Dec 202011

The time has come to tell you how and what we have been doing in the past year. While we want to be humble, we are enjoying our life very much these days, so please excuse it this reads as “all about us.”

We have now been in Birch Bay eight years. We continue to like the cottage that we purchased and renovated at modest cost. No problem with an underwater mortgage here.

You may wonder how two “city people” can enjoy a place without a stop light and where, on summer holidays, five cars at an intersection are viewed as “congestion.” But we both grew up rural so we can say we’ve returned to our roots.

We have intelligent friends and abundant community activities. We joke that in the old days we had weekends off; that’s no longer true.

We are active in the Birch Bay Chamber of Commerce as volunteers insupport of Ring of Fire and Hope on New Year’s Eve and Polar Bear Plunge the next day. In the Spring comes theSand Castle Building Contest and in summer Discovery Days with a parade and exhibits plus aDucky Derby Contest.

Ruth coordinated staffing of the Visitors Information Center. For that effort she received a plaque as “Volunteer Emeritus” at the Chamber’s annual dinner meeting. Now, with Al’s support, she has embarked on a more important effort, with a more significant position, that we hope tobrag about next year.

Following our desire to see more of North America, we made three short trips this year. In conjunction with the commencement in May of Ruth’s granddaughter Mackenzie Douglas at Emerson College, we flew to Massachusetts, staying on Cape Cod in a time-share with Mackenzie’s family. Emerson, a journalism and entertainment school, is located in downtown Boston where the “campus” includes two theaters where the commencement was held. The plan to hold a reception on Boston Common was cancelled by rain so Mackenzie greeted her family and friends in the first floor lobby of one of the theaters.

Actually, Mackenzie graduated last December but Emerson has only one commencement and she wanted to receive her diploma in cap and gown. She returned to her home in Columbus to two jobs – one as stage manager for a children’s theater and the other as director of a summer camp. In August she was named manager of the Olney Theater, located between Washington and Baltimore in Maryland.

Her brother, Ryder, a senior in high school, will go to Columbia College in Chicago, a school similar to Emerson. He plans to study music and journalism.

After the Douglases returned to their home, we drove to the Berkshires to stay with Affordable Travel Club friends, Julie and JoelGrossman who designed their own marvelous home. In addition to Great Barrington, where we found good restaurants, we visited Tanglewood, the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge and spent a morning with Peter Stanton of The Nutrition Center, who is nationally known for teaching young children to eat healthfully by cooking vegetables for themselves.

He has a kitchen with a low stove, counters, tables and chairs. He told us about a program, paid for by health insurance, where physicians refer people who need to eat better and lose weight.

Ruth took a couple trips on her own, to San Francisco and Napa to visit with old friends and to Vancouver Island to see her sister.


After Labor Day we drove up British Columbia’s Gold Rush Trail, through the Fraser Canyon, to Richfield and Barkerville, a restored mining town, where actors, dressed in costume, operate businesses to recreate what the village was like in the 19th century.

On the way back we explored the Hells Gate complex – where the river races through a narrow cut in the rock – on a Groupon coupon. Ruth panned for gold, capturing a few grains.

In October we thought it would be fun to see Fall colors by driving Route 2 to Montana and back Route 20. We started in Seattle where we had visited with Geo and Carol Levin and stayed with with an ATC couple, Jan and Tom Carlson in a floating home on Lake Union. Our first stop was at Leavenworth, a made-up Bavarian Village, where we ate peanuts and drank beer in glass jugs – that we now usefor water glasses – on another Groupon coupon.

On the road what we saw was a lot of rain and fog. As the guy in the motel in Kalispell said when we told him we were going to Glacier Park, “You’ll get moody pictures.” We did and we had a few good walks along streams, but Route 2 was a disappointment. Route 20coming back was better, particularly when we stopped in Winthrop, a reasonably genuine mining town where you eat with real people in the Saloon. And some of the fog on the mountain roads was stunning for us photographers.

However, the best colors we saw were on GrandviewRoad that leads the eight miles from I-5 to our village by the water.

We hope this finds you well and as enthusiastic for 2012 as we are.


Al & Ruth


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