Saturday, February 25, 2017

Hemispheric Scenes and Thoughts

This is the day the Lord has made.  Let us rejoice and be glad.  They should all be days for rejoicing and gladness, but yesterday certainly fulfilled the proclamation.  And, if all goes well this evening, so will this Saturday, February 25, 2017. 

I accomplished so much yesterday----for a winter day----that I certainly did some rejoicing.  Garbage to the landfill, new supply of shavings and straw purchased and put in the barn, five bales of hay moved by sled from shed to barn, Festus' kitty litter boxes cleaned, picked up sign for supporting the upcoming school levy. 

Accomplishing that much on a winter day and rather easily on a winter day is quite satisfying, to say the least.  And, since I was feeling good about the day, I drove to the beach and took a walk---on a bare sidewalk and over some bare but frozen sand.

Others seemed to be coming from their respective nesting areas to breathe in that fresh, cold air and take in that magnificent sight across the lake toward the Cabinet Mountains. 

I met a group of folks from Usk and San Diego who were enjoying a photo shoot at Sandpoint's own Stature of Liberty.  Their carefree attitudes and obvious glee at having such a beautiful setting for photos, visiting and even leaping off the dock was infectious. 

I talked to several of them and even enjoyed an exclusive ukelele solo performed by a talented young lady who taught herself how to play.  She also plays piano and violin, and I'm guessing she's gifted with musical talent. 

The area near the dock leading to the Statue of Liberty apparently provided the perfect place for a trio of guys producing a commercial.  It took true grit for the actor as he sat for about 15 minutes shirtless in 25-degree temps.  

They were quite nice about letting an old lady with a camera snap a few photos too.  

After walking back to the pickup and snapping a quick shot of the birch tree with mountains and lake in the background, I drove through the parking lot on the west side of Sand Creek where tall snow banks pretty much block off views of Sandpoint's jewel. 

That was okay, though, as I found a couple of neat photos next to the Panida.  Don't know who owns the limo, but it was parked in a perfect spot.  Even though it's hundreds of miles away, the scene said "Oscars" to me.  

I love watching the Oscars and told Bill just a while ago that we have two great nights of television viewing this weekend:   the ZAGS last season game and tomorrow night's Oscars. After seeing Lion this past week, tomorrow night's movie award extravaganza should be more fun than usual. 

But first we must get back to "This is the day the Lord has made.  Let us rejoice and be glad in it."

For every fan who has followed the Gonzaga men's basketball team for several years or even just for this year, today is a very special day.  

We do not know how it will end, but what we do know is that we are proud and we are thrilled with what Mark Few, his staff and his team have accomplished over the years and especially this year. 

And, their achievements that have touched so many people, young and old from around the world, move far beyond final scores.  It's difficult to adequately describe ZAG fervor, but it includes admiration, pride, excitement, inspiration, love and a sense of being part of something uniquely special.  

The ZAGS have honored the Inland Northwest with their outstanding play on basketball courts across America and their deep love and involvement for community where they come together each year to provide incredible and thrilling entertainment for their fans throughout the winter months. 

And, so as we reflect on their journey, we can't wait to watch tonight's WCC season-ending game and see the ZAGS  complete a perfect 30-0 season.  

Let them rejoice and be glad!  They deserve it!

GO, ZAGS onward and upward tonight against BYU and on through March Madness AND early April's Final Four.  

7 p.m. PST -- ESPN2.

Finally, I'm posting a few photos and another wonderful blog report (below) about yesterday's Argentinian activities from Annie's geocaching friend Simon.  So, be sure to check below. 

A Puma presence slowed down their efforts to see the magnificent waterfalls from the Argentinian side. 

Blog posting Feb. 24, from Simon Evans in South America:

                                                                                                      ---Annie Love Photo

Well I am rather sad tonight but only because my last full day on my tour comes to an end. Today is Day 7, and in the early morning I fly back to Sao Paulo and onto Paris and finally London. I have had a truly life-changing experiences on this trip and I will certainly never forget it. I am very fortunate and I appreciate the opportunity to have this experience. To think where I was ten years ago with my life to where I am today, even I have to pinch myself.

So today was a new country for me again today. Adding number 73 to the list meaning that I have now visited 30.5 percent of the world. Argentina🇦🇷 was the country today and again we were off to the seventh new Wonder of the World Iguazu but from the Argentina side, which we are told is better than the Brazil side.

I must admit that I was not sure what to expect when I crossed into the Argentina side. The UK and Argentina do not have the best relationship for obvious reasons so I was not sure how the immigration process would go. 

The immigration process was a lot more strict for all of our tourist. We needed to pick up and exit stamp for Brazil followed by an entry stamp for Argentina and again the opposite on return. The process for both ends took about an hour. This was a lot more controlled than going to Paraguay yesterday where we probably exited and entered illegally as we did not get the stamps. However that was then and not a problem.

So I had nothing to worry about the Argentinean people as they were lovely. Very friendly at the border crossing and welcoming. Of all the people we met in the park from Argentina they were fantastic. It just shows politics can alter people's perception this was the same experience in St Petersburg in Russia.

So today we had booked an Adventure Day Out Excursion from the hotel. This included the bus transfer, truck ride through the jungle and a boat ride in the rapids and waterfall. I'm sorry but loads of waterfall pictures again today. Also a few videos as well.

We had a problem at the park when we arrived as most areas were closed apart from the excursion that we booked and a train ride. Only the upper trail was open. The reason? A family of five Pumas had been seen at 9am and were probably looking for a child for breakfast to eat. Normally I would be ok with that as long as they did not see me and think that I would make a suitable meal for five!

This meant that we spent over an hour in the sun queueing at the narrow gauge railway for the train to take us to the excursion meeting point where normally you would walk the 700 meter trail, which today was closed. Clearly this did not happen very often as staff members were taking photos of the snaking queue from the office windows. Wardens were stood waiting with stun guns should a puma spot a suitable meal.

Thankfully we made it to the excursion where we were taken on a road trip through the jungle. We got to learn some basic facts about the wildlife, animals, spiders and snakes that lived there. I won't tell you about the number of poisonus things that could make your life a living hell and take you from this world. The good news is most of them are scared of you thankfully and keep their distance.

Next was the boat ride. Once we got the life jackets on and our bags put inside dry bags it was time to take the boat down the Iguaçu river. This was all nice and calm until we hit the rapids where a bit of holding on was was then time to approach the waterfalls the mist, the power and the tremendous amount of energy thundering down towards you was heart stopping. 

Then into the waterfall we went. Not once but three times. Soaked through to the skin in every place you can think off (I'll leave you with that image there). It was hot, but cold and also invigorating. It was truly amazing. So lucky to be able to do that.

The tour cost about £80 and whilst more expensive than I normally pay it was worth every penny. I would highly recommend it. A real lifetime experience. People say the Argentina side is better than the Brazil side. They are right but the Brazil side is still beautiful. You really need to visit both sides over two days. Make sure that you visit the Brazil side first. If you do it the other way you might get that let down feeling and not see the bigger picture.

The rest of the day was spent taking in the various walks that you could do and have different angles of the waterfalls. This is certainly better in the Argentina side. It really was a great experience.

It was then time to make our way back to the hotel. We got stopped for an ecological tax, near the border. We were not sure if this was a scam and we suspect it was but it was also supported by the police. Thankfully it worked out as about £1, but it's the principle.

So we had our final meal together as a group before saying our good byes. This was followed by packing and getting ready for the flight at 06:15 to Sao Paulo. I was still wet for the rest of the day too from the waterfall close up. Thankfully we found two caches in Argentina to add another country to our cache map.

For now. Good night and thank you for reading. Enjoy the pictures and videos and don't forget to let me know what you think.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Joy, Joy, Joy! Well, Sorta!

38 minutes ago

The Christian heart is always full of joy. Always. Joy received as a gift and kept in order to be shared with everyone.

It was a blowout and a blackout. The sold-out fan section at Jenny Craig Arena saw something last night thousands of ZAG fans around the world failed to see:  the No. 1, only undefeated men's basketball team in the nation chalk up victory No. 29 against San Diego 96-38 and win outright the West Coast Conference championship.

Those folks who packed Jenny Craig got what they paid for.  Those fans around the world (including the lady from Ireland who got up at 3 a.m. to watch the game), got a few minutes of game time, a whole lot of commercials and several minutes of nothing except an announcement about technical problems which were being fixed. 

It was later called a total transmission failure.  When that verdict was reached, some got to see a fascinating interview with NBA star Russell Westbrook, while others got to see a sitcom, reportedly (by the Spokesman-Review guy who has envious job of watching the ZAGS from his living room couch and then writing his observations of the game) featuring a theme of  "casual sex," set in a Wal-Mart-type box store, mind you!

Not much fans in the vast ZAG Nation can do with a total transmission failure as the No. 1, only undefeated team in the nation---which still hasn't done enough in some perennial cynics' minds to get its due respect---wins again and wins in what their coach Mark Few described as the best game he's ever seen ZAGS play in his 18 years of coaching. 

And, a lot of people missed it!  Oh well!

Well, we're happy and joyous for the ZAGS, and I'm sure the Pope would agree.  After all, besides good basketball for men and women (the women won last night too), Gonzaga has just been recognized as one of the ten best Catholic universities in the United States.

Now, they'll move on, playing BYU tomorrow night, and that's on ESPN2.  I'm hoping those folks are checking their technical gear and checking it twice cuz we'd love to see the whole game and, of course, victory No. 30. 


Speaking of technical difficulties, I went shopping at Wal-Mart yesterday, where I witnessed no casual sex.  Instead, by the time I left the store, the gallon-sized freezer bags I needed, had joined $66 worth of other groceries. 

Once back at the car, I checked my cell phone, wrote a quick note to my friend Asa in Denmark and then turned the ignition key.  Dead battery. 

When the car is parked right next to the long cart rack (I always park there  in case of senior-memory transmission breakdowns, causing me not to know where the car is). Beside the car was a big pickup, and another truck was parked directly in front of me.

My first inclination was to go to the Wal-Mart auto shop and ask if someone could jump my battery.  Later, I decided it was best to just wait until someone came to one of those trucks and hope to God they had jumper cables. 

Well, the Good Samaritans must have sense that I did not want to spend a beautiful afternoon sitting and waiting for strangers to do their shopping.  Within seconds, a couple came walking toward the pickup in front of me.

Yes, Mike and Sherri Waites from Kimberley, B.C., who knew our first Schweitzer Ski manager Sam Wormington, had jumper cables, and, yes, Mike figured it all out while Sherri and I visited.  Sherri told me they come to Sandpoint quite often and enjoy meeting people in our Wal-Mart parking lot.

I'll tell you that I sure enjoyed meeting Mike and Sherri and definitely felt the joy to which Pope Francis refers----especially when I turned the ignition and the Suburu started right up.   Thank you, so much, Mike and Sherri, and do enjoy your cruise to the Carribean.  

Meanwhile, off in South America----I'll share another Dispatch from Annie's British geocaching friend, Simon Evans, which he posted yesterday. 

First, I must say, especially because I included the Pope's tweet today that Annie and her friends are in Pope Francis' homeland of Argentina this morning, waiting in line to see the falls which Simon mentions below.  

From Simon:

Hello From Paraguay🇵🇾 and from one of the New Severn Wonders of the World!
After having spent the day in the car yesterday travelling to Iguaçu, it was time to pick up the pace again for a crammed packed day of adventure!

                                                                                       -----Annie Love selfie

                                                                            ---Photo by Simon Evans

So what better way than to get on our way this morning to the recently voted new 7 Wonders of the World also known as Fos Iguaçu, looking at it from the Brazilian side.
We made our way to the visitors centre, which is about five km away from the actual falls. 

The idea is to protect the environment there and keep the cars away. You park up get your ticket from the visitors centre and then take a coach down to the waterfalls. There are also some other businesses offering a similar service, however one of the people who we asked for information became very aggressive. My advice is to keep driving to the official parking and ignore everyone else!

We took the bus and there were two or three additional stops that you could have made for either a bike, walking adventure trail, and boat rides for an additional fee whilst also being told information about the park. We decided to exit at the penultimate stop where we could walk to the waterfall instead of the lazy persons’ scenic elevator up and down.

On arrival we were met by a number of Ant Eaters, that whilst looking cute probably had loads of flees! There was also a sign warning you about the possibility of Rabies as well. I am just relieved I had the jab previously. You certainly don't leave anything unattended around them or they will be off with it. Annie found this out with her can of coke, which they robbed off here!

The views of the waterfalls were truly stunning and beautiful. It is one of the most outstanding places I have ever been to and I make no apologies for the 20+ photos I took of the waterfall today from different angles. Hopefully you will enjoy them too.

The whole trip including parking cost about £20. If you are ever in this part of the world it is a must do. There is an airport nearby if you don't fancy the drive that we did yesterday! 

This is from the Brazil side. You can see why it is one of the new wonders of the world.
Whilst in the area it would have been rude not to pick up a few geocaches as well. I was also very lucky to get a First-To-Find [geocache] with my team as well. I don't get many these days but it is always rather special to be able to do it abroad. I've managed in in Mexico and Brazil in the last couple of weeks. This is special for me. I know my work colleagues think I am mad!

The afternoon was also rather special too. Yes! I visited my 72nd country in the world. This was Paraguay🇵🇾. We walked across the border from Iguazu on Brazil to Ciudad del Este I'm Paraguay using the Friendship Bridge. This gave me memories of using the friendship bridge between Bulgaria and Romania (Snow chains.... Really😉)

I must admit that I was expecting it to take some time at the border to cross, however this border crossing was more leaky than a sieve! We literally walked past the Brazil immigration and then past the Paraguay immigration without being stopped or checked. The same on the way back. They were not really interested in any of the traffic either. Only pulling the odd vehicle over for a quick look.

As it turns out many Brazilians travel over to Paraguay each day to do their shopping. A lot of the souvenirs sold in Brazil come from Paraguay as the cost is considerably less. 

Paraguay is the second poorest South American country according to GDP figures.
So Paraguay is a very poor country and this showed. Border towns are not normally that impressive but Paraguay was a good example of a third world country. 

Granted, market day was today and there was rubbish all over the streets waiting collection but it was filthy. The buildings were run down apart from the expensive looking shopping centre, the infrastructures poor and it looked like you could get a good dose of some life threatening illness from most of the surfaces. In addition to the bugs and mosquitoes that you have to contend with.

I am sure as you get into the country it becomes more beautiful. You certainly can't judge a country on an hour or so visit. It was still very interesting place. It's interesting people watching especially those people who carry around old fashioned shot guns. I felt reasonably safe but a little uncomfortable. 

I was pleased to get back to Brazil! It's an interesting place and it would be nice to visit again. I am pleased to report that I also managed to colour in this part of my Geocaching map as we found two caches here. There are pictures from the adventure too in the photo album.

Finally we visited the Rodissio where they bring meat to your table and carve it onto your plate whilst also having an all you can eat buffet. The meats included pork, beef and chicken. As you would expect the steak was fantastic. For the buffet meal and deserts and drinks it was about £11 a person. Back home you would easily pay about £30-£50.

So hopefully you have enjoyed the read and the photos and not got too bored. Tomorrow is my last full day here. The plan is to visit Argentina to see the waterfall from that side and a boat trip, whilst picking up a few geocaches. In the meantime. Have a good day.


Thank you, Simon.  It has been fun to share the adventure with you, Annie and the gang. Looking forward to learning about today's fun.

In the meantime, that's all from the Lovestead for now.  Hope everyone has some joy in their day and no total transmission failures.  

Happy Friday. 

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Sunny-Day Whimsy

Endorphins were in abundance yesterday, and the mildly stagnating winter cocoon has clearly begun to shed. Twas a beautiful day in the neighborhood, which I enjoyed from start to finish.

I have a little area out in front of my barn, which started with a patch of green several days ago.  The patch has grown and continues to expand almost by the hour.

It might meet a slowdown for the next few days cuz we're having cold temps (in the teens) at night.  That's okay, though, cuz a gradual thaw is much better than what we experienced last week.

Anyway, that area has given me a sense that spring will arrive as I occasionally pick up the lawn rake and clear away more rocks, soggy strands of hay and manure which has built up over the winter.  

The entrance to the barn appears quite tidy now, and that's definitely providing a "feel-good" sight in this last full week of February.  

A portion of yesterday involved enjoying a fun visit with some neighbors, one of whom may work with Lefty for this 4-H year.  As expected, Lefty made a great impression, sharing his loving nudges as the visitors became acquainted.  If this works out, I'm positive he will enjoy all the extra attention. 

After visitors left, I placed a few planting trays on my outdoor table (the pickup tailgate) and happily soaked up sun while punching 60 or so geranium seeds into potting soil.  The trays, which spent the night in the greenhouse, will come in the house sometime today for warmth and water and a good start for germinating seeds.

One of my high school classmates sent me a novel planting idea yesterday----ice cream cones.  The idea is that once the seeds have sprouted and the plants are ready to put in the ground, one simply plants cone and all, as it's biodegradable. 

I suppose I could have done that with my geraniums but was too anxious to get them planted to go to town and buy cones.  Maybe today, and maybe I'll try it with some other varieties of seeds.     

This morning Schweitzer is beyond stunning this morning with little pink clouds floating in a "bluebird" sky above the mountain's pure whiteness.  It's a "My oh My!" day, for sure.

I enjoyed taking breaks during the day to carry my camera and snap a few photos.  It was even more enjoyable to play with special effects on a few.  Those untouched, however, clearly illustrate that "beautious" scenes showed progress and some astounding eye candy. 

This morning I read in the paper about a young high school athlete who plans to play for Gonzaga basketball this next year.  He's dealing with a foot injury right now but expects to show up on campus in the summer and start working with the team.

For now, he expresses the same attitude as virtually everyone who's beside themselves about the ZAGS remarkable perfect run this season.  It's like Christmas every time they play, he said. 

I agree.  The ZAGS 2016-17 package is just about a wrap.  All that's left:  a big beautiful ribbon and bow to add the final phenomenal touch; that involves two victories this week. 

Tonight one of those possibilities will unfold in San Diego at 7 pm. PST on ROOT/KHQ. If all goes well, ZAGS will have the ribbon, and the bow can top it off Saturday at Senior Night in the Kennel.  

GO, ZAGS!  We hope you have the time of your lives this week and record your own special chapter in college basketball's history books.     

Happy Thursday.