What’s to See on the Road to Innisfail?

We’re finding it no longer as easy as it used to be to take long road trips, but it’s worth the effort when one shares the fun and the driving with good friends.

Bill and Barbara are not only good friends, they are cousins and our trip to Innisfail, Alberta, this summer was not the first we’ve shared with them. Bill’s sister Vicki and her family are also good friends and the 800-mile drive north to their home in Alberta, Canada, can be counted on to deliver lots of good times.

Here are a few photos from the driving part of the trip. We took the North Cascades route, past the Oso slide to Darrington and then over the mountains to Twisp so we could see for ourselves some of the damage left by this summer’s wildfires. From there we drove through the beautiful Canadian Rockies to Calgary and north over Alberta’s rich farmland to Innisfail, a small town with much besides its charming name to recommend it.

I’ll share some of our experiences in the next posts. Meanwhile, hope you enjoy the pictures!

At the Washington Pass overlook on the North Cross Cascades Highway

Barbara and Hank on the overlook trail

Weather beaten snags look down on the road we’ll soon be driving

Stopping for construction where fire, then flooding damaged the road over Loup Loup Pass

Following the pilot car past a washout and mud slides

A roadside picnic in southern Alberta

Passing scenery on the prairie near Innisfail

Heading home with the first snow of the season on the Rockies

Lunch with a view at Cranbrook, B.C.

A rest stop with a view along Route 93
The Columbia River has its source in Columbia Lake, behind us. It flows north, then south, west, south and west again until it reaches the Pacific Ocean.
There are cops and speed limits even on the wide-open roads of north-central Washington, While our driver explained our transgression, I snapped these combines harvesting wheat.

Whirlwinds  (dust devils) move dirt from one place to another.

A friendly horse outside of Waterville

The textures of harvest time

Shadows of evening coming off the Columbia Plateau near Wenatchee

Full moon over Leavenworth

Created for Light

A friend reminded me of something today I needed to hear. We’ve reached the stage of life where more and more of the important people in our lives are going ahead of us into eternity. Many who are younger than we face serious health problems. It’s harder than it used to be to maintain an optimistic attitude. Grief seems to lurk behind every silver lining. But my friend said: We are created for light and joy, not for darkness.

We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t grieve, but gratitude for what we still have and for what lies ahead does a lot to dispel the cloud of pessimism the enemy would use to shut out our joy.

Hank’s mother found these words in a Dear Abby column years ago. The author wrote the lyrics for his wife of 60 years. The paper is yellowed and brittle, but his thoughts are ageless.

        When autumn days remind us that the summertime is gone
        And the shadows show the sun is on the wane,
        It seems so easy to forget that life continues on
        As we revel in our strolls down mem’ry lane.
        But then I stop to reason that living knows no season,
        And realize our numbered days are few.
        That’s why I don’t recall if summer skies were gray or blue
        But live each lovely autumn day with you.

                    Francis Stroup, Dekalb, Illinois
                    ©Universal Press Syndicate   

Pickled Beets and Our Funny Garden

Our untidy garden is just right for two people.

Should I make pickled beets this afternoon, or should I write about the beets and other edibles our pocket-sized piece of ground produced this year?  My blogging has been as haphazard as my gardening this summer. But our funny garden has been at the top of my long list of possible blogs for weeks, so maybe I’ll write and then pickle.

Potatoes that grew in the rhubarb patch.
Hank planting ever bearing strawberries last spring

Our garden is not one of those orderly works of art I admire in other peoples’ yards, with neat green rows of veggies laid out in geometric perfection. Beets, carrots, herbs, and squash are more-or-less confined to the big wooden box Hank made so I could plant and weed standing up. For most of the summer, peas climbed chicken wire trellises crowded between the apple tree and the blueberry bushes. Raspberries ran wild along the back yard fence and the rear of the garage. Wherever we found an unplanted square foot of ground, we tucked in a potato or two. As the zucchini finished its season the winter squash we’d planted along the side fence scrambled into the garden box to take over the zucchini’s space. And cosmos and nasturtiums seeded themselves to add color in unexpected places.

Swiss chard that survived the winter in a sheltered spot by the house came back this spring. If the bugs didn’t like it so well, we’d have had a fine crop to eat ourselves.

We had pots of tomatoes on the back porch, strawberries along the driveway, and flowers everywhere.

The wild shrubs in the front yard which we planted as tiny starts in 2009 have become near-trees. I feel like we no longer manage our growing things. They’ve taken control and dictate how we spend our time, or at least, how we should spend our time.

Wild roses bloom in the front yard

Our wild garden just getting started
Son Rob, our landscaper, with the results of his handiwork, 2011

My favorite “shrub”, an American cranberrybush

Our wild garden this summer

I know we should ruthlessly tear much of our funny garden up by the roots and return it to beauty bark and grass that needs no more than a weekly mowing. But come next spring, we’ll look at that empty garden box, the flower beds, then at the seed packets and juvenile plants in the garden store, and once again we’ll go overboard.

By the way, I decided to blog and pickle. Here are the results.