Portland – Patty’s Eclipse Porch Party

Doug, Sherry, Gabby, Jim, Patty

Patty and I graduated from St Anselm College together. We stayed connected through mountain biking, skiing and hiking adventures for about 7 years after graduation as we settled into and unsettled our careers (as recovering nurses) and moved around the northeast. And although we’ve stayed in touch since Patty moved to Seattle in 1989, and later to Portland, we hadn’t connected live. Time to change that. It was just a coincidence that we’d be in Portland, not far from the eclipse path of totality, the day before the eclipse. We checked in with Patty and after almost 30 years, her response was ‘Come on over, we’re having an eclipse party!’

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Dana, Sue, Kirby, Muffin, Doug

There is a certain ethereal plane of friendship where you can pick up a conversation as though you’d just left the room for a few minutes, even after a gap of several years. This is how it feels when I get back together with Dana, my roommate from college, and his wife Muffin, both of whom I’ve known for a few more than forty years.

For that reason, alone, our visit was wonderful. Food and conversation, catching up, exchanging stories, just hanging out and visiting with old friends like these were still the old times. Fantastic! I’m not going to make this post about that, though.

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Tacoma – it’s not so bad!*

Sue, Leanne, Caleb, Eliza, Greg, Doug

Leanne and I bonded as ski buddies at Sugarbush, a dozen-plus years back in time. About 11 years ago she and the kids up and moved, first to Spokane and then to Tacoma, where we finally caught up with each other. Leanne hasn’t changed a bit! The kids, however…

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Profiles of North Cascades National Park

The view east from Easy Pass through the smoke

Having skirted the worst of the smoke, we entered the North Cascades National Park from the west, up wind from the nearest wildfires. Although the air quality was improved – it smelled like a 24/7 campfire but it didn’t hurt to breathe – the skies were still smoky and views obscured. Oh, and add to the wildfires a record breaking epic heat wave torturing the Pacific Northwest. We’d figure out how to turn this into an adventure…

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What a difference a day makes

Hazy? Morning mist? Nope. Wildfire smoke. Columbia River near Pateros, WA.

We left Glacier intending to head west toward North Cascades National Park. We meandered through western Montana, following the Clark Fork Valley through pretty pine forests, reaching Lake Pend D’Oreille in Idaho. The pine forests gave way to rolling hills and eventually those amber waves of grain (the wheat belt of eastern Washington). Cresting a hill, we got our first view of the Columbia River Valley in the form of Lake Roosevelt, behind the Grand Coulee Dam. Following the river, which retains a certain natural beauty despite having been heavily engineered for power generation and irrigation, we passed through miles of fruit orchards surrounded by green hills and more sagebrush.

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