Every few years, we pack up the minivan and make the 1000 mile drive (each way!) to visit my sister on her farm near Pasco, Washington. This year we made the trip in July, just in time for cherry harvest and the local 4th of July celebrations. We had the best time ever! Even though my sister's farm is only a place I get to visit every now and then, I have to admit that when I'm there I always feel like I'm back home again.
Here's Jeff engaged in his favorite farm activity: riding the ATV. (That's an All-Terrain Vehicle for you city folks.) Driving one of these things around the farm is the kind of fun a 13-year-old kid just does not get at home!
Notice in the picture that Jeff was wearing a pair of shorts instead of a regular pair of pants.
Not a good idea when riding an ATV, as Jeff learned the hard way later in the week. He felt the heat of the engine
against his bare leg, quickly jerked it out of the way, and rubbed it up against the rotating rear tire... giving
himself a NASTY burn along the length of his calf.
Sheri is fifteen and a half years old now and, like any kid her age, has been itching to learn how to drive. Our farm visit presented the perfect opportunity!
She's got this fantasy in her mind that she is going to someday get a Ford F-150 pickup truck.
She spent the whole 1000 mile trip up to the farm pointing out every F-150 on the road! Luckily for her, my
brother in law just happens to use a Ford pickup as his farm vehicle of choice, and was kind enough to teach Sheri how
to drive it during our stay there. He let her be his personal chauffeur all week long!
The highlight of the week for me was a 15 minute helicopter ride around the area!
My brother-in-law had hired a crop-dusting helicopter to do some spraying, and the pilot was nice enough to take me for a joy ride!
My only regret was that the opportunity came up after I had put my camera away... so I
didn't get the chance to take any pictures during my breath-taking flight. The view from up above was absolutely
incredible, and the flight was a huge thrill!
As I mentioned, the farm belongs to my sister, Judy, and her husband, Jim. They are a great couple, and fantastic hosts! It's always a pleasure to spend time with them.
Calling out names must get a little frustrating for Judy during my visits... there's her brother, Jim... her husband, Jim, and her step-son, Jim, who lives right next door! Confusion!
Take a look at Jim & Judy's picture on the right, then take a guess at this mini-quiz:
A) Homecoming queen during her Senior year of college.
B) Voted "most likely to own a John Deere" in her Senior year of high school.
C) Being tickled under the arm as this picture was taken.
Another highlight of the trip for us was a warm summer evening spent fishing on the Columbia river on the 4th of July. We didn't catch any fish, but a fun time was had by all!
Here's the group getting prepared to launch the boat, as the sun sets behind the river...
what a lovely sight! I never grabbed for my camera so fast as when I saw this scene as I walked down to the dock.
(Click on the picture to enlarge it.)
Jeff's latest hobby is video production, and so he spent a lot of time playing with our new Sony digital camcorder during our visit. It takes amazing almost-broadcast-quality images, and we got some great footage during our week at the farm. We're in the process of setting up our computer to do digital editing... soon we'll have everything we need to put together professional quality video productions. Now if only we can figure out a way to turn it in to a money-making hobby...
As you can see in the picture on the left, one of the first lessons I taught him about making
videos is that a pro photographer always uses a tripod!
Jeff was in the right place at the right time during a unique local 4th of July event in the little town of Basin City,
Washington. They race snowmobiles on WATER during this annual event! During one of the races a snowmobile went
slightly out of control and veered in to the crowd, running over a woman's foot. Jeff got it all perfectly on
tape. We're trying to sell the tape to one of those "reality TV" shows.
As you can see, when I'm on the farm I like to try to blend in with the locals and not to look too much like the California city-boy that I really am!
Being a member of the Zim family, I always get a little kick out of the "Zimmatic" brand self-propelled irrigation equipment that you see a lot of in farm country.
So here's my new favorite self-portrait, wearing a Zimmatic hat and standing in front of an
actual Zimmatic irrigator.
Here's another example of me as a farm-boy wannabe. Would you believe me if I told you the picture was taken after I finished plowing a 40 acre field?
OK, maybe not, but at least I looked the part!
While there was a time, many years ago, before kids and before middle-age laziness set in, that
I actually DID come up to the farm and do some work in the fields... those days are OVER! Vacations are for
This little cutie is Kindra, a very photogenic little member of our Washington family. I just call her my niece... what it lacks in technical accuracy it makes up for in simplicity!
I took a LOT of pictures of Kindra during our trip... she makes a great model! We also had a lot of fun on an ATV ride, and playing in her very own playground.
She even got to ride on one of the floats in the local 4th of July parade!
As you can see, Sheri and Jeff get along really well, and have a great time on our Washington vacations! You'd think all those hours spent driving on the way up would have them about ready to kill each other, but this shot was actually taken about half way through our longest day of driving. That's California's Mt. Shasta in the background. Well, you know what they say: getting there is half the fun!
I think our Washington farm vacations are going to be among their best memories of childhood.
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