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Birthday Girls; Wild Corvette Chicks; Dinners Out; Fishies; White Hats; Running with Deer

Yes, it’s official. My Lovely Bride is a year older. Being a Southern Gentleman, I could not possibly divulge her actual age, but to me, she’s about 35. You can either do a “number drill” on that figure, or deduce her chronological age from her PT this morning, when she ran 53 minutes, did 53 pushups without a break and 53 crunches. She is back in Florida celebrating with her mom Ruthie, with whom she shares a birthday. Here are the Two Lovely Birthday Girls this morning, after they received some nice flowers from an admirer.

Suzanne’s Lovely Sister Janice is visiting from West Chester, PA, and today they were out in the Corvette tooling around The Villages, shopping and hopefully not breaking any speed limits or spending too much on hot-looking clothes (I’m not very hopeful on that last item, but there are certain fringe benefits to that kind of shopping). This selfie was taken in The Red ‘Vette, at a stop light or in a parking lot, rather than on I-75 at 105…

Okay, here’s a complaint. I’m in a state park with Rudy and Gretchen, and we’re eating leftovers, while MLB is back in Florida going out to dinner every night. What is wrong with this picture??? No, not the photo at right… But here we have evidence that MLB is out partying… The three party girls with brother Brent at a country club in The Villages, with Brent’s Lovely Bride Cheryl acting as photographer. (While I had leftover pizza in the woods). Sigh…

Actually, I have taken advantage of the time alone to do some fishing. (Yes, Bob, and “catching” as well.) In fact, I caught this nice one on my very first cast! I landed four smallmouth bass and perch last night, and two this morning, and decided to do “catch and release” rather than having fishies for dinner. (At least I know now that I can feed my family when Social Security runs out of cash.) Five reasons for my catch-and-release decision: (1) I forgot my fish cleaning kit with dedicated cutting board and fillet knives at home, (2) because of reason (1), I didn’t want to use MLB’s cutting board and knives, because of the fish smell that would remain, (3) they weren’t trout, salmon or walleye, (4) I was feeling generous; and (5) they’ll be bigger next year. Oh, and reason (6)… I was feeling lazy. The joy of fishing, though, is not so much in catching fish as simply being a part of the environment. While on the pier, I watched an osprey circling overhead, looking for breakfast. It was more than a casual pastime for her (him?), because there was surely a young osprey in the nest to feed as well as the beautiful bird I watched diving and carrying away a nice fish.

Where are Rudy, Gretchen and Ty, you might ask? Well, we are in Farragut State Park, Bayview, Idaho, north of Coeur d’Alene. This used to be a naval training center in WWII, where 293,000 sailors went through boot camp from 1942-1945. During the war, it was the largest “city” in Idaho. One of its buildings, the Camp Bennion Drill Hall, was large enough to have six full-size basketball courts, an Olympic-size swimming pool, a chapel and a boxing ring; 2,000 men could watch a movie there (the young sailors probably did not rate recliner seats). Basic training started out at 13 weeks, but was shortened to 6 weeks when the war intensified (both to ship losses and the amazing building rate that US shipyards achieved after Pearl Harbor). The memorial you see here is to the young sailors who trained here and did their duty to their country on all the world’s oceans.

Why put a naval training center in Idaho? Supposedly Eleanor Roosevelt had flown over the lake on a trip to Seattle, and when her husband Franklin was looking for a secure inland location for a major training base, she suggested this location. It is adjacent to Lake Pend Orielle (pronounced “Pond O-ray”), where the Navy now has a submarine research facility, located here because at 1,150 feet deep in some places, it is the fifth-deepest lake in the US. Formed by glaciers eons ago, it is 43 miles long, and most of the lake’s shores are unpopulated. The acoustics (absent the noise from jet skis on weekends) are very similar to the open ocean, ideal for testing full-size submarine prototypes. (A Russian spy trying to get information around here might be just a bit conspicuous…)

The land around Lake Pend Orielle was the traditional home of the Kalispell Indians. The name of the lake is French for an ear hanging, which the Kalispell often wore; coincidentally (?), the lake is shaped like a human ear. The woods here are full of wildlife: deer, elk, grizzly and black bears, coyote, gray wolves and moose all reside in the vicinity. I have been mountain biking over many of the park’s trails, and have startled six deer… it’s eerie to be riding along at 12-15 mph, and all of a sudden, two fawns or a buck and doe going 30 mph in graceful bounds break out of the woods and cross the trail not 50 feet in front of you. Thankfully, I have not crossed tracks with a bear, but I think they keep clear of the state park because of all the people around. (Note to self: in four full hours of mountain biking on approximately 30-40 miles of trails, you have not met a single other bicyclist… like in Alaska, urban sprawl and overpopulation are not issues here… carry your bear spray! “Yessir!”)

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