Susan Turns 50 and I am there... Bishop, CA

Those who know me know that I have a marvelous relative... only one really now...though I have a couple of others who are nice too.  But Susan is the joy of my life - the kid I never had, the sister I always wanted and a very good friend too.  She lives in an interesting part of California - a part I had never seen... and it was Autumn, a season I really love and seldom see.

I caught up with her about an hour or so north of where she lives

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Then we had dinner and drove to the homestead she shares with her partner, James and three cats, Tink, Misha (Shmoo) and Stanley - an acre of land right up against the desert at the base of White Mountain Peak

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This is White Mountain Peak as seen from her yard and in close up

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Susan & James on a morning yard walk                    Stan

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Tink                                                            Misha (Shmoo)

The land behind their property is a desert leading to foot hills and mountains beyond.  White Mountain Peak is over 14,000.  One morning we walked out the back gate and here is what it looked like...

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They live very near the town of Bishop in the Owens Valley area of California

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where Susan teaches ballet and while I was there she was deep into rehearsals for the Nutcracker Ballet.

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Susan also leads a Sweat Lodge.  This is a Native American ceremony of prayer and cleansing and I had never experienced one before.  You sit in a lodge into which are placed extremely hot stones, then the door is closed and the ledge is dark and prayers are said and water is poured on the stones and steam fills the lodge.  It can get intense... but it is definitely interesting.  There is a great deal of ceremony surrounding the whole experience.  There is so very little ceremony in my life these days so it was very interesting to observe and to participate in it.  Songs are sung, but they are sung in Native languages which was a bit too bad, because singing is so good for everyone and it would have been nice to sing too.

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Another day we went hiking in the mountains and this little flatland girl was up about 8,000 feet - it was beautiful!

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We hiked up to about 8,000 feet - stopping along the path when ever we chose to admire the beauty of Nature.

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And when we came down the day was beginning to slide into a most glorious sunset
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Then it was time for the big day - the actual day of Susan's 50th Birthday!  How did it begin?  With a gift of horse manure - 3 truck loads - and the building of apple compost...working in the green house.

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And fluffing up the tutu's that had been stored since last year for the Nutcracker

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James returned that evening from a trip to the coast and we spent a couple of days getting ready for the Birthday Party.  The evening was beautiful - the day had been overcast and we did get some rain - but in a dry area like that the rain was another gift.

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The Guests arrived...

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the opening of the gifts...

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We partied until late and sat up talking about what a wonderful party it had been - the next day I arose early and drove four hours to catch a flight home from Reno.  The drive is lovely and I had planned to stop and take photos, but I was being chased by a hangover and had to keep moving.  It caught up with me in Reno and I was glad I was no longer driving a car...  The flight home was long but the trip was fantastic!  Here are some other photos of the landscape.

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I took a couple of naps here                       This is a tree I gave Susan for her Birthday

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Early morning photos