Friday, February 17, 2017

Our Golden Anniversary

Johnny and I have been married 50 years as of Feb. 13. This year, appropriately, the 13th fell on a Monday as it did back in 1967. The reason we were married the day *before* Valentine's Day is explained in last year's anniversary post: It has caused much confusion among friends and family... and Johnny, who can never remember which day we were married.

The reason we don't try to do something special on our anniversaries was explained in my Wedding Anniversary #44 blog post. Here is the pertinent part:

"For our 25th, we spent a night at the wonderful Sylvia Beach Hotel in Newport, Oregon. Each room is decorated for a different author. We had the Herman Melville room, complete with ocean decor and a slanted floor. This proved to be a mistake.

On the way to our romantic getaway at the ocean, we stopped for lunch. Johnny had potato salad. Johnny spent the night of our 25th anniversary trying to negotiate the slanted floor between bed and bathroom over and over as he disgorged his apparently poison potato salad. He did not feel well enough by morning to eat the delicious breakfast that was part of the room price.

Since then, we've stuck to butchering chickens or hogs on our anniversary. It's safer."

But the 50th is a big deal so we are celebrating it this summer during the total solar eclipse, which occurs in a narrow band across the U.S. that happens to be right over our farm. We'll celebrate the union of sun and moon plus the union of Johnny and Linda (50 1/2 years previous) on Aug. 21.

However, I thought we should do *something* special on the actual day. I suggested a waterfall hike or a trip to the coast or... climb Spirit Mountain. We used to climb it every New Year's Day, but after Johnny's back problems and subsequent surgery, we quit. His back is better and he said he misses the hike, so we climbed the mountain. Since I have had knee problems in the past, but not for some years, I insisted that we walk up very slowly. For some reason, the men in this family always liked to race up the mountain to see if they could beat their time from the previous hike. I think that is the dumbest thing in the world. We walked slowly. It was a beautiful, sunny day.

When you walk slowly, you can see birds. I could have seen them better if I'd brought binoculars. Mine are a little heavy and I didn't want to carry them all the way. I brought just my camera and tried to bring the wee birds up closer with it. Next time, I'll take binocs. But I did get one little bird in my viewfinder and took a couple of photos. I thought it was a Hutton's Vireo, although they look so much like Ruby-crowned Kinglets, I couldn't be sure. Believe it or not, these two photos prove, I think, that I was right.
 This photo does not show the wingbars or anything else helpful... except the legs. Hutton's Vireos have bluish-gray legs and feet. Kinglets have impossibly thin black legs... and pink feet. I am not kidding. Zoomed in, you can see the bluish gray legs and feet on this bird.

The eye-ring, lores and bill on this bird are also more Vireo-like than Kinglet-like, but the feet are the clincher for me in this photo. You would have to zoom it in to see the feet well  enough to tell they are gray, not pink.

 Johnny tried hard to match my slowness as I stopped for every bird sound, but he had to wait occasionally to let me catch up.

Two and a half hours after leaving home, we reached the top. Johnny says it usually takes us two hours. I say, so what?

 We ate our lunch in warm sunshine and no wind. I don't remember having a nicer day on top of the mountain. I thought we should have a 50th anniversary photo, so I attempted a selfie... so bad I deleted it from this post. Please imagine us handsome and beautiful and smiling. (The smiling part is true.)

 As is Johnny's custom ever since our sons left home and quit climbing the mountain with us, he called Steve and told him where we were and asked if he was on his way up and should we wait for him. He calls Steve because Steve was the one who gave us (or me, anyway) heart failure many years ago when he raced to the top and was not up here when we arrived. We had no cell phones back then and did not know what had happened to him. It turned out he got tired of waiting for us and hiked back home.

The boys missed a good day up there this time. From the top we could see Mt. Jefferson just barely...

Although we hike up on roads and trails, we hike down the face, the side we see from our farm. From the face we could see the Three Sisters to the southeast.

A little farther down, we could see just the tip of Mt. Jefferson at the far left of the photo below, with the Three Sisters at the right edge of the photo.

 Looking toward Grand Ronde, we could see the clearcut that is visible in part from our farm, including that lone fir tree at the top of it.

Here's Johnny, standing on the face looking toward Grand Ronde.

 And here am I, taking a photo, of course.

 We used to be able to see our entire farm from the face, but trees have grown up and now we can see only the machine shed and new goat barn. The two canoes stored on the side of the machine shed are visible here.

The photo above was taken through the tiny crack in the trees at the very right side of the photo below.

After drinking in the view, we headed straight down the mountain as we usually do. It is very steep and brushy this way with nothing but deer and elk trails to help us out. As we started down, I realized that my left knee had been stretched too far on the way up, in spite of how slowly I'd walked. Johnny had brought my knee supports, which I should have put on going up but they are hot and my knees have been behaving for many years so I did not.  (Of course, I haven't climbed Spirit Mountain for many years.) I put one on for the descent. My knee hurt anyway.

Johnny stopped to wait for me and took my photo while I took his.

After we reached the road,  Johnny went ahead at his own speed while I minced my way downward. And I made it! My knee has recovered... but I think I'll start wearing my knee supports for long hikes.

Johnny says we'll hike Spirit again for our 75th and 100th anniversaries.  Gotta love an optimist.

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