB Jewelry

The girls were outfitted with tiaras,  treated to their own bottles of body spray and given a lesson on applying it (spray in the air, then walk through it). They were given wands.

Then they were doused with Fairy Dust.  That was pretty funny.

EB Getting Fairy Dust

Once the transformations were complete, everyone went outside to the lovely backyard and we did a photo shoot.

Aren’t they all so beautiful?

EB Girls in Gazebo

Annabelle and Emma posed together.

EB Pairs One

When we were done with pictures, the girls got to spend a little time playing with bubbles in the backyard, then we headed back inside for a tea party.

The tea party was very elaborate.  There were even little sandwiches shaped like shoes.

EB Shoe Sandwiches

And the girls were given a tutorial on the origin of the traditional High Tea Party.  They were given instructions on how to politely serve themselves and their friends at a tea party.

They listened raptly.


I learned something from this party too.  I learned that when you are having tea with someone you should always serve them before yourself, and it is a sign of friendship to never let their tea-cup run dry.

I had heard this rule applied to drinking sake, but I didn’t know it applied to tea too.

I am such a heathen.

This is Rhonda, Emma’s grandma.  Although I guess we are not technically family members anymore, she is one of the funniest and nicest women I know.  Even though we hadn’t seen each other in a few years before this party it felt like just yesterday.  Emma and her little brother Benson are so lucky to have her and her awesome husband Jeff in their lives.

Rhonda and I also almost share a birthday.  Of course she is much older than I am.


EB Rhonda

We had to leave the party a little early so that Annabelle could get to swimming lessons, but my little girl was so happy that she got to be with her cousin and the other girls for most of the festivities.  She brought home a big bag of party favors, including her makeup and nail polish, lip gloss and body spray.  She felt very grown up.

And looked it, can I say again?

EB A closeup

Kudos on a great party Emma!  And happy birthday all over again.

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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