Here’s to a Scary Halloween AND Blogging Friends

First, let me note that the two aren’t related. Scary is not a synonym I would use to describe our blogging friends. Adventuresome, fun loving, good people and friends are the words I would choose. I have been both surprised— and grateful— for the friendships Peggy and I have developed online during my 12 years of blogging. Over the past two weeks we visited with three that I will feature today: Alison and Don Armstrong from British Columbia and Crystal Trulove from Oregon.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN

It is Halloween, however. It is only right that I recognize the day with ‘scary’ photos Peggy and I have taken over our past two months as we’ve wandered across North America.

Old West skeletons playing poker with their pistols close-by are scary. The guy down on the left end is already dead, heh-heh. His problems can’t match the woman in red, however, since they are all dead. She just lost her hand, always a bad sign in high-stake poker. Wait, it is on the arm of the guy sitting opposite. The folks at the Pine Near Campground in Winthrop, Washington had gone all out to decorate for Halloween. I asked the owner about the name. “Legend has it,” he told me, “the 4-year-old daughter of the first owner had urged her parents to call it pine near, which was how she pronounced pioneer.” Her parents honored her request.
Dinosaurs are scary, right? The Black Hills Institute in Hill City, South Dakota is packed to the brim with their bones. What could be more scary than T-Rex shown above?
T-Rex chomping down on your head.
Anything closely associated with the Devil’s name is Halloween–scary. This is Devil’s Tower in Wyoming looking ominous.
The movie, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, suggests that Aliens think of Devil’s Tower as a great place to abduct humans. All Aboard! You don’t want to ask this guy any probing questions about it, however. Indigenous tribes in the region think of the tower as Bear Lodge. Nothing scary about that…
Right. Try meeting up with this one as he is coming out of his ‘lodge’ in spring after several months of hibernation—hungry and grumpy.
In Yellowstone we came across mud pots with gas bubbling up creating a brew that looked and smelled like something witches would whip up . “‘Double double toil and trouble/Fire burn and cauldron bubble” Shakespeare’s three witches would have been proud of this concoction.
Not to burst your bubble…
I found the two blind eyes that popped up scarier.
They looked like escapees.
It’s hard to think of Big Foot as particularly scary. Even the King Kong sized version. But have you ever stopped to consider…
How big Big Foot’s foot is? You would not want to be stepped on! That would be both scary and messy.
I’ve never thought of wild burros as being bad, much less scary, but I’d never met these guys. Here they were in South Dakota’s Custer State Park blocking the traffic, demanding booty. Sure, buffalo blocked traffic as well. But they were merely crossing the road, exercising their prerogative to get from one side to the other. Slowly. The donkeys were bandits. Pure and simple.
“This is a hold up! Hand over your carrots.” Put into Halloween language, it’s Trick or Treat. Face it, two burros stuffing their head into your car window is scary. Say your dare to roll up your window. Say you refuse to feed the determined demanding donkeys. You get the trick. Out come their big tongues and they slime your windows.

Happy Halloween from Peggy and me.

BLOGGING FRIENDS

No tricks here, it was all treats as we met up with blogging friend last week…

“Alison and Don have arrived!” Peggy said with a laugh. She was facing the door of the Washington Avenue Grill in White Rock, British Columbia. I stood up just in time for Alison to come barreling into me and give me a big hug, followed shortly afterwards by Don. It was a warm greeting between old friends— who we had never met in person. We are blogging friends. I’m not sure when we started following each other. My guess is around ten years ago. Alison and Don had sold all of their worldly possessions in their 60s, established their blog, Adventures in Wonderland — a pilgrimage of the heart. and took off to explore the world. I’ve been along with them for most of their journeys including visits to India, Australia, South America, Europe, and Asia. Their’s has been an inward as well as an outward journey. As they say in About Us, “We are interested in how the world works, how life works, how the creation of experience works, how the mind works… Opening the heart, and acceptance of what is, as it is, are keystones for us both.” They certainly opened their hearts to us. We talked for three hours, nonstop, learning more about each other and laughing a lot. If you aren’t familiar with their blog, enjoy great photography, and love learning about and participating in other cultures, I would highly recommend that you hop over and visit Alison and Don as they explore wonderland.
“We think you have the longest arms,” we told Crystal and gave her the selfie responsibilities. Unlike Don and Alison, we had met her before. Twice. The first time, she had commented on my blog that she was coming down to the Shakespeare Festival in Ashland and would like to have lunch with us. We insisted that she stay over at our house. I was already a fan of her blog, Conscious Engagement. Peggy enjoyed our visit with Crystal so much she made her a quilt that featured Dragons and now lives on Crystal’s bed. (Crystal loves dragons.) The second time, she had brought her new, special friend, Pedro, down to explore Southern Oregon. And, I am pleased to say, meet us. Our visit with Crystal at her home in Oregon was a bit last-minute, since I wasn’t sure when we would be where, which is kind of how we travel. We were ever so lucky that Crystal not only agreed that we had to get together but that we had to stay at her house! She has a beautiful country home filled with momentos of her travels and of her passion for the Cherokee Nation, of which she is a proud member. (She even took Bone with her to visit the Cherokees in Oklahoma.) After a wonderful dinner that featured salsa that Pedro had taught her to make and a lasagna that was scrumptious, we sat around her wood-burning stove and swapped tales while Racecar, her 17-year-old cat, decided that we had mainly come by to hold her in our laps and scratch her in the places she loves to be scratched. You will find tales of travel and adventure that are well documented with excellent photography on Crystal’s blog, but she also features her wonderful sense of humor and her commitment to making the world a better place to live, a bit challenging in this day and age. Visit her and become a part of her interesting and thoughtful world.

OTHER FRIENDS

The Northwest is a great place to live. Not surprisingly, we visited with other friends over the past couple of weeks (and still are) who live in Washington and Oregon. So far this has included:

Our niece, Christina, and her two beautiful dogs, Zoe, the princess on the left, and Bella, the empress dowager, on the right. Christina, in addition to being a relative, is a good friend, so good that she zipped down from her home in Tumwater, Washington to help us pack when we were moving from Oregon to Virginia.

Bella, by the way, is a serious watchdog. She lies on top of Christina’s couch, parts the curtains with her nose, and on occasion barks loudly at someone who dares to walk by her domain.

Zoe is more than willing to join in, or even lead in barking, but she is more interested in having her ball thrown. This is her, “Get with it; throw my ball,” look.

We also met another Bella, this one in Bellingham, Washington, when we were visiting with our friends David and Celia. They had invited over for a wonderful seafood dinner featuring salmon, ling cod and crabs they had caught. Dave went with us on our 18-day private Grand Canyon tour 12 years ago. He took us as passengers on his raft several times and let us play at paddling (but not in serious rapids). We forgot to get a photo of Dave and Celia but he sent us this picture of Bella. I’m going with the yellow thingy being her Halloween costume, that or a teething ring. She nibbled on us quite liberally.
And finally, we also spent a pleasant day with Michelle, Brian, and their dog Atli. (Atlisis the name of a First Nation tribe.) Michelle and Peggy were principals together in the Dry Creek School District near Sacramento. Michelle also hired our daughter, Tasha, to teach at her school. After Dry Creek, Michelle went on to get her Phd and serve as a superintendent of schools. Brian is a writer and an avid bicyclist, still doing centuries (100 miles in a day) in his 70s.
And with that, Peggy and I will bid you farewell on this scary day. It’s been fun visiting with you!