Author of Madam, Have You Ever Really Been Happy? An Intimate Journey through Africa and Asia


…where the sky is clear, the mountains surround and protect me, and the only sound is the wind, the birds, and the rumble of an occasional distant avalanche left over from a record winter snowfall.

Yes, I want to leave my soaking, moldy, hurricane–battered basement and settle into a yurt in Mongolia or the plains of Tibet, trading my car for an amenable camel (I don’t think they make one). And I never, again, want a basement! Desperate, you say. Kind of. But, honestly, I have very few complaints compared to friends in next-door Millburn, or in Vermont and Pennsylvania.

I was lucky to return from the Northwest the day before the hurricane struck, so that, at least, I took up the rugs. It was bad enough to paddle in water up to my shins at 6 AM, without being faced with floating carpets. Lessons learned: 1) Sump pumps and French drains, no matter how expensive, don’t work when the power is out, and 2) Never store precious files and photos and memorabilia in the basement in cardboard boxes or even metal files.

As for insurance, which I have in spades (and have never made a claim), don’t get me started! Evidently a power outage is not covered. This was considered a flood, not a heavy rain. Funny, I didn’t see any rivers rising to my door, but I did see an absence of electricity for 20 hours, during which rainwater kept rising in my basement.   I do not consider this a flood, but a failure of a vital service normally provided by our local power company. The insurance companies, however, do, so I was denied coverage. At this point my only friend is a can of Lysol and a dehumidifier. Oh, yes, and I shall spend many hours wielding a paintbrush…as soon as the walls dry out.

I’m way behind on summer news, so will start at the end and work back. I will tell my story in pictures. They are far better purveyors of the glory of summer than a string of fancy adjectives.

For five days Jon Pollack, yes, the same Jon I met trekking the Annapurna circuit in 1999, camped in Mt. Rainier National Park. I found it exciting to hike over snow at this time of year just so long as we stayed away from cliffs. As you know, I don’t like “exposure,” but I’m getting better, especially on the ascent. It’s coming down, when I can see how easily I could be hurtled into space should I trip, that gives me the Willies.

View of Rainier from trailhead with Little Tahoma peak on the left

That’s mighty deep snow for August!

Glacial lakes along the way

And lots of avalanche lilies

…and bear grass

Brilliant colors....

Blossoms like tiny bells

pristine lake and camping area off the trail

A perfect spot for lunch on the way down

A looming presence as we headed back to camp after our first day on the mountain

We spent one day doing the Snow Lake hike in the shadow of majestic Unicorn Peak near Paradise on Rainier. This was the first time I’d seen the magnificent new Henry Jackson Visitor’s Center, named after one of my favorite Washington senators, “Scoop” Jackson, who did so much to help protect the wilderness and, like John Muir before him, make sure that it would be protected for generations to come.

It was, indeed, a continuing “Paradise” of wild flowers

Indian paint brush

And, now, put them all together....

And now, put them all together…it’s not easy for such fragile flowers to live in this rugged environment

Goodbye, Paradise

This is just the beginning of the saga of the summer. Stay with me, folks, and I’ll tell you about more cool trails in Rainier and the Gifford-Pinchot National Forest and nine days starting in Walla Walla and exploring the Columbia River Gorge and the Lewis River with its numerous waterfalls….






  1. What can I say more? It looks so beautiful! love Trees

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