Autumn Leaves

  

We have returned to our little ranch.  One of the things we love most about this place is watching the scenery change with the seasons.

 

A carpet of leaves.  

 

Some are brown, some orange, and bright red, these are a golden yellow. 

 This is part of the new trail on the 20 acres we cleared a few weeks ago with our neighbors. 

The driveway is covered.

You can see the color on the side of the mountain just east of us.

There are leaves fallen and falling everywhere you look. 

Maple leaves against a cloudy sky.

Down Memory Lane

Since Rick and I are still here tending to business which is neither exciting nor photogenic, I thought we would take a look back at the beginning of our journey together many years ago. 

Once upon a time in the fall of 1979. . . 

A young couple were married.  Three weeks later, the young husband went off to the Air Force.  His basic training was at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. 

At the completion of his six weeks of basic training, his even younger bride joined him in San Antonio.  She was given the standard warm military welcome.  She was told “If the Air Force had wanted him to have a wife, they would have issued him one. There is no place for you here, you should go home.”  She was not the sort to give up easily, so she got out her map (this was way before the days of cell phones, GPS and OnStar) found Wichita Falls, Texas and drove there alone.  She also found Sheppard Air Force Base where her husband had been assigned for his technical training. 

Once there, after being interviewed by the First Sergeant and showing him their marriage certificate, the bride was allowed to stay and the young couple lived together off base during technical school.  Their first home together was a lovely one bedroom efficiency which was a recently converted run-down motel.  They considered themselves very fortunate to find it however, as a tornado had blown through about six months before and wiped out large sections of the town and housing of any kind was hard to come by. 

Living in a state where the only people they knew were each other was a very good way for the young couple to begin their married life.  They learned to work together and rely on each other.  It was a new adventure for both of them and they learned many things.  

They learned that winter in the Texas panhandle is a LOT colder than winter in southern California.  They learned that icicles eighteen inches long can form outside your window.  On his way to the base one morning at 5:30 am, the young man learned about driving on black ice.  It is as dangerous as he had heard; he remembered this after he did a 360 in the middle of a bridge. Luckily, he and the car were not hurt and he continued on his way to the base.  

The young couple had hardly any money but this did not bother them.  They were able to celebrate their three month wedding anniversary by going out to dinner at a Mexican restaurant and ordering one entree which they split because they only had $10.  Life was good!

The young man did very well in tech school, graduated and was ready to be a crew chief on fighter jets.  He loved the speed and power of the fighters and was hoping to be assigned to crew a T-38 or F-15 or maybe an F-16.  The Air Force had other ideas.  He was assigned to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona.  DM as it is called was the home of the 355th Tactical Fighter Training Wing and pilots were being trained there on the newest fighter in the Air Force inventory.  

The A-10 Thunderbolt II, affectionately known as the Warthog. 

Sleek and fast it is not.

The young man was one of the very first crew chiefs trained on the A-10 as it was a brand new aircraft. 

 

He learned to love the ungainly looking but very reliable, and very deadly bird.

He enjoyed working on the flight line and being up close and personal with the aircraft.  

   

Being in charge of a multi-million dollar aircraft is a lot of responsibility for any young person. 

Our young man did very well, being promoted and assigned as the personal crew chief of the commanding general of the base.      

He won an award for outstanding performance and his reward was a flight in a T-38.

Our bride meanwhile spent much of her time at The Arizona Inn, a lovely historic resort hotel in Tucson; perennially listed in the top hotels in the nation. 

She was the manager of the catering department, and organized many weddings, receptions, luncheons, dinners and a couple of balls. 

She sometimes worked with the rich and famous of the day who made their way to the Inn. 

Though she worked many nights and weekends on various events, it was a fun job and a lovely place to work and she learned a lot about scheduling, details and organization.

While in Tucson in 1981 the young couple purchased their first home. 

Ironically, a mobile home which is almost identical to the one at the ranch today!  It was set up on base, in a very scenic location overlooking the abandoned runway. 

 

There was a water shortage in Tucson at the time, and they were only allowed to water their lawn (what there was of it) one day per week.  One evening as they were sitting down to dinner, they looked out the window as a freak windstorm blew through and completely demolished the house next door. 

The mobile home was literally turned upside down in seconds.  Luckily the woman and her little boy inside escaped unhurt. 

The young couple and their home was spared except for a couple of pieces of skirting blown off. 

 

About this time, the young couple witnessed a devastating motorcycle accident where the rider was killed in front of them.  Again, they were spared, but the young man decided to sell his motorcycle and get something a little safer. 

A jeep was still fun and much easier for the couple to enjoy together.  While they never learned to love the arid desert landscape, they and their friends had a lot of fun exploring the area. 

Desert scenery with saguaro cactus.

At the end of his four year enlistment, the young man was offered a promotion and a guaranteed base of his choice as an incentive to re-enlist.  He loved working on the flight line and with the aircraft, but he was not so thrilled with the idea of the military controlling his life.

So he turned down the offer and was honorably discharged from the Air Force.   His wife resigned her position at the Arizona Inn and they went home to California to start the rest of their life. 

And they have lived happily ever after. 

 

P.S.  In case you were wondering, the young man’s airplane, brand new from the factory in 1979, is still flying at last report and deployed to Bagram, Afghanistan. 

Some other young man – or woman – is now the crew chief of tail number 0139.  If you are a praying person, please say a prayer for those who are in harm’s way protecting our freedom. 

 

Leaving on a Jetplane

Rick and I have returned to California to take care of some business for a couple of weeks. 

We fly from Seattle to LAX (Los Angeles International) then catch a short little hop to Bakersfield.   

You know you’re back in southern California when you see the Dodger’s stuff in the airport.

LAX is a busy, busy place.  How all those airplanes end up in the right place is always amazing to me.

 

 

A Sunday Drive

Rick and I took a drive up our road Sunday after church.  It was a beautiful day, clear and sunny.  

About six miles up the road from our house is the border of the National Forest.

 

The Cascade Mountains, with glaciers in the distance.  There are over 350 glaciers in this area, some feed the Cascade River which runs along part of our property. 

The Cascade River viewed from above.

This forest service road turns to dirt after about ten miles.

The river is a beautiful green.  I don’t know why rivers that flow down from glaciers are this color green, but we saw some in Alaska that were the same.  Maybe the minerals in the water?

The water is very clear – you can see the fish swimming around from the bridge.

You can also see this group of dead salmon that are spawned out.  It is hard to believe they have made it this far up the river from the ocean; it is at least 70 miles.  I tried to talk Rick into wading into the ice cold water to retrieve them, folks around here use them for garden fertilizer.  He thought buying fertilizer was a better idea.

There are some beautiful waterfalls flowing down into the river.

 

   It still surprises us to see water just coming down the mountainside.  We are not used to that much water! 

The waterfalls are some of my favorite things to find.  It is at least ten degrees cooler standing close to them and feeling the mist on your skin. 

 

Water is not the only thing that slides down the hills.  This huge log is about six inches away from the road. 

It was a beautiful day and drive, and we made it home in time for my Sunday afternoon nap.  I consider my Sunday nap pretty much sacred.  I have heard a vicious rumor that if I miss it I am cranky and grouchy, but I don’t listen to gossip 😉   

Frost on the Pumpkin

There is a chilly little nip in the air these days.  

The low temperature last night was a frosty 27 degrees.   

  Here is our pumpkin yesterday. 

And here it is today.  The frost really zapped the leaves.  The pumpkin is fine and we are looking forward to some delicious homemade pumpkin bread. 

Our poor zucchini plants didn’t appreciate the frost at all.  Luckily we had already picked the last of the summer squash.

The cool air had some moisture and there is a bit of snow on the mountains above us.  The snow level was 2500 feet. 

The chilly air makes our first fire of the season feel very nice!  We are glad we’ve got our firewood split and stacked high.

The leaves continue to show their fall colors, it is really beautiful to see.

The leaves of the “big leaf” Maples are huge. 

The leaves are covering our drive, which is a look I love.  Fall is one of my favorite times of the year, and is especially beautiful here. 

Everyone here is getting ready for winter – even the squirrels.  This one is cleaning up some of the birdseed the blue jays have scattered everywhere. 

He seems a little startled to realize I was taking his picture.  I guess this is a “squirrel in the headlights” look?

Happy Birthday Megan!

It is hard for us to believe, but our little girl has grown up to be a 20 year old young woman.  

   

                        Two babies, Megan and her cousin Abby.

We may be a little biased, but we think she is one terrific kid and we are very proud of her. 

                 At the ranch in the snow last Christmas.

 

                              With her Dad and brother. 

She is in her Sophomore year of college in Aggieland.  We are looking forward to a visit with her next month. 

In case you were wondering, also born on October 10th are both Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Brett Favre – must have been a good day for athletes.  And on this date in history:  October 10, 1845 the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis opened;  October 10, 1913 the Panama Canal was completed.  

Happy Birthday Megan! 

Chipmunks

While I am not a fan of some of the critters around here, I do like the chipmunks.  They are really cute scurrying around and chittering if you get too close.  I don’t really know what good chipmunks are or what they contribute, maybe nothing, but I like watching them. 

  

They do eat all the birdseed the jays scatter everywhere so that is a positive thing.  They store the seeds in their cheek pouches and scurry off to add it to their horde for winter.

When we first started seeing them we only saw one, so we named him Alvin.  We assumed he was a he – I’m quite sure we would never get close enough to tell otherwise.  Then we saw a couple more and named them Simon and Theodore.  A couple more appeared, Chip and Dale.  Luckily we’ve never seen more than five at one time – we don’t know any other Chipmunk names.

They pop up in the strangest places.

They seem like such fun little creatures.  Always scurrying around in a hurry like they have something very important to accomplish.

Quite entertaining these little rodents.