Monday, June 30, 2014

100 Days Project -- Day 91

Happy Birthday, Yosemite!

This year marks Yosemite National Park's sesquicentennial -- 150 years old!
Bob was born and raised in the park because his dad worked for Curry Company and his mom worked at the hospital in the park, so of course, Yosemite is pretty important to him. 

On June 30, 1864, Exactly 150 years ago today, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Yosemite Land Grant, which protected Yosemite and the Mariposa Grove there, and eventually led to the National Park system. This morning at 10:00, there was a ceremony at Mariposa Grove, in the midst of the more than 500 giant Sequoias there, to commemorate this incredible occasion. 

Of course, Bob and I had to go.
We both took the day off from work, and got up really early to drive up, as we knew they were expecting a large crowd. We had to park at Goat Meadows, right before the south park entrance, as they weren't allowing cars up to the grove; there would be too many people there. We took a bus from there to Mariposa Grove. Of course, it was a little weird for Bob to do such a "tourist" think in Yosemite.
 But the trees and the ceremony were worth it.

 We'd read in the paper that Les James, a tribal elder of the American Indian Council of Mariposa County and a friend of Bob's, would be doing a native blessing at the ceremony. We were able to chat with him a bit in the parking lot prior to the ceremony, as well as to his wife, and another old friend of Bob's, Bill Tucker.
 Les James and Bill Tucker being greeted by some of the 
rangers, and finding their reserved seats prior to the ceremony.
Les during the blessing; this photo was taken by
Craig Kohlruss, Associated Press.
 We also got to see Parker Bevington, one of Bob's nephews. He is on the left above, and is a Yosemite fire fighter. He and his wife, Elise, and two sons, Joel and Arlo, live in the park in Wawona -- LUCKY!!! We went to visit them after the ceremony, and should have taken some pics, but didn't.
 The ceremony opened with rangers on horseback. Some were in period dress, like this ranger, Shelton Johnson, who was dressed as a Buffalo Soldier.
Photo Credit: Craig Kohlruss, AP
 The sun eventually came through the trees, so a lot of people -- us included -- took to standing in the surrounding shade to beat the heat. Above, the Yosemite Conservancy hands over a $12.6 million check that is the first installment of $20 million that they're giving the park to restore the Mariposa Grove closer to its natural condition. For instance, there is asphalt all over, which is hurting the roots of the giant trees, so most of that will be taken out.
It was very cool to be there for such a momentous occasion.
Lincoln never had the chance to visit Yosemite, and signed the grant during the Civil War, after seeing pictures like the one below.
We should all be thankful he did.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

100 Days Project -- Day 90

SCOTLAND -- Sunday, May 16, 2011

Ok, for real, I'm going to continue documenting our 2011 trip to Scotland for the Cape Wrath Challenge. If you need another review of my first, long-ago entry, here it is.

So, after a tiring but fun day in Edinburgh, we retired to the hotel, and slept SOUNDLY. Once we were settled, though, it really hit me that here I was. In Scotland. Where my dad's parents were born, and, as far as we knew, all of my ancestors on his side were from. And the country that my dad had visited -- with Mom, Jim, Missy, and Lacey -- just about 8 months before he unexpectedly passed away in October, 2009. So, just before falling asleep, I curled into a fetal ball, and, well, bawled like a baby. And Bob held me. And I knew he understood. 
Dad at Edinburgh Castle, Feb. 2009
On Sunday, then, we spent the day driving up to Durness, where the Cape Wrath Challenge would be the following Saturday. 
Edinburgh, of course, is a large city. We had rented a car at the airport when we'd arrived the day before, so now Bob had to immediately become proficient at driving on the left side of the road. Some might be suspicious that this is why I invited him to go along with get him to drive. It's not. But it was definitely a nice bonus. I took a few pictures out the windshield, trying to capture just what it's like to drive on the left side, but you really have to do it yourself to get the full effect; of course, please wait to do it until you're in a country where it's required.
It just feels weird.
The drive was pretty long -- over 250 miles, about 6 hours -- and I took some pictures along the way, mostly out in the country.
We saw many sheep along the way.
 Typical of Scotland, it was overcast most of our trip.
 Overcast, but beautiful.
As the map above indicates, Durness is in the far northwest of Scotland, so is in the Highlands, along the coast. As we drove further into the Highlands, the road became more narrow. You can see in the picture above that there are intermittent spots of wider road, where signs encourage motorists to share the road.
Gotta love that.
Finally, we started seeing evidence that we were very close to Durness.
And then we were there. Another cool thing about driving around in the Highlands is that many of the signs are in both English and Scottish Gaelic.
Durness is just a tiny village of about 350 people -- I like to think of it as our "Bridgeport-in-Scotland' -- and is the most north westerly village in mainland Britain. It sits along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. 
We arrived in Durness with just enough time to check into the Aiden House, before heading to the community center to pick up my Cape Wrath Challenge registration materials for the week, as well as attend a brief "welcoming" program. 
Pic of Aiden House stolen from their website;
we never saw blue sky like this while in Durness.
The Aiden House is a lovely B&B owned by Alexandra Thomson. Alexandra is a Thomson by marriage to Kenny, whom we didn't get to meet because he is a commercial fisherman and was on a fishing trip while we were there. She is a MacKay by birth, though, and taught us the correct pronunciation of this very-Scottish name: Muh-Kie ("Kie" rhymes with pie). I know...who knew? Durness was the land of the Clan MacKay, so though Alexandra didn't present herself this way, I like to think we stayed with -- and have now befriended -- a descendant of the "royal family" of Durness. Seriously, Alexandra is great, and we've kept in touch with her. Aiden House was built on family land in 2010, and has won an annual Trip Advisor award each year since 2012. In addition to Alexandra's warm and welcoming manner, I immediately felt at home in our room when I found Chocolate Chip Shortbread and mints waiting for us. That really was just the beginning, and I'll share more about the hospitality in subsequent posts.
After checking in with Alexandra, we had to head over to the community center to check in. This was the 10th year of The Cape Wrath Challenge, so they'd decorated like a birthday party.
 And there were traditional Scottish tartans and hangings in the center to welcome us, too.
I honestly can't remember where we had dinner that first night, but will definitely show you a variety of food pictures in the entries-to-come, as we really enjoyed the food. There was a lot still to come, but I already knew I really loved Scotland.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

100 Days Project -- Day 89


Is it just us, or was this really bad?....We started it tonight, and didn't bother to finish it. 
A rerun of this was way more appealing.

Friday, June 27, 2014

100 Days Project -- Day 88

Cool Grannies

These are "The Grannies." 
You might recognize them from this show:
They make this candy:
Their company started in their basement, and is located in 
Yelm, Washington.
Yelm is where Nicki and JW live. And their son, Logan, works for the grannies.
Before they left this morning, Nicki brought in a bag filled with tins of Ice Chips so I could taste them, and JW told the story of the grannies.
You can watch them on "Shark Tank" here, at the Ice Chips website,
to get their story yourself.
It's pretty cool.
The candy is made with Xylitol, a natural sweetener from Birch trees, 
and it's actually beneficial for dental hygiene, and recommended for diabetics.
Ice Chips come in about 20 flavors so far.
I tried Root Beer Float, Lemon, Peppermint, and Pina Colada.
Yum. All of them.
As if I wasn't already thrilled that Nicki and JW came for a visit.

100 Days Project -- Day 87


Tomorrow is the last night of the doctoral class I'm co-teaching: Leaders and Leadership. Tonight, we discussed ontological constraints. If you're not sure what that means, that's really ok. You need to take the entire course to really get the gist of their importance, but essentially, they are things that limit our natural self-expression. 

I'm bringing this up for two reasons: 1) We used some cool video clips in class tonight that, even outside the context of the course, you're likely to find meaningful, and 2) Nicki and JW stayed an extra night with us, so we just got home from dinner, and these will be easy and quick to post. I can then get my little arse to bed. 

So, here you go.

The first one is on Change Blindness, and it's here.
Pretty amazing, huh?
The second one is an Awareness Test, and it's here. (And all my cyclist friends will appreciate it.)
I know, right? I didn't see it either!
And the third and final one is, well, about a nail. Kind of. And it's here.
You wanna take the class now, don't you?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

100 Days Project -- Day 86

Relivin' the Dream

We have houseguests tonight. Nicki and JW Foster. I played high school softball with Nicki -- she was a killer pitcher -- and J-Dub was our coach. Yah, that doesn't sound right...but there's only a 9-year age difference between them, and they've been married for over 30 years. That's way cool, and so are they. Loved introducing them to Bob, and vice versa.

So, basically, we stayed up late talking, so I don't have time to write more -- gotta get my little arse to sleep. But I gotta tell's been a really fun night.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

100 Days Project -- Day 85

The Back Story

I loved the Narnia books when I was growing up; I still have the boxed set that I read when I was 10 or so.

As I got older, I didn't read fantasy as often, though I still love it, and I tend to read a lot of non-fiction and biographies. My love for children's literature, though, hasn't abated, and has evolved into a curiosity about the authors who write it. My book shelf has quite a few books about children's authors and illustrators: The Art of Maurice Sendak, TalkTalk (about E. L. Konigsburg), The Art of Eric Carle, and The Essential Guide to Children's Books and their Creators, for example.

A Netflix envelope arrived two days ago, and in it was "C.S. Lewis and the Chronicles of Narnia," which tells the true story of the author and how he came to write the Narnia books.
It's not the most exciting movie ever made, and basically is just an English man telling the story of Clive Staples's life against the backdrop of various photos with dramatic music playing in the background. But, for a children's book geek like me, it was quite interesting.

For instance, I didn't know that Clive renamed himself Jack when he was a small boy because he didn't like the name Clive -- imagine that! -- and that is what he went by all his life. I did know he was a professor at Oxford University, but did not know that even after 30 years there and successfully publishing many acclaimed books, they would not make him a full professor. Without his solicitation, Cambridge offered him a position as full professor, and he took it.

I figured he had made a decent chunk of money on his books, and he did....but he gave most of his royalties from the Narnia books to charities, and mainly to ones that served children. He also set up a school for children who could not otherwise afford an education.

He married late in life to an American woman, 20 years his junior, who tragically succumbed to cancer just 4 years after they married.
His mother had died of cancer when he was a boy, and this had really shaped him, so he was perhaps the ideal stepfather to his wife's two sons, David and Douglas, after she died.
The boys' last name was Gresham, from their biological father, whom their mother had divorced because he was an abusive alcoholic. Douglas Gresham now is the head of the C.S. Lewis Foundation.
He was also the co-producer of 2005's "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe." I think they did a great job on that movie, especially casting the characters, and you can watch the trailer here.
Watching this has made me realize I haven't seen the second movie, "Prince Caspian." Now that I've seen that trailer, too, guess what's going in my Netflix queue?
Wonderful stories. Thanks to this man.