Sunday, November 15, 2009

Grandma Harriet Makes Front Page News

Grandma Harriet came for a weekend visit to St Louis, arriving on an overnight flight from California. Despite the rigors of a red-eye flight, she was fresh from accomplishing a good deed in Redlands, namely enlisting her entire neighborhood to help with Thanksgiving giving. Upon her return to Redlands, the local newspaper took her photograph and put it on the front page.

From the Redlands Daily Facts

Woman enlists neighbors to help
Joy Juedes, Staff Writer
Posted: 11/08/2009 02:02:07 PM PST

Staff Writer
REDLANDS - When Harriet Blume heard Family Service Association of Redlands needed donations for Thanksgiving baskets, she did not just go to the grocery store. She asked her neighbors to go, too.
"I was going to ask a religious organization (to help), then I thought, I could just ask my neighbors," said Blume, who has lived on East Fern Avenue for more than 40 years.
Living in the same house for so long, Blume said she saw a lot of people come and go.
"I thought (Thanksgiving baskets) would be a good way to meet my neighbors, so I typed out a list of items," she said.
She multiplied each item by five, thinking there would be enough for five baskets if each person bought five of one item, like stuffing or sugar.
"I left a blank next to each item, went around to my neighbors and asked if they wanted to sign up and I think just about everybody signed up for something," she said.
"I told them to just leave it on my front porch," she said.
Marilyn Sanders, who has lived near Blume for more than 30 years, went to Gerrard's Market for cooking oil. She decided to buy cookie mix, which was not on the list.
"I saw these Betty Crocker mixes, I thought, oh, I think I'll get cookies, so I got five extra bags so (the families) could make sugar cookies for the holidays," Sanders said.
Family Service board member Diana McLaughlin heard about Blume's project from a
friend in her painting group and later ran into her at Art, For Heaven's Sake.
"She said, `Every day I come home and there's a surprise on my front porch because someone left what they were assigned,' " McLaughlin said.
Blume took two carloads of items to Family Service recently. Some of her neighbors and friends pitched in money for turkeys.
"She was so shy about it, which made it even sweeter," McLaughlin said.
Sanders said Blume had a lot of names on her contribution list.
"It's wonderful she took the time to do this, especially with the economy the way it is now," Sanders said. "It was a really sweet gesture."
"It was the first time in my life I'd ever done it - it's a very new idea for me - a great idea," Blume said.
And it could not have come at a better time. McLaughlin said Family Service's pantry is low, revenue is down and clientele has increased 20 percent.
"Most (new) clients have never had to seek help before, so we're seeing a whole new population of working poor," McLaughlin said.
She said an important element of Family Service's aid is families get a caseworker to help them get back on their feet, not just food and clothing. But for people who donate food, she said most of the charity's clients shop at Stater Bros., and Gerrard's has pre-bagged groceries for purchase to donate.
"I just think if 40 people in Redlands did that, there would be enough for 200 dinners," Blume said.
Sanders said she hopes Blume's initiative inspires other neighborhoods to help.
"Redlands is such a generous community - when we ask for help they always come through - they've never failed us in more than 110 years - and Harriet Blume is a perfect example," McLaughlin said.

How to help
Family Service Association of Redlands is still accepting donations for Thanksgiving Day meals.
Donations of one or two items toward the meals, or complete meals, are being accepted. Other food and candles, dishtowels, and decorations are also welcome. For a complete list, see Page A3.
Family Service volunteers will start receiving and packing baskets for Thanksgiving on Friday, Nov. 20, 1 to 6 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 21, from 9 a.m. to noon. Distribution to clients will begin Tuesday, Nov. 24.
Family Service is at 612 Lawton St. between Texas and Eureka streets. Information: (909) 793-2673;

Friday, November 13, 2009

Sunday, November 01, 2009

25 Hour Black Mesa Marathon

Leaving from Oklahoma City at 4:40 pm, W drove 400 miles out to the western tip of the Oklahoma panhandle in order to bag the highest point. He arrived at 11 pm in Boise City, resting briefly at a motel before resuming his quest at 4 a.m. Continuing westward, W watched the moon set as the region plunged into total darkness. Only jackrabbits remained on the deserted road. Approximately 20 minutes later W encountered the first lynx he had ever seen, which appeared to be rather angry that W had scared away the jackrabbits that it was hunting in the darkness. W continued on, trying to find the access road to Black Mesa, and relying on his GPS rather than common sense, W turned up a dirt road marked with a homemade sign saying "Easter Pageant" that led him after many twists and turns into Colorado rather than the trailhead. Turning around, W tried to take a shortcut that led to a dead-end at a rancher's house. Finally, W came to the conclusion that he was on the wrong road, and he drove back to the main road and continued westward. Eventually after an hour delay, W reached a well marked road indicating it was the one for Black Mesa. Another 7 miles brought him to the trailhead, where there was still total darkness at 6:15 am. His headlights illuminated a bright blue bird that had been flushed from its sleeping place. In the perfect quiet he could hear some coyotes signalling each other that some new prey was afoot. Turning off his headlamp, W could make out the outline of a large massif rising out of the plain. However the trail did not seem to lead in that direction, confounding him. Worse, in the darkness, W could not always make out the trail. At one point he was forced to walk in ever widening circles, trying to pick up where the trail had gone. Fortunately, there were a few directional arrows posted along the trail and W ran into them. But the trail didn't seem to be leading towards the hill he could make out to the left. W even doubled back at one point, and then studied one of the rusted directional arrows on which he could barely make out the words "summit", pointing away from the hill. At this point W plugged in coordinates of the summit into his GPSand saw that he was halfway headed in the correct direction, so he forged ahead. Eventually, signs of dawn began to appear and W could better distinguish the trail before him. It appeared a bit more obvious now that there was some light. The trail led steeply up a canyon to the top of the mesa, at which point W thought that he saw very white quartz rock, which turned out to be snow.

After about a half mile along the mesa, the sun rose, providing spiritual rather than physical warmth. Another mile and W reached the highpoint. Shortly thereafter the sun disappeared behind a cloud.

W hung around the monument for about 15 minutes and then headed quickly down, because he knew he would have to hurry in order to catch his plane in Oklahoma City and he still had another 400 miles to drive. The drive back covered some new parts of Texas that were covered with oilfields and funny looking hills, and then back into Oklahoma and its red earth, finally arriving in Oklahoma City exactly on schedule, 25 hours and 842 miles after he had departed.

Friday, October 09, 2009

W Completes 30/30 Hikes

W completed the final hike of his 30/30 hike quest, doing a hike in all 30 of the St Louis County parks. Fort Belle Fontaine, Faust, and West Tyson were the favorite hikes.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Nichole Breaks 4 mile record by 8 minutes


N ran the recent (10/2/09) Ivory Crockett Webster Groves 4 mile race in a personal best 40:05, beating her previous best by over 8 minutes. She celebrated by giving Fredbird a high five as she crossed the finish line.
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Saturday, October 03, 2009

Bingo gets in fight with Chunk


Bingo and Chunk got into their first real fight over a rawhide bone that was sitting on the deck. Bingo received an injury underneath his right eye that required staples and anesthesia. Bingo also got to wear a megaphone-like cone over his head for nearly two weeks, which greatly amplified his already sonorous bark, impressing other dogs and postmen over a large radius.
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Renny Powers to New PR

Renny pushed to a new personal best of 18:55 in the recent Fox Invitational cross country meet, where he also ran his first varsity race, demolishing many competitors with his powerful finishing kick.
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Monday, September 07, 2009

HP #8 - Charles Mound

Walter, Nichole, and Marcel, after a nearly 400 mile drive, easily sauntered up the 1.23 mile 265 foot elevation gain gravel road to the top of Charles Mound, IL, achieving yet another state high point. The landscape was quite beautiful and well worth the journey. After that the trio drove to Apple Canyon Lake for some golf and then onwards to Chicago for the weekend. In Chicago, the highest manmade structure in the western hemisphere beckoned, and they soon found themselves atop the Willis (nee Sears) Tower, looking out over all of Chicago.
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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Oma has Web page(s)

It has been discovered recently that Oma (Carola Blume) has a couple of nice web pages about her.

In addition to this web page, there is also a web page at the Volkshochschule Stuttgart.


A rough translation of the text there is:

Carola Blume was the leader of the women's division of the Volkshochschule Stuttgart from 1924 to 1933

Already during her graduate studies she had taken a special interest in career minded women. Her dissertation theme was "On the professional possibilities and interests of female youth"

This interest steered her work at the VHS Stuttgart, where she began leading the women's division in 1924. She wanted especially to give working women education. Therefore she went to factories and made contact with women. The outcome was that courses were offered in the factory or in the immediate neighborhood which were tuned to the interests of the female workers. Carola Blume was driven by the goals of the women's movement in the 19th century.

Carola had so much success with her concept, that a growing number of women began taking the courses. The women's division at VHS Stuttgart achieved international recognition.

In 1933, Carola Blume, who was a Jew, was dismissed. She emigrated in 1936 to California, where Anne Recknagel from the VHS Stuttgart met her again in 1985 {translator's note: I think Carola died before they actually met}

Carola Blume died in the summer of 1987. And in 1998, the newly formed Women's Academy of Stuttgart was named after her.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Whitney Backpack Trip - HP #7

From Whitney 2009

Day -1 (7/18)
As planned, Marcel, Wes, and Wyatt Bussler arrived at the Reno airport to meet W, N and R. Then good-byes were said and N headed back to St Louis. Wes had a very impressive waterproof yellow cover for his pack, resembling something that would be used while hunting whales in a brisk Nor'easter. This caused W to optimistically
predict that there would be no rain whatsoever on the Sierra trip. The now stuffed SUV headed south, stopping in Carson City and Lee Vining for food. Then it was up Tioga Pass in search of a campsite. The goal: altitude acclimitization at 10000 feet. As it was a Saturday in July, all regular campsites were full. The group
eventually arrived at Sawmill, a backpacking campsite, and were told by somewhat crazy looking german rock-climbers that the site was completely full, but not taking Nein for an answer, they searched for themselves and found the second to last campsite half a mile from the car. It was beautiful, with a running river and beautiful meadow, and mountains all around. W took a small hike up the canyon and returned for a nice meal of hot dogs. The group bedded down for the evening with a nice campfire. W was tentless and enjoyed the stars, and noted with alarm some thunderstorm-like clouds, but no rain came.

Day 0 (7/19)

In the morning they headed once again south towards Lone Pine. Luckily, Uncle William called before W headed further south from Lone Pine to where he thought the Cottonwood Lakes trailhead was. Uncle William and Mike Castleton met them at the Lone Pine ranger station where they collected the seven elephantine bear canisters. Now fully loaded, the group proceeded towards base camp at Horseshoe Meadows/Cottonwood Lakes trailhead. This was a very impressive drive through wild west landscapes with huge boulders and hairpin turns up to the camp place. The road climbed perhaps 5000 feet, and at one point W commented how he was so glad that he didn't have to hike up this part and they rounded a turn to see a man jogging with great effort up the road. At camp, there was evidence of a huge downpour that apparently had inundated the camp for 3 hours, but no rain fell anymore. A
gigantic no-holds barred fire was constructed, as this would be prohibited at later camps. Meanwhile, W and William shuttled cars to Whitney Portal. This meant driving all the way down the mountain and up again, then down, then up again, which ended up taking about 2 hours, including getting gas. At Whitney Portal, William saw a rapidly fleeing bear in the parking lot, so everybody took the bear situation seriously.

Day 1 (7/20)

Since the day's hike was only 5 miles, the young adults slept in, and the expedition was finally ready to begin at 11 a.m. Much gorp had to be left behind, as there was simply no room in the bear canisters. The hike was not too hard and the group soon arrived at a series of lakes, surrounded by massive mountains. The weather was kind enough to allow the group to set up tents by Cottonwood lake #3 before commencing to hail and rain, forcing everybody to take a nap for about an hour and a half.
From Whitney 2009

W felt lucky that they hadn't pitched the tent in the lake that formed from the rain.

There was an abandoned tent nearby, suggesting that somebody might have gotten lost or eaten by a bear. After the storm, W, Mike and William took a short spaziergang to Cottonwood lake #4 and returned to a camp under full assault by mosquitos. The mosquitos seemed a little sluggish compared to St Louis, making them easily slappable, but they made up for it with their sheer numbers.

Day 2 (7/21)

The next morning brought an attempt at an earlier start, which was delayed a bit by M and R being slow to rise. However, the group finally got going in order to climb New Army Pass before any new weather events came.
From Whitney 2009

They soon encountered a giant boulder field which hindered their progress somewhat as they constantly had to move boulders aside. Fortunately, R was up to the task and made quick work of the smaller boulders.

New Army Pass proved to be quite tough and at the top snow blocked the way to the summit, forcing some minor scrambling.

Kings of the world at the top of New Army Pass

Seeing thunderheads approaching, the group spent little time at the top before beginning a descent towards Rock Creek. W looked wistfully towards Mt Langley but wisely descended behind the others as a new hailstorm blew in, pelting him for about 20 minutes. Fortunately there was little lightning, just hailstones and then rain. The rain broke just long enough to have a quick lunch before resuming. The group continued to Rock Creek where they made camp and made a fire that the ranger told them to discretely bury and scatter when they were done.

Day 3 (7/22)
From Whitney 2009

The next day was supposed to be an easy hike over Guyot pass. It was warm and not so hard, but on the descent, Uncle William's pack strap broke, leaving him with a single strap, which also failed after about 30 more minutes under the increased load.
From Whitney 2009

Minor surgery with some cord and duct tape restored some function to the pack, and the hike was resumed, at this point joining with the famed Pacific Crest Trail. Camp was established near the Crabtree Meadows ranger station and W found a beautiful ridge with views of surrounding mountains.

The ranger suggested that the group wait until the next afternoon/evening to hike to Guitar Lake, since the camping wasn't so great, and you also were required to pack all your waste, for which they provided free poop-packing kits.

Day 4 (7/23)
W grew restless waiting for the afternoon so he went on a solo hike to Crabtree Lake, which was fairly difficult until he actually found a trail. The hike was worth it and he was rewarded with sheer cliffs and a crystal clear lake that he drank out of without treating the water.

Heading to Guitar Lake

The group broke camp and headed up to Guitar Lake, a rocky but beautiful lake with towering rock all about.

M and R contented themselves with whittling their hiking staffs into exquisite patterns.

It was decided to make a very early morning start in order to head off the possibility of weather spoiling the summit bid.

Day 5 (7/24)
The group arose at 4:15 am in darkness and began packing. By 5 am they were on the trail and no longer needed headlamps. It was planned to hike to the top of a pass called Trail Crest and then drop packs and ascend to the top of Whitney. Wes and Wyatt immediately took off in a race to be the first to the top. Wes took an early lead but failed to see the turnoff to Mt Whitney and hiked beyond. When W, Mike, and William reached Trail Crest, Wes had just realized he was going the wrong way and turned around. Meanwhile, Wyatt, hell bent on catching his younger brother raced in the correct direction without realizing he could drop his 50 pound pack and indeed raced all the way to the top of Mt Whitney before realizing that he was there and that Wes was behind him. M and R also summitted well before their elders. Mike, William and W finally reached the summit at 8:45 a.m.
From Whitney 2009

Everybody relaxed for perhaps 45 minutes and then it was time for the long trip downwards. And downwards.
From Whitney 2009

And downwards through several million switchbacks. W encouraged the many exhausted looking people who were trying to go up telling that it was absolutely worth it, which it was. The group made a stop at Mirror Lake for some refreshments, but knew it was still far to go. After a long while there appeared a road in the distance that didn't look very far, but it still seemed to take forever. Finally the group reached the bottom and enjoyed hamburgers at the Whitney Portal store. More searching was made for an empty campsite, eventually found by Mike and William, and the group enjoyed a nice night of rest, even though a bear was once again sighted.
Motley Crew poses after 45 mile backpack trip

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Boundary Peak Proves Challenging

After a 9 hour drive from Monterey to Lee Vining, WNR approached the base camp goal for the highest point in Nevada, Boundary Peak. Note: For full slide show of images from this adventure click here.

View HP #6 Boundary Peak in a larger map

The drive from Lee Vining out on highway 6 is very scenic, especially near sunset time. The White Mountains were lit up beautifully, and the road begins in a forest of lodgepole pine, surprising to see in what W thought to be a completely desert area. Volcanic cinder cones with plentiful obsidian are distributed along the first few miles and then the road breaks out into the desert. In the distance WNR could see what they thought was Boundary Peak, and it looked immense and slightly intimidating. The White Mountains just to the south actually looked white in the desert sunset. The road undulated further with stomach fluttering dips and beautiful vistas.

WNR crossed into Nevada, driving 6 miles further to a dirt road turnoff. Guided by the GPS, WNR headed towards Queen's Mine, an abandoned mine that provided a flat spot for camping. Another six miles of dusty driving brought them to the remote spot, completely devoid of people.

The sun was just setting and the last rays of the sun were eerily aligned with the abandoned mine shaft.

Despite being in a desert, Renny immediately found some firewood and got a fire going. As the sun set, millions of moths emerged for some reason, perhaps to enjoy the cooler temperature. WNR had decided to enjoy the evening sans tent and lay their sleeping bags out on groundpads. Half a gazillion stars appeared and the night appeared to be going very peacefully, until several hours later when R got up to announce that some type of rodent had bitten his finger. The moon came out around midnight, appearing so bright that W thought R was shining a flashlight in his face. R had gotten in the car to avoid further rodent attacks, but W and N braved the night and woke early to face the challenge of Boundary Peak.

N had made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the hike and began hiking out a little earlier to beat the morning sun. Meanwhile W fretted about the amount of water (2.5 liters per person), as he knew no water was available anywhere along the approximately 6 mile route to the top. The first mile of the trail stuck to the dirt road, appearing possibly passable via automobile, but W didn't want to worry about getting stuck so onward they trudged towards the trailhead, which was near another abandoned mine. Beautiful white flowers of some sort covered the ground near the trailhead. The trail climbed up a hill and in the distance WNR could see what W first took to be another hiker, but soon realized it was a horse.

In fact it was a wild horse standing guard over his herd of horses including a foal, grazing in a grove of trees, perhaps bristlecone pine. At this point the hike had been moderately strenuous and W noted with alarm that there was still 2700 feet of elevation gain left. He decided not to tell N and R, but to simply forge ahead, encouraging R and N to move along. R became quite busy dislodging rocks, but he and N eventually caught up to the last possible shady position for lunch.

W pointed up the imposing mountain, and the group forged ahead. Soon they were at the "saddle", a position just before an imposing 45 degree upslope consisting of loose scree and boulders.

R and N seemed to find a trail, while W got slightly off trail and almost had to quit from exhaustion, such was the degree of difficulty for him. However, slow and steady finally conquered the 1500 foot ridge, and they surveyed the 1000 feet remaining, which consisted of a long ridge traverse. At this point a couple of other highpointers came up from another trail and some pleasantries were exchanged. This proved to be much easier due to the more secure footing, but was at a higher altitude. N flew upwards and was first to the summit, with R closely following, and W finally appearing for a triumphant highpoint photo.

R, who had made the hike with blisters, pronounced it his most difficult hike ever, and W felt it was definitely in his top three. The view was well worth it.

The downclimb was also quite arduous, though not so hard as the ascent.

R took an alternate path that allowed him to "surf" dangerously on large amounts of sliding scree. He expressed regret when he accidentally deleted a few videos he took of this activity. He also enjoyed watching rocks accumulate kinetic energy as they tumbled several thousand feet down into a valley. At the bottom of the scree, the group rested for a few moments before continuing the remaining 3 miles.

Finally after an accumulated 12 hours, the family again reached the campsite, having made the longest 10.5 mile hike of their lives.
W drove the family back to Benton Hot Springs, where they enjoyed a hot tub under the stars, though Renny was disgusted when W decided not to wear a swimsuit.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

New baby of Thomas-Arcel




During an all too brief visit, WNR were privileged to see new baby Catherine take some of her first steps. And of course there was the magnificent carne asada dinner cooked up by Arcel's parents. W traveled about 15 feet on a unicycle for everybody's amusement.

Friday, July 10, 2009

WNR Visit Kelli

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WNR enjoyed the hospitality of Kelli and Joe, along with a wonderful spaghetti dinner, and Lixa and her new baby and extended family. W met Kelli's friend Joe for the first time. Joe was one short of geocache find number 5000 at the time, an absolutely amazing number.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Thieme's visit Missouri


Rainer & Andrea Thieme paid a visit to WNMR June 14-15th. They were vacationing across the US, on their way eventually to San Francisco. Braving uncertain weather, W & N went canoeing with them for the day on the Current River. A long rainy drive ended at the destination with the weather clearing up, a hopeful sign. As they embarked on their journey, the swollen river was dreamily foggy, and the surrounding wilds emerald green. After a visit to Pulltite spring, the quartet began to hear ominous rumblings behind and ahead of them. Eventually they found themselves paddling through a deluge complete with lightning strikes. As the tallest person in the group, Walter "lighning rod" Blume faced special risks as the group took a weather break at Sinking Creek campground. Despite this handicap, he still managed to maintain his hold on highly conductive beer cans when a bolt of lightning exploded much too closely over his head. Eventually the weather cleared, and the magical float down the river ended much too quickly, even if it did rain.
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Saturday, June 06, 2009

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

W's Bike Stolen! W's Bike Recovered!!!

Coming back late from a bonfire, Marcel was chagrined to inform W that he believed W's bike to have been stolen that evening. M had parked it next to the house where the bonfire was and came back to find it missing.

The next morning, Marcel began some expert police work, suggesting a possible future career path. M made a list of all people that he could remember being at the bonfire, and then crossed off all the trustworthy individuals in this list, leaving just 3 possible suspects. He drove with his friend Wes and located the alleged scumbag riding W's bike around in circles in front of a second accomplice's house. The alleged bike thief alleged that he had allegedly found the alleged bicycle out in the middle of an alleged street and simply rode it home. Marcel was soon again in possession of W's bike and rode it back to its true home, where it now once again hangs safely in the basement.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Marcel Graduates!!


Triumphing over a last minute hurdle thrown down by his English teacher, Marcel summitted the peaks of Webster Groves High School and graduated with the class of 2009. Finally, he can now answer the proverbial provincial prototypical St Louis question: "So, what high school did you go to?"
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