October 10, California

After our time in Seattle, Riley and I spent a delightful long weekend with his family near Lake Tahoe. The "cabin" that Genevieve had found for us to stay in was very luxurious and situated on a pretty creek. Keith saved some money by camping out in the back yard, right next to the creek. During the day we took hikes and spent part of a day on the beach at the lake. Evenings were spent playing parlor games and visiting. We divvied up the breakfast and dinner cooking chores into (more or less) family units, and got some great meals out of the arrangement. Everyone was happy to be together and had a great time.

Double falls on Squaw Valley Creek

Jonathan & Ryin on hiking expedition

Afterward, Riley and I split up and Riley went on an almost two week motorcycle camping trip with Dick, Austin, and Keith through the Sierras, and I flew to Houston to visit my family. The motorcycle trip was fraught with bad luck--both motorcycle problems and minor injuries, but as usual they seemed to have a good time. [Note from Riley: We had a blast going back and forth over the Sierra Nevada passes, working our way from north to south. While on the east side of the Sierras we went to the old mining town of Bodie (north of Mono Lake), which the state is preserving as a ghost town. There we took a tour of the stamp mill where the ore was processed to extract gold (mostly), and learned how over the years they got better and better at extraction. As a result, the mining company would go back through their older tailings piles to get even more gold out. Several days into the trip Keith got a loose piece of rope wrapped around the rear axle of his Honda Shadow, which damaged the seal holding the rear drive oil in place. Fortunately, with some help from Dick, we were able to limp 30 miles into Bishop where we waited two days for the parts to come in and be installed. While waiting in Bishop we had a tubbing trip down a nearby portion of the Owens River, and took advantage of having a shower in our motel room to get cleaned up. Toward the end of our trip Dick headed home while Austin, Keith and I went to Bass Lake (south of Yosemite NP) where we rented a patio boat (small flat boat with a 60 HP outboard) and large tube to pull behind the boat. I tried to get fancy during my ride, and ending up flipping myself forward into the water while straddling the tow rope. That lead to a visit that evening to an urgent care clinic in nearby Oakhurst for some eight stitches and a life lesson--if you're going to fall off the tube, fall backward, never forward!]

View from gondola ride at top of Squaw Valley (Lake Tahoe in the distance)

Bodie, ghost town near Mono Lake

Austin, Keith, Dick & Riley in Yosemite Valley

Keith tubbing on Bass Lake

I had a marvelous time in Houston with no problems or injuries (smile). I stayed with Nancy near Crosby and Richard & Bev stopped by on their way back from Georgia and visited for a few days. It was great! I also spent a lot of time with Rebecca and Jonny, seeing them just about every day. Jonny is growing quickly and getting better with his speech. I can understand him fine in person, but on the phone or Skype, I have a very hard time knowing what he is saying to me. Sarah came out to visit a couple of times too, once bringing Alan with her. My last day in town I spent with my best friend Benegene. We had lunch with our friend Sharon at a nice place where Sharon knew the owner--good food. Benegene took me to the airport the next morning.

Alan & Sarah

Rebecca, Jonny & Sarah coming back from visiting horses at Nancy's

Tony & Jonny computing

Grandma & Jonny

While I was in Houston, Riley let me know that tragedy had again struck our family. Eric's son, Tyler, had accidentally drowned. Tyler was almost 21 and the whole family has been devastated by this event. He was a handsome, smart and charming young man whom everyone loved. Tyler will be missed always. We spent a couple of weeks in the Monterey Bay area during which time a memorial service was held for Tyler. In the final quiet time when music that he loved was being played, his 3-year-old niece Ryin danced and held her arms to the sky for him--a couple of other young children joined her. It was a most moving experience.

Tyler with Ryin at his 20th birthday party last year

We are now at an RV park in Escondido (about 25 miles north of San Diego) and are having a fine time with Lara and all her family. We're happy that Lara has moved here to Escondido where she is close to Ashley and Cleric. Four-year-old Cleric has declared that Riley and I need to get a new house so that we are nearby too. I have been to see two movies with Ashley and Cleric, "Lion King" and "Spy Kids IV," and one with Lara, Justin and Alyssa, the last Harry Potter. I had a fine time at all three. Also, Riley and I went to see "Moneyball," an interesting movie featuring a very fine performance by Brad Pitt. Riley and I took Justin and Alyssa to visit the March Field Air Museum near San Bernardino, which was also fun. It was a hot day, but Riley and the kids enjoyed looking at all the airplanes regardless of the heat, while I had to sit in the shade a while. Riley and I have made two trips on the motorcycle up to the Julian area (about 35 miles east), both times getting apple pie and cinnamon ice cream--so yummy. We're hoping to go again with all the kids to do some apple picking.

Justin & Alyssa at Air Museum

B-47, early jet bomber

Justin has been taking fencing lessons and is doing quite well at it. He enjoys the fencing and I hope he will be able to keep it up. Cleric has started youth soccer and it is a lot fun to watch these little kids run up and down the field kicking the ball. Alyssa has signed up for tennis lessons which will start in a couple of weeks.

Juan, Lara, Justin, Grandma & Alyssa at soccer game

Cleric playing soccer (Ashley took picture)

We have been up to Tehachapi to visit Sean three times now, each time renting a car from Enterprise (keeping the business in the family). He has regained weight from the hunger strike, and looks well though still thin. It is very tough to visit through the glass--it is hard for us to hear each other, particularly since we can also hear the visitors in the alcoves on either side. There should be a better way. I'll be glad when Sean gets out of this no-contact unit. He's hoping for March, but there are never any guarantees.

Riley and I are spending longer times in one place and not traveling so much. We also seem to not take as many pictures as we used to. At any rate, these missives are getting harder to put together and farther apart.

Love to all,
Margie & Riley

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