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


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


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


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 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

My “Dance Card” is Full

One of the great things about Zihuatanejo is you can be a busy as possible or not. Busy one week relax and refresh the next. The opportunities are there. This has been one of my busiest weeks.

My Sunday begins as it often does with a day at Escollera enjoying friends and the lovely infinity pool.

Monday was a lovely at home day on my balcony where I can read, watch the busy Mexican street life or enjoy the company of a couple of the roof cats who visit with me frequently.

Tuesdays are usually spent with lunching with an ebb and flow of ladies who are here full time or full season at one of our favorite beach front restaurants. For me it is frequently followed by a swim in the lovely salt water of the ocean where you float effortlessly.

Thursday was a day on the bay sailing swimming and snorkeling and enjoying Zihuatanejo’s exquisite sunset.

Snorkeling off Playa Las Gatas saw more colorful fish this day than I have ever seen before
Even a small school of dolphins joined us

And it’s only Friday, but I have plans to go dancing tonight with friends and Saturday is dinner with other friends.

And folks wonder why I am so happy here! Everyday here is an adventure where you can choose to participate or not. Go out and do or stay home, relax, curl up with a good book, walk the beach. For me it’s as close to paradise as it can be.

Signing off KO

The Simple Life is the Life for Me

An early morning walk is all about the fishermen. It is life as it has always been in costal villages around the world. I so admire these men who go out at night in little boats and fish until daylight, bring their catch on the shore to sell in the early morning hours. I never tire of seeing this.

An evening walk give me a chance to catch a basketball game in progress on probably the worlds most colorful ball court.

Invited over to Linda’s for drinks before going to dinner Coco Bahia. A lovely bayside balcony with a view to die for. Dinner was great as was the company.

Life is far more social here than at home, everything is outside, everyone is friendly and no one is in a hurry. I love every minute of this relaxed attitude. This all happens during the busy season of tourists and guests, I know it is quite different when the gringos retreat north of the boarder, and the heat and humidity ramp up. But I think I’m ready to try it.

Signing off KO


Great view of the basketball court and El Centro

I managed to start the New Year off with a bang. Literally a bang on my head. After celebrating the impending new year too hardily I returned to my apartment even before the New Year was rung in. Two steps in the door and I tripped and was down and ricocheting off the hallway walls like a pinball, landing flat on my face. I picked myself up and crawled into bed. The next morning I could see the cut on the side of my forehead was still bleeding and probably needed stitches. So after showering I walked the few blocks to the hospital clinic to get stitched up.

Immediately they requested that I have a friend or family member come stay with me before they would treat me. This is New Years morning, it took me 3 phone calls before I could rouse anyone to come sit with me. Fortunately Cate, who is Spanish fluent, came to my rescue and spent the entire day with me in the hospital while I was getting IV antibiotics, head X-ray that had to be done in a different hospital where the Xray machine was. They were insistent that I spend the night as my blood pressure was high, Normally mine is quite low and I was sure it was high due to the stress of being in the hospital. If I stayed Cate would have had to stay with me also. That’s a lot to expect from a friend. But it’s the Mexican way. Long story short I refused to stay the night and as soon as I was back in my apartment my blood pressure went right down as I expected. Cate was an absolute angel and no way can I ever thank her enough for giving up an entire day to play nursemaid and translator for me.

Health care in Mexico is good, Doctors very competent, most have a smattering of English, but not fluent. Family/friends are expected to be there with you to monitor and help as staffing appears to be short. I’m not sure they have nurses aides. Hospital very clean

So now I have 2 black eyes, on the left eye, the white is all red. There were several stitches beside the right eyebrow. I’m a mess! So I’ve been staying at home, don’t want to scare people as I am quite unsightly. After 5 or 6 days I started venturing out as necessary wearing large dark glasses. It may take up to a month for my eye to clear up, but there is no damage to my eyesight. The stitches are out now, but I can’t swim for a couple of weeks. Everyday it gets better, but still ugly. Don’t have anyone to blame but myself. Not the best way to start the New Year but it has to be all up hill from here.

One of the cats that visit my balcony and keep me entertained

Signing off KO