Wednesday, April 22, 2009

This lovely place is The Palms in Capetown, where we stayed for the first week. The view below is looking toward the pool in the back of the old mansion.

This is the breakfast room and the lounge. Quite a delightful place. The group would usually meet here in the morning after breakfast as we awaited pick-ups from Roché or Desiree or made plans for the day.

Soon we were off to visit the ministry we had come to celebrate -- "Learn to Earn" in Khayelitsha -- and watched as men and women learned a variety of job skills.

The four artists in the foreground were busy creating high-end mosaic tables for a fancy hotel in Capetown.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

This next adventure is not a tall tale but it is a wonderful one. A number of years ago, my three sisters -- Kathie (upper right), Rachel (lower left) and Laurie (lower right)-- and I (upper left) met in Chicago and after we gathered at my house, we headed downtown to explore the city a bit. At last we called it a day and checked overnight into a nice hotel, got a room with two king beds, and talked and laughed and drank wine into the wee hours. We had a blast! But we realized that someone was missing -- Mom (upper center)! So at the time we said that if we ever did this "sisters reunion" thing again, Mom would have to come along. And so it came to be.

Early in September, I had learned that Kathie was planning to visit Mom in South Carolina around the date of her (Kathie's) birthday in October. So with a little luck and lots of phone calls, we made some plans. As it turned out, they were upended when Laurie (who was put in charge of finding a nice hotel) learned that the first weekend in October is a very popular one for "leaf-peeping" in Asheville, N.C., and not a room was to be found anywhere!

But somehow we are very blessed, and some dear friends of Laurie offered their splendid home on Lake Rabun, which is about a 2-hour drive from Atlanta in the mountains of North Georgia. What a treat! And that's us in the photo above -- along with my Moms' dog, Gretel.

One of the highlights of the weekend -- oh, how can I say that? There were so many!! -- was an hour and a half hike on Saturday to a lovely waterfall in the vicinity. As you might guess, we took lots of photos there. Here we all had to pose individually with Mom and Gretel. Above left is Kathie. Rachel is next below, then me, and finally a group shot.

Monday, November 13, 2006

This post will conclude the Alberta fishing adventure part of this blog. After all, it has been 8 weeks since I've written last. And anyway, who on earth cares what fabulous breakfasts we had every day!? Or how much fun the fishing was?! (or more accurately for me -- how frustrating at times). Furthermore, you just had to be there to appreciate the great times we had pooling our food stuffs for the ad hoc -- but delicious -- dinners that resulted, followed by drinks and late-into-the-night conversations on the deck that came later...

Before I close, though, I want to add a few more photos.At the left are two young girls who helped out at the B & B. Unfortunately, I have lost the scrap of paper on which I wrote their names. But they are terrific young ladies, and I hope they are at Bedside Manor next year.

Just below are Herb and Lynn. Seems like you can always Lynn find helping out in practical ways around the B & B. Here she is hanging just-washed linens on the clothes line.
And finally, here at the right is Colin, husband to Sue, pictured earlier.

When Bruce and I return next year, we'll see our friends again for at least a few overlapping days.

Hoorah for Bedside Manor and our Merry Fishing Band!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Tuesday we awoke to an overcast, slightly cooler, day. After breakfast (all the usual plus strawberry and blueberry pancakes, along with huge homemade beef sausages), most of us gathered in the kitchen to sign up for next year's bookings. And then we headed off to fish! Luckily, I caught my first fish of the week -- a smallish rainbow on a nymph. It felt good; I was beginning to think I was jinxed. By about 1 p.m., the clouds had dispersed and the sky was blue again.

Nonetheless, CarolAnn and I decided to take some time to go into the town of Coleman to visit the Frank Slide Interpretive Center, which tells the story of a dreadful disaster in 1903, when a huge landslide buried at least 76 people alive. The photo at the left shows Turtle Mountain today. We got to the center just in time to see the last showing of a very good video depicting the tragedy.

The area offers a good number of other interesting excursions: The Leitch Colleries, a collection of mining relics from one of the earliest and most ambitious coal mining operations in the Crowsnest Pass, which Bruce and I visited last year; the Bellevue Underground Mine Tour (haven't done this); and if you're willing to drive about 50 minutes from Crowsnest Pass (haven't done this either, but it sounds fascinating), there's the UNESCO World Heritage Site: Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, the world's largest and best preserved buffalo jumps. (Prehistoric North American natives, says a guidebook, pursued their quarry and would drive them over a cliff to their deaths.) Sounds a bit "unsportsman-like" but these were prehistoric folks, and besides, the herds of buffalos were enormous in those days.

Speaking of critters, here are a few really lovable ones around the Sara's place: On the right is Yodels, the cat. Below are the two dogs. You've already met Rolly; the little one is Cecil -- who I would love to have put in my suitcase and taken him home to Chicago. They look like they're fighting, but actually they're having a rollicking good time!
For dinner that evening, CarolAnn and I met Jerry and Bruce in town and had a splendid time. Later, when Bruce and I went back out (Bruce to fish and me to write some notes), we saw three or four deer with a fawn as they stepped into the river to drink. Unfortunately, they ducked into the bushes along the bank before I could grab my camera.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Monday's breakfast was scrumptious as usual. I know you want to know this: the usual sides plus a tasty egg platter with roasted herbed potatoes and tomatoes.

In addition to the fishing and the shared suppers on the deck, breakfast is definitely one of the day's highlights. Bill (pictured here with his wife, Shirley) is quite inventive with his culinary skills, so after the "first breakfast course," we all wait expectantly for the main entree. A sort of a Renaissance man -- Bill does many things well. He practices several days a week as an anesthesiologist at a local hospital plus he ranches/farms, brews beer, cooks fabulous meals, and -- though he tends to be a bit reserved initially -- is an entertaining conversationalist. Shirley, a former nurse, is an industrial-strength extrovert; funny, lively and witty, she is the life of the party wherever she goes. Fortunately for Bruce and me, we got to see her a bit when she returned Saturday from her trip east.

On this day, along with Sue and Colin, Bruce and I decided to fish the Livingstone River, which is about an hour and a half away. It was another beautiful day, and after we parted from our friends (who went downstream as we headed upstream), we didn't see anyone else on the river. Here are a few scenes from the Livingstone.

Breathtaking, isn't it?

Again, that evening all of us pooled grocery resources, and dinner on the deck was delightful.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Up Saturday morning -- no, not "bright and early," just bright. (Breakfast is served at 8:30 a.m. -- very civilized, I think.) The weather is glorious -- as is usual around here this time of year.

I must tell you about breakfast; what a feast -- for the eye as well as the palate. We had fresh fruit salad (no, not from a can), fresh-baked strawberry and blueberry muffins (still hot from the oven), orange juice, great coffee, a choice of dry cereals, toast -- and then came the main offering: a huge platter of a delicious egg dish with tomatoes and fresh dill. Fabulous! And this is a typical breakfast. (which is why we rarely have to eat lunch except perhaps for a small snack.)

The scene above is also typical. Lots of good eating, conversation and laughter; no one rushes. At the foot of the table at the far end is Jerry, to his left is his friend Carol Ann, who is just learning to fish. Continuing left is Sue and Colin and Bruce. The folks to Jerry's right, not visible except for Andrew in the left foreground, are Lynn and Herb.

By the end of breakfast, the topic often would turn to "Where are you planning to fish today?" Sometimes guests choose to leave the property and head to one of the many other good rivers in the vicinity. But usually Bruce and I stay on the Crowsnest. It's handy and there are SO many excellent pools along the long stretch of the Crowsnest on the Sara property. The photo above is a view from alongside the river.

That evening, Bruce and I and Jerry and Carol Ann decided to "stay in" for supper, pork chops done the deck grill, etc. Later that evening, after dark (I can't remember if we fished more in the early evening or not) the larger group drifted to the deck for more conversation -- and of course, the day's "fish stories." Jerry and Carol Ann are in the photo above.

The next day the four women in the our merry band decided to go out fishing together on the Crowsnest. Sue (from the left) is quite good a good fisherwoman; next is Carol Ann, who is just learning (this is her very first time!); Lynn is very skilled and experienced; and me, still a learner, too. Carol Ann is quite amazing; she's a very quick study and was pulling in fish left and right!(Unfortunately, I didn't do as well; no good excuse.)

One of the Sara's dogs -- Rolly (short for Roland) -- decided he must follow us everywhere we went -- even into the water. What a hoot!

Oh, did I mention what we had for breakfast? The same fabulous selections above except for the addition of Bill's famous home-made porridge (he mixes rolled oats with several other grains that he grinds himself!) plus thick, delicious French toast as the main entree. One must NOT think of dieting here!

Dinner that evening was a semi-spontaneous pooling of groceries among all of us (though Lynn provided most of it): Herb grilled hamburgers, we found enough fixings for salad, there was potato salad, sweet corn and lots of wine. Sigh! What a life!

Saturday, September 02, 2006


I can't believe it's already September. The summer has vanished like a wisp of smoke, though the memories linger -- a bit less wispy perhaps (aided by photos, of course).

Bruce and I returned home from our second fishing trip of the year last Monday, August 28. The flight back to Chicago from Calgary was held up by mechanical problems with our plane, and then when we were transferred to another carrier, that flight was several hours late. So by the time we got home and to bed, it was very late, and I had to get up on Tuesday to go to work. But I couldn't get too terribly grumpy about it because we had had such a wonderful time.

I am still new to the whole world of fishing. The June trip was my first attempt at bait fishing; this flyfishing trip to Alberta, Canada, was my fourth. Bruce, however, has been making this same trek for 9 years now -- going with our good friend Jerry Gerson, who introduced him to fly fishing and to the bed and breakfast where we always stay. Bedside Manor (above) is nestled in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies in an area called the Crowsnest Pass, which is a two-hour drive south from Calgary.

Bedside Manor -- in fact, all of Crowsnest Pass -- is a wonderful, beautiful place. Not at all glamorous or posh, the B and B is on a farm-type ranch owned and operated by Bill and Shirley Sara. The guest rooms have been built in what they call "the barn," and breakfast is served in the dining room of the Sara's charming Victorian home, which was moved to its present site from the town of Lethbridge. In addition to the five rooms, the barn also includes a modest kitchen on the first floor complete with sink, fridge, microwave, and a large freezer and grill on the deck. This is the sitting room upstairs outside of our room. Very cozy.

Those of us who are "regulars" at Bedside Manor -- and there a good number of us -- come back year to year, often planning our times so that we can at least overlap some portion of our visit with our fishing friends from other parts of the U.S and Canada. It is sort of a merry band!

Bruce and I got to the B and B at about 4:30 p.m. on Friday, August 18. We immediately went to buy our fishing licences and several bottles of wine. Shortly after we settled in, we heard that Bill planned to grill elk steaks for everyone in the barbeque pit/shed next to the river. (That's the Crowsnest River -- approximately 3 1/2 kms of which are on the Sara property!)

Shirley was out of town on family business, so all the guests were asked to chip in with food contributions. Lynn (who you will meet soon) organized things, and the evening was a delight. In addition to the elk steaks (which were delicious), Bill brought plenty of his own home-brewed beer -- a smooth, even elegant, beer with a flavor like pale ale. I'm not a beer drinker, but even I could appreciate it. Since Bruce and I had not yet picked up a few groceries (for lunches and snacks), all we could contribute was wine.