Blowing Away The Cobwebs

Orange Beach SunriseNothing like a 2 year writing hiatus, while MFN sits and collects some dust and a few cobwebs. Since the blog has emerged in conversation recently and seems to keep coming up I’ve found myself writing in my head again. This is where posts are born. I’m humming along, doing my thing (biking, kayaking, cooking, cleaning, showering, etc.) and suddenly words are being formed in my head and I’m forced to stop what I’m doing and capture them (or not, and allow them to vanish).

This hasn’t happened much the last couple years, as I’ve been in major transition. If you read my last post you know old Leon found me while I was looking at a house for sale on the Alabama gulf coast. Subsequently, I found a lovely home in one of my favorite little towns on Pleasure Island, about 30 miles from my encounter with Mr. N-U-L-L.

I bought said home and left Knoxville (and yes, the good man I married, from whom I’m happy to say I had the most amicable parting in the history of divorce – a testament to two people who truly loved each other but just weren’t compatible for the long haul), and spent the last couple years settling into my new city, which likes to refer to itself as “A quaint little drinking town with a fishing problem” (though I don’t think we have the monopoly on that description).

It’s been an interesting couple of years, filled with some of the highest highs and the lowest lows I’ve experienced thus far in my life. Oddly the biggest extreme between hitting the low and subsequently reaching the high was amazingly short. I attribute this to a number of things, not the least of which was finally asking for help when I needed it. To that end I’d be remiss not to give a shout out to my dear friend Wendy, who heard that request and responded in spades.  As did many others (all of whom I hope will forgive my omitting their names here – you know who you are and I love and thank you all).

Additionally, finding a fun, amazing, eclectic and very accepting group of locals has been like discovering an oasis in the desert. Not to knock Knoxville, because I know many people are happy there, but in 7 years I’m not sure I managed to accumulate more than 5 or 6 people I’d call “friends.” Here on the island, however, it’s like I’ve always known these people. Is that the island mindset, or is it that people who would make the choice many others only talk or dream about (moving to the beach) are just more likely to be MY kind of people?

What I can say for certain is that I have a TON of observations and stories to share from my short time here. Many days it feels like I opened up a fantastic novel and, rather than reading from the outside, physically wandered into the middle and became part of it, “Neverending Story” style.

So here is my “housecleaning” blog post… dusting off the cobwebs and shining her up again. Here’s me, rolling up the sleeves and blowing off the fingertips as I put them to keyboard and begin to let the thoughts once again take shape somewhere besides my journal (and my “Dear Wendy Diaries” – but that’s another story).

Twenty Miles From Somewhere

FtMorganStar“DO YOU LIVE HERE??” were the words yelled in my direction the day I met Leon Null (N-U-L-L as he spelled it out for me). Leon was making his way over to the house where I was descending the back stairs as I began to explain that I was sent by my realtor to look around.

“Well they’s lots of people stealin’ stuff ‘round here all the time,” Leon sneers, still making me up and down, deciding if I’m a good or bad guy, as I stand there in my running shorts with my dog on her leash. He clearly already knew I didn’t live there.

The temperatures fell precipitously yesterday as massive storms pushed a cold front through the island so although it’s a gorgeous sunny day it’s cooler and Leon has donned his winter best for today’s excursion.

Wearing a flannel cap with ear muffs resembling something Elmer Fudd might wear on his “wabbit hunting” expedition, Leon decides I pose no threat and seizes the opportunity at a captive audience for as long as I last. Continue reading “Twenty Miles From Somewhere”

Travel Writing

travel a lot. I don’t write experiences down enough but I experience them over and over as I see new places. One of the really cool aspects of travel for me is watching how the topography changes, or experiencing something unique that anchors the experience to that place. As the shrubs and the trees and the slopes of the earth change, the elements give you tokens with which to associate new memories.

For example, I cannot see a picture of a moose now without remembering the large moose we ran into (almost literally!) on our trail hike on Mt. Alyeska in Alaska. A brown bear to remind me of the one I saw in Whistler while riding a tram to the top of the mountain for a business conference reception. A whale breaking the plane of water in its feeding to remind me of the pod we saw off the coast of Hawaii as the sun was setting. A Sandhill crane reminding me of the group of four that landed in the front yard at our condo in Orlando, and one nearly came in the front door (to the utter delight of my niece and nephews).

A shooting star always takes me back to the night I spent lying in an open field at 14,000 feet in the Colorado Rockies when a meteor shower we hadn’t expected created a magnificent parade in the sky. I was 19, working on a dude ranch and thought there could be nothing greater in this world. At 38 I’m not convinced now that I was wrong about that.

It is the experience of a place that we carry with us – the little anchors that crawl into our hearts and take up residence, warming their respective corners. They lie and wait, popping up as our senses take in new experiences that funnel through our existing neural pathways and weave our past into our present, connecting our experiences before snuggling back into our heart spaces to await our next adventure.

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” 
~St. Augustine

Life Beyond Biltmore in Asheville, NC

Most people know the one place you have to visit in Asheville, NC is the Biltmore Estate. Indeed, with 8,000 beautiful acres, a luxurious inn, winery and a 250-room French château built by George Vanderbilt in 1895, Biltmore is a must see. But once you’ve seen Biltmore, is it worth returning to Asheville for another visit?

Here are just a few reasons why we believe the answer is a resounding: yes! Continue reading “Life Beyond Biltmore in Asheville, NC”

Exploring Historic Rugby, TN

A quaint town, rich with history

As I wrote a few weeks ago Ryan and I decided to make this our year of exploration. We’ve both lived in East Tennessee for at least 4 years, but have not taken advantage of the beautiful countryside that surrounds us. So I asked local blog and Twitter friends for some suggestions for places to visit that could be done in a day or weekend from Knoxville.

Our first of such trips took place last weekend while my mother-in-law, Gayle, was visiting from Alaska. After some research on the place, and a phone call to learn they were dog-friendly, we decided on Rugby, TN, about a 45 minute drive northwest of Knoxville.

Rugby is at the southern end of the Big South Fork Park, and is a tiny but historic town with a lot of pride. It’s so small we actually drove completely through it before we knew we had even arrived. We were hungry so we started our journey at the Harrow Road Cafe, the town’s restaurant. We sat at the lone outside patio table in the back with the dogs and feasted on southern goodness like biscuits and gravy, which was delectable.

We then backtracked to the Rugby Visitor Center & Theater, where we watched a 20  minute video of the history of Rugby (which could be titled: “The Rise and Fall of Rugby”). After the video our guide Carol led us on a tour of the 4 historic buildings. The most fascinating is the library, completed in 1882, which is the oldest functioning library in the U.S. It contains no books published later than 1898. Carol actually pulled out one book that was published in the late 1600’s. The library also contains one of only three complete and original sets of records of the “War of the Rebellion,” the name then given to the Civil War.

Getting outdoors

Next, the part we came for: hiking! Carol directed us down the road to the town cemetery, where the hike down to the Gentleman’s Swimming Hole starts. It’s a short hike down to the Clear Fork River, where the “gentleman” with us did go for a swim, as did the dogs. From there it’s 2 1/4 mile loop to hike back out.

That part of the hike is simply beautiful. There are giant rocks and boulders along the river that all seem to have lives of their own. They are covered with etchings and an almost unnatural wear that makes you feel like you are communing with more than just nature. Continuing on the path we reached the point where two rivers come together, and we paused to simply take in the beauty of our surroundings.

As we ascended the last leg of our hike from the riverside we paused for a moment, not 25 yards from the car. Oh how I wish we hadn’t done that. Before I go on, please know that we loved our trip to Rugby, and until the last few moments, it was a day of perfection.

It’s all fun and games until someone loses a pint of blood

Ah, but we did pause, which is when I heard Ryan blurt out some exclamation which I cannot now recall. I looked at him to see him looking at his feet and so I looked down as well to find that we were both suddenly covered… in ticks. I still shudder at the thought, even as I type this, a week removed.  My thick hiking socks were teeming with ticks. My best estimate is that I had 50 – 60 of them on me.  I never saw Ryan’s legs because my next thought was how in the world I’d get them all off the dogs.

Realizing we had to move, I yelled after the dogs and took off running towards the car. I paused long enough to swipe all that I could see off my shoes and socks, as Gayle caught up with us, trying to figure out what was going on. I guess they don’t have ticks in Alaska, because she immediately pulled out some alcohol wipes and offered them to us. Then she suggested we strip and, since I had to focus on the dogs, I complied, took one last cursory glance over my body to swipe off any more and then started working on Hayley.

Hayley is so thick with fur I knew that any ticks that made it above her legs would be very hard to find. So I started picking, pulling, grabbing, swiping, whatever it took to get them off of her. It was really a losing battle.  Quickly I realized that I had to pull a few, then drag her to a new location, because they were just crawling right back on us. So we started our battle: pull some ticks, move closer to the graveyard, pull some ticks, closer to the graveyard (it was only later I realized how ominous that was).

New hikers came up while we were in the middle of all this. I guess they didn’t find our lack of clothes odd because they pleasantly said: “how’s the hike??”  I remember hearing Gayle say: “Well, there are ticks to the right!” I never looked up. We spent at least 45 minutes de-ticking the dogs, ourselves, each other. Had we not been so focused on tick removal I would have been mortified.

We drove to the nearest gas station, where we picked up a pair of tweezers and kept picking. Ryan and Gayle both continued to pull ticks off themselves on the drive home. We spent the rest of the night picking ticks. We had a whole operation set up: Gayle and Ryan with headlamps combing through dog fur (I’m pretty sure only an Alaskan woman travels with a headlamp in her bag), each of us with tweezers, fast experts at tick-picking, and 3 bowls of alcohol for our new tick graveyards.

For the last week, we have continued to find and pull ticks off the girls. I have to think we are nearly finished. All of our clothing, shoes, backpacks, etc. went through the sanitize wash cycle and the dog bedding continues to do so. In all we estimate we removed over 500 ticks. I have never seen anything like it – a giant colony of ticks like that.

We keep having new experiences, some of which are too gross to share. A few days ago however, I was on my way out the door for an appointment when I noticed a tick on Hayley’s paw. I was bent right over the top with my tweezers and as I squeezed him that darned tick literally exploded, splattering blood across my face. Maybe that was too gross to share too.

We’ve since learned lots of natural preventions for ticks, like boiling Rosemary and Lavender, creating a spray and coating ourselves and the dogs in it. Those herbs are natural tick repellent. We won’t be venturing out on any more East TN adventures without it!

In summary, we thoroughly enjoyed Rugby, even if leaving it behind took a lot more time and effort than we had intended. In fact, Gayle already is making plans to head back up to the Big South Fork Park and do more exploring and perhaps an overnight trip. Apparently, you simply cannot scare Alaskan women, not even with several hundred Tennessee ticks!

Where’s Your Weekend Getaway?

As this longest winter shows its first signs of giving way to spring, we are once again considering fun places to explore on weekends. Since neither of us is from Knoxville, we still have a lot to learn about great places to visit, within a few hours drive. So I thought I’d turn to the experts to help us plan some new adventures for this year.

Are you a weekend explorer?  Where do you go when the first signs of spring have sprung? What’s your favorite place on a warm, sunny weekend in East Tennessee? Whether it’s a short day trip or a full weekend affair, please share with us here!

Sittin’ On The Dock Of The Bay

I worked from Daphne, AL last week, on the Eastern Shore of my hometown, Mobile, AL. One of the great things about working from a home office is the ability to call anywhere with an internet connection “home,” especially thanks to Skype. Last weekend my mother turned 60. She’s no typical 60 year old though, and for her birthday wanted to go deep sea fishing out in the Gulf of Mexico.

So I called her favorite charter – Captain Mike Theirry, who operates out of Dauphin Island, AL. The Thierry’s have been around a while. Mom’s mother used to go out fishing with the Thierry’s on their boat Lady Ann.

We were tired to start the day because the day before was the inaugural football game for the University of South Alabama Jaguars, complete with a huge tailgate at Ladd Peebles Stadium. My mother, older brother and I all received our undergraduate degrees from USA. I’m proud to announce the Jags won that game.

So the next morning we got up very early for a 50 mile drive over to Dauphin Island, where Mom’s best friends had already gathered and decorated the boat to surprise her. Mom didn’t know I had called her friends (two of them had driven down from Tuscaloosa) and that they would be with us that day. She was very surprised and very happy.

Unfortunately the weather didn’t quite cooperate with us. We caught some fish, mostly Trigger Fish and Ruby Lips, but when we got boxed in by storms we decided to call it a day early. The water spout you see in the photo is one I took from the boat that day, so you can see why we decided not to tough it out!

Monday was Labor Day, so all the friends and family in town came over for a fish fry, because that’s how everyone in the south eats stuff – deep fried. My little brother, William, has a giant fryer (in which he makes wonderful fried turkeys for holidays), so he took care of the fish (except for the ones dad grilled, since I don’t eat fried fish).

All I can say is by Monday night we were all thoroughly exhausted, but very happy. I was able to visit with my niece and nephew, now 6 and 8, during the week, which is always fun and interesting. This was a particularly tough week for them though, as they were in a car accident (everyone was fine) and then two days later the niece suffered a broken arm. The arm was broken because her brother (and I quote) “body-slammed me on the floor.” And still she let him be the first person to sign her cast. Kids are so forgiving.

On Thursday night a friend hooked me up with some free tickets to the Kenny Chesney and Miranda Lambert concert in Biloxi, so mom and I drove over. The tickets, while free, were not good seats. Moments before the concert began we ran into Steve Nodine, now county commissioner in Mobile. I hadn’t seen him in years so we chatted a bit and he immediately upgraded our seats to some of the best in the Colosseum. I think I love free stuff better than about anybody alive.

But better than that, there’s something about coming home: running into old friends, taking care and being taken care of, years of memories, familiarities (knowing the back roads), being known and understood and remembered, that just makes it special and irreplaceable. No matter where I’ve been, where I’ve lived, or where I’ll go, I know that nothing else will ever feel like that.

Familiarity Breeds… Comfort?

The yard hasn’t been mowed since August 6th, and it has apparently not stopped raining since then, at least since we returned on the 17th. We seem to be caught in a weather pattern suffering from schizophrenia – thunderstorm and rain for 30 minutes, sunshine out of nowhere for 30 minutes, rinse, repeat. So far this week I’ve heard at least 3 neighbors mowing their lawns IN the rain. I suppose that’s better than making the dogs trudge through grass so high it’s about to drop new seeds on the lawn.

Yesterday afternoon I heard thunder nearby and looked out the window to see the sun shining brightly as the raindrops steadily fell. Remembering the old adage “sun behind, rain in front” I walked outside to find the biggest double rainbow I’ve seen since living in Colorado.

I’ll never forget the one from Colorado – it was 16 years ago and it happened the day my closest friend’s father unexpectedly passed away. I still have pictures of that one, and I’ve never seen anything like it since.

It’s interesting though – we had great weather early in the Alaska trip, but then it turned gray for the last part. There wasn’t much rain, certainly not rain like we get in the south, but it was just gray. I guess they’ve had a very sunny summer but do get lots of days like that. I find I prefer sudden downpours with bouts of bright sunshine, to constant overcast but no rain.

Perhaps it’s just my comfort zone. Ryan was clearly right at home with the weather in Alaska, but I found I missed being able to count on the sun rising and setting in a familiar pattern overhead. The way the sun sort of circled around us left me disoriented to time of day, for the most part. This was fine of course, because I was on vacation and who cares what time it was!

I guess that’s why so many people stay put over time, regardless of weather conditions. You’ll put up with long, dreary winters or earthquakes or hurricanes or tornadoes because it’s familiar. They say familiarity breeds contempt, but I think it breeds comfort. Nothing feels quite like coming home after a long trip away, even to your most favorite vacation spot on earth, even if it’s vacillating between thunderstorms and a 95 degree sauna outside.

Alaska – The Last Frontier: Our Final Days

The final two days in Alaska were spent at Gayle’s cabin on Horseshoe Lake. I had some initial concerns at the prospect of using an outdoor, unheated shower, when highs were only expected to reach 60 or so, and no sunshine was forecast. Turns out that concern was misplaced – we just didn’t shower! Unlike being in the south however, we also did not sweat, so never got terribly icky. Still, Sunday afternoon’s return to indoor plumbing and hot showers at Gayle’s house in Anchorage was not unwelcome.

Saturday morning we awoke to breathtaking views of the sun peeking through the clouds and covering the mountains in the distance and across the lake. The large windows across the front of the cabin allowed us to literally wake up to this view. I just opened my eyes and there it all was.

The lake was as smooth as glass in the morning, so Ryan and I headed out in the kayaks for a tour of the lake. We were escorted on our paddle by loons, diving for breakfast, and cheered along by the sandhill cranes. As we inched through the lily pads, one of the small fish jumping around us almost landed on the front of my boat.

As we arrived back at the dock, we were greeted by Bill, who was busy fiddling on the boat or the float plane, or both – I’m not sure because he was moving so fast. The drive to Horseshoe Lake from Anchorage takes about 1:45, but Bill can just walk out the front of Lake Hood Inn, hop in his plane, and be at the front door of the cabin in about 15 minutes.

Gayle was already busy fussing over preparations for yet another festive gathering that evening. Though we all stopped for breakfast of poached eggs, bagels and oatmeal, before hopping in the boat to motor over to visit with Karen and Roger Pfeifer.

The Pfeifer’s also have a cabin on Horseshoe Lake, around the horseshoe from Gayle. Karen’s son Sloane Unwin was just married two weeks prior and they held the reception at the cabin. The Pfeifer’s cabin was creeping along in early stages of renovation/addition around March, when they learned of the plans to use the cabin for wedding reception. Because they had a 5 week trip to Africa already scheduled for May/June, they were quickly under the gun to finish MUCH earlier than planned.

By their account, it wouldn’t have been finished without Gayle and Bill pitching in to ensure electrical, insulation and sheetrock were all completed. Gayle and Bill even continued working after the Pfeifer’s had gone on vacation. Such is the way it is here. Family, friends, neighbors – people here just do.

In the week before we arrived, a very good friend of this group, Nancy, was hit by a car while biking to work. Throughout our stay we’ve heard regular updates on her pelvic, hip and back surgeries, from folks who go to the hospital daily to sit with her, and offer some time for her husband, Doug, to get out of the hospital a bit.

People here do not stop to question if they have time or can work something into their schedules, or even if they can afford it. When someone here needs help, others simply stop and help. I don’t know if it’s the remoteness of it all, drawing the community in closer, or if it is the general overriding sense of being one with nature, here in this state where you can hardly think of a thing to do that can’t be done within a couple hours drive, but it’s a beautiful sense of humanity that makes you feel like you’re home.

The Pfeifer’s also have a dog named Tarmac, a dog well trained to retrieve ducks during hunting season. As you can see, he’ll also dive in head first for a simple Frisbee! Tarmac and his brother Tundra joined us that evening for our dinner cookout, when the Pfeifer’s, as well as Sloan and his new bride Rebecca, came over.

Also joining us for the day was Cherie Anderson, Gayle’s sister. Cherie, like Gayle, is an interesting and intriguing lady. Cherie is well educated in essential oils, and was kind enough to bring a special concoction with my name on it. Thanks to the White Verbena, it has all my favorite anti’s: antibacterial, antiseptic, anti-anxiety, and much more!

In time for dinner we also had one more guest, Leo von Scheben. Leo was appointed by Palin as the Commissioner of Department of Transportation. Prior to that he was principle in USKH (Unwin, Scheben, Korynta, Huettl), where Gayle worked for 25 years. Leo has done surveying, industrial engineering, civil engineering, and has an MBA. Leo lives on Horseshoe Lake and has had a very interesting life. I wish I’d had more time to chat with him.

One more very interesting life is that of Roger Pfeifer, by whom I was very intrigued. Roger is married to Karen (Unwin) Pfeifer, whose husband Gordon Unwin was also a principle in USKH, but was lost in a helicopter accident 19 years ago. Roger tells it like it is, something I greatly appreciate, even if the story is less than flattering.

One story that IS flattering however, is Roger’s 1982 climb to the top of the 20,320 ft Mt. McKinley. I couldn’t get enough information from him about this, and he probably grew tired of my incessant questions (how many people, what did you eat, how long did it take you, did everyone make it, how bad was the weather, etc.). It took his team 38 days (34 up, 4 down), and they lost two team members on the way (they both lived, just didn’t make the peak). In spite of consuming 6,500 – 7,000 calories per day, Roger lost 35 pounds in those 38 days.

Roger is some kind of interesting. He made his way to Alaska from Ohio, via the Army, which sent him to Vietnam to fly helicopters. He fell in love with Alaska, like so many have, and never left. You can see the sparkle in Roger’s eye as he starts describing the vast array of activities available at his doorstep. He’s a hop, skip and a jump away from retirement after a couple decades with FedEx, and would love to offer vacation planning for folks traveling to Alaska who aren’t sure how to pack everything Alaska has to offer into their 14 day once-in-a-lifetime visit. He clearly wants everyone to experience the joy he has in this state.

We sat around the campfire until late into the night, drinking Alaskan ales and philosophizing about life and pondering the deeper meaning of it all, thanks to Bill who kept posing thought-provoking questions. I’m pretty sure we sketched out the path to world peace that night… if only we hadn’t accidentally dropped the map in the fire. Shoot, I guess we’ll have to do it again.

Sunday morning we repeated our breakfast from Saturday. Ryan went kayaking and fishing for trout. He said the fishing was great, the catching – not so much. Gayle and I sat on the end of the dock watching Bill and Ryan do touch-and-go’s in Bill’s plane on the lake. Finally it was time to pack up and head back to Anchorage, where we all headed straight to a hot shower, and Ryan and I began packing up for our return to the lower 48.

We left with far more than we brought, including a 42 pound box of Halibut. I left with more than can be measured by a scale – a new understanding and appreciation for The Last Frontier, a lot of sore but happy muscles, almost 1,000 pictures, and the love and joy of more new family members than I could have imagined.

My deepest thanks to all the Roth’s, Anderson’s, Pfeifer’s, and all the other family and friends I made in Alaska over the past 10 days. Thanks for the stories, the history, the experiences, for making sure Ryan and I had a wonderful time, but mostly for allowing me to become part of your wonderful family.

Alaska: Day 8 – Denali and Horseshoe Lake

Day 8 we woke up, packed up and headed north, my first time north of Anchorage. We drove to Talkeetna, Alaska, a quaint little town, which offers flightseers trips around Denali (Mt. McKinley). Some offer glacier landings, where you can fly up, get out and walk around the mountains.

For those who don’t know it Denali, meaning The Great One, is the native name for the mountain, and the official Alaskan name for it. In the lower 48 it is widely known as Mt. McKinley, the tallest mountain in North America, at just over 20K feet.

We went first to the Talkeetna Lodge, which I hear offers the best views of Denali, hands down. I can’t say for sure because when we were there, just like around 60 – 70% of the time, you couldn’t even see the base for clouds and fog. Denali is so tall, and it shoots up so dramatically, that it generates its own weather patterns.

So far this year 1,161 climbers have attempted to reach the summit. Of that number 682 have actually made it. While the forest service didn’t list the next number – Gayle said there have been a couple of fatalities as well.

The main climbing season begins in mid-May and goes through the end of July, with the best climbing recommended in June. Even then climbers encounter temps as cold as 40 below on the mountain. The world map on the wall of the forest service building had pins designating the areas from which climbers have come this season, including North and South America, Africa, Europe and Asia, with a larger number being from Europe.

The average climb takes between 17 and 21 days, so climbers need to take 4 weeks worth of provisions, not to mention all the gear needed for the varying terrain and sub-zero temps. With so much gear required, climbers often end up making “double carries,” where they carry part of their gear from one level to the next, then return and carry the rest. It sounds to me like they are climbing the mountain twice!

Because of the 20K+ foot altitude, climbers can generally climb no more than 1,000 ft per day, to allow their bodies to adjust to the decreasing oxygen levels. It really is an awesome thing just to imagine making a climb of that magnitude. It makes my marathon finish very humbling.

After a quick stop at the Denali Brewing Company, to ensure they were running an upstanding, quality business, we headed south again, turning off just north of Wasilla and heading over to Horseshoe Lake, to meet up with Gayle and Bill at the cabin.

While coming up through Wasilla we did drive by the Palin house, but for all my efforts, I could not see Russia. Bummer. Ok, maybe that’s not exactly what she said. So we arrived at the cabin in time for some of Gayle’s vegetable soup which, like everything she touches, was wonderful. The cabin is on a neat piece of lakefront property, that used to be a gravel pit. The gravel was used as the foundation for the nearby VOR navigational aid for aircraft.

Speaking of aircraft, it is as common a mode of personal transportation here in Alaska as motorcycles are in the south. As you can see below, here in Alaska they just park their planes right in their driveways!

Gayle has managed to grow a full lawn of grass and lots of flowers and plants on the land, in spite of the early soil limitations (note: I understand lots of horse manure was involved in that effort). The cabin, which she and Bill built themselves, is a 16 x 16 square building, with tons of windows and light, and has an airy feng shui feel about it.

She very graciously offered the cabin to me and Ryan, while they took “Lucy,” Bill’s 1957 Silver Avion, which looks very much like an Airstream. So we were able to retire to bed for the night, looking out across the lake at the last bit of light illuminating the mountains across the water, watching the wind softly blow the leaves in the surrounding birch trees and listening to the loons call to each other.