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Uluru Adventure

10 Aug

Our hiking tour drove right past Uluru. We knew this was the plan, but still…

Uluru is a fantastic geological gem. I had seen many pictures from Uluru as it is now known. For many years it went by its Anglicized name Ayers Rock.

I thought we would climb Uluru.  I have read and ghost-written accounts of travelers climbing this Monolith.

The climb was on my bucket list for our Australian Adventure.  However, starting with our first day in Australia, we started hearing stories about not being able to climb Uluru, that this is the last year to climb, and that the mountain is sacred to local Aboriginal Peoples and they would prefer if no one climbed.

They are very sad whenever someone gets injured or dies climbing Uluru. The local Aboriginals co-own and manage the Uluru-Kata Tujuta National Park along with the Australian government.

Our hiking tour guide similarly told us why climbing Uluru is discouraged. Currently, less than 20% of visitors climbed the mountain.

We were planning on doing a base walk at Sunrise the next morning about 3/4th of the way around Uluru. I was really looking forward to this hike and being up close to this famous UNESCO World Heritage Site.

As planned we were going to tent camp nearby overnight our first night.

Before that though we had a hike planned for Kata Tujuta. (But that’s a different story).

This to be followed by watching the sunset on Uluru while we had some hors d’oeuvres and champagne at an overlook. The colors of Uluru are fantastic at Sunset with many different subtle shifts from orange, to rose, to red, and to purple.

Sunset at Uluru was spectacular.

We slept well, ate an early breakfast, and then headed out the next morning to start our base walk” of Uluru before sunrise.

It was still dark when we arrived at our starting location.

Uluru already had a dull reddish hue

As we started our walk the sky start to lighten

I shivered a bit as I walked. But I quickly forgot the chill as I stared up at the huge rock faces. Up close they were very pock-marked on the eastern side. They displayed huge interesting depressions and holes carved out by wind, water and extremes of hot and cold temperatures.

I continued to hike on, pausing often to take more pictures of the now rising sun and of the ever-changing rock faces.

 

   

Seemingly every minute they displayed a different color and nuanced shadows.

Finally as the sun rose over the eastern horizon it lit up the monolith..

Uluru glowed and I smiled. I suspected it would be an interesting morning as I continued my walk just feet away from one of the world’s most fascinating geological features.

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Bruce Summers, summersbw@gmail.com, is professional personal historian and life story writer. He also enjoys hiking, travel and photography (and the occasional fascinating geological wonder). I hope you enjoy this and other Summoose Tales. 

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Mother’s Day Memories

13 May

My Mom loved Snapdragons. I aways liked to buy her a flat of annuals (flowers) for Mother’s Day and then plant then in her garden.

My challenge, not everyone sells Snapdragons, especially during the second week of May. Other challenges, for four years I was away at college for Mother’s Day. For another four years I was in Barbados serving in the Peace Corps. For much of the past 30 years or so, I was often tied up with events with my own family, or helping my children celebrate Mother’s Day with my wife. However, most years either on Mother’s Day or within a week or two I would visit Mom and bring along a flat of flowers and then plant them in different sunny places around her yard.

Last year, was my first year without my Mom.  She passed away the prior December. So, my tradition with my Mom has ended. But I still see her in the flats of flowers at the flower markets and in the farmer’s markets.

This year, I saw her in the Geraniums that I bought for my wife.  I brought them home and planted them in our hanging baskets. Then together my wife and I decided how to arrange and hang them around our patio.

This lone hanging pot has waited since December for its new Geranium on Mother’s Day

I buy Geraniums almost every year for my wife for Mother’s Day. It is a special part of Spring.  I do not give her the flowers I would have given my Mom, but I do like buying and planting flowers for her. It makes me happy.

Mostly I grow fruit and vegetable with some herbs.  The flowers are for my wife and I glad she likes them. I smile when I see her out on the patio, snapping off the old blossoms, this to encourage new blossoms to bloom.

These Geraniums bloom the rest of the spring, all summer, all fall and often into November or even December. My wife tends them, occasionally I water them, but mostly I enjoy them and I enjoy watching my wife nurture them.

I hope each of you has special Mother’s Day memories and traditions. I hope they make you smile and help you to think or, to treasure, and to remember your Mom.

I have been blessed with a wonderful wife (the mother of my children), a wonderful mother and mother-in-law (who also loved flowers and gardening, and wonderful grandmothers who always had flowers in their house or in their gardens.

A happy Mother’s Day to all.

The picture above was from Christmas Day 2017, one year after Mom died, her light and memories flooded my father’s house as we prepared the Christmas meal. Thanks Mom. Happy Mother’s Day.

Bruce Summers, Summoose Tales, Personal Historian, and Life Story Professional, summersbw@gmail.com

Cactus League – then Cactus Hiking

5 Mar

   

We were just looking for a place to eat… we kept seeing all these people with “Giants” and “SF” hats?

We flew into Phoenix, took a taxi to overnight in Scottsdale, AZ, stowed our luggage for our 4 PM check-into our hotel, and then got directions to Historic Scottsdale, “it’s just half a mile by foot.” We listened intently, received a map with some marked in suggestions of possible places to eat lunch and dinner, and then we were on our way to starting our Arizona hiking adventure.

We would meet up with friends for dinner, so we needed to do some scouting of interesting places to eat. Scottsdale is known for its historic, western feel,  and its old town. On our way to historic Scottsdale, we noticed a baseball stadium. There were police, traffic control, and significant streams of people laser-focused on going/getting to the stadium, this at noon on a sunny Friday afternoon.

Then we started to notice that everyone was wearing Giants and SF hats and jerseys.  They seemed to be in a festive happy mood. So we asked a couple. “It’s the first game of Spring Training, (professional baseball), it’s the San Francisco Giants versus the Milwaukee Brewers (two teams in the Spring Training Cactus league).”

We walked a bit further and saw lots and lots of more fans streaming towards the stadium.  We asked another couple, what time is the game? “1 PM they shared, each with a huge grin.” So, this planted the seed; should we check out Spring Training? When else will we ever get the chance to see a Spring Training game?  We like baseball, but we are not likely to schedule a vacation around attending Spring Training, but why not take advantage of this opportunity. “And we can get a hot dog… for lunch and watch the game…”

Next, a man on the street had two good tickets he was offering to sell, “My wife could not go, it’s sold out, these are good seats.” He explained that the Giants always do Spring Training in Scottsdale, so they are the local (favorite) team. Others later shared, that they buy season tickets for the local minor league team, mostly so they can get tickets to watch the Giants during Spring Training. We thought about it, and we bought two tickets for the game.

We completed about a mile survey of Historic Scottsdale, took photos of the historic artifacts, of the gardens and sculptures, and of a few restaurants and their menus.  It looked like a nice place to explore.  We picked out two or three good options for dinner with our friends and then joined the throngs headed to the stadium.

Inside we got our hot dogs, mine was a tasty bratwurst with mustard and sauerkraut, and a bottle of water. We found our seats, lower level, just a bit past first base on the right field side.  There were perhaps 30 Giants fans to each Brewers fan and there was a buzz in the air… Spring Training… first game.

“Our” Giants took an  early 3-0 lead, the Brewers closed it up, so by the 7th inning it was 5-3 with “Our” Giants still in the lead. We had seen two home runs, some decent baseball, some good, and some bad pitching, fun, but we were ready to go check into our rooms.

We had a nice Mexican dinner with our friends in Old Town.

We got a good night sleep a healthy breakfast, and then met up with our REI Hiking group and two guides.

We packed up our hiking gear and suitcases and headed south towards Tucson and our first of four days of hiking in Southern Arizona.

We arrived at the Sabino Canyon Recreation Area, checked our gear, filled up our water bottles, and saw a mountain lion head with pelt attached. “Yes there are mountain lions and bobcats in this hills, shared a docent.” Good to know I thought.

We had already seen many miles of Saguaro Cactus, hills, mountains, desert on our drive down. This should be interesting we thought. We would ride a tram 2 miles to the trail head then start our hike up to Seven Falls. We passed endless hills of Saguaro and other Cacti. In less than 24 hours we had visited a western old town, attended the opening day of Spring Training, eaten a great Mexican meal, packed up and prepared to hike up our first desert Canyon. What a great first day:)

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Bruce Summers is a Personal Historian, a  former Board Member of the Association of Personal Associations and Director for Regions and Chapters.  He is a member of the Life Story Professionals of the Greater Washington, DC Area and an avid hiker and photographer. Summersbw@gmail.com 

 

Bearfence Mountain Hike – Jan. 14, 2018

16 Jan

My wife and I love to hike and take long walks. We both are on the lookout for new walks to explore.  Sometimes she discovers them, sometimes I find it first.  I was working my way north on Skyline Drive. I entered this section from US 33 at the Swift Run Gap entrance to the Shenandoah National Park.

I had not traveled many miles. I was taking my time on a beautiful winter day. I pulled into an overlook and saw a sign for the Bearfence Mountain Trailhead. There were two routes, both starting right across Skyline Drive.  I could see the steps. I thought I should check this out, it might be a good trek for us to walk in the Spring on our way to or from visiting our daughter in Charlottesville.

The photo tiles below tell the rest of the story.  I went up the stairs, crossed over the Appalachian Trail, then decided to see how the “Moderate” trail, with the Rock Scrambles over the Ancient Greenstone Lava Flows would be for our future hike together. Enjoy.

 

National Bison Range – Montana

30 Oct

Bison are huge…

We recently visited the National Bison Range in Montana with some very good friends

It is in a beautiful setting with jagged mountains as a back drop and rolling tall grassy hills

I was excited by the prospect of seeing Bison in the wild for the first time

I was also looking forward to seeing the many other animals who live on the Range.

I was very impressed by the display of hundreds of shed antlers on display near the Range’s Visitor Center

Living on the East Coast most of my life, I have seen white tail deer but seldom anything as large as a mule deer, much less an elk or Bison.

We were only a few hundred yards into the Range when we spotted our first wildlife

“Oh those are pronghorn (antelope)” shared out hosts.

Pronghorn were new to my life list of mammals! They were colorful, muscular and near the road.

In about a mile we spotted out first Bison downhill in the grasslands. My thinking… Wow!!

They were grazing in an amazingly beautiful setting.

This side of the range neighbors a lake and some beautiful ranch land.

Next we saw two or three pairs of mule deer (they grow about twice the size of white-tail deer).  I had seen then several times  before on trips to the western U.S. Each pair appeared to have a mother (doe) and fawn (perhaps 6 months to a year old).

We turned away from the lake and farm land and turned towards the rolling hills of grass and sometimes woods.

We saw a young mule deer (Buck)

We went around a few more bends and then saw two bull Bison very close to the road. We stopped the van, opened the windows and the sliding door to take a few shots, but they were only about 10 or 15 yards away. “Don’t startle them,” my host advised quietly. Bison are huge up close and could do significant damage to a car. One of the bulls, pawed up dust from its wallow and gave us the evil eye to ensure we were not getting any closer.  We respectfully kept our distance.

A few more long looping turns around high hills and we were looking through a bit of fence, we saw two more bull Bison grazing in the woods, but what really got our attention was the Black Bear, walking past them… very respectfully, perhaps they are old friends and neighbors. We got out, stayed on our side of the fence and snapped pictures of the black bear as he ambled up the hill and away from us. Wow!!!

We turned away from the woods and angled around a high hill so we had a view of the lake and farms again, now well below us.  We had climbed up several hundred feet in altitude.

We stopped for several minutes to watch another mule deer doe and likely a yearling grazing on the ridge above us.

But then, we were pleasantly surprised to see a huge mule deer buck with massive antlers rise out of the grass.

We heard him call, and then he trotted quickly up hill chasing the doe and yearling. My hosts, “Wow, that is the biggest mule deer we have ever seen!!”

We took one last look as he galloped over the ridge, we hoped to catch a glimpse of him again on the other side of the ridges, he was that impressive.

We did see another young mule deer buck with a small rack, but by this time we were not impressed, not after seeing the magnificent buck on the ridge.

We continued along spotting solitary or small groups of Bison and mule deer in the distance.

We came over the top of the ridge and started down. Turning to the north and a bit east.

We continued to see bison and another young mule deer buck.

We turned into a side lane and parked to observe two more Bison.

As we walked a few feet towards them though, we discovered a small herd of older mule deer bucks.

Many of these also had impressive racks, but none quite as impressive as the one we saw climb the ridge following his family.

By now we were about halfway through the Range and realized, looking at our map that we had a long way to go to reach the exit gate before it closed at sundown. So, we speeded up our traverse for the second half of our loop through the Range.

We stopped only briefly to take a few snaps of near-in deer, and hurried along, the sun was heading down. But suddenly, we look across the meadow and saw a good-sized herd of elk!!!!

Elk are impressive, large even from a distance and they are about twice the size of the mule deer, often over 700 pounds.  Elk were also a new addition to my life list of mammals seen in the wild:)

Equally impressive, in the distance, way beyond the elk, was a large herd of Bison, grazing at the base of the high hills to the south.  Up until now we had only see single or pairs of Bison, mostly males.  This must be the main herd with the females and the younger Bison.

We really needed to hurry now, the sun was behind the ridge. We spotted a lone mule deer up on the ridge enjoying the early evening moon glow.

We spotted our first white tail deer sipping water by a stream as we continued west towards the exit. We stopped briefly behind a line of cars and heard an elk bellowing in the distance.

We were definitely in the “gloaming” as we made the last turn before the road to the exit gate.

We had one last treat, a good-sized group of pronghorn crossed the road in front of us, then they looked back to wish us a safe journey home. What an amazing afternoon!!!


Bruce Summers is a blogger and Personal Historian, Summoose Tales, summersbw@gmail.com, also former Regions and Chapters Chair of the Association of Personal Historians.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9/11 + 16 years

11 Sep

Yesterday, we donated online to help victims of Hurricane Irma in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Later, we checked Facebook and email alerts to see how family, friends and colleagues in Florida were coping with Irma as it rode up the length of Florida. This morning, I checked my email first thing. I smiled, as I saw two of my first cousins and their families had checked in that they were “Safe” on Facebook.

The sun is setting now. Many Florida residents and my cousins are still breathing sighs of relief. The disaster is far to their north. They are already starting their recovery. For most, it could have been a lot worse. For others, recovery could take weeks, months, even years.

It could have been a total surprise. 9/11/2001 started off as a spectacularly beautiful day in Washington, DC. The sky was a beautiful blue with no clouds, The morning commute was easy. The temperature was optimal as I walked to my office on Red Cross Square.

I hadn’t been settled into my cube very long when Mary Etta called me from the Communications and Marketing office. Bruce, a plane just flew into the World Trade Center Building!

I walked over to my VP’s office and told him about the plane. We turned on his TV and watched the coverage. We started looking up how big the plane was and guesstimate how many passengers it had and how many people would be in a building of that size.

Then we watched live as the second plane flew into the second tower. Now we knew it was a terrorist attack, and that the American Red Cross and others would be very involved for a long time.

We worked in the American Red Cross national office of Volunteers, Youth and Nursing. We knew we had over 40,000 Disaster Reserve volunteers ready to deploy to supplement the efforts of the local chapters’ volunteers and employees.

The rest of our office and other offices were alerted, we started thinking through our checklists, somewhat dispassionately because the attack was in New York. Then the third plane flew into the Pentagon, just across the river. Now our city was under attack. The government offices surrounding us were evacuated. Civil servants flooded the streets.

Red Cross Square faces on the same park, the Ellipse, as the White House and the Old Executive Office Building. No one knew where the attack would come next!

The sun is setting now in Florida and other southern states. Thousands are being sheltered and cared for by the American Red Cross, by churches, and by municipalities.

I was very fortunate to work for the American Red Cross in volunteer engagement and capacity building for many years. I offer my sincere thanks to millions of people who donate time, blood and money each year to help America be prepared for the next big storm, emergency or surprise.

Thank you for all that you do. It makes a huge difference.

By Bruce Summers, former national lead for American Red Cross volunteer engagement.

See also:

September 11, 2014 started as a cloudy day

9/11 – Red Cross memories – 10 years later # 1

9/11 Memories – Red Cross Blood Drive – 10 Years later # 2

Did the American Red Cross collect too much Blood after 9/11?

9/11 Memories +15 years

 

Preamble – Train from Oslo to Bergen

31 Jul

We had no idea… The train trip from Oslo to Bergen, Norway was billed as “Spectacular”. We had a nice time touring around Oslo the day before, but, we were ready to get on our early morning train to ride across Norway to our Hurtigruten cruise ship at the famed Hanseatic League port on the western coast.

Oslo is an attractive modern city, with attractive sky-scrapers, with interesting windows.

Our whole family enjoys trains. We hauled our suitcases on board, stowed them out of way, and took our seats by large panoramic windows.

Starting out, everything was green, with trees and fields and gradually less houses.


We started our gradual climb.

There are lots of lakes, and rivers and gradually we started to see mountains.

 

The railroad crossings and station were a bit sleepy.

The scenery was interesting, but not yet “Spectacular”.

The hills continued to get higher, the rivers appeared to get wider.

It was a lovely.  Red and white farm houses and the hills reflected in the water.

We started to see more rapids in the rivers.

We kept climbing higher and higher.

The villages were built on hillier terrain.

We appeared to nearing the start of the higher hills.

Then came the lakes.

Each emerging from the end of an ancient glacial valley.

Suddenly, we started seeing mountains with snow.

And there was ice in the lakes.

The green hills transformed to gray and black, still speckled with snow.

The reflections on still, partially frozen lakes were amazing.

We continued to see more and more snow cover…

And, more and more ice.

It was the 28th of May…

 

But, the ice had not cleared from the lakes yet.

Now we could see Glaciers and Snowfields…

 

Flowing down into the lakes.

We stopped briefly in the next town and saw people getting off the train with Skis!

People in Oslo were walking around in shorts the day before…

But here, the rivers were frozen…

And, ski season, if not at its peak…

Was still going strong.

   

We saw small shacks out by the still frozen lakes.

Occasionally we would see a house.

The terrain was spectacular.

The wintry landscape was unexpected.

The arctic conditions reminded us that…

Summer was still coming…

To this region…

We saw the summer homes scattered around, hopefully…

But summer, still seemed a couple of months away.

Finally we crested the high point of our rail trek…

And, started down the west side of the mountains.

Though we still saw glaciers and massive snow fields…

The lakes were starting to melt again…

Forming raging streams…

Rushing rivers…

 

The hundreds of waterfalls and rapids…

Were spectacular as they continue their dramatic drops through winding valleys.

Then suddenly, we stopped in a town where we were greeted by a friendly Mountain Troll.

The streams leveled out…

And, formed lovely glacial lakes.

It was Spring again. Everything was green again. The Mountain Troll had performed some type of magic, calming the raging rivers, melting the snowfields, returning the Norway to its broad, beautiful lakes with scenic mountains in the far distance. It has been a surprising, spectacular, snowy, scenic trip over the mountains. Just a little way further, now, to Bergen, and more adventures.

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Blog by Bruce Summers, Summersbw@gmail.com, Personal Historian, Summoose Tales. Former Board Member, Regions and Chapters Director, Association of Personal Historians.

This Blog is part of a series:

Our Norwegian Cruise

See also:

Tromsø – Hike to the Cable Car via the Bridge

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