Leavenworth Washington… A trip to remember.

it really is about the journey

Through-out the course of a lifetime we experience different memories that add to our story. This last weekend Nancy and our friends Marty and Lisa were blessed to go on a very memorable excursion.

Expectations are not always met when planning any trip. Despite the best laid plans of mice and men we sometimes set the bar too high. That is when we are met with a journey that is not what we thought it would be. That was not the case when traveling to Leavenworth Washington.

We picked up Marty and Lisa at the airport in Spokane Washington and then continued on the path to our destination. We never told Marty and Lisa where we were going hoping the surprise would be epic… and it was.

The hotel we stayed at was the Icicle Villiage Resort. The suites were very nice with fireplaces and balconies that faced the Cascade mountains. Bathrooms included jetted jacuzzi tubs and of course the rooms had king size beds. Breakfast was included as was miniature golf, a heated pool, and other amenities you’d expect in a luxury hotel.

The night we arrived we had dinner at the hotel restaurant. I’d been driving for a few hours and welcomed the ease of traveling downstairs to the meal. The meal was average (probably should have gone into town), not bad, just nothing spectacular.

The next day everything aligned with the stars as we were again on a secret mission to surprise our friends. We first had a reservation at the Leavenworth Reindeer Farm.

This Reindeer Farm experience was an unparalleled interactive bucket list adventure that included education, fun facts, and a delightful feeding of the reindeer. The gentle giants would come up to us in anticipation of their feeding. All guests would hold willow branches over their heads while traversing around the pen. In addition to the willow branches which the reindeer would suck into their mouths we were given a small feed cup that the reindeer devoured in seconds.

There were chickens to feed, pigs to view, huge turkeys parading around and of course the beautiful gentle giant reindeer. I have never felt more connected to nature than that day at the Reindeer Farm. This is a must see as it is the only Reindeer Farm in the United States that allows you to feed the animals inside the pen they live in.

Next up we went to the Leavenworth Adventure Park, the first Alpine Coaster in Washington State. We had our own individual coasters with covered windshields to protect us from the rain. The ride reached speeds of 27 miles per hour as we zipped through the beautiful mountain landscape as exhilerating as it was fun. To feel like a kid again is certainly worth the price of admission.

Then we went to the bavarian village downtown where there were retail shops an art show, and restaurants. We had lunch and then went back to the hotel… because it was nap time for Bonzo. Well, the next part of the trip was also completly unexpected as I had booked this restaurant in March.

Not knowing exactly what to expect, as most restaurants have creative menus but can’t execute the dishes. The restaurant I chose was called Larch Handcrafted Pasta and Cocktails. This restaurant was in a league of its own.

The chef, Ben Herreid is a culinary artist that deserves James Beard consideration. The hostess/manager was delightful (always a good way to start.) We were ushered into the bar/dining room and proceeded to be blown away by the food and surprised by the excellent service.

We had the following dishes:


Arincini which were croquettes of saffron coriander risotto filled with gruyere cheese with a Sicilian sauce of pomodoro, capers, pinenuts and olives.

Roasted Local Mushrooms with a wildflower honey, thyme cream, and aged balsamic sauce.

Roasted Cauliflower with an aged balsamic and bleu cheese aioli.

Entrees included 1. Campanelle with a boscaiola sauce, smoked ham, wild mushrooms, crispy shallots and pecorino romano. 2. Mushroom Ravioli which was a ragu filled ravioli with a marsala cream, sauteed mushrooms in a balsamic reduction. 3. Squid ink Tagliatelle with manila clams, white wine citrus and herb brodo. 4. Home made pasta with fresh vegetables, sun dried tomatoes, and pecorino romano cheese.

We finished with desert which consisted of a Tiramisu and an Affogata…delicious!

Truly a memorable journey into the Cascade Mountains to a town so many have told me about. Now I know why!


The Silence between the Notes


a place that lives in your heart

The pause before the most important events in our lives reflect the purest sense of living in the present. The silence begins with a beautiful sigh that comes from deep within. It is almost primal in its source but so melodic that it appears like a Johnny Hartman siren song.

The silence between the notes gives more credence to its content.  Accentuating the tonality of the verse while espousing the significance of its craft underscores the virtuosity of the author or composer. Within this context we can imagine places, times, events, and people that have shaped our lives and helped create our destiny.

Every composer uses this silence between a thought as a slight pause represented by the counting of beats in a measure with no notes.  The  comma, period, or new paragraph as authored by a writer usually highlights an important transition in the poem, story, or any other type of composition. This silence or pause becomes as important to the reader or musician as the note or the word.

In a symphony it is not unusual to count out measures when you are not playing, until the entrance of your instrument. This musical bridge brings a new layer of tonality enriching  the other instruments and adding depth to the score. Seeing string bows at the ready to enter the composition is like watching the child wait for the rope to reach a certain angle upon a certain beat to jump into the fray. Then they are as one as the movement becomes a beautiful symbionic orchestration.

I walk in the forest from time to time listening for the birds to begin their calls. Other animals join in or listen enraptured by their countenance which gives a clue as to their disposition. Each measure of silence inbetween the calls represents a quiet refrain from voice as predators stalk their prey.

Seasons determine the type of calls in the wild. Each animal listens to the silence (whatever season it is) between the notes, to determine location and intent. In March and April the frogs are in full voice (mainly at night) while the Tom turkeys during mating season can be heard calling the hens to their lair.

As in all mating rituals fights break out to determine the victor that will bed the female of the species. Colorful and focused, the fights can last many minutes before the victor is declared. Musical and poetic pieces can be a direct result of both the visual and auditory responses as witnessed in nature. Attempting to duplicate the majesty of the audio and visual in nature has been a lifelong endeavor for countless authors and musicians.

Tribes through-out history have an almost telepathic connection with nature. This begins with listening to the silence between the notes to understand the clear and present danger, or the cry for help when an animal is wounded. Each volume or tone can be attributed to a particular animal as they communicate with each other. Learning these communication signs in nature can sometimes determine life or death.

As with authors and composers even artists feel the blank canvas, raw piece of wood or stone, can bring attention to the colors and theme of the painting, drawing, or sculpture. Knowing how to use that which you leave to the imagination or that which you leave untouched is as important to the piece as the rest of the represented theme.

The silence between the notes therefore is captivating. Silence in conversation improves your understanding of the subject without interjecting. Learning about the calls in nature, the tone of a voice, or the rapture of a jazz riff heightens your understanding of connection.  The silence around you in-between the notes, connects you with the most important aspect of humanity which is the observation of others to further understand yourself.


If I were a Barn… and other rural thoughts.


“If I were a Barn”

By Jack Jenkins

If I were a barn I’d want to live on a farm, I’d protect the horses, cows, and sheep, before I finally went to sleep. My color would be red with white trim and as strangers passed they want to grin because everyone knows that barns should be red with white trim.

Each year I’d have another coat very much like painting a boat. This would  protect me from the cold, and for all those that wish I’ll bring them into the fold.   I’d repay my friends with sanctuary after a long day of picking cherries.  The weather outside is sometimes cruel, but not if you follow the golden rule.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, and someday in the not so distant future, an angel will appear. The offer will be clear, a golden parachute above the farm and all the tools you’ll need to build your own barn.


I sit on the porch after painting the barn with Nancy. We worked hard for a couple days to realize our labors have paid off. Now I look up to the barn and am so proud of another task we completed to make this house a home. It looks like the prettiest barn I’ve ever seen. After living here for a year I can tell you that this barn rates way up there.

Today I stopped by the side of the road to use my app, “Picture this”. The app identifies the plant so that when I look around and people ask I can actually tell them what the plant is. The plant I was identifying was a beautiful yellow flower that are blanketing the fields around us. This flower is the “False Lupin”. This flower is actually in the legume or bean family native to North America. It’s habitat is grasslands and woodlands which would describe the topography of our land perfectly.

I so enjoy the process of learning about where we live. From the Lewis and Clark expedition, the Nez Pierce Indians, and the Dworshak Dam. The dam is the third tallest in the United States on the North Fork of the Clearwater River in north central Idaho.

The Clearwater River was an important piece of the puzzle that Lewis and Clark put together to eventually reach the Pacifc Ocean. And so our learning continues in this magical place we call home.




Sojourns Across the Chasm

learn about yourself experience life

A couple days ago I began another journey. This travel will take me to several of the people I care most about.

Chico is the town I went to college in. It holds a special place in my heart. Now, many years later my daughter Chelsea is graduating and receiving her masters degree. Of course I am very proud of her.

During her time in Colorado she attended the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and graduated with a pre-law degree. Chelsea was able to take advantage of a program during that time that gave her the ability to attend my alma mater.

Ironically she lived in the same dorm one floor below the exact room I stayed in when I attended Chico many years before. The WUE interstate tution discount program enabled her to receive credit for classes taken piggy-backed onto her existing units taken at UCCS.

Now, after attending the California Northern School of Law she stands ready to accept the fruits of her labor. What a wonderful ending to a scholastic career. Now the hard work begins to determine the next part of her journey through life. This,  away from the purse strings and to a large degree the net that has been provided for her for many years.

After I celebrate Chelsea’s achievement I will proceed from Chico to San Rafael California. This is the home town I largely grew up in and acknowledge as my birthplace. My trip to Marin County will be a combination of joy and sorrow.

The joy will be seeing some people I have not seen in decades along with staying with my best friend, John Greene. I will be attending a celebration of life for John’s mom, Joanne Holt Greene.

Joanne Greene I considered a dear friend. She always made me feel right at home, hosting wonderful parties always with a smile and a beautiful laugh that echoed through-out her home.

Now, one of the last of the old gaurd is gone. We are the older gaurd taking cues from our parents to enjoy the fruits of their and our labor. It is a time to be introspective.  We go down memory lane remembering the best of those times we spent with those we will never see again. It is a heart-felt journey that encompasses the emotional roller-coaster of specific moments that brought us closer to those we will never forget.

A trip like this feels like looking into an hour glass as the sands slowly move to the end of our journey. There are many people on this trip I will never see again. I don’t take this lightly as each person I will spend time with holds a special place in my heart. Every conversation I will play back for the rest of my life like a scene from a movie one frame at a time.

This time capsule I will replay to enhance the joy I feel when I live in the frame of mind of spatial consciousness. That is to be aware of my surroundings adding to the experience and realizing my position relative to those I engage.  I am so blessed to see those I have not seen in so long and to be able to enjoy thoroughly all I will converse with on this beautiful sojourn into the past.

Spring has Arrived

The meadow outside our windows have gone from the straw underbrush of Winter to the vibrant green of Spring. Birds and insects chirping while the bass tonality is executed by the frogs in full voice reveals a change in season.

Deer pass by on their sojourn displaying the white tails of winter soon to be the brown tails of summer. Wild turkeys mate as the Toms fan their tails to appear more desirable. The fan of the turkey tails I’d never seen before and reminds me of the paper turkeys we’ve seen as kids around Thanksgiving. Having no reference point for this display I thought it was more poetic license than the actual picture of a turkey. However, having seen this in real life I can say the picture doesn’t do the turkey justice. It’s magnificence cannot be over stated.

Periodically we are blessed to see the Elk. Such a big and beautiful animal grazing below our sunroom with the evergreen trees and lake in the background. This makes quite a wonderful way to start the day as these animals typically graze around our home early morning or late at night.

Only the moon can illuminate their presence. Light toned fur around a dark fur collar with the rest of the body light toned gives this beast a rather elegant look fully throned in nature. Methodically moving across the meadow in groups up to ten the other animals give them space to procure nature’s bounty.

Wild flowers are slowly poking up through the grass revealing tiny white beads that dot the emerald green meadow. Interspersed among this Springtime collage are blue lupins and the yellow daffodils trumpeting Spring has arrived.

The smell of nature reveals a Jasmine tea like character that mixes a grass like scent with a sweet fragrance. This combination of scents heightens the sensory experience enveloping everything we smell. This symphony of scent  provides an opening act for the beautiful weather to follow.

As a child I only knew that when springtime arrived playtime would increase as the rain decreased and that summer (a respite from school work) was just around the corner.  Today I look a little deeper into the nuance of this seasonal event. Now I think of each plant and flower as a blessing that unveils its short lived beauty in a timeless tribute to the choreography that is nature.

The trees provide a canopy of evergreen leaves with a mixture of majestic soft woven leaves to the spindly pine needles. Each tree is unique unto itself as insects and birds have had an impact on its growth and stature as have the rain and sun displayed in its concentric rings.

Morning brings a smile as something has grown or bloomed revealing another vibrant color trumpeting lifes evolution. Most interesting of all is how the sunlight changes as the sun moves from east to west. Each shadow is a movement highlighting natures bounty or disguising it in the early morning or late afternoon.

Most spectacular of all are the clouds that usually form around sunset. The white billowing clouds add unique design to the sunset color.  Purple, blue, red, and bright orange streak across the sky like a paintbrush weilding its display as time changes its configuration from moment to moment.

Our Vacation…A trancendent journey into the past.

my restaurant career began here

The last time I took this route to Canada (of course that was from California) was 1974. That trip was in a 1964 Chevy Impala with two friends.

Our last journey consisted of trying to spend the least amount of money (because we had no money). In ’74 we went to Seattle and visited the space needle before continuing up to Canada. That was an 18 hour trip straight up to Vancouver, British Columbia.

Did I mention that we were a bit high at the time? I remember at the Canadian border the Canadian Mountie asking if we had any marijuana in our vehicle. We said, ” No sir.” Which was the truth… we had just smoked the last of it. Our eyes were as red as Rudoolph’s nose.

We went to “gas town” which was basically China town. There we discovered why they called it gas town. Needless to say we traveled with the windows down and doubled up on the pine scented christmas tree hanging from the rear view miirror.

After that we parked our car and traveled on the ferry. Unfortunately we got on the wrong ferry and had to sneak onto the correct ferry before somehow navigating to the harbor in Victoria. The highlight of the harbor was going to the wax museum where we discovered Vlad the Impaler.

Anyway some other nefarious activities took place before finally returning to the US. That was then… this is now.

Nancy and I started our trip with a less than memorable stay in Ellensburg Washington. Nothing really to mention about that other than it was a place to stay with unusually expensive rooms for what the town offered, which was not much.

Then we drove another 2 hours to Seattle. I was interesed in going to the world famous “Pikes Market Place” located near the wharf in downtown Seattle. Nancy and I navigated there and proceeded to look for “Pikes Fish Market”. You know the fish market where they throw the fish back and forth yelling out different cities that people call out to them.

We found the market and were a bit surprised how crowded the Market place and especially the fish market was on this rainy day in Seattle. Of course it was raining… the locals don’t even seem to notice. What fun that was seeing the flower booth displaying in full bloom, the many different booths from fresh mushrooms, exotic teas, apparel, coffee shops (what a surprise), and wonderful restaurants.

We ate at the Athenian restaurant noted for their seafood. With a beautiful view of the harbor we had a crab louie and clam chowder to share. Very good as I stepped off the vegan/vegetarian platform into the pescatarian water.

Next we were off to our hotel at the Edgewater. This was a wonderful room right on the water with a fireplace, jucuzzi tub, and a sitting room to enjoy the view. We had dinner that night in the hotel.

The manager was very gracious and accomodating. He provided excellent assistance to the server as we enjoyed our wine and food. The table was another view of the water and added to the dining experience. Breakfast was part of the package and so we were back at the restaurant with another fine meal literally under our belts.

Now we were off to Canada. I decided to drive so that we could experience the border crossing. As it turned out the crossing was efficient and easy. I had purchased tickets to the acquarium in Vancouver, BC as that was our first place to visit in Canada.

I’d suggest skipping this venue as it was the least enjoyable acquarium I’d ever visited. However, near the acquarium was a very special park we wouldn’t have seen if we hadn’t purchased tickets to the acquarium. Stanley Park is a mix of water features, hiking trails, and some of the most charming and lovely gardens I’ve visited.

Next it was off to the hotel, The L’Hermitage in downtown Vancouver. Nothing really special about this hotel other than the parking was the most complicated aspect of our travel. The best part of the hotel was its location. We walked (usually in the rain) to two very special restaurants. Hydra and Nightingale were two culinary highpoints on the entire trip. Both offered exceptional service with well appointed and creative interiors aesthetically adding to the plate presentations.

The next day we were driven on a wine tour in what was supposed to be a limo, which turned out to be an SUV. The wineries and lunch were included in this package deal. I would recommend not engaging in this “Pacific Harmony Logistics, Inc.” wine package. The wine was something you’d normally find in a spit bucket and the lunch was a charcuterie board with tired meat (which I didn’t eat) and walmart cheeses. Other than that, “How was the play Mrs. Lincoln?”

After that debacle we prepared for our next day adventure which  included a scenic ferry ride to Victoria. Little did I know that our destination at “The Butchart Gardens” would be a memory I will never forget. Now I know where I want to be buried. Attempting to be a wordsmith I can’t find any words to describe the incredible and magical time spent at the must see, bucket list, destination. For me, this was the highlight of our trip. Other worth mentioning places we visited were the Victoria Butterfly Gardens and the winery Church and State.

Next we stayed at the Abagail Hotel in Victoria. This was a rather strange room incorporating a confused designer pairing his lack of skills with a plumber/contractor that somehow couldn’t spend enough money on a tub no one could access. However, it did include breakfast which offered the same lack of skill.

The last major “bucket list” item was having high tea at the world famous Empress Hotel. It was blowing so hard outside as we walked towards the Empress for our high tea reservation that I had to tether Nancy to my arm to keep her from floating over the harbor.

The high tea was in a cathedral like setting and we were ushered to a very nice table near the fireplace. And that was the highlight of the high tea. This is another venue I would suggest you miss unless you want to spend a lot of money for a very average dining and tea experience.

Overall it was a very good trip with certain things, Pikes Fish Market, and The Butchart Gardens worth their weight in gold.



A Symphony of Nature

magic in nature bidwell park chico pazaz bakeware
Magic in Nature – Bidwell Park

I meander through the meadow listening to the symphony of nature from the waterfalls in the distance to the animals nearby. Each group of animals has its own tenor and velocity of projecting sound. All of these sounds change based upon the season and intent.

The wild turkeys are in abundance during the spring, scouring the ground for grass and insects to feed their ever expanding bellies. The hens in the spring are targeted by the Tom turkeys as they perform a ritual dance. We’ve seen the males fight for their right to party. Usually two on two males jumping in the air fighting each other like Kamikaze pilots diving in for the kill or at least the recognized supremacy of the flock. Clawing and biting are the methods of choice to secure dominance.

Their sounds vary from the classic “Gobble-Gobble” to the siren mating call designed to attract the female and ward off the other males. The males strut as the female crouches to select the gobbler for matting. The beauty of these turkeys cannot be overstated as the Tom turkey fans its colorful tail as part of the matting ritual.

The deer are another group that has their own primal/guttural sound. If you are too close to the deer they grunt as a warning to back off. They will also stomp their hooves attempting to add another layer of deterrent to the space they occupy.

The most handsome group of all are the Elk. Enormous grand creatures that display two shades of brown. There is the dark brown around their neck and the lighter brown on their head and lower body. They are slow and cautious animals when grazing in the meadow during the spring. However, in the months to come, August through the end of  October its game on. That is their  matting season when they buggle to attrack the female.

The “Rut” relating to the Elk is very intricate. It’s a complicated dance with five different sequences that involves beauty and savagery all in one long vigorous dominate display. The bugle and the rubbing of trees is meant to attrack the females (the cows) as memorable and haunting as the howls of wolves and the calls of loons.

For the base of this cacophony of sound are the frogs. They sound off at night and sometimes during the day registering a beautiful base line to the baritone and tenor sections provided by the other inhabitants of the forest. As you approach their domicile an eerie silence prevails looking but not voicing their displeasure of any trespassers they may deem as a threat.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the birds of the Panhandle of Northern Idaho. From the Finch, Sparrow, Swallow, Canadian Goose, Mourning dove, Wood Pecker, Hawk, and Eagle the birds fill up the sky with sounds that add a wonderful beauty to the pastoral scene.

Ground level to the rich blue sky… the sound of nature envelopes everything in sight and beyond. It’s like a frame from a movie that begins with the visual, the smells, and then morphs into a symphony of light and song that floats like the breeze.

From the fog in the morning (maybe even snow) changing quickly to the richest azul sky dotted with clouds as thick as marshmellows and as light as cotton balls the sequence never remains the same. Each animal, bird, cloud, and weather pattern is constantly evolving into a picture we will never forget.