beach

One year ago today, a sweet little curly haired girl named Elliott Stevens was born to my nephew, Garrett Stevens and his wife, Kayla. Elliott is my sister, Alena Stevens and her husband, Mike’s first grandchild, as well a the first grandchild for Kayla’s parents, Lynette and Wes Smiley, so it was an exciting day. Time marches on, and as with all children, so much has changed in just one year. Elliott now has lots of curls as her hair has grown. Her little smile is sporting teeth these days, and she has learned to walk. That, of course, means that she is “exploring” her world, i.e. getting into things. Her personality is showing now, in so many ways…one of the biggest being her giggle. When she gets into things, and gets “caught” at it, she just laughs and laughs. Her parents ask her what she is doing, and her response is always the same…that infectious little giggle!! She already knows that her giggle can get her out of a sticky situation.

Elliott is a happy little girl, who loves her dog, Charlie. And the feeling in mutual, because her dog is very patient with her little baby ways. Kids aren’t always gentle with their furry friends, but Elliott’s dig doesn’t seem to mind, because Elliott is his baby too. In fact, sometimes he feels like he is in charge of the baby. It seems to be a dog thing. They love to cuddle the family babies…especially at nap time.

Elliott loves the water, and she’s not picky. The bathtub, the wading pool, or the beach. All of them are fun for Elliott. She got to go to California with her parents a few months ago, and if fact, she turned 8 months while she was there. Less than a year old, and she’s already been sunning herself on the beach. Of course, she doesn’t care if it’s a beach in California, she just liked the water and the sand. I think a lot of people would agree with her on that.

Elliott has been such a blessing to her family. She has three wonderful aunts, Michelle Stevens, Lacey Stevens, and Lexi Smiley, so she is very blessed too. Life is great for Elliott and her family, and we are all very excited to see what the next year will bring for our giggly girl. Today is Elliott’s 1st birthday. Happy birthday Elliott!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

imageAs any photographer knows, half the battle is being in the right place at the right time. Everyone loves a great photograph, especially the ones that capture something that isn’t often seen. Being in the right place at the right time is crucial, because some events don’t happen very often…especially in front of people. That is exactly where my daughter, Amy Schulenberg Royce found herself recently. While walking on the beach near her Ferndale, Washington home, Amy commonly sees seagulls in flight. The Puget Sound is a prime feeding ground for seagulls, so they are everywhere.

imageAmy loves to walk along the beach, view the sunsets, and listen to the sounds of harbor life. The horns of the ferry boats, the gulls squawking, the waves splashing onto the shore, and the people out enjoying themselves. It was during one of these peaceful walks that a seagull flew in close to shore. Amy took a picture with her iPhone and then realized that this gull had a starfish in it beak. As he landed, she scrambled to take more pictures, but he didn’t stay long. When she looked at her pictures, she realized that the first picture…the one where she had no idea that the gull had a starfish, was the perfect photo capture. What an exciting moment that was for her. It wasn’t planned, it wasn’t staged, it was just perfectly right…all by itself, with no help from anyone. All she had to do was snap.
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I’ve looked at lots of photographs taken by lots of photographers, professional and amateur alike, and while planned shots are great, it is the shot that was pure chance that sticks in your memory files. The one where a seagull looks right at you, because he can’t figure out what that human, with a camera on its face, is exactly. Or as in Amy’s case, the picture you took when you didn’t know what you had…yet. Those are great, because they are such a nice surprise. It may be a really long time before Amy finds herself in the right place at the right time to see a seagull successfully capture a starfish, or it could happen again tomorrow…if she finds herself in the right place at the right time again.

imageWhen my daughter, Amy Royce and her family first moved to the Seattle, Washington area, I started looking around online to see what sights there might be for them to go visit. The first thing I came across was the Pacific Queen shipwreck. I was excited to tell them about a shipwreck in their area. I thought it might be a cool thing to go see. Amy researched it too, and found that it was on a private beach. We were disappointed, but I couldn’t get it off my mind.

Bob and I had a little time on Saturday, so we decided to head back out to Puget Sound. I got an idea to see if there was a place where we could actually see the ship, and found that we could see it from Picnic Point Park. While we could not get close to the private beach where the Pacific Queen rests, we were treated to some really good views of the ship, imageand I was so excited. This was something I really wanted to see.

I started researching the origins of the Pacific Queen online, I found that she was a old minesweeper. The ship was not wrecked, but rather brought to the site by a man who planned to salvage the metal on her. So the only wreck she had was when she was run aground to her final resting place. The Pacific Queen is one of 27 boats that were brought to the sight over the years, but she is the only one that really still resembles a ship. Several of the boats are underwater except during low tide, and those still look somewhat like ships too.

I admit that I was a little disappointed that it wasn’t an actual shipwreck, but then again, the ship was built in the 1800s. It was actually brought to its current location in 1929, and really has been an area attraction since that time. The best way to get up close is by kayak, but the beach is off limits. Apparently you can walk the distance from Picnic Point Park to the Pacific Queen during the low tide, but it is not recommended that you go onto the actual beach. Nevertheless, a few people have ventured close, and if the owner was in a good mood, they might have been treated to a few of the stories surrounding the boats and their arrival at the current sight.

imageIn the end, with the boat viewing and my research, I felt very pleased with this adventure. Whether she had wrecked or not, the Pacific Queen was a very cool boat. It was amazing to sit and wonder where she had been and what she and her crews had seen. A minesweeper must have been an important boat, and I would think that would be a dangerous job. If you didn’t see a mine and you bumped into it…well, it was all over for you. Nevertheless, the crews of the Pacific Queen must have been good at their jobs, because she survived the war and ended up on her current resting place, a ship of beauty and intrigue, sought out by many and having her picture on the Internet for all to see. I know that for me, it was a view I will never forget.

Amy and Travis, Sept 16, 199511140127_10206234100685001_7881337432770402032_nIn their first twenty years of marriage, my daughter, Amy Royce and her husband Travis lived here in Casper, Wyoming, where they raised their two children, Shai and Caalab, but Travis had always wanted to live somewhere else, and Amy was pretty tired of the harsher winters we have here. So, when their son Caalab, their youngest child, graduated from high school, they decided to make the move to a different climate…at least a little bit different one. Seattle, Washington still has the changes of season, but winter is shorter and has less snow and more rain. Amy loves the rain, you see…so much so, that it is very difficult for her to stay indoors when it rains, because all she can think of is driving in the rain. That said, they chose the Rainforest of western Washington as their location of choice to spend their next twenty years.

Amy has been one of my very capable helpers when it came to taking care of her grandparents, but that time 11048731_10205630620558375_5576899033497825390_n11036888_10205159004168260_7395084702609884511_nof need is pretty much in the past now, as is their obligation as parents to get their children through school. That puts this couple is a place of few obligations, and being debt free, which sets them very free. They can make their decisions based on the fun things they want to do, and not the best place to raise their kids or the best schools to send them too…although I’m not saying that Seattle wouldn’t have fit the bill on both of those items either. Nevertheless, I am thankful that they raised their children here so I could watch them grow up and really get to know them before they moved away. Their daughter, Shai Royce decided that she didn’t want to move, and so she still lives here. Their son, Caalab made the move and will go to school there. I miss him very much.

For their twentieth anniversary, they decided to renew their vows in a ceremony on the beach…a very romantic idea. So, the plans were made and the guests invited, and today I find myself and my husband, Bob in the 11181794_10205983443698733_4613388982725887178_n11873728_10206093401207602_5617364566844283165_nSeattle suburb of Lynnwood, looking forward to a lovely ceremony on Saturday evening. The renewal of vows is such a deep expression of the love two people have shared for a long time, and one I highly recommend. Bob and I renewed ours at sea on a cruise we took for our twenty fifth anniversary. It was amazing, as I know their beach ceremony will be. Amy and Travis have always loved the beach…especially at sunset, which is well documented by all of her beach sunset pictures. Today is Amy and Travis’ 20th Anniversary. Happy Anniversary Amy and Travis!! We love you both very much!!

California trip 1980 Alena, Caryl, Mom and DadDad, Mom, Alena, Allyn, and Caryl on the rocky coastIn 1980, my parents and younger sisters took a trip to California. It was a trip that would take them to the famous Golden Gate Bridge, as well as, drives along the Pacific Ocean, and relaxing time spent on the beach. It was the first of a number of trips my parents would take to California. They really loved that area. I would not get to see California until the late 1990s. I’m not sure what took me so long really.

Today is a rather significant day in the history of San Francisco, and one that in reality makes any trip to California worth taking. It was on this day January 5, 1933 that work began on the rather controversial Golden Gate Bridge. I’m sure that most people would not think of the bridge as being controversial, but there were a lot of people who were against it because they thought it would ruin the beautiful view of the San Francisco Bay. I guess I can understand that to a degree, because I am someone who really doesn’t like change much, but when you look at the finished product, I would have to agree with most people when I say that I think this one was a good change. The bridge is a beautiful addition to the bay. I especially like its red color, which I suppose might seem a bit unusual for a bridge. Nevertheless, it does make this bridge stand out.

Still, why was the bridge necessary? When you look at the whole area, you find that you could have driven around the area. Nevertheless, I’m sure that back then, driving around would take too long. The idea was that if the land north of the bay was easier to access, it’s value would increase. It made sense, but while the idea was first presented in 1869, it was pretty much tabled until it was revisited in 1916, when a former engineering student named James Wilkins, who was working for the San Francisco Bulletin brought it up again. He proposed a suspension bridge with a center span of 3,000 feet which was nearly twice as long as any bridge in existence at the time. The expected cost was $100 million, but when the city engineer, Michael O’Shaughnessy, who is also credited for naming the Golden Gate Bridge began to ask around, he found Joseph Strauss, a 5 foot tall Cincinnati born Chicagoan who said he could do it for less. In fact, for $25 – 30 million, Strauss said he could build one with a 4,000 foot span.

The idea was well received, but the Great Depression would stall the construction until 1933 when bonds could be sold to make it happen. The bridge would take four years to complete, and so it first opened on May 27, 1937, as the longest bridge span in the world At the Golden Gate BridgeAlena and Allyn on the beach at Long Beach, California 1980at that time. The first public crossing had taken place the day before, when 200,000 people walked, ran, and even roller skated across the bridge. It’s red paint job and its famous towers have made the Golden Gate Bridge an American landmark and popular tourist attraction ever since, and one that I am glad I got to see. While San Francisco’s temperatures don’t always appeal to me, the summers of which are not always warm, I do nevertheless, love visiting there. Like my parents, I find the California coast to be a pleasant change from the mountains of Wyoming.

Galoshes and Port HadlockWhen my niece, Lindsay Moore was just a little girl, she knew when her birthday was, but there was a little problem with it. For some reason, August just wasn’t a fancy enough name for her month…or maybe she just couldn’t pronounce it. So, for whatever reason, August became Faugust. Even after Lindsay learned how to say August, the month just never got changed…at least not on the 29th. That was her day, and it would always be Faugust 29th. Lindsay has always liked the goofy things in life, so it’s not surprising that she named her day something special.

When the rubber galoshes phase came out, Lindsay was among the first to jump on that bandwagon too. We all thought it was the silliest look, but if anyone could Jogging Buddiespull it off, it was Lindsay. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if she still wears them sometimes. And even if she doesn’t wear them often, I’m sure she still has them and would wear them if they fit into her new surroundings much. Lindsay and her new husband, Shannon, moved to Miami Florida right after their marriage because he took a job as the special teams coach for Miami International University. It is a new adventure, but I don’t know how often Lindsay’s galoshes will be used, unless she decides to go jogging through a swamp.

Lindsay has never been shy…not even for a minute, so I have no doubt that she already has a wonderful group of friends in Florida to spend time with, while Shannon is working, because Lindsay now has an online job that she does. That is kind of nice, because it gives her a little Excited about Lifebit more free time to explore her new surroundings. As an exercise enthusiast, she will most likely be scoping out the walking/jogging trails, or she might just do her jogging on the beach. And who could blame her for that. I love the beach, and if I were a jogger, I might love to jog on the beach, but since I love walking, I know that a long walk on the beach would be very appealing to me. But since this story is about Lindsay, I guess it would be jogging on the beach. Lindsay is and always will be excited about life, and wherever she goes, sunshine will follow, because she is a sunshiney girl. Today is Faugust 29th…Lindsay’s birthday. Happy Faugust 29th Lindsay!! Have a great birthday!! We love and miss you!!

Aquarium visitBack in 1946, my Aunt Doris and Uncle Bill decided that they were tired of the bitter cold Wisconsin weather, and that they wanted to try a warmer climate. Uncle Bill had built a travel trailer, and they quit their jobs and headed west. It was a bold move to make, because you never knew what the economy was going to be like in California, or any other part of the country for that matter. The depression was over though, and people were hopeful. I’m quite certain that the warm weather must have felt so good to them, and while there they enjoyed many of the sights. They really didn’t plan to ever go back to Wisconsin.

So many things can change in such a short time. Parents get older, and their health fades, and before long, you find yourself needed back home. That was the situation they soon found themselves in, and with some regret, they headed back home. Sometimes, that is the way things have to be. They were in a position to help out and others weren’t. It’s is strange, nevertheless, how quickly you can long for home, once you have made up your mind to go. I think it is harder Ocean Walksometimes on the women to be so far from parents too, because they are a little more sentimental usually.

Still, I have to think that the adventure they had while they were in California and the west coast must have been something they cherished for many years. They got to hold a seal at an aquarium, and stroll along the beach, soaking up the California sun. They saw the Redwood trees, and the rocky coast of Oregon. The memories must have been awesome, because they were free to pick up and go where they chose to each day. Of course, that is never something you can do for very long…at least not until retirement age, but for a while, they got to enjoy that carefree life, and the beauty of the west coast. Today is my Aunt Doris’ 90th birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Doris!! You are still just as beautiful today as you were back then. Have a wonderful day!! We love you!!

Wedding 3The morning was beautiful, calm, peaceful, and clear. The perfect day for a Valentine Wedding. The national day of love has become a day to always remember for Lindsay and Shannon. The background was the Atlantic Ocean with the Deerfield Beach Pier stretching out into the calm waters. They couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day. All the guests gathered, as well as the addition of curious onlookers, who wanted to share in the moment they had stumbled upon. They only served to add to the special beauty of the occasion. Lindsay’s dress was stunning, and was only outshined by the beauty of the bride herself. Shannon was handsome and very happy, as he looked lovingly at the bride, whom he had waited for all his life. They are the picture of a perfect couple, and their long and happy life stretches out into the future. For them, Valentine’s Day will always mean much more than it does for the average couple, because it is the day that they will celebrate as the most wonderful day of their lives…the day the two became one.

Wedding 2As we all know, Valentine’s Day is the day that we celebrate love, and for my niece, Lindsay and her now husband, Shannon, nothing could be more true. This morning began with their wedding on Deerfield Beach in Miami, Florida and will end with them celebrating their love on a ship bound for the Bahamas. When Lindsay told us of their plan to be married in Florida, I must say that I was a bit surprised, because they lived in South Dakota, but they wanted something a bit different when they said, “I do.” Their wedding was certainly something different for this family, but little did they know as they planned their wedding on that beach so far away from their home, that it would now end up being quite near their home. As it turns out, Shannon was offered a job at Florida International University, and they will be living just a few miles from the beach where they were married this morning.

It is hard for me to believe that my cute little niece, who has always had a wonderful, bubbly Wedding 5 editedpersonality is all grown up and married now. Time goes by so fast. She has been a go getter all her life, and I always knew she would go far, I just didn’t expect it to be far away.Nevertheless, I can’t be sad, because she is going to live in a beautiful place, and the beach where they got married, will most likely become a favorite hangout for them. The years ahead hold so much promise for Lindsay and Shannon, and I am so happy for both of them. Congratulations Mr and Mrs Moore, on your marriage today!! I know God will bless you with all the best things He has. We love you!!

Washington trip 1Our travels to Washington to attend my uncle’s funeral took my mom, my sister, Cheryl, and me through such beautiful country. It had been a long time since I had driven through western Montana, Northern Idaho, and eastern Washington…since my daughter Amy was 3 months old, in fact. I have been to this area since that time, but I flew, so it was a very different trip. And yet, I remembered the road we traveled, like it was just yesterday. Of course, the trip we made was for a very different reason. We went to see Bob’s grandmother, and not for the loss of an uncle. Nevertheless, that part of the country is beautiful.

Washington trip 2Once we left Billings, and headed up into the mountains, the scenery changed so much that you could imagine that you were in a different country all together. The trees were so thick that you almost couldn’t see through them. The snow was so deep that we were unsure of the conditions up ahead. Not that we needed to worry, because the roads were great. I loved looking at the beautiful trees, mainly I suppose, because I love the mountains. Many people like the lakes, or even the ocean and the beaches, and I like those too, but I will always love the mountains the best. There is just nothing like the smell of pine trees, and the sound of the wind rushing through the pine needles. It is the essence of the mountains…perfect.
Washington trip 3
The drives up to my cousins house have been a trip in themselves, and as a person who never really went in for 4 wheeling, I can tell you that it was an eye opening experience. I can also tell you that my cousin, who has been driving that road for 30 years, is very good at making that drive. She could easily have been a monster truck driver. Going over rocks and hills and climbing mountains doesn’t bother Shirley one bit. All I can say is, I’m glad she was doing the driving and not me. Nevertheless, I love the essence of the mountains as much as my cousin does. It is definitely God’s country, I think.

Today, my niece, Toni will marry her best friend, Dave. I am so happy for both of them. They will be married on a beach in Kauai, Hawaii, in the warm sun, with temperatures around the 80’s. The day will be as beautiful as the couple standing on that beach dedicating their lives to one another for the rest of their lives.

The road to Hawaii has been a road Toni and Dave have traveled over the past several years. I have watched their relationship grow and blossom during that time. They just seemed to click from the start. I have never seen Toni look happier. My beautiful niece literally glowed with happiness. I didn’t know Dave very well then, but I could see how good he was to Toni…how good he was for her, and I liked him immediately. Dave always looked so happy around Toni, and I could tell that she was changing his life forever…they were changing each others lives forever.

So, today is the day…the moment that they will say “I do” and become husband and wife. The excitement travels through the air from Hawaii to Wyoming, because while we are not there on that beach with them physically, our hearts are sharing in the joyous event that is taking place on that beautiful beach so far away. Our minds will wonder if the event has taken place yet, because while we know the day, we do not know the time of the wedding. We look forward to seeing the pictures they will take, and their glowing faces, and then they will go forward as a married couple to spend time seeing the sights and then home to begin their married life together. We pray God’s greatest blessings over their marriage and their little family, and wish for them all the best. Congratulations to you Mr. and Mrs. Chase on this your wedding day. Have a lovely honeymoon. We all love you very much!!

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