Love, Laughter, and Life

Adventures With a Book Lover


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Non-Traditional Thanksgiving

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It’s been a rough year for my family, so we decided to switch things up. This year, we went off the charts for Thanksgiving.

We chose to:

-travel to the beach (off-season is awesome)

-cook our own little turkey breast

-decorate for Christmas

-begin our annual Christmas movie countdown

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What really happened:

-beach plans were cancelled due to health issues

-went on a drive to the mountains to collect pine cones for art projects

-soaked by pounding rain

-did a little off-roading to travel up a steep, rocky, bumpy, muddy path

-met a wolf

-the wolf turned into a Husky, lost VERY far from civilization

-he loved us. And jumped eagerly into the pickup

-had to figure out what to do with a huge lost dog (wearing a collar, but no tags)

-Did you know everything is closed (pretty much) on Thanksgiving? Unless you are shopping.

-which was good, since we needed dog food

-by the time we got home, it was very late when our little turkey breast went in the oven

-spent all afternoon taking photos, hanging out, searching for lost dogs, and contacting friends and social media groups in efforts to find this handsome boy his family

-nowhere to keep a large, very large dog in the RV

-our daugther and family took Mr. Handsome home to sleep

-Mr. Sweetie (SO good with kids, pets, noises, crowds) hunkered down in exhaustion

-turkey dinner became our traditional leftovers meal: turkey, cranberry sauce, cream cheese, sliced red onion sandwich (I had a salad)

-actually had a six-course meal. That’s what I told Kevin as we ate and drank different courses while waiting for the turkey to get done

-nearly sugar-free crustless pumpkin pie is delicious!

-decorated the RV. Put up our tree in less than 5 minutes. Done.

-put up the outdoor tree. Less than 5 minutes. Done.

-finished the Harry Potter movie marathon. Next, Christmas.

 

Our day was totally nontraditional. But we liked it.

Who knows? Next year we might go back for pinecones.

Or another lost dog.

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P.S. More about our Mr. Handsome later.

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Food Time Machine – One Bite Whisked Me Back to a Favorite Place & Time

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Do you ever taste something and it takes you right back to a specific time and place?

That just happened to me. Tummy rumblings broke my concentration from a writing task, so I grabbed a slice of Swiss cheese from the fridge. At the first bite, I was instantly transported to France. Such delicious memories!

My husband and I were on a short-term missions trip in Paris. Near our motel was a wonderfully fascinating store, Auchan. Auchan had pretty much anything one could want or need at reasonable prices. The chocolate aisle and cheese cases kept us returning nearly every day for meal items. Yes. Chocolate and cheese do make a meal.

Today’s bite of Swiss cheese took me right to the cheese counter. The gentleman who worked the cheese aisle was so very kind and cut us off a chunk of Swiss from the large wheel. With our garbled French and hand gestures, he whacked off the hard rind and sliced the rest for us – perfect. He even gave us a bit to taste, just to make sure it was what we wanted. We wanted.

Fresh baguette, sliced Swiss, some fruit and veg, all the makings of a perfect meal. Thank you, Mr. Auchan cheese guy. You made our day.

How about you? What have you eaten that transported you back to particular event or location? I’d love to hear about it. Just so I know I’m not the only one who is consumed with love for food.

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Let’s not forget the crepes! Be still my hungry mouth…


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One Year in RV: Survival!

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August 20 was our one year anniversary of moving into the RV. And guess what? We made it!

I haven’t taken him (my honey) out, though I’ve sent him out when I need to clean (or write, cook, organize, read . . .).

He still loves me even if the heat factor in an RV – during summer – is higher than my happy tolerance level.

He survived record-breaking snowfall and freezing winter temps regardless of how close I came to helping him build his own snow igloo far far from the RV.

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I managed not to throw out the superfluous (not for him) heating items – throw, bed blanket, heat lamps, floor heater – and we were both able to speak in civil tones. Most of the time.

Long-time RV living is not for the faint of heart, but definitely for the adventurous!

Let’s pretend you just arrived for a fancy cooked-mostly-by-BBQ meal. We’ll fill you in on some observations and interesting events that came about from our inaugural RV year.

– It is possible! One can live without piles of stuff – and survive!

– Storage? Premium. If we don’t use it, it has to go. To storage, to someone, to the thrift store…

– Less is more. Truly. The less we have inside the RV, the more space we have to move about.

– Cooking is a bit tricky. Too hot in the summer for the stove. Very humid in the winter.

– Humidity is an issue. One chore I never dreamed of having? Wiping down windows on a daily basis.

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– Electrical circuits can and will be blown. Until you figure out which items can be used at the same time.

– The electric skillet will most likely blow the fuse if anything else is plugged in and going. Anything.

– Do not use the skillet and the AC at the same time.

– Splurge on the skirting. We only experienced one tiny freeze in a waterline. That’s saying something when we were below zero several times and hovered in the frozen zone for months.

– Cats. Litter. Fur. Toys. Cat tree. A bit crowded. Now that they are free to roam, we are all much happier. The catio is disassembled.

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– Mice. Peek before letting cats back inside. Trust me on this.

– Company. Things will be different when guests arrive. Say, for instance, seating. Or standing. Finding room to maneuver. But that’s what makes entertaining exciting.

– Breezes in the bedroom. This is awesome. Open both windows and the wind just blows across our bed. As does dust, smoke from fires, and stinky skunk fragrance, but still!

– My office. A drawer. Half the dinette bench plus the table. That’s it. Sometimes, I’ll admit, I yearn for a bigger creative area.

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– All of outdoors. Right here.

– We have everything we need. Running water, electricity, internet, laundry facilities, bathroom, bed, fridge, grands in and out.

– Our home moves. We can hitch it up anytime we want and hit the road.

I’d say our inaugural year was pretty successful. So you’ve seen me wear the same clothes over and over again. I am dressed, right?

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Happy RV anniversary to us! Come on by, we’ll cozy up and share a seat. Maybe even throw in a meal or tour of the facilities. Feeling up to the challenge? Either the visit or the RV living? Love to hear about it.

 

 


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Glacier Lake Trail: Hiking Tips Discoveries

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Glacier Lake

Mosquitoes. There will be MOSQUITOES. And dirt. Sometimes horse and deer flies. Plan accordingly. Wear bug repellent (we are still out on this – both of us want something more organic and less toxic). We were hit hard when we got out of the car. After a quick rethink, we jumped back in the car, put on boots, covered up, and got back out to spray. Still managed to get 3 bites.

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Lovely shaded hiking trail

Long hair. If you have this, wear it down – hot or not! Mosquitoes loved the back of my neck, despite my hat and shirt. So I let my hair down and spread it through the sweat which glued it in place. Immediate relief!

Hats. Wear them. I wore my tightly woven sun protection hat with a wide brim. Shade and bug protection.

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Beautiful old guy

Long pants. Wish we had them. Still have a few scrapes from branches growing over the path. I’m sure this isn’t the only trail with opportunities for clambering over rocks and tree roots.

Water. Our hike wasn’t too long but was strenuous and the sweat flowed freely. We had 2 bottles each, which was enough for the short hike. Had we stayed longer at the lake, we would’ve needed more.

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The trail heading into the forest towards Glacier Lake

Snacks. Of course. Good stuff to chomp on is part of the fun of hiking! Nuts, whole grain crackers, jerky, trail mix, protein bars…I always underestimate how much my honey needs to eat. Me? I could outlast several weeks of restricted calories, but his high metabolism requires regular and high calorie fuel.

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Our first gaze of the lake – standing on the huge boulders

Maps. We had general directions from a flyer found at the Ranger station and we still managed to park in the wrong spot. It seems it was the correct location though, when I researched AFTER our hike, due to previous road washouts. Hint: The flyer suggested elevation gains, time estimations, distances, and trail popularity. Some of this was NOT true. For instance, family friendly. We did not find this trail to be safe for younger hikers. This was agreed upon by another family (with elementary children and an elderly chap). Maybe they should define family friendly. Take information like this with a grain of salt.

Snow. While we did not encounter snow, the lake was very full and there were no places to get close to the water unless one was IN the water or on floating logs. Take into account the previous winter. We had record snowfall. That means lakes will be full to overflowing. Snow may still be on the trails. Mud will be present.

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Wildflowers serenaded us with beauty

Do not give up! We passed few other hikers, so the Glacier Lake hike was perfect for solitude (I missed wearing a bear bell, though, and we constantly scanned for evidence and escape routes – many shredded snags convinced us that big claws had enjoyed plentiful grubs and bugs). Once we arrived at Glacier Lake, huge (bigger-than-my-car sized) boulders blocked the path. We made two different attempts to get over them to the water, but my legs were too short. In defeat, we headed back. Only a short while later we met a young family (baby in backpack, so backpacking with child in tow counts as family friendly). They discovered a trail to the lake edge and two rough camping spots. They filled us in and we headed back to the lake. Don’t be afraid to ask and share info with other hikers.

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Lovely stream we heard for a long time before the trail led us beside it; I wanted to take it home with me.

Glacier Lake Hint: When you get to the boulders, you will instinctively want to go straight through them to the water. Don’t. There are many false trails over the rocks. Instead, look LEFT and you will see the trail continuing around the edge of the boulders. LOL. It’s obvious once you know.

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Fairy lanterns

Hiking is our respite from crowds, technology, and stress. We learn something new on every hike. We can’t wait to get back out on the trails!

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Check out this granny hat!

Would you like your adventure now or should we have our tea first?

~ J.M. Barrie

 


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2 Times I Won’t Return the Cart

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Shopping carts. Buggies. Storage on wheels. Nightmares of steering, rolling, and drifting. You gotta love them. Maybe hate them. I certainly trade them to get a smoother and cleaner one. Helpful at best, frustrating at worst. Carts are a necessity for filling the pantry and fridge with enough goods to avoid daily trips to the store.

How do you break up with your shopping cart? Leave it next to the car, push it across the lot, run it up over a curb to keep it from heading downhill, or return it to the store or cart corral?

I hope you are not one of those who set shopping carts free, never caring to notice how they careen with the wind or crash into vehicles or get in the way of traffic. You’re not, right?

I try to be responsible with my shopping carts. Maintain a good relationship. Most of the time I park near a return cage to help me be a good shopping citizen. If one is unavailable, I will take the cart back to the store. I’ll donate my cart to someone nearby who needs to load up children for the impending shopping adventure. When I arrive at the store, I’ll watch for someone unloading their cart and offer to take it for my own shopping trip. Generally, I think I do pretty well in my cart management skills.

And hey, extra walking means more steps on my mileage chart!

But there are 2 times I will not return my cart.

  1. Kiddos. Should I have precious grands or little ones with me, the shopping cart will always lose. Especially if it’s summer and the temps are hot. No one should sit in the car while I push a cart away. Unless the cart corral is beside the car.
  2. Senior shoppers. I had never thought about this until my mother-in-law mentioned it. She appreciated people who left a cart by the handicap parking spots, as many folks need to hold onto the cart handle and push it to keep their balance. So I watch for those opportunities. As long as the cart doesn’t block the parking spot, I love to help out.

How about you? When do you not return your shopping cart? Let’s hear some good reasons (laziness does not count, friends, not at all). ;0

Get out there and be a good shopping cart citizen!


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Sea to Ski: Anniversary Travel & Fun

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Pre-hike view of Mt. Rainier

While celebrating our 32nd wedding anniversary last week, we experienced what I have tagged a Sea to Ski holiday. In our area, there is a Ski to Sea athletic event, and we certainly engaged in exercise during portions of our explorations, but nothing up to iron man/woman or triathlon levels. Not even close.

Fun, fast, feast, foray. That’s was our goal.

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Seattle from Alki (West Seattle)

Sea = Day 1 Trip to Seattle

We dined on extremely tasty blackened cod tacos and salad at Salty’s on Alki. We walked along the beach, rode the water taxi across the bay to the Seattle waterfront, hiked the Pike Street Hill Climb, enjoyed clam chowder at Ivar’s, and scoured an antique store for a tiny glass bottle. Parking was just fine at Salty’s and the water taxi was a treat.

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The Seattle skyline from the water taxi

Ski = Day 2 Trip to Mt. Rainier

Technically, we did not ski. But we hiked in the mountains. And saw plenty of snow. We parked at Ohanapecosh Campground and hit the trail leading through the hot springs, past Silver Falls, discovered a new trail (for us) to the Grove of the Patriarchs, and totalled over 6 up and down miles. About 60 floors in elevation gains, according to my Iphone. For hot days, this was perfect, as most of the trail was shade covered, gorgeous, and green.

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The hiking look

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See? A nice and shady path

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Waterfall and creek at Ohanapecosh 

Ride = Day 3 Motorcycle Loop

To make up for the hiking, we sat on the bike to see the sights. We traveled up Highway 410, gazed at the packed snow and ice gracing the top of Chinook Pass, followed Highway 123 to Highway 12, and returned through Naches to make a loop ride. We took the back road around Clear and Rimrock Lake. There was no lack for beauty, but it was getting pretty hot by the time we completed the ride.

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Mt. Rainier from Chinook Pass

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We left early to avoid the heat, so the morning hours required layers and layers! Which slowly came off as the mercury rose.

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Our shadows and us admiring the snow and Mt. Rainier

Watch = Day 4 Movie to Beat the Heat

As per suggested temps of 100, we hit the theater to take in the new Pirates movie. We both loved this episode as it tied in to the original three. AND we avoided the gagging heat.

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Ferns at Ohanapecosh 

All in all, we had a fantastic anniversary holiday, me and my honey. The northwest is full of gems, just ready for exploring.

Where do you love to go? All ideas are welcome…next trip is just around the corner.

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 Fish tacos at Salty’s


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Daddy and Me: Throwback Thursday

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1970 – and I was stylin’! Most weekends, the Hill family, a complete set of 6 by that year, hit the road touring the historic, interesting, or just plain hot sites and locations of Arizona.

Station wagon, two parents, dog, 4 kids, full gas tank, and off we would go. Funny, I don’t remember seeing any maps. We just seemed to find these fun places. In 1970 I was about 8 and in second grade, so perhaps maps didn’t hit my radar. As long as we made the mandatory stops for pop, chips, a loaf of white bread, and a package of hot dogs, we were happy campers.

I remember Colossal Cave. Not so much the interior, which I am sure was cool and interesting and quite a break from the heat. But the name is clearly imprinted in my memories.

It didn’t matter what we did as a family. The important thing was spending time together, whether we were chasing horned toads (they squirt blood you know!), scaring off rattlesnacks, stopping to pick tortoises off the road (good old Humperdink), or camping at Turkey Creek, we loved hitting the road as much as our parents did.

Or maybe they didn’t enjoy it. With 4 kids and a revolving zoo of pets in a single wide trailer, I bet they HAD to get out of the house on the weekends, for sanity purposes.

Just kidding. We loved exploring. I got that from my dad and my mom.

Excuse me while I grab a loaf of white bread and some hot dogs. Feeling a road trip coming on…


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Motorcycle Monday – 3 Washington Rides

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Glowing trees north of Roslyn

I am out of motorcycle shape! In spite of late afternoon heat and tired backsides, we managed to enjoy 3 different motorcycle rides over the long weekend.

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Heading south on the Yakama Indian Reservation

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Mt. Adams

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Wild horses

1. Friday night, we helmeted up and rode south on Highway 97, turned right on Lateral A, and continued out to White Swan. I’ve always love this ride, having spent nearly 30 years living in the lower valley. At White Swan, we followed Signal Peak Road up to the end of the public road. The round trip was nearly 100 miles and gorgeous. We saw wild horses, but only 10 or so, less than normal; plus wild horse rib cages and assorted bits. A bald eagle perched on a bluff (we suspect dead bodies for tasty snacks were somewhere close, per the nose turning odors), and when we stopped to stretch, we were nearly swarmed by huge black bees. They seemed hungry and ready for fresh meat. Maybe they were a type of wasp instead. Mt. Adams beamed white amidst blue skies and fluffy clouds and the entire valley was in full production – orchards, vineyards, planted fields, cattle, and much more.

2. Saturday we took a longer ride, almost 200 miles, spanning most of the day. We drove north through the Yakima River Canyon, one of our favorite drives. Bald eagles, deer, bighorn sheep, and hordes of those two-legged campers, fishers, and recreating humans gave us company for the ride. In Ellensburg, we stopped for coffee. Then we followed Highway 10 to Cle Elum, barely hanging on when we encountered bridge repairs! The first one had us riding air, but after that we were prepared. We continued through Cle Elum, Roslyn, and Ronald, until we reached the end of the road and Salmon la Sac. The Cle Elum River was noisy and rolling due to snow melt. That did not deter campers from wading! Brr. On our return home, we stopped for lunch at The Brick (Roslyn) and searched out a rose-flavored dark chocolate treat at the Roslyn Candy Company. We backtracked a bit, looped along the Thorp Highway, and returned to the Yakima Valley returned through the canyon.

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Highway 241

3. Monday we were up and out early, due to expected high temps later in the day. We took the slow road – Yakima Valley Highway – towards the lower valley. This is such a pretty drive through orchards, farms, and small communities. We went as far south as Sunnyside, then took Highway 241 over the top of the hills to Highway 24, which led us back to Yakima. Along the Yakima River, I saw several cranes and a block of whirling pelicans. A stalking coyote was circling a herd of black cows who were grazing way out in the middle of nowhere. Yikes! I shook my finger at him, but I don’t think it helped. Babies were everywhere – foals, calves, lambs, kids. This ride was shorter than the other days, but a great outing.

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Heading into the Yakima River Canyon

Let’s talk about smell-o-vision. This is a real thing on motorcycles. What you see, or don’t see, you will smell. The good, the bad, the ugly. Mint, flowers, freshly cut hay, hops, dust, horses, fast food restaurants. The list of good-to-smell is unending. The bad? Think cow poop, skunks, diesel exhaust, asphalt, smoke, garbage. The ugly? Dead stuff. I know they are ugly because I can smell them and it is not pretty! While some road kill is evident alongside the road, others lurk mysteriously out of sight. But not out of nose.

What’s the trade-off for the icky smells? Wonderful fresh air, the joy of wind blowing along your body, and rolling scenery. It’s worth every smell and bug splatter.

Where did your journeys take you this weekend?

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Just us, goofing around 


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Trader Joe’s Potsticker Kale Soup

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We do love shopping at Trader Joe’s. Alas, the nearest location is over the river(s), through many woods, and on the other side of Snoqualmie Pass in Issaquah. Still, we visit regularly and stock up on favorites each time.

What do you do when hunger strikes, you live in an RV, and you want a quick dinner?

Soups’ on!

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Trader Joe’s Potsticker Kale Soup

Ingredients:

1 T. Butter

1 T. Olive oil

1 small onion, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 32-oz. Trader Joe’s Miso Ginger Broth

1 16-oz. Trader Joe’s frozen Pork Gyoza Potstickers

Approximately 4 cups chopped kale (see Trader Joe’s produce section)

1/2 cup frozen peas

1 bunch chopped green onions

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Directions:

1. In a large soup pot, sauté onions and garlic in butter and olive oil until carmelized.

2. Add broth. Pour a small amount of water in the carton, swirl to rinse, and add to pot. Stir and bring to a boil.

3. Add frozen potstickers, kale, and peas. Return to boil. Cook 4-5 minutes, gently boiling, until heated through and kale is wilted.

4. Ladle into bowls and top with chopped green onions. Makes 2-4 servings.

 

This was so yummy! Next time, I would add julienned carrots to the onion and garlic mixture. Ohhh, julienned red peppers would be great as well.

Super fast, fantastically delicious. Too bad there are no leftovers.


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Welcome Spring!

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Spring Wildflower

S – shows of life, green carpeted paths

P – peek at bursts of color, winters’ grays fade away

R – renewed vigor, earth joyfully bursts forth

I – invitation to celebrate, cold passes as warmth returns

N – nature dons her new attire, fresh and vibrant

G – growing time arrives, rest is over for bounty begins

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Columbia River Gorge