Seasons Greetings from George and Mary Ann Drake
2900 Dakin St., Bellingham, WA 98226 December 1999

As this year ends and we look forward to a new year, a new century and new millennium we pause to think back over 1999 and pick out the highlights to share with you.
After a winter with the heaviest snow fall in history burying the ski lifts on Mt. Baker we celebrated spring with the opening of the First Annual Gardens of Art Sculpture Exhibit in Big Rock Garden Park (our former garden-nursery) on Mothers’ Day. There were 23 beautiful sculptures in the exhibit. Another four sculptures were installed in the permanent collection. Upwards of 2,000 persons attended the opening ceremonies. George heads up the sculpture committee that puts on this annual exhibit.

Soon thereafter Mary Ann took off for a long dreamed of trip to Norway and Sweden. She traveled with her friend Joy Ellis. They were in Oslo on May 17th, Constitution Day. It was a bright sunny day. Families came from all over the nation many of them dressed in heirloom costumes. The children marched down the avenue with school groups passing before of the King and Queen at the national palace. There was folk dancing in the streets. It was a great way to begin their trip. From there they took the train to Sweden to visit Joy’s relatives and locations relevant to her family history. Wonderful days were spent in Uppsala and communities in southern Sweden with relatives.

Back in Norway they took the train to Bergen to begin the relaxing cruise up the coast to the most northerly point in the nation. The mail ship visited numerous small towns and cities, many deep in the fjords along the coast. At the North Cape they experienced the midnight sun where one could read a book by daylight at midnight. The landscape of Norway is fantastically dynamic and beautiful. Five weeks was a long time to be away so it was good to get back to check on what George and David had been up to.

While Mary Ann was gone George did the bicycle leg of the “Ski-to-Sea” race which begins at the top of Mt. Baker (cross-country ski, downhill ski). He received the baton from the runner and delivered it to the canoe team 38 miles down the mountain. At 69 he was the oldest cyclist but still beat 42% of the pack of cyclists on 340 teams. Later in the year he participated in the Washington State Senior Games (Western Division) and brought home two silver medals. Next year he will be racing in a new age category, 70-74, so will have less competition. He maintains the only way he will ever win a race is to outlive the competition. He almost didn’t make it though as he had a bike crash in November that resulted in 28 stitches in his face and numerous other damages. A dog bolted in front of him and George hit it at 20 mph causing the bike to come to an immediate halt causing George to do a “face plant on the asphalt, smashing his helmet and ruining the bike. It looks like he will heal OK with minimal long-term damage. The insurance company (representing the dog owner) is providing George a new bike.

In June a pipeline conveying gasoline through Whatcom Falls Park where Mary Ann often takes her walk before breakfast ruptured and spilled over a hundred thousand gallons of fuel into Whatcom creek. The ensuing explosion and fire killed three kids who were in the park at the time. The park looked like a moonscape. It was horrible. The city is still trying to deal with all the consequences of that disaster.

David has a girl friend, a vivacious and sharp young woman who also has Down syndrome. She has “adopted” us and says “Hi Mom, Hi Dad” when coming in the house. She and David both enjoy classical music and go to concerts together and share their favorite CD’s. “You will love this Mahler recording,” says David. Beth helps David gardening in Big Rock Garden Park and he helps her with her stamp collection. They both have jobs. Beth works in a grocery store while David continues in the food service at the university. There he received the top personnel evaluation for all food service workers! They have discussed marriage but that possibility remains only a discussion.

We hear from Todd from time to time. He lives in Seattle and most recently has been working for the Seattle Park Dept.

In September all three of us drove to Monterey, California to visit dear friends down there. On David’s 38th birthday Dr. Arnold Manor, the physician who delivered David, drove all of us to the Nepenthe Restaurant about 50 miles south of Carmel on the Big Sur coast. With us was Miyo Enokida at whose home we were staying. On the way back to Carmel we came by way of the old unpaved road which winds high in the hills. Few people even know it exists. It was a memorable day.

Mollie and Ukio Sumida never seem to age. Forty-two years ago they hosted our wedding reception in their lovely home on the hills above Monterey. Before we left for Bellingham Mollie prepared one of her famous dinners for Miyo and the three of us. While we were on the Monterey Peninsula we drove up to Santa Cruz to visit with the Drake clan up there (my brother Stanley’s line of the Drake family). We agreed on a picnic at a park in the hills to the east of Santa Cruz and about 30 members of the clan showed up. David was in seventh heaven meeting cousins, their children and even grandchildren. They prepared a birthday cake for him, which delighted him immensely.

In October George attended a conference on sculpture gardens held in Princeton, New Jersey. Following that he stayed with Arnold Zarra, a friend from scouting days. With him George did a nostalgia visit to the neighborhood in Irvington, NJ, where he lived to age 11. Then, on another day, visited Manasquan where he lived until leaving on his bike trip to South America (Dec. 1948). He found little had changed. Since he was so close to New York City he went there for a brief visit with his brother Roy. He took a number of digital photographs for the scrapbook but has no interest in going back again.
Shortly before Thanksgiving Mary Ann received word that her sister, Dorothy, had died. Mary Ann went back to Central Wisconsin for services leaving George to prepare Thanksgiving dinner for David and four guests. He can cook if forced to. Taking advantage of the trip to Wisconsin Mary Ann saw nieces, nephews and their children, some of whom she had never seen before.

Here the weather has been terribly wet and overcast for more than five weeks. In fact, as a result of the incredible snowfall last winter, some of the upper alpine trails never did open. Accordingly we did not do much alpine hiking this past season. When the weather is lousy we all resort to going to the gym for our exercise. Gotta stay healthy, ya know.
We wish you health and happiness as we move into the new millennium.

George, Mary Ann and David Drake