Monday, April 16, 2007

chasing trains, making friends

So... yesterday... what fun! The first steam train to chase of the season. The train to be chased... the Royal Hudson.

We had no one ahead of us at the border crossing. Of course it was 8 a.m. on Sunday, so nobody else was crazy enough to be traveling that early.

The Border Patrol Agent was funny. When he asked us what our business was in Canada, I told him we were going to see the train in White Rock. His droll reply was, "don't they have trains in the US?" We laughed with him.

Got into White Rock, drove along the beach to see where we'd like to set up for our picture taking. Had a very big breakfast because we didn't know when lunch might be... or if we'd get a lunch with the crowds and trying to get all the pix of the train we could... and we also knew we'd do a lot of walking to burn off extra calories!

Drove back down to the beach and were trying to figure out the pay to park system. A lovely couple who lived just up the hill from the beach were walking their dog and told us where to find a local park that allowed people to park there for only $2 for the day... instead of $2 per hour and a 4 hour maximum stay!

But they warned us that it was a bit of a walk and going back would be all uphill. For that price to park, we decided it was worth it.

Yep, straight up the cliff going back. Literally 120 steps up the stairs... and then half mile through the park, mostly up a fairly steep incline. All after walking the 5 miles on the beach. LOLOL!

All I could think was that it sure met and exceeded my activity and exercise plan for the day.

Oh... just got y'all to the beach with us and now I've got to go to work. Will have to continue the really fun part tonight after I get home.

(insert a long workday here!)

So... lessee... I got y'all down to the beach with us, right? Do you have your jackets on because it's co-old down here on the beach right now! ;-)

We're wandering around the beach, talking and laughing together... just figuring out the best place for our pictures. People are walking their dogs or their kids. Everyone is smiling and greeting one another, known or unknown, didn't matter.

Along comes this BIG German shepherd with a pretty good sized stick in her mouth. She made us grin and we were still laughing about something we'd been saying, when her owners commented that we were quite jolly for the morning.

I piped up, "it's because we're waiting for the train!"

This sweet couple (mid -60's, retired) somehow hadn't heard about the train coming into White Rock. So we told them about it and the husband whips out his cell phone to call a friend to get down there right away. They decided to wait with us to see this train... since they had ridden it in years past when it was still a passenger train.

We start talking trains... and travel... and conversation flows, connection is made.

Suddenly I hear something and ask my sweet husband if that was the train. His head whips around to see... nothing there. No train coming around the point yet. He laughs and says that he hadn't heard anything because he was flappin' his jaw. At that moment, someone on the beach shouts, "there it is!!!" Cheers all up and down the beach!

Yep, I'd actually heard it first... and there was that train, big steam plume rising as it rounded the bend at the point.

I'm sure it looked funny, all those people jerking their cameras to their faces almost as if we were all given a cue by the director of a movie.

Cameras blazing, we took pictures to our heart's content. We took them while the train was far down toward the point and all along it's journey toward us. We had located ourselves well enough that we could get pictures from the distance and also from the side as it whooshed past us... then wave like crazy people at the passengers.

Big sigh... we love seeing a train go by!

Our new friends then invited us to their home for lunch! They live just up the hill from the beach and would love for us to come up. The neighbors had come down to the beach, too, and the 6 of us trooped up the ravine, up the side of the cliff (yep, back up a LOT of those 120 stairs!) to this wonderful home with a view and great artwork.

This house had a marvelous view of the beach and the islands beyond. The view was simply incredible. I'm betting the sunsets are spectacular.

Can you believe these lovely people met strangers on the beach and invited them home for lunch?? They fixed us a simple meal of soup, bread, cheeses, organic veggies and smoked salmon. But we talked and laughed like old friends. What fun!!

It was over too soon because the train would be steaming out of White Rock on the return journey. We left with their email address so that I can send them the pictures I took of their dog. (and I figured out their street address so I can send a thank you card for the lunch, too)

So we head back down the cliff (laughing because we already know it's gonna be tough at the end of the day to go back up yet again!). Back to the beach, train comes back by, more cameras blazing... big sigh, train is gone.

My sweet husband says... let's walk down to the White Rock. Yep, there is a great big white boulder that the city named itself after. We start walking... and walking... and realize that it's a good 2+ miles down there. We figured out later that it was just about 2.5 miles each way. We didn't walk down there for any good reason, just because we'd never been all the way to the white rock.

Going back up the cliff, we just encouraged each other to take it slowly, pace yourself, take your time, we can do this, rest if you need, we can do it... and finally we were at the top of the stairway... still looking UP the hill for the last half mile to the car. A few more deep breaths and we start walking... finally getting to the car, get it open, grab water bottles, gulp down water!

Drive home was easy, border crossing was not bad and we were here in time to fix our own dinner. It was a great day, but I'll always remember one thing in particular.

Overlooking the beach in White Rock, there is a home where hospitality and kindness live. It is peopled by folk who invite strangers to enjoy their table, their laughter, their friends and their food.

...may there be mercy on those who show hospitality to strangers.

Friday, April 06, 2007

voice from the past

About 15 months ago, I was told that a certain person was dying. She was undergoing chemo to treat an aggressive series of cancers. Note the plural... cancers.

This sweet lady was my insurance agent... and a friend from Weight Watchers... and a simply lovely person. Every time I saw her, it was a good conversation and I left feeling good about something.

Then she got cancer... again. She'd had cancer previously and dealt with it courageously.

She dealt with this cancer with equal courage. The last time I saw her, she was not feeling well at all, but fighting hard.

A few weeks after that, I ran into her boss, who told me that she was dying. Sad, sad, sad... but recognizing that she would no longer be in pain. I missed the funeral notice (which happens frequently with me) and just prayed comfort for her family.

I've driven past her office many times in the last 15 months. Each time I do, I think to myself... I miss her.

Today she left us a voicemail!!!

When I listened to the message, I just looked at my sweet husband in stunned disbelief... she didn't die... she's alive and we just had no idea since we hadn't run into her anyplace in town for that whole 15 months!

I'm anxious for Monday so that I can return her call and find out what happened. And to tell her that I am so very glad she's still here.

...may there be mercy and joy in good news.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

technical difficulties

Will be blogging again soon... just have a few things going on that I'm not ready to discuss. Might not get ready to discuss and might just move straight into whatever is next in life's journey.

We are okay, big brother is healing, sweet father-in-law is fine and healthy.

I'm just calling it technical difficulties and moving along.

...may there be mercy and a quick move along.