Thursday, September 18, 2014

Yessi putting together a Hot Pot feast.

Ludo and Flore's last night in Seattle was a wonderful evening.  After two years of not seeing them, we've had a week hiking together and it's like we were never apart.  Always smiles and always fun from those two.

Brad, Ludo, Flore, Fran, Ed, Yessi all camping in the Cascades last weekend.
Our excursions around Mt Rainier were well supported by Fran and Ed, and Greg and Deb.  So, in celebration and thanks, Yessi planned a wonderful meal, one of her favorites.  Hot Pot!

Brad and Yessi in Seattle's International district shopping for HotPot.
We all gathered at Greg and Deb's in Seattle, our closest home, collectively, to Sea Tac.  Ludo and Flore had an early flight the next day, about 5am.  As it turns out, we dropped them off at the airport around 1am, after dinner and entertainment.  The entertainment was watching Ludo and Flore try to put two years worth of possessions, mostly hiking, into 4 little bags!

Yessi's amazing Hot Pot spread.
The Hot Pot was the best Yessi has made yet.  Shopping at Uajimia in the International District, we were able to get many of the thinly sliced meats and odd vegetables you just don't see in most American grocery stores.

A panorama of the outside of the Hot Pot table including from l2r
Yessi, Fran, Deb, Flore, Ludo, Greg and Ed.
Thank you to all who helped show my good friends Ludo and Flore a great time in and around Seattle.  And thanks to Yessi for the wonderful meal and for being at the Invicargill North McDonalds at 5:45pm on April 21st, 2012, so I could meet you.

Ludo and Flore and how we keep meeting.

Two years ago (2012) I hiked the Te Araroa Trail.  I met many people and had many experiences along the way but perhaps two of my favorite two people are Ludo and Flore.

Ludo and Flore on the PCT, Snoqualmie Pass, August 2014
We had the opportunity to hike many days together along the Te Araroa and though we all hiked our own hike separating to go different directions, we kept coming across one another.

Ludo and Flore with Mt. Adams in the background.
When I left New Zealand, I flew to San Diego where I immediately started the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail).  Now, two years later, Ludo and Flore have just completed the PCT and with a few extra weeks before they depart to France, we got together for another great trip on Rainier.

My MSR Reactor, best stove ever.  This is the same stove I used
in NZ along the Te Araroa Trail and now, after all my bragging about it
Ludo and Flore have one too!!
I first met Ludo and Flore near the Glow Worm Caves, just south of Waitoma on the North Island of New Zealand.  It was a brief encounter and before I knew it, they went one way and we (I was hiking with Graham) went the other.  Yet we managed to end up at the same backpackers than evening.

l2r:Yessi, dbBrad, Flore, Ludo, Mt Rainier.
At the Bog in Hut, deep in the dark wet forest of Pureora, we met again.  We shared an emergency rum over a batch of instant pudding.  Then, early the next day, our time came to an end as they went one way and I went another, again.

Yessi, Ludo and Flore at abut 6k feet n the side of Mt. Rainier.
In Ohakune we met up to share a 3 day river canoe trip along the Wanganui.  My last memory of this trip was Ludo and Flore dragging a canoe, full of water up onto a boat ramp having just capsized.  It was raining but it didn't matter because everything they owned was floating in water and absolutely soaked.  I was injured and took the bus back to Ohakune but they packed up their gear and hiked on.  This was not our last goodbye.

Yessi, Ludo and Flore on the Wonderland Trail headed around Mt. Rainier.
We met up in Palmerston North a week or so later and hiked all the way to Wellington together.  This included the Taururas, a lovely stretch of beach, some interesting rides including one by an exotic dancer and the guard cow of Welliington.

Ludo with yet another 'cool' pose!
We stayed in the same backpackers in Wellington but they left a day or two before me.  It wasn't until Nelson Lakes south of St. Arnaud that I almost caught up with them again.  It snowed several inches and running low on food, they went another way and we missed by a day.

Flore demonstrates effective poling climbing Mt. Rainier.
I did catch them again at Aurthurs Pass.  They were staying in the backpackers and when I went to do laundry, I saw Ludo's red shirt.  I knew they were nearby.  We hiked out together the next day headed off on another leg of the Te Araroa.

We hiked together to the Raikai river and hitched together along lake Coleridge.  It's a long way around the Raikai river and we hiked for several hours before we even saw a car.  As it turns out, a local tramping club just finishing a day hike with room for two.  I stayed and walked and Ludo and Flore took the ride. I watched them drive away, smiling and waving through the back window of a car.
Flore and Ludo and Yessi, always smiling and having fun.

But then a few weeks later on the Two Thumbs track south of the Rangitata river, I was with Richard, another hiker.  We had just crossed the Rangitata, started up into the mountains and camped for the night.  The trail here follows a river and it's a cold wet hike.  We camped for the night and when we woke up, we saw it had snowed in the mountains.  We hiked in icy water all day climbing up and up until we were on top of another beautiful mountain range.  As we approached our target hut, we noticed smoke coming out of the chimney.  We found this odd and as we approached the hut the door opened and out came Ludo.  Again, Ludo and Flore were at this little hut and we had yet another micro reunion.
A panoramic (Auto Stitch App) of our first camp just above Pan Handle gap.
Somehow, we ended up in Tekapo together after bumping into each other at a hut.  I was just leaving and they decided to stay the night.  We thought maybe we would meet in town two days later.  As it turns out, I camped high above the lake and walked down early the next day.  Its another long road walk around the lake and very few cars to hitch from.  One of the few, a truck, drove right past and then stopped and backed up.  When I looked closely, Ludo and Flore were in the cab. The truck was full, but they convinced the driver to squeeze me in and off to Tekapo we went.

Ludo and Flore taking down the tent just after sunrise.  Here were at 7200 feet
in the Frying Pan back country zone.
From here, we split up and I hiked most of the rest of the trip by myself, until catching up with Arnaud and Charlie, two other Te Araroa trampers. But we met again in Riverton, two days prior to finishing the Te Araroa.  We hiked the last section to Bluff, all 6 of us (dbBrad, Ludo, Flore, Charlie, Arnaud and Richard) and had a celebration/reunion at the finish.  We all stayed in Bluff that night together before, once again, going our separate ways.

Our second night camp.  We couldn't see Rainier from here,
but we could see Baker, Adams and even Mt. Hood for a brief spell.
This time, having finished the trail, we said goodbyes for good.  As fate would have it, after attempting Mt. Aspiring with Richard, I left Wanaka and headed up to Tekapo to meet Yessi.  As fate would have it, I hitched a ride out of town and got a ride a few clicks up the road.  The driver let me off at a turn off and there were two hitch hikers standing where I got out of the car.  It was Ludo and Flore.  We had another very brief hello and goodbye, and they got in the same car I just exited and off they went.

Ludo and Flore taking a quick break on a log foot bridge over one of the
many creeks you will cross on the Wonderland trail.
Now, two years later, Ludo and Flore just finished the PCT.  I met them at Snoqualmie pass briefly. We made plans and upon their finish, they came to visit for a week.  We spent a few days on Whidbey island, a few days in the Cascades and then three days on Mr. Rainier.  Even though they hiked right next to the mountain, bad weather permitted them no views of the spectacular mountain.  But we fixed that!!

Finally and sadly, Ludo and Flore and Yessi and I spent our last day together in Seattle sight seeing prior to taking them to the airport around midnight, just a few hours before they were to depart early the next morning for home, back to France.

Ludo and Flore in front of a waterfall.  Were not on Mt. Rainier anymore
but rather in Seattle Wa, at Freeway Park.
This was yet another goodbye to my good friends, but this time I know it won't be the last.  Yessi and I will visit France sometime soon and we will see Ludo and Flore then.  Perhaps they will make our wedding in China too!

Two years ago, Ludo and Flore behind bars along the Te Araroa trail in NZ..

Two days ago, Ludo and Flore behind bars once again!!
This time Yessi is with them and were in Seattle WA, USA.!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Yessi and Brad photos 2 years apart

Yessi and Brad April 2012 in New Zealand on our first date.
We walked a total of 4 blocks this evening.

Yessi and Brad Sept 2014,
We hiked 25 miles this day!!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

M and M's go great with hiking!

M and M hiking club.

Yessi and I have spent the last few weeks hiking trails for GreenTrails maps.  Last week we were hiking a 70 mile loop over 4 days.  On our last day we made a meager lunch on top of Noble Knob which has an amazing view of Mt. Rainier.  As we huddled behind a group of trees to escape the wind, we could hear the cheerful sound of conversation wafting through the air.

M and M hiking club having lunch on Noble Knob, Cascades, WA.

 It was happy, upbeat, full of laughs and it kept growing stronger and stronger.  We knew people were coming but we had no idea we would be greeted by 14 women.  These women were full of smiles, all out there to get exercise, see the view and most importantly, to gab and what wonderful gab it was.  As some point, I joined in the gabbing, doing my hiking thing.  I explained what Yessi and I do for GreenTrails, about my year of hiking in NZ, PCT and Nepal, and then asked them if they all had the 10 essentials.  When I pulled out my smart phone ( these savvy women all had smart phones) and showed them how great Greentrails App is and that for just 99cents they could have a map, see all the trails and know where they were on the trail, they were amazed.  I suspect they all have the GreenTrails Map App now!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

PJ arbor and pond.

BAPOW arbor (12x13 timbers salvaged from old Seattle waterfront building)
Of corse it could also stand for Bad Ass Puddle Of Water.
Perry and Judyth have been fantastic clients and for 4 months, the dbBrad crew has been working hard to make their brand new home THEIR brand new home.

AFTER: PJ's as viewed from the Golf course
We have added a sunroom, 600sf of new patio with two covered portions under the fabulouse heavy timber arbor, a new pond and total new landscape front yard and back.

BEFORE: PJ's as viewed from the golf course
We have totally transformed there house which is what makes these before and after pictures look and feel so different.

Ludo and Flore on the PCT

Two years ago, while hiking across NZ on the Te Araroa trail, I met Ludo and Flore.

F2B: Flore, Ludo, Arnod, dbBrad, Charlie Barron and Richard Wagner.
As seen on cover of Southland Times, April 21st, 2012
We crossed each others paths many times and did a lot of hiking together.

Ludo and Flore, always smiling!
We even finished the trail on the same day and were on the same front page of a local NZ newspaper.  In fact it was on this day that I met Yessi who is now my wife!!

Ludo and Flore at Snoqualmie pass, Under the Freeway
at Denny Creek.
I left invicargill, Ludo and Flore and Yessi and flew to San Diego, arriving a cool 55 minutes before I left NZ (internatinal date line) and immediately began hiking the PCT.  Yessi followed my adventures as did Ludo and Flore.
Ludo and Flore, both with new shoes.
Hiking the last 2 weeks in comfort!!
They spent the next year plus in Montreal Canada, thinking about hiking and now this year, they are hiking the PCT.
Ludo and Flore on the PCT, riding no hands!!
Actually, they are already done. Congratulations to Ludo and Flore for a successful completion of the PCT.

l2r: Ludo, Flore, Deb, TGW (The Germ Woodman) and Yessi

In NZ, i tool lots of pictures of my photogenic friends.  I haven't seen them for two years, but did run across them at Snoqualmie pass, just days before they completed the PCT.

dbBrad saying goodbye to Ludo and Flore after a great weekend

As usual, they make excellent subjects for photography and pretty darn good conversation too.

Ludo and Flore, back on the PCT.
Also to be noted are Greg and Deb who put us all up in style at their cabin on Snoqualmie pass and even gave us all high quality germs for the road!!  Thanks Greg and Deb!!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

PJ pond before, during and after

On the edge of Useless bay golf course, just off the number two tee, is a lovely place where Yessi and I have spent just about everyday working since our wedding two months ago.

Breaking up the patio which cut the house off from the yard.  
 It's been a big project transforming a house and garden.

After digging the pond, the lliner goes in and then the larger rocks get placed.

Our clients have been wonderful, the crew is fantastic, the days are hot and long but we are having fun and doing great work.  
Then the stream goes in.

One of our projects has been a pond in the back yard. Here are a few photos of Perry and Judiths pond in the making.

Then it gets some smaller rocks, gravel, plants, water and a Budah
to make it all complete.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Yessi Ye and Brad Hankins wedding on April 20th, 2014 at Grace Lane

Brad and Yessi first dance. 

Brad and Fran walking down the aisle!

Best man Holt Fuller from Grad school and
beautiful Brides maid Michelle Moison of WIB.

The beautiful Lipinski twins Erica and Meagan made spectacular flower girls.

The ring!

Wedding party on the catwalk.
The stunning and beautiful bride Yessi Ye seen thru the spring foliage

The wedding party and family

The wedding party on the cat walk

Brad and Barry Hankins.  Clearly good looks are genetic!

Yessi with entourage walking down path

Brad, Yessi and David Still, our amazing photographer and friend.
The bride and groom.
Brad Hankins and Yessi Ye Hankins, married!!!!