"Occasionally" Annual Salmon Beach Bulletin
As I reflect back on this last year, which has actually been a year in which I've lost 3 close, long-time friends and 2 animals, and I still feel blessed for having known these people, all for well over 25 years, during which time they enriched my Life, immeasurably. Angel-doggie and Bella-cat both lived long, happy lives, in an environment which couldn't have been better for them, loved dearly, and neither one of them were plagued with a long slow decline, and who could ask for more than that? We should all be so lucky!
I still haven't managed to make it to Iceland, which has been a big disappointment, but, as usual, I look for the "silver lining"and see that as a "goal to still be achieved", and am trying to line up some alternate trips for the coming year. God knows, there is no lack of places that I'd like to visit with the camera.
I only took one photo expedition this year, with my bro-in-law and sis, over to Glacier National Park, last August. I don't know about them, but I had a great time, although I have to admit to being a little taken aback at the cost of both food and lodging in the park!
A few years ago, I had read that they were predicting that the glaciers would be completely gone by 2023, and they seem to have over estimated that by 4 years, because the only snow that we saw, were extremely small patches, in the highest altitudes. Even so, the park is absolutely gorgeous; so much so, that I just booked a small cabin (more about that cabin, below), just at the east entrance to the park for late spring, so, hopefully, I will be able to do some hiking and get photos of the mountains with a lot of snow.
I'm still relatively new to traveling, and tend to get a little wrapped around the axel as departure time approaches, and this time was no different. I had made a list about a month ahead of time, noting all the stuff that I needed to take with. My photography stuff was easy, as was the clothing and odds and ends, so things should fall right into place, as everything was done and packed, 3 days in advance. No sweat, right? Wrong!
I headed out of here, up over Chinook Pass late on an overcast Friday morning, and although the sky was dark, the scenery was beautiful, and just as I crested the top, the skies cleared for about 3 minutes, just enough time for me to pull over and snag my camera:
Back on the road to Richland, where, at about 10 p.m., much to my horror, I discovered that somehow, I neglected to pack the prescription toothpaste & gel that I need to use on my teeth, because of the radiation and chemo treatments that I had back in '14!
The next morning, before we left Richland, I hit the Walgreens Drug Store to try and con the pharmacist into selling it to me, but. . . No luck! I even joked with him, asking, "Seriously, have you ever seen a guy in a trench coat standing on a corner asking if anyone wants to buy some toothpaste?" He laughed, admitted it was pretty dumb, but still refused to sell it to me. So I wound up calling the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and asking them to email a 'script for me; they said it would take a couple of hours, so the pharmacist said that he could forward it to one of their stores just the other side of Spokane, and it would be ready when we got there. Away we go!
In Spokane, we stopped, and they had the gel for me, but. . . They had neglected to send a prescripton for the special toothpaste, so it was one of those "Screw it!" moments, and I just snagged the toothpaste with the highest percentage of fluoride, and we hit the rode again.
We spent that night in Missoula, Mt., and it was only about 4 hours from there to the Glacier Park Lodge, close to the east entrance to the park. It's an incredibly beautiful old building:
However. . . "Rustic" barely begins to describe the rooms: no TV, no coffee (if you look closely at the lower left corner, you'll see a coffee bar, where a small cup of coffee sets you back $5!), a shower that, as "petite" as I am, I could barely get my arms up to wash what little hair is left on my head; a bed that, while not as bad as the one that was here at The Beach when I first got here in '64, you could almost sit on the edge, and then roll into the middle, doing a backflip! Thank God they did have a pretty fast wi-fi! 2 nights here and on, another 3 1/2 hours to St. Mary's Village, with a wonderful little cabin (Elaine and Charles had their own, so I was free to crank up my music and stay up as late as I wanted!) with all the amenities: large modern bathroom, large kitchen complete with everything needed to prepare a meal, big TV, super fast wi-fi, air conditioning. . . Man, I was in heaven, for the next 3 nights!
We went out for burgers that night, and it was at this point that Elaine informed us that she had an infected finger, and when she held it up to show us, man. . . I was shocked; it was swollen up to the size of my thumb and had started to turn black! Being the sensitive, caring brother that I am, I said, "Oh, my God, Quig; put that thing away; I'm trying to eat!" Needless to say, no doctors around, and none of us thought about the fact that all of the park rangers have a modicum of medical training; stupid! It wasn't until about 2:00 a.m. that I realized that, and by then, Chuck had already lanced it with a sewing needle.
The next night, I wandered out the door at about 11:15 to look at the sky, and was amazed that I could actually see the Milky Way, so I snagged my camera and tripod, for what I thought would be a fast 15 minutes, which stretched out to about 3 hours! This was my first serious attempt at astrophotography, so I had to learn a bit before I nailed it:
The next morning was an early one, as we decided to snag the free bus that took us to the visitors' center at the top of the "Going To The Sun Road". I had misgivings about taking the bus, since you don't have the freedom to stop wherever you feel like it (although you can get off, and then catch the next one), but when we got to the top, I was grateful that we had, as there was a parade of about 30-40 cars, circling the parking lot, waiting for a place to park; I'll bet that there is at least 1 fistfight a day up there!
I was excited about getting to do some hiking, but my sister has a bad knee, and that option was a "no go", even though she made a couple of valiant tries. There is a pretty nice trail that takes off from the center (elevation about 6200'), and we took off up the mountain, but she called it quits about an hour in. Luckily, Elaine has never met a stranger, so she picked out a rock, sat down and started to talk to another lady, taking a break, while Chuck and I headed on up the hill. Chuck got way ahead of me, 'cause I was taking my time shooting, and I passed him going back down, as I was still headed up.
This was view from about another hour up the hill, at the crest (I think!) of the path, and you can see how little snow is left! There is a trail down to this lake, but it had been about 1 1/2 hours since leaving Elaine, and I was feeling kind of guilty about it, so after getting a few more shots, I turned around and ran most of the way back down to the center. I guess that I should have been a musician, because Elaine and Chuck had only been waiting for about 15 minutes, and I walked straight into the departing air conditioned bus, that took us back down the mountain; talk about timing!
The next morning I got up to photograph the sunrise, and it was breath taking (15' from the door of the cabin!):
15 minutes later, and 90• to the right of the view above, as the sun crested the horizon:
At about 11 a.m., we packed up the car and headed back up the Road To The Sun, to head back home, and once again, found a merry-go-round at the visitors' center, only much more crowded than the day before when we got there early, so we didn't even stop, but just headed toward the exit from the park on the west side. I kept bugging Chuck to pull over so I could get some shots, and this one was right beside the road (I was on the edge of it, and cars were creeping by me!); it was called Staircase Falls, but I had to walk back up the hill, about 10 minutes from the car to get the shot:
I was a little disappointed in the west side of the park, as it's not much different than the Cascades, here in Washington, but we still had another surprise waiting for us. We had booked a "suite" at Apgar Village, at the west end of the park, and we got in there at about 2 p.m. We checked in, and got directions to a medical clinic, where a doctor checked Elaine's finger out, drained it some more, and prescribed some antibiotics for her.
We got back to the Village, which did have a beautiful view of the lake:
But when we loaded our stuff into the suite, we discovered that it consisted of a double bed in the front room, and separated by a wall (no door!), another double bed! 1 electrical outlet in each room, no TV, no wi-fi (get the idea that this is a major concern of mine? 🤣, no telephone, and no coffee, again!
We went out and took a short walk around the "village" and some flat, groomed trails, and realized that if we spent 3 nights here, we would just be wasting our time. We talked it over, and decided to head back home the next morning, even if it meant losing the money for the next 2 nights, but when we said that we were having a "medical emergency", the guy running the place was nice enough to credit the money back to us! We were very happy when we pulled out that morning, headed for home, 2 days early.
I don't know if you were aware that a few years ago, the starfish all along the west coast, from Mexico to Alaska, got hit by a "wasting disease", where their arms just rotted off. The Beach, which used to literally crawl with them, hasn't had any for about 5 years, but one morning in September, I looked out the window at low tide, and was overjoyed to find that they have started to reestablish themselves, and look nice and healthy!
It's awfully nice to see something positive happening in a day when there are so many signs that our planet is in trouble!
I've gotten into a new "habit" over this past year, when there is so much negativity and anger in our society, so to balance that, I spend about 1/2 hour every morning before getting out of bed, reflecting on how extremely lucky (or maybe, "blessed" is a better word!), my Life has been, and what I've realized is that you, my friends, have been a huge part of that! I've looked at my Facebook friends, and realize that politically, they range from the extreme right to the extreme left, and whether or not I agree or disagree with your views, I respect your right to your own opinion, and I enjoy talking/arguing about them. I have to tell you that I believe that things would be much better if society would adopt that attitude in seeking resolutions to our problems rather that taking differing opinions as a challenge to be . . . ummmm. . . "conquered" by anger or sheer volume.
So, that's it for now; hope you enjoyed the adventure, the photos, and maybe the small amount of philosophy! Know that I keep you all close, in my heart, and wish you all a merry Christmas, and a safe and happy new year, and hope the coming one will be less stressful for us all. When things get to the point where they feel unbearable, stop, and look around you at the beauty that surrounds us, and reach out to one of your friends to share some time with them and remind yourself of how lucky we are! I leave you with one last photo, as a demonstration:
Love to all❣️