MY DAY OFF AND MY FIRST REAL HIKE

I’ve been wanting to do the Narmada Falls hike since I first got to Paradise way back in June. You start at the falls and hike to Longmire where the National Park Inn is located. It’s a 4.3 down hill hike. The down hill appealed to me plus you see 3 water falls.

The falls are a stunning cascade of water, the trail has many stone and rock steps, not the easiest for me to handle especially as there are lots of hikers and falls looky-loos from the top to the bottom of Narmada falls

As I proceed on down the trail it became latticed with tree roots, making it difficult for big, clumsy feet but at this point the crowd thinned out, and a quarter mile down the trail I was all alone. Alone enough that I thought I really should have been more specific as to what time I started and what time I expected to return and will do so on future hikes. For the next two miles I only saw 2-3 groups of hikers, visited with a nice group of ladies from Puget Sound and one is now living in Port Orchard where I have been living.

More water falls are down the trail

I believe this is Carter falls and the pool at the bottom was a crystal clear pool of blue water

Crossed a half dozen bridges like this, but this was the only one with a railing

Along the way I came across this old wooden water supply pipe line made of cedar and steel support rings

This was the hard part, rocks, rock and more rocks. I couldn’t even see where the trail was and a kind man offered to lend me a hand getting down the rocks to this narrow bridge with water rushing under it. I crossed the log bridge successfully and had just 1.7 miles to go to Longmire where the National Park Inn is located and where I could catch the employee’s shuttle back to the top of the falls where my car was parked.

My reward for a job well done on the porch of the National Park Inn at Longmire

After a lovely trout dinner at the 1/2 off employee discount I found I wasn’t going to wait the hour for the shuttle after all, as one of the maintenance crew was headed to Paradise and offered to give me a lift back to my car. All in all a great day off. Signing off KO

FIRST HIKE OF THE SEASON

I’ve been returning to Port Orchard to empty out my house every time I get days off. This Wednesday and Thursday I chose to stay on the mountain and enjoy it’s beauty. I selected the trail I was going to take as there was a good chance of seeing mountain goats from the “Fremont Lookout” The trail is a five mile trip and and a 900 ft climb in elevation. I knew it might be difficult for me but I was up for the challenge. After .5 of a mile straight up I knew I was going to have difficulties as I was gasping for air and having some second thoughts. Then nature threw me a curve, well maybe it was a life line, But my body said you need a rest room now, I mean RIGHT-NOW, and of course on these fragile meadows you just can’t duck behind a tree as you are not to be off the trail EVER! Of course I didn’t want to embarrass my self and be shunned by every hiking coming up. And there are lots of hikers, truly no privacy. So I almost ran back down the trail to the rest rooms in the parking lot, just making it in time.

Change of direction doing the Silver Forest Trail in the heat of the day

I was determine to go hiking so I picked a short 1 mile trail, only 150 ft in elevation to deal with and hiked thru beautiful early wildflowers. Of course by this time it was noon and very hot, well into the 80’s and not much shade. So I have learned some very valuable lessons. If I am to do a “strenuous for me” climb. I need to start at daybreak, no later than 5 AM. I should have remembered this from the walk from Zihuatanejo to Ixtapa which is 6 miles, where we started at 6AM. And it’s OK to turn back if you are not comfortable, anytime you feel you have bit off more than you can chew, stop and go back

Tomorrow I will go the Ranger station and get a book to identify the flowers

I love the wildflowers, they are abundant here and in a week or two should be at their peak. So many are tiny and delicate that it is hard for me to photograph with my cell phone. There are flowers everywhere you look. I am so fortunate to have this experience. Signing off KO

THE GIFT SHIP AT SUNRISE

The original challenge in this job has been standing a full 8-hour shift. I haven’t stood an 8-hour shift in more years than I can remember. Most recently I have been working for myself. That allows you to set your own hours. Start and stop when you want, if you have problems, you can just bag it for the day and start fresh tomorrow. It also means that to meet deadlines you may have to work extra hours at a different time, but you are the one making those decisions.

So here I am 78 years old, low man on the totem pole, doing what I am told, when I am told, and it is OK, not only OK but super OK. I bear no responsibility for any poor decision making. I managed to finagle myself into the position of “stocker of gift shop items”, and my coworker does all the food and drink items. This seems to work good for us both. I like stocking, it’s not complicated, hard to screw up and it keeps me super busy. As fast as they buy those sweatshirts I have more on hangers and on the racks. I average between 3.5 and 6 miles a day just walking in the store. I’m getting paid to exercise!

I actually enjoy breaking down the cardboard boxes, it’s like meditation. Mindless work that needs to be done, but you can think about anything you want to while doing it and there is great satisfaction when it is all done and fits into the bins neatly. Same thing with sweeping the shop at the end of the day. No brainwork in doing it, your mind can be a million miles away, but great satisfaction when you sweep it all into a dustpan and to the garbage. I guess this comes from a lifetime of my primary job as a wife and mother was to keep things clean and tidy and orderly. I like clean, neat, and orderly!

But even in this ideal setting problems happen. Our general manager has not been a good manager since day one and with a personality that set off my BS barometer big time. Well it turns out he was a creep and a creep of the worst kind. He took off leaving everything behind except the last deposit and screwed with the Wi-Fi rendering it useless and us with no means of communication and also higher than a kite. He has a ton of charges against him and will get caught sooner or later. The company sent in some of their higher ups and we are back running smoother than ever.

All I have to do to release any stress is just look out the window, the mountain is so white and appears so smooth, reminds me of a freshly opened can of Crisco. Going hiking tomorrow.

Snow as white and as smooth as Crisco

Signing off KO

The Trials and Tribulations of Living on a Mountain Top and the Rewards

It is mid July everywhere, but here on Mount Rainier it is very early spring. The snow is receding fast and the trees are coming into bud and a few wildflowers have stuck their heads up hoping for some sunshine, but last night turned bitter cold with a howling wind and one wing of our dormitory lost power to all the wall plugs. Of course that is my wing and our only heat is plug in radiators. Several shivering hours later we managed to be able to keep our radiators plugged in and running no other electric device. This evening all seems to have righted itself, but I will say our gift shop was cold all day. And for those of you who I know me cold is something I do not enjoy. I was Zihua dreaming.

We are operating under some very unusual circumstances here at Sunrise. Pre covid a staff off 10 to 12 was normal, but since we have no public restaurant only “grab and go “ foods we can operate with less staff. 6-7 would be ideal, we are 4. We are working 1-2 hours over time each day to keep up. Of the 4 Gift shops this company runs on Mount Rainier we are selling in the #2 spot and are only open 5 days a week. Not enough staff to be open full time. I am “Stocker in Chief”. A title I gave my self. I stock the gift shop with everything from T shirts to magnets manny times a day. As fast as they sell I replace. Our General Manager and the gift shop supervisor man the cash registers, our fourth employee handles the stocking of food and drink items. That is a super busy job as hikers are hungry and thirsty.

Normally we would have a “porter” to handle janitorial and security type duties and a cook. We have none, we have to do it all ourselves, so in compensation for that we are not being charged for our room and board as we had originally expected and on top of that all merchandise that says Mount Rainier we can purchase for 50% off. Anyway I am used to cooking for my self as I eat funny, and certainly used to cleaning up after myself and I have mastered pushing a big broom through our gift shop every night and I sleep well. Life is good even when very tired. Signing off KO

THE MANY FACES OF MT. RAINIER

Our gift shop has been open about 3 weeks now and we are very busy. Folks start hiking here before sunrise and upon return are hungry and need snacks, sandwiches and such. Since covid, we have not had a “grill type snack bar”. Every thing is pre prepared, packaged, and trucked in, but we do have have a huge selection of sandwiches, wraps, salads and all sorts of snack items. We sell everything from magnets and key chains to beautiful local pottery and wood crafted items, jewelry and of course T-shirt’s and sweatshirts. My job is to keep the store stocked, so as fast as they sell the merchandise I replace it with more. It’s very busy work which is what I wanted. Something to do while my house got sold. But I do know that this will be my last job.

With her head above the clouds

My house sold for a little over asking price in just one week. I have sold or donated most of my belongings, just have a few things left. My oldest daughter was coming into town for her high school reunion and will return home with some of the “family treasures”. So at this point the home I have lived in for 26 years or so no longer feels like home. I’m not sad to leave it, I’m ready for the next adventure. And actually when I go home on my days off to take care of necessary thing. I sort of get the “Heidi syndrome”and I am looking for my mountain, can hardly wait to get back to my mountain and get excited everywhere I get a view of it.

Full view taken from my bedroom window with the Ranger Station in view

The snow is melting rapidly and wild flowers are starting to pop up everywhere, most days the weather gets very warm and folks are hiking in shorts and tank tops, but today turned cold we were in almost white out conditions all day and we just about sold out of knit hats, sweatshirts and gloves. The change in the weather took a lot of folks by surprise.

This picture taken about 3 miles from my “former” home in Port Orchard

Mount Rainier can be seen from nearly every where in Washington State due to her magnificent height of 14,411ft. Both Western and Eastern Washington can enjoy her beauty. I couldn’t see her from my home but 3 miles down the road on my way to Belfair there she is in all her glory.

Signing off KO

MY HOME FOR THE SUMMER



This is the view from my room, taken from my window.

I’m at Sunrise Lodge on Mt Rainier at the 6400 ft level of this 14,410 mountain, the past month I’ve been at Paradise Inn working at the gift shop waiting until enough snow was cleared off and they could open Sunrise. There is still 4 ft of snow covering the hiking trails and it will probably be mid August before the wildflowers are in bloom, which is a big attraction here.

We are just about to open the gift shop, have spent the last couple of days cleaning and stocking. It is a lovely shop, much roomier than at Paradise. Nicer for the customer and for staff. We are a small staff, just 4 of us, we live upstairs over the shop, cook and eat together family style.

While the shop is mostly ready, our living quarters have been a bit of a disaster. The rooms had been swept out and that was about all. This is chipmunk heaven here and the little rascals move in while it is vacant and set up housekeeping so we arrived to a ton of chipmunk droppings everywhere, and the water in the bathrooms wasn’t on yet. Only running water was in the kitchen. Today there is warm water for a shower, running water in one of the sinks in the girls bathroom. Thats good enough, almost feels like home.

Speaking of home, mine is for sale at this very moment. Due to some unusual financing I wasn’t sure I would be able to sell mine but it is on the market and that is one of the main reasons I chose to live here this summer. I have sold half my belongings and since they want you out of the house while showing your property I just couldn’t live in that confusion, so here I am living in this confusion, but it is new confusion and fun.

In October when I plan to return to Mexico I will be coming for good. I plan to make it my permanent home. I had to renew my pass port so I could apply for residency but it took two months for my passport to come and I may now not have enough time to do it before I leave, but In will try. Well so much for today. Signing off KO

PS Sold my house today

BUSY, BUSY, BUSY AND NOW IT’S ALMOST TIME TO GO

The March weather has been the best of the entire season being about 82 day time, but upon occasion a light wrap, if you are out at night, might be enjoyed.  Also quite a bit of wind sometimes needing to close one door or another to keep every thing from blowing around inside my apartment and no need to use a fan.  Ocean water temperature has definably dropped some, a little chilly as one enters.  
This has been the most fun season ever.  A continual whirlwind of parties, potlucks, beach get togethers, dinning out, dinning in with friends, more beaches and more friends.  I have not posted about all of it or taken many pictures of all the events as they are not of much interest to anyone but those involved. I have acquired so many good friends here in Zihuatanejo.
Afternoon with good friends at the lovely Casa Roja
I spend a lot of my personal time reading. Looking back through my kindle I’ve read 20 book on my kindle and one hard bound book and a couple of paperback books.  I prefer reading on my kindle, no reading light needed at night and my favorite feature is the dictionary.  I’ve always been to lazy to stop and open a separate dictionary and look up words I’m not sure of.  But with the kindle one touch brings up my word and all it’s meanings and pronunciations.  
I’m always hesitant to recommend books as everyone has their personal taste, but the ones that stuck with me as super enjoyable are Devoted by Deanne Koontz, The Tender Bar by JR Moerhinger, Sooley by John Grisham, and the Kite Runner, by Khalid Hosseni, and I read anything and everything by Ken Follett.
Now I am in my last few days as a “visitor” to Zihuatanejo, When I return in October Zihuatanejo will become my home. As soon as I get back to Washington I will file for temporary residency which will allow me to stay more than 180 days and gives me a few extra perks.
I will miss the three roof cats that hang out on my balcony. They have provided  me with great entertainment and enjoyment this year. While I have been supplementing their diets, one has shown me they will have no trouble returning to hunting as she leapt two feet in the air to bring down a pigeon mid flight.

Signing off KO

The Tattoo

I have never been a fan of tattoos. One of my sons has full arm tattoos on both arms, the other son has none. One daughter has a couple of small tattoos, the other daughter has none. That daughter sort of subscribes to the theory of “that butterfly on your back will turn into a crow in the crack” as you age. But I’ve always said “If I ever see a tattoo that will make me look better I will go for it”. And I did!

I have always been a makeup user since I was 12 and would sneak my moms lipstick out of the house. Mascara, eye shadow, eyeliners, blush, foundations, all became my friends. Loved experimenting with different techniques, trends, colors and applicators. Never would I leave the house with out make up on. It was like combing your hair you just don’t go out in public until it is done.

Tattoo’s have become very mainstream, not just for sailors on a drunken night out. They are quite popular here in Mexico with many good artists. And shortly after arriving in Mexico I ran into my friend Helen who was sporting tattooed eyeliner and it looked so lovely on her, I thought, hmmm maybe? A little more thought and it became a definite yes, I’m going to do this.

So three of us ladies made consecutive appointments. Now this in itself is a bit of a challenge as the tattoo artist we chose, the same one our friend Helen recommended, speaks no English, zero, nada none. And all we have is a smattering of Spanish, not enough for real communication. But we managed to make appointments and all showed up. And the rest was up to her.

She has a cute shop, very clean and nicely decorated in pink, black and white where she specializes in permanent make up. One by one we stretched out in a comfortable reclining lawn chair and we we entrusted our future beauty to her, We all agreed it was more of an irritating and annoying tickle rather than pain. It took about an hour’s time for each of us, longer for me as I was having my eyebrows micro-bladed also

A few hours later I was shocked to see that the process had given me two black eyes. Nobody had said anything about black eyes! But the bruising faded quickly. We knew we needed to stay out of the sun for a week and were given an ointment to put on the eyelids to keep the liner moist while it heals. Each of us went home to our computers for google to give us all the information we needed on how to care for our permanent make up. We knew that tattoos fade in time and might need retouching, at our age probably not an issue! Although I do know that the micro blading does need regular touch ups.

The finished product

SAILFEST and ANOTHER MILESTONE

Sailfest is the annual fun, fundraising activity in Zihuatanejo that raises money for schools, school supplies, lunch programs, scholarships, etc benefitting Zihuatanejo’s poorest children.

It began this year with a walk/run that was joined in by several of Zihuatanejo’s running clubs. Next was a meet and greet on the pier with music and dancing. Other events were the sailboat races around the rock, the band M-Dock’s concert had everyone dancing on the pier again. A gala dinner was held on the pier, which has turned out to be a great location for events. The nightly music cruises were again a very popular event with many talented local and visiting musicians performing for small groups while sailing in the bay. This year the auction was limited to just the live auction and the “Chili Cook Off” was held with out the silent auction. Most events were held with only limited numbers of participants allowed at each event, held out doors and well spaced to keep in line with current “covid” protocols. And of course the concluding sail parade where all the participating cruisers take passengers for a day long sail out past Ixtapa and some on to Ixtapa Island other choose to fish or swim.

My tiny contribution to Sailfest this year was to man the t-shirt and souvenirs sales desk and to help with the walk run event. Right smack in the middle of this fun filled week I had to make a quick, 3 day trip back to Washington state to do some legal work all in preparation for my making Zihuatanejo my real home. I wish the timing had been better as Sailfest is such a fun event.

My February birthday was the original impetus for staying in Zihuatanejo longer than just the month of January. Then it was “we don’t do anything special on Christmas anymore, why not come for December too”. And pretty soon you find yourself enjoying the entire winter in lovely, warm, friendly Zihuatanejo.

This birthday started with an early morning swim with Suzanne, my always willing swim partner, and iced coffee. We moved on to lovely beach mimosas. Just before leaving to take a siesta the staff at Madera’s brought out a slice of birthday cheese cake. I wasn’t sure the day could get any better.

I had selected Agave for dinner as I hadn’t been there yet this year. And they didn’t disappoint. Good meals, good prices and service. And great friends.

The birthday girl

We adjourned to Eloina’s where Linda presented me with my handsome date for after dinner drinks. A fun day with great friends including phone calls from most of my kids. Couldn’t ask for anything more, only many more just like this.

Signing off KO

Another Busy Week

Zihuatanjo is such a fun,vibrant place full of fun things to do, new, interesting people to meet. I have come to love it so much that come this fall I will make it my permanent place of residence.

So I have much to do during this time period and number one is applying for my temporary residency card. Hopefully this goes smoothly, most of it must be done on line, but some will have to wait until I return to Washington to access my records

Attended the Birthday and Retirement Bash for Jimi Mamou, a Zihuatanejo legend. He is retiring after 60 years of being the music man. He is not only a musician and singer, but a true entertainer, bringing, joy, laughter and dancing feet to the folks in Zihuatanejo for the past 17 years

Can’t sit still when Jimi plays.

Pool parties and friends gathering

Warm sand and warm water.

What is not to love about this magical place, can’t think of a single reason not to make it my home.

signing off KO