Truth Be Told…

It was July 21, the 71st day of our journey, and at long last (although that makes it sound as though we were actually eager to change direction…and we weren’t), we headed East, well, sort of!  We had planned to visit relatives in St. Paul, Minnesota after leaving California, but arrived via the states of Nevada, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, Nebraska and Iowa (yep, 7 states), and (pay attention!) having decided we needed to revisit Boise along the way.  “Ah,” you might be thinking, “they’re going back to Boise.”  And, you’d be right if you’re a tad suspicious about the reason.

YES – We have a number one “our spot” contender (for now) and it’s:  Boise, Idaho!  All this really means is that we know we’ll be going back to visit again, for longer, and in a different season.  No hasty decisions here, although truth be told, we did make a spontaneous offer on a house in downtown Boise, and perhaps for the best, we didn’t get it.  (Why we would make an offer that seems impetuous is a topic I’ll explore in another blog, especially because we did the same thing somewhere else!)  A close second is Fort Collins, Colorado, which feels welcoming each time we visit…but again, must go back for longer and not in the summer.

The feeling in the dusty red RAV4 is surprisingly different now that CW and I are driving into the rising sun in the mornings.  Some of the sense of excitement and exploration is muted – we’re covering a lot of territory quickly, and for now, spending time with friends and family instead of mostly on our own.  Only a few days of the remaining month will be in parts unknown (Canada, again.)

Three weeks after leaving Lake Tahoe, we drove away from St. Paul, rested, happy to have explored family roots and having reconnected with cousins, and now actually eager to travel on to Chicago and Detroit, with a few more visits to friends we hadn’t seen in quite a while.  Enjoy a small sampling of the photos I’m using both to record the journey and remind us of just why certain spots have seemed so very special!

Reno Diner - Right This Way!

Reno Diner – Right This Way!

Lonely Nevada Road

Lonely Nevada Road

Home for an RV!

Home for an RV!

Boise Downtown Lake

Boise Downtown Lake

Utah Agriculture

Utah Agriculture

More Utah Ag...

More Utah Ag…

Utah Sky

Utah Sky

Colorado Sky and ...

Colorado Sky and …

Softball Sized Dandelion

Softball Sized Dandelion

Colorado, Yes!

Colorado, Yes!

Fort Collins Suburb

Fort Collins Suburb

Larimer County Fair

Larimer County Fair

Fresh Eggs...Fort Collins

Fresh Eggs…Fort Collins

Nebraska Road

Nebraska Road

An Old Coca-Cola Sign

An Old Coca-Cola Sign

Wind Power in Iowa!

Wind Power in Iowa!

Minnesota Apples at the St. Paul Farm Market

Minnesota Apples at the St. Paul Farm Market

Cherry Tomato Bonanza

Cherry Tomato Bonanza

St. Paul Blooms at the Market

St. Paul Blooms at the Market

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California, Dreaming…

Gallery

This gallery contains 35 photos.

We’re going to just go ahead and put California on a permanent wish list of places to live, and that’s where it will probably stay.  Perhaps if we’d bought that old Victorian in the Haight back in 1981 for $135,000, … Continue reading

Practical Matters: A Place to Sleep

A well-spent day brings happy sleep.                                                                      Leonardo da Vinci

Ah, sleep!  Photos may be beautiful and my prose about the places we’re visiting I hope keeps you interested and maybe even thinking “I want to go there!”  – but let’s face it, we’re on a long long trip (Day 76!), and have to deal with everyday matters, such as – hmmm, where are we going to sleep tonight?

So, to get practical for a few minutes – we’re not on a limitless budget on this trip, so just how are we organizing a place to snooze when it gets dark?

Here’s the rough outline of our decision-making:

  1. If we have friends or family where we’re going, we ask them first if we can stay for a night or two (or three!)  Thank you, thank you to all of those who have hosted us on this journey! (L/B, E/S, J/S, R/C, L/B (not a mistake, there are 2!), C/C – you know who you are!) And, we look forward to reciprocating when we’ve figured out just where “ourspot” is, and have a place for you to bunk!
  2. If we’re headed through a national or state park, and the weather’s supposed to be fine (I am no longer a foul-weather camper), and we’re going to stay at least two nights (not worth putting the tent up for just one night), then, we’ll camp.
  3. No friends, family or camp?  We’ll probably check airbnb (https://www.airbnb.com), which we have enjoyed using over the past couple of years.  Check it out!
  4. If none of the above, we’ll research using Priceline (www.priceline.com/) or our remaining hotel points, and spend a night in a hotel/motel – of which we’ve seen the gamut on this trip so far.

STATS:  Over the first month of the trip, we spent 15 days with friends, 7 camping, 4 in airbnb homes, and 6 nights in hotels.  Haven’t yet had to sleep in the car nor bought an RV!  And are enjoying being part of what is called the “sharing economy.”  (For more on this, check out Tom Friedman’s recent editorial on this in the Sunday New York Times for July 20, 2014 – “Welcome to the Sharing Economy.”)

Off to Utah tomorrow…I know, I know, no word about our week in California and we’re already moving on.  Next blog, the Golden State!  Or perhaps, the challenges of posting blogs while on the road…

 

 

 

Too Good for Words, Oregon!

Just about one month ago, we crossed the bridge to Astoria, Oregon from the Washington State portion of the Lewis and Clark Trail Highway – and no, it wasn’t in our imagination that the weather became misty, chilly, and very unsummer-like.  Just what I’d been hoping to avoid, as one of the “our spot” criteria happens to be a “generally sunny” prospect over the course of a year.  Here it was – a test for just how much flexibility I could encourage in CW, for whom “damp & chilly” has never been a welcome combination!

Nevertheless, Astoria proved to be much fun – a local brewery called Fort George (https://www.fortgeorgebrewery.com), a great local bakery and coffee shop (www.bluescorcher.com), art galleries, a fantastic Scandinavian shop (www.finnware.com), and (more than one!) wonderful independent bookstore – Lucy’s, and Godfather’s –  (http://www.lucys-books.com and www.yelp.com/biz/godfatherss-books-astoria).  With just under 10,000 people, the fact that Astoria supports not just one, but two local bookstores says a lot about the inquisitiveness and interests of the people who make it their home (at least I think so – and hope it’s not just that days tend to be chilly and damp, leading to many hours indoor to fill by reading!)

Lewis and Clark River

Lewis and Clark River

There’s a curious 125’ tall column high on a hill overlooking Astoria and the mouth of the Columbia River.  The amazing spiral frieze covering the outside has a panel celebrating the Lewis & Clark Expedition – I’m sure Captains Lewis & Clark never had such a wonderful view of the landscape, nor did they enjoy their stay in the vicinity as much as we did!  An excursion on another drizzly day took us to Fort Clatsop, which the Corps of Discovery built to overwinter in before their long journey home.   I really love the times during this trip in which the reading, planning, thinking and talking come together in a culminating moment – as it did at Fort Clatsop, where for just a few minutes while inside the dark, damp log walls, I could picture those intrepid explorers cursing the wet weather (it rained all but 12 days of their 3-months at the fort), the endless meals of elk and deer, and perhaps the stinking smell of their forever damp and vermin-infested fur clothes.  Ugh!  They left for the long return home on March 23, 1806 – having not just survived but exceeded all expectations for their journey of exploration.  It’s been an education following some of their trail, and relearning an important part of America’s history.  Sorry if I enthuse – it’s been great!!  (And I am oh so glad that our trip has included mostly dry and sunny camping.)

Astoria Column

Astoria Column

Fort Clatsop

Fort Clatsop

I loved Astoria’s funkiness, including the Fiber Arts “knit-bombing” installation, exploring the old cannery district where there are now restaurants, as well as sustainably-focused shops selling items of recycled sails and other boating-related materials.  Could we live in Astoria?  Probably not, but it’s definitely a place we’d like to return – hopefully, on a sunny day!  “Sun” appears to be a theme for this Oregon-focused blog!

Fiber Artists Installation

Fiber Artists Installation

Cannery Poster

Cannery Poster

Fish Scale

Another Kind of Fish Scale!

From Astoria we made the 2-hour drive to Portland, following the Columbia River much of the way.  The Pacific Northwest is stunningly beautiful – the varied greens (from bright emerald and apple green to dusky peat and mossy green), of the trees, valleys, and farms and the blues, greens, grays and browns of the rivers and lakes, highlighted against the sometimes startlingly blue sky, is breath-taking.  It was with much anticipation that we arrived in Portland, a city that I have developed a crush on over the past twenty years or so.   In Portland, wonderful friends from expat days in Paris hosted us, sharing superb Oregon wines, and generally acting as perfect “Portland is Your Spot” sales agents.  We’ll see…

Oregon was “too good for words!” So, the following photographs illustrate many of the enticing aspects of Oregon – for it’s become a contender in the search for our spot…

The Portland Art Museum has  wonderful permanent and visiting collections!  (http://www.portlandmuseum.org)

Omega by Linda Benglis

Omega by Linda Benglis

The farm market – located just outside the Art Museum – is super!

Farm Market Bouquet

Farm Market Bouquet

Blue, Red, Black, Berries!

Blue, Red, Black, Berries!

The Willamette Valley is well-known for its wines, but we also discovered the wines of the Applegate and Umqua Valleys, and explored Medford, Ashland, and tiny Jacksonville.  In Ashland, we were lucky to get tickets to “Two Gentlemen of Verona,” with an all-female cast in a wonderful performance  at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.  (https://www.osfashland.org/en/productions/2014-plays/the-two-gentlemen-of-verona.aspx)

Wine Barrels

Wine Barrels

Willamette Valley Shack

Willamette Valley Shack

And then there was the outdoors – mountains, beaches, and dunes to explore.  Misty day?  Didn’t matter – the hiking was a little cooler, the leaves and berries glistening just a wee bit more with the dew.  We’ve been trail-snacking by foraging for berries (blackberries, mostly) – in Canada, Washington, and now Oregon.  Here we found yummy, ripe salal berries on a trail to the beach, and remembered reading that the Corps of Discovery had been given “salal berry bread,” by the native tribes – we were, after all, still communing with Lewis & Clark!

Snack! Salal Berries on the Bush

Snack! Salal Berries on the Bush

Anemones

Anemones

On the Dock

On the Dock

Stranded Jellyfish

Stranded Jellyfish

Coastal Beauty

Coastal Beauty

Driftwood

Driftwood

Crater Lake

Crater Lake

CW - Leap Into Lake

CW – Leap Into Lake

There were many moments in Oregon when I felt graced to spend time in nature’s cathedrals.  Oregon is beautiful.  And, yes, right up there near the top of the list!

Wildflower

Wildflower

Love in the Mist

Love in the Mist

Oregon Roses

Oregon Roses

CN - Last Summer Snow!

CN – Last Summer Snow!

 

Shades of Pink…

“I am not a great cook, I am not a great artist, but I love art, and I love food, so I am the perfect traveler.”                                                                                      Michael Palin

Peaches

Peaches

Irreverance...

Irreverance…

Strawberries

Strawberries

Travel Equation:  Enjoy food + Love art + writing = My Sweet Life Right Now!

Back in the U.S.A.! Ahhh.

Glimpse of Mt. Rainier

Glimpse of Mt. Rainier

Ahhh, Washington!  The state, that is.  Now this is a place we could live.  We’ve been here many times, and seem to keep coming back.  That should tell us something.  But…we haven’t experienced the full range of seasons, and that’s a project we plan to undertake in the coming year or so:  identify those special places that we feel we might call “home” for a while, and then settle in each one of them for a trial run.  Not everyone is lucky enough to have that flexibility and we’re grateful that we do.  We blew through Washington this time, staying with friends in Seattle who are long time East Coast transplants, and excellent, practical guides to their city.  What did we find or reconfirm this time around?  Good coffee?  Check!  Great farm markets?  Check!  Water sports? Check!  Museums? Check!  And the list goes on, and on, and on.  Will Seattle or somewhere close by prove to be “our spot?”  Time (lots of it there, in the rain, and the wind, and the gray, and the sunshine…) will tell.

Seattle Farm Market Offering

Seattle Farm Market Offering

Street Art

Street Art

We followed up on a serendipitous meeting we’d had while in the Grand Tetons, where we met artist Ian McMahon, who had just installed “Cascade” at the Suyama Space (http://www.suyamaspace.org/installations/ian-mcmahon-cascade) in downtown Seattle.  We visited the installation of two fragile, beautiful plaster curtains, which were illuminated by the sun coming through ceiling height windows…curtains that draped like fabric yet were solid and lovely, perplexing, intriguing.

 

Cascade: Plaster Curtains Installation

Cascade: Plaster Curtains Installation

Art exploration was a theme on this visit to Seattle, where we encountered formal works like Ian’s, and found others – like the popsicle street sculpture and the fragile shattered window, below.

Shattered:  Street Window

Shattered: Street Window

We left Seattle determined to get back to the Lewis & Clark Trail, which we’d last seen in South Dakota, many weeks ago.  We headed south from Seattle, planning to rejoin the expedition’s path near the mouth of the Columbia River, at a place William Clark called “Dismal Nitch,” pretty much summing up how they felt as they finally approached their goal of the Pacific Ocean in late 1805.  No fresh food, rotting clothing, miserable weather, and a race to see if they could reach the coast before the final trading ship of the season had come and gone.  They didn’t.  A storm kept them confined to the north shore of the great Columbia, and they missed the ship, though as we know, the Corp of Discovery eventually did reach the magnificent shore of the Pacific Ocean.  Dismal Nitch was still kind of dismal in 2014 – we were there on a windy, misty, gray day, and we spent just a few minutes looking at the river and signage about the Expedition, then zipped across the river to Oregon and the Corp of Discovery’s Fort Clatsop – their winter home.  We were now in Oregon, where I (at least) have high hopes of making our own fortuitous discoveries!

“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.”   Martin Buber

Island Idyll

A Helpful Ferry Map - Pins  Not Relevant!

A Helpful Ferry Map – Pins Not Relevant!

Close to 1,000 miles ago, I was standing on a wooden deck at a small cabin overlooking a beautiful bay in the Gulf Islands…specifically, Salt Spring Island – a verdant, lovely and quiet retreat during this now nearly two month long journey across the North American continent.  Exploring Salt Spring Island with generous Canadian cousins was the first “vacation-like” experience of the trip thus far.  We aren’t going to move to British Columbia, Canada, as appealing as much of that incredibly beautiful country has been…though there are moments (especially during U.S. election years!) when it seems like a good idea.

Blue Barn Door

Blue Barn Door

Local Produce

Local Produce

Charming, Odd

Charming, Odd

The climate is gentle in the Gulf Islands and the scenery gorgeous, whether on foot, bike, or boat.  Our couple of hour sea-kayak trip took us out of Ganges Harbor in slightly rough seas and with the wind at our bow.  The return was quicker and less strenuous and so we tucked into small rocky coves to explore, surprising a heron and looking for the seals that would normally sun on the rocks.  No sun that morning, but rippling waves, murmuring winds and red cheeks announcing our effort.  The harbor was filled with sail boats, motor boats and a tug or two – one was for sale, and we’re fortunate there was no one home to welcome us aboard, or whimsy or momentary insanity might have found us the new owners…

A Century Old, Lovely

A Century Old, Lovely

Sheep and Fences

Sheep and Fences

Lovely Salt Spring Island, kind cousins, snug beds and no internet.  Pretty much Paradise…for a while.

Sunset

Sunset

Storm off Salt Spring Island

Storm off Salt Spring Island

Meditation…

Quote

Let what we love be what we do.                                                                                           There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.                         RUMI

Salt Spring Island Distant Storm

Salt Spring Island Distant Storm