|Our home on the Rock (photo thanks to Jim Maya)|
We’ve been on the road 46 weeks, traveled 22,000 miles, visited 37 states and 3 provinces, and now we know for sure that we live in the most spectacular, hopeful, and climatically welcoming place in North America. The Pacific Northwest seems to be the most comforting place on the continent, with its gracious weather, conscientiously raised food, natural stewardship ethic and opportunities for all sorts of people. We are grateful that we live in a place where we do not have to go to great expense and care to cool, heat, or dehumidify our living space. We have huge respect for the resiliency of humans who are tied by poverty or tradition to lands which experience ice and snow as in Cape Breton, humidity as in the Southeast, dust as in Eastern Washington, or hurricanes or tornadoes. We appreciate our great good fortune to have seen so many places and returned home safe and sound. Our little cabin on the southwest side of San Juan Island was lovingly stewarded by friends in our absence, and aside from shaking a few resident spiders from the corners, we had little to do in the way of making it operational. Two batches of baby barn swallows (who fledged the day after we arrived) and the deer and the fox born since we were away, all seem nonplussed about our presence.
|Cousins Patty, Denise, Renee, Addy, Janna, |
Burt and Melvin say goodbye to Aunt Mary
We did have a few great experiences since our last post, lovely times involving friends and family. Most touching was a gathering at the home of Janna’s cousin Burt and his wife Joan. Janna’s sister Addy (and brother-in-law Al) were there, and other cousins joined us as well to inter the ashes of Aunt Mary on the land where she was born: her parents' homestead in the foothills near the Beartooth Mountains in Montana. Mary was a spitfire and a loyal friend to many, and this gathering of friends and relatives made us all remember the importance of leaving a life well lived. We were invited to present some music so we sang Homeward Bound, a song about leaving the farm and returning again, and a remarkably poignant statement about Mary’s life.
From there we took a leisurely course to Missoula where we over-nighted with Liz’s lifelong buddy David and his wife Shan. Besides being long-time friends they were our gracious hosts in Cetona, Italy a couple of years ago, so we had lots of catching up to do regarding families, friends and recent experiences.
|Sign at Sandpoint Farmers Market|
Then we spent a couple of nights getting to know the town of Sandpoint, Idaho with some new friends: Amy and Glen, who we met last summer over the matter of the Illg Beach solar panel. Their small Idaho business produces the frames that support solar panel arrays and we were able to negotiate an exchange of a few nights stay on San Juan Island for personal delivery of our heavy new solar mount. We found we have much in common: similar politics, music, and time spent in Alaska, so we had a good time singing and being shown the Sandpoint they love, including the Saturday Farmers Market and the best places to swim in Lake Pend Oreille.
We knew we were almost home when we finally crossed into Pacific Daylight Time and were greeted at the Washington border by our Vashon family, Angela, Lisa, Olivia and Xan who were returning from their annual visit to Grandpa Will’s place in Canada. We got to bring the kids home in Lilypad while the parents stuffed their car full of cases of organic fruit destined to be the canned goods we’ll all enjoy over the winter. We took our time getting back, stopping to swim near Spokane, camp overnight at Lake Easton and enjoy the wonder of Snoqualmie Falls. Then we were warmly welcomed by our extended family on Vashon Island where we got to see all the home improvements that have happened in the year we’ve been away. We also were delighted to enjoy the final games and awards banquet of Lisa and Angela’s slow-pitch team, the Hasbians (motto: “You should have seen us back when”). It reminded us of the community and family we have missed in our travels and made a future base of operations on Vashon Island an even more appealing idea.
Although we had always planned to return to San Juan Island in late summer (Liz got back in time to volunteer for a shift at the County Fair) there are a few states missed that we want to visit before we actually settle down again. We have places to go and friends to see in southern Idaho, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Texas, Louisiana, Oregon and California so we plan to keep Lilypad for another year and fit in those travels over the fall and winter. Our great adventure is not over. We appreciate all of you who have followed our blog and sent us comments and ideas for visits. Please stay tuned while we have a vacation from our vacation at Illg Beach. We’ll be back in Lilypad again early in October.