Sunday, July 14, 2013

July's Joys

Happy Bastille Day to those of you with ties to France! July has brought abundant joys: sunshine, a bit of travel, celebrations and the beauty of nature, not to mention the annual pleasure of the Tour de France. Ah, la belle France!

Poulsbo celebrates the 3rd of July, rather than the 4th. I am not sure why they do this; I asked Gregg, and he thinks it began with one of the nearby Navy base's tradition. In any case,
we went to a friend's house for the 3rd of July fireworks, which are set off over Liberty Bay; it was small-town spectacular. Sitting on lawn chairs, bundled up in the cool night air, watching colors exploding and sparkling as they fell from the sky, we enjoyed the company of neighbors and friends.

On the 4th of July, David went to work (it's a busy day on the boats), and Gregg and I set out on the first leg of a two-day journey to Montana. We spent the evening of the 4th walking in the warm twilight, as crowds gathered on the banks of the river in celebration and anticipation of the fireworks. We found a hopping bistro for a late supper, returning to our hotel for a good night's sleep. Up early the next morning, we took another walk, stopped at a great coffee shop (Brews Brothers - don't you love the name?) and headed further east on I-90. We were on our way to Big Sky, a ski resort that was developed in part by my parents' friend, Gustav Raaum. If you like adventure stories, click the link on his name and read the article; Gus is a man to admire.

I have heard about Big Sky for years, but have never been there. When I was growing up, my father often traveled to Montana on business, but I haven't been through the state since my college days - and neither has Gregg. When we were invited to attend a wedding and weekend of festivities in Big Sky, we said "yes" and planned a road trip.
Montana is incredibly beautiful, whether or not you are a skier. We took a hike around this lake the morning after we arrived.
Gregg has known the father of the bride since he was in the 5th grade; he has known the bride all of her life, and I've known her since she was a little girl. She and her brother grew up in our small town. We used to go camping in a group each summer with their parents, before everyone had kids and our activities diverged. It was a wonderful opportunity for a reunion.

The day before the wedding there was a bridal shower. In preparation for this event, the bride's cousin organized a cookbook project, asking each guest for contributions of recipes and photographs that would have meaning for the bride. She had them bound into a book; the finished product is a priceless keepsake and practical gift - a great idea!

The wedding was beautiful. The chapel faced the mountain (the heart of a wilderness area where the bride and groom met and fell in love) through large picture windows. Pastor is also a ski instructor, and his words about marriage reflected the deep values of that union, as well as an understanding of this particular couple's love of skiing and the outdoors.
Groom & bride about to drive from chapel to reception
The reception was a blast. Instead of a signing a guestbook, we signed a pair of skis, using permanent markers. We danced, visited with friends, and smiled and laughed until my face hurt. The love between the bride and groom was palpable and contagious - it made everyone happy.

The day after the wedding, we gathered for a barbecue at the bride's parents' suite in the lodge. The weather changed dramatically each day in Big Sky; we had thunderstorms, hail, rain, wind and clear blue skies. The light that particular evening was fantastic.
This is the view from the condominium which we shared with friends. It truly is a big sky in Montana.
Those big buildings are private homes!
We are so thankful to have been invited and able to make this trip. We had a blast!
On the way back from Montana, we stopped with friends at Gem Mountain to pan for raw sapphires. You buy a bucket of mud and rocks, and with them, the chance to find something pretty (or valuable) in the midst. The sapphires are like little agates - most of them are not blue unless you have them heat-treated. We didn't find any large enough to treat or have faceted, but it was fun to look for them...a bit like looking for beach glass - but dirtier, with less walking.
Panning for sapphires is a dirty job, but someone has to do it
We arrived home on Tuesday night. This was the view from the ferry as we crossed Puget Sound on the last leg of the trip.
At the end of the week, our friends who own Grounds for Change Coffee celebrated their company's 10th anniversary with a big party (400 people attended). I volunteered to help with registration, and stayed to join the festivities. They provided coffee, dessert, children's activities and live music. Pizza, sandwiches, beer, wine and soda were available for purchase. The event raised over $6,000 for Kitsap Community Resources, a local charitable organization.
Gregg took this photo of David and me at the GFC party
Yesterday, Gregg and I took a long walk on a beach north of here. We started by the lighthouse at Point No Point (yes, that really is the name) and walked for three hours. It was heavenly - like another birthday, to me. The beach wasn't crowded, once we passed the lighthouse, and the water was warm, which is unusual for Puget Sound.
This huge rock looks a bit like a potato, doesn't it? You can just faintly see Mt. Rainier above it.
This is the view looking back in the direction from which we came. The beach was so pristine that we were able to go barefoot for much of the walk. Walking in the water was like carrying weights - a great workout, refreshing, and it brought back happy memories of wading in the Sound as a child. A perfect day.
The lighthouse is just around the point (Point No Point)
Turn in the other direction and you can see Mt. Rainier in the distance.
I hope that you are finding joy in July, too!


Karen said...

Stunning beauty. What a heartwarming and inspiring trip. I love the way you walk the beach for hours. I would love to do that too.

Busy Bee Suz said...

I'm LOVING your July. (Mine is good too, but different from yours) The wedding and being in big sky sounds just magical...what an experience for you both; I'm so happy you were able to attend.
I wish I had someone to walk on the beach with me!

Joseph said...

So did you find any sapphires???