Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Cure for Cabin Fever

Yesterday was a beautiful, bittersweet day.

The second day of February is the anniversary of my sweet Mother's passing.

Charmalee Jane Walp Blakeley was born November 12, 1931. At the age of 71 she passed away and left a hole in my heart.

Gertie, my sister, treated my Dad and I to lunch at Jeremiah's, in Ogden. After lunch we took advantage of the beautiful winter sunshine and went for a drive!

We drove through the former Defense Depot Ogden so Dad could see the changes that have occurred there. DDO is where he officed when he worked in Utah in the 70s. The once government installation has since been privatized and many new office buildings have been built. Dad hasn't been there since DDO changed hands, so it was a nice drive-by for him.

After driving through DDO we headed eastward and upward!

We drove up 12th Street, the street where Dad grew up. The location of his former home is now a florist shop. Which, when you think about it, is a fitting replacement for the land. My grandparents were gardeners, nurserymen and florists! My Dad has been a fine gardener and operated a landscaping business during my formative years.

Continuing east on 12th Street evoked many memories for Dad, Gertie and I. Uncle Eric's stately English Tudor home is no longer 'up the street' from Dad's childhood home. The road is much wider (5 lanes) and there is commerce aplenty.

We continued up the canyon to the beautiful Ogden Valley. On the way, passing this beautiful waterfall (although in the spirit of full disclosure, I took this photo on our way back down the canyon!) Of course this photo doesn't capture the true, natural beauty and thunderous sounds of this waterfall. Water falls from the middle and the outer sections, both sides, are ice formations.

Driving up the winding canyon inspired many memories... Grey Wolf Lodge, The Hermitage (which I learned my Grandmother Blakeley's family operated prior to a destroying fire), the ATK Conference Center (I wanted to live there when I was a child), Wheeler Canyon where my Dad would end his ski days in his youth, and Gertie looked for the wicked witch's home; and then the beautiful valley and Pineview Reservoir!

After a pit stop at a local Maverik, we headed up to Powder Mountain!

My affinity for Powder Mountain, a ski resort, is multi-layered.

The original owner and developer of Powder Mountain was the same man who delivered me! Dr. Cobabe (I'll have to look-up his first name) and his family owned the land for many years and went on to develop the ski resort.

Our family had annual family passes at Powder Mountain the first years of operation until we moved away from Utah... for about 4 years.

My older sisters, Jane and Charmalee, and I worked there for a few seasons.

My sister Jane and her little family lived there for a few seasons.

As a family, we were stranded at Powder Mountain one winter weekend because of an avalanche. We had to spend two nights along with about 12 other people. The day after the avalanche we were able to dig out the chair lift and ski to our hearts content that day. Imagine skiing unfettered with only 21 other people to share the entire mountain with. I remember the quiet beauty of the day. The day after our exclusive ski day we walked out and over the mound of snow that had us stranded in a winter Eden. I don't remember how we got our cars back but we did!

Our parents allowed us one day each year that we could skip school and go skiing. One year Charmalee and I and two friends *borrowed* my Dad's old Chevy truck and headed to Powder Mountain for skiing. Of course Charmalee was driving because I didn't know how to drive a stick shift. Well, we should have stopped while we were ahead. As we were getting on the freeway, via the Roy on ramp, one of the doors popped open. Undaunted, we forged ahead. The next incident was when I twisted my knee on my forced last run, only 50 yards from the lodge. Poor me! With the day winding down, we gathered up our belongings and headed down the canyon for home. Now, if you've ever been to Powder Mountain you know how steep and winding the canyon is, making it a tricky drive. Well, as we were headed down the canyon Charmalee was rounding a curve and the next thing I knew we were careening out of control and rolled. When the truck stopped, the truck was on it's side but we were all alive relatively whole. Of course, having 4 people in the cab of a truck didn't leave much room for us to be jostled about and incur more injuries. To add to the gloom of the accident, I'll never forget my parents walking in the emergency room doors of McKay Dee hospital. They had come to collect us, Dad walking very slowly and stooped over... He was recovering from a very recent surgery....I felt so bad!

See what I mean... multi layers!

This photo was taken from the top of the ridge near the upper lodge, looking to the southwest. Gertie and I hopped out of the car to take some photos while Dad stayed inside, enjoying the breathtaking views laced with a lifetime of memories.

I couldn't help but think about my Mom at that specific moment... On those days she and I would be out and about running errands and shopping, she would opt to stay in the car too. "Just park me in the sunshine" she would say as she snuggled into her seat basking in the sun rays! I wish I could sit in the sun rays with her on these beautiful winter days!

After our trek up to the mountain we drove back down and continued our drive through the valley, headed to the Trappist Monastery to buy some local honey. Gertie and I visited with the attending Monk for a few minutes. He has been at the monastery since it opened in 1947. He looks to be about the same age as Dad, maybe a bit older. Interestingly, he is from Kentucky and came to Utah in 1947 to pledge his life to God. In 1949, Dad went to Kentucky to serve God and his countrymen as a Mormon Missionary!

After the stop at the monastery we headed home.

It was a wonderful way to spend the day with my sweet Dad and Gertie, recalling memories of my youth and feeling very grateful for my parents and family!

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