"…By what stretch of arrogance do you think a life form that looks like you is more important than a life form that doesn’t?”Joel Salatin

Nothing is more beneficial to your wellbeing than to look for and acknowledge those parts of everyday life that you enjoy.

"If you are happy where you are now, why does it matter how painful it was to get there?" -- Abraham

"It is no bad thing to celebrate a simple life." -- Bilbo Baggins a.k.a. The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien

"And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet, and the winds long to play in your hair." -- Kahill Gibran

“And forget not

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Heading up the Rogue River

heading up the Rogue River on a gorgeous day!

Dotti booked us on a jet boat ride, 52 miles up the Rogue River and back, for a total of 104 miles. Seven hours! We stopped twice in Agnes for a break.

At this point of the trip, we are in the port area.  It's about noon, and the wind crossing the ocean is cold.  They had blankets on board for us. I got one and laid it across my legs.

About the time we got going good, we passed a boat that had dogs on board.  Those dogs barked at the dog on our boat and into the water he went.  Our  "pilot" fished him out. While that was going on, I was looking around.  A seal popped his head up out of the water, then disappeared. First seal I'd ever seen in the wild.

Entering the river channel, the pilot pointed out two bald eagles and stopped the boat for several minutes so we could all find them in the trees.  I half expected them to be stuffed like the crap in the Spelunker's Cave at Six Flags, but they were real. We saw their nests high in the very tops of the trees.  We saw egrets and their nests, too. We saw a pair of minks playing along the water's edge and a whole family of otters. A doe and her spotted fawn peered at us from the water's edge further along on the river.

I don't know what the bottom of these boats are made of but it is some tuff stuff! When we encountered rapids, which are caused by water flowing swiftly over rocks, the driver sped up and straight through them we went. We could feel the boat bottoming out, then when we'd get through the rapids into deeper water, he'd cut way back on the throttle and spin the boat around.  We got soaked, but it felt good because upriver just a short distance, it was VERY WARM.

These pilots make this same trip every day and they are well acquainted with the wildlife that lives on the river.  Coming back in, we were going at a pretty fast clip. The pilot thrilled us with water maneuvers that didn't splash   By this time the sun was beginning to sink and the river was mostly in shade so it was getting pretty cool. All of a sudden he pulled back on the throttle and whirled the boat around.  "If you'll look right above that fallen log, you'll see a bear."

All I could sees was green and shadows, and I thought, "Yeah, right", but in a moment, the bear turned around and looked right at us."

"How did you see him?" someone asked.
"Well, we know they eat berries in this vicinity all the time."
So I saw my first bear in the wild.

This short video shows some of the rapids we went through.

The Rogue trip was fun and interesting.  Here are some more pictures from that part of our trip to Oregon.

I saw a book mark entitled "Advice from a River" by Ilan Shamir
"Go with the flow
Slow down and meander
Go around obstacles
Stay current
The beauty is the journey"

For me,  the best was still to come.

Friday, August 29, 2014

On to the Oregon Coast!

deserted, foggy, late evening Oregon beach near Lincoln City

Sunday afternoon, we headed back to St. Helens.  Somewhere between Seattle and St. Helens, we stopped at an out of the way burger place to get something to eat.  From the burger place, the traffic going toward Seattle was bumper to bumper.  The waitress said it happens every Sunday afternoon.

Wouldn't ya know when we left the burger place, I made a wrong turn and ended up in the 5 mph, bumper to bumper line and no way to go but forward.  Thankfully, like all our mistakes, it worked out just fine.  We came to a cross road that took us back toward St. Helens.  I'm not sure, but I think that traffic jam stretched all the way to Portland.

We checked in to the Best Western in St. Helens and crashed.

Monday, we took the Kia in for a wash.  He had a few bugs but mostly just road grime from the on and off sprinkles. Cathie and Phil met us at the Fred Meyer store (awesome shopping.  It's like Walmart but a little higher with better quality and fresh local produce) in Scapoose and led us to the Sweet Tomato Buffet in Portland where we met Dotti's brother Warren and his wife, Donna, along with some more cousins.

Dotti and her brother, Warren.  Despite how they appear in this picture,
they both had a wonderful visit.

I thoroughly enjoyed meeting all these nice folks, mostly Oregonians. After having a meal at the Sweet Tomato, we moved to a park nearby for more visiting. At a picnic table under the tall healthy pine trees, we had dessert.  It was amazing that the food was all uncovered but not one fly pestered us! That was so strange, I took a picture and posted it on Facebook.

Leaving the park, we went to Dotti's cousin, Karen and Dave's house near Portland. Beautiful, beautiful home in a urban/mountainous area with a great view.

There, we were treated to homemade Marionberry pie.  It was splendid. And it was special because Dotti had asked for it months ago when we first started planning our trip.

Delicious! Scrumptious! I'd make that drive again for another piece of Marionberry pie!

I would have enjoyed talking to Dave.  He was a Forest Ranger in Oregon, but there were too many people who hadn't seen each other in a while, all wanting to visit, so the opportunity never presented itself.

After leaving, Karen and Dave's, we drove to Warren and Donna's house near Otis, Oregon.  Otis is one corner with a cafe on one side and a gas station on the other.  We loved this sign saying "Welcome to downtown Otis."  Someone has a great sense of humor. When we first started planning this trip, I googled "Otis, Oregon" and this cafe is what shows up.

Dotti, on the right, Donna on the left and Warren in the middle

Donna and Warren have a beautiful home on the banks of a stream, which, he told me, has flooded up over his raised deck in back. It gets kind of scary at times.

But on a regular day, it's beautiful and peaceful.

Warren's wife, Donna, is an elder in the Native American Tribe, Siletz.

She made the tribal hat she's wearing in this picture. I thought I got a close-up of the tiny shells it's covered in, but apparently, I didn't.  They are "dentalium shells" which are about a half inch long tube.  Each one is hand sewn onto the hat individually. Tedious work!

The Siletz Tribe has a casino in Lincoln City.  Donna and Warren invited us to breakfast at the Casino tomorrow morning, so we headed out to see the coast before dark.

Being an "elder" in the Siletz tribe has advantages, one of which is not having to stand in line to eat at the casino. We by-passed a long string of folks waiting to be seated at the Chinook Winds Casino breakfast buffet.  It reminded me of the school lunch line when you wanted to stay with your friends and someone says, "Hey !  No Cuts!"

The food was excellent, though and we visited for another while before Dotti and I set out to see the sights. Donna invited us to come to their house for breakfast the next morning.

The picture at the top is one of my first glimpses of the main thing I came to Oregon to see -- the beautiful, turbulent rocky coastline of the Pacific Ocean. The picture below came at the next "scenic turnout".  It is a classic picture of the Oregon coast with the "sea stacks".

These sea stacks are small compared to the ones I found the next day.  It's interesting that these things closely resemble the big rocks like Rooster Rock found further in land.


After driving several miles down the coast, we found a Motel 6 in Lincoln City.  Thank goodness, this one has an elevator!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Mt. Rainier and Seattle -- home of the one and only -- probably -- Gum Wall

A cloud hovered over the top all day.  This was the best it got.
Portland to Seattle is about a three hour drive. We headed out without having made any motel reservations, totally unaware that the Seattle teams were both playing  and there were "no rooms at the inn".

We called a Travel Lodge who got us in at a Travel Lodge in down town next to the Space Needle for -- $69 a night. We thought this must be a hole in the wall place.  When we finally find it, it's $369 a night plus $100 parking.  After a little bit of dickering, (they came down to $190 plus the parking) and squabbling, I think Dotti would have preferred to stay there, but I didn't want to park my car in the street, so we (more I) decided to find something else.  We ended up out by the airport at a Doubletree. It was okay, but they only had one room left and it had one bed and a fold out couch. So we took it.

Also, if I wanted to use the wifi, I'd have to pay for it -- so I went to bed. But we got a damned good cookie!

Saturday, I contacted Lori Jean Freeman and we made plans to meet on Sunday.  We were half way to Mt. Rainier from where Lori lives, so Dotti and I went on to see the wonders of that area by ourselves.

Compared to the trip up Pikes Peak, the drive up Rainier was a piece of cake. Like Hood, the road doesn't go to the summit.  It does go nearly to the timberline. This second picture shows a nearly dry river bed coming down off the mountain. If you look closely, you can see the stream in the foreground, Like I said before, pictures do not do justice to these awesome sights. I was standing on a bridge, high above the river bed.  What appears to be river rocks or gravel is actually bolders washed down during flooding snow melts.  Washington and Oregon both have had below normal rainfall the past two years.

The pastures here look like Texas and the forest fires are still burning in some areas.

The altitude of Mt. Rainier is 14,410 feet. That's just 300 feet taller than Pikes Peak. I'm not sure how high up on Rainier we went but I never felt the symptoms of altitude sickness like I did on Pikes Peak, thank goodness.

Rainier has the most awesome wildflower meadows.  I took this picture when we reached the lodge. There were so many people up there, every parking space was taken. Many looked like they were geared up to  go hiking but I didnt stick around to find out. We headed back to Seattle.  We got a room at the Country Inn. It was another one with one bed and a pull out couch. This one wasn't as comfortable as the one at the Doubletree -- and we didn't even get a free cookie.

Seattle -- much like Portland is hard to get around in, but we made it down town to meet Lori Jean at the Space Needle. It cost $20 to park -- and the machine takes credit cards!  We didn't go up in the Space Needle. There was a long line. It wasn't on my or Dotti's bucket list and Lori had already been up numerous times. I figured it wouldn't be much different than the Tower of the Americas in San Antonio and we wanted to go to Pike Market. Interesting place.

We rode the Monorail to within a few blocks of the market, then walked. Also like Portland, Seattle has a huge homeless population. Many of these people are down close to the market. We walked past people sleeping on the sidewalk.
Unlike Texas, though, the police in Seattle and Portland don't harrass the street dwellers.

Entrance to the Public Market.  Some call it the Pike Market.
Gum wall

Before going into the market, Lori led us to the Gum Wall. Yes, folks, that is all wads of ABC gum and it covers three or four walls of an old alley way near the Public Market.  It is now considered "art". Only in Seattle. In some places, people wrote messages but it looked like eventually they would all get covered up with wads of gum.  I don't chew gum so I didnt get to contribute to the community "work of art".

The Pike Market is on the Port of Seattle.  It is the best place to buy fresh caught fish and other seafood.  There are also fresh, much of it organic, vegetables, fruit, baked goods, flowers and art of many different genres.

Seattle Cat

When Lori Jean came to meet us, she brought me a bag of "white coffee" to brew at home plus some vanilla syrup to put in it.  I had thought I'd leave her with a copy of my books but I left the parking lot without them.  Down the first aisle of the market, we found the booth of the artist that painted this picture. Lori,  as well as Dotti and I loved it, so I bought it and gave it to her as a thanks for coming all the way into town to give these two old Texas gals a tour.

I was astounded by the flower market.  There were rows and rows of mixed bouquets wrapped in paper, standing in vases.  These were not low quality flowers.  They were huge, healthy blooms! I started to buy one just for the heck of it but decided I'd worry about not being able to take care of it.

Besides we intended to head back to Oregon as soon as we left the market.

This bouquet two full stems of a pink variegated  lily, dahlias, alpine lace and some fillers for $10! Lots of folks were carrying them around.  I saw several with many bunches in their arms,  Must've been gonna have a PARTY!

Leaving the market, we came across this man. He was sitting on a sidewalk, rolling a joint.  I stopped and talked to him.  He said with the new laws in the state of Washington, rolling the joint was not illegal. "When I light it, I will be breaking the law." Smoking weed in public is illegal, but, he said, most of the law enforcement looks the other way as long as folks are peaceful.

I could have stayed and talked to him all day -- just to find out why he was there in Seattle, what point he was trying to make and if he felt like he was succeeding. I did talk to him long enough to find out he had been in the military. He also alluded to the fact that he had worked for "the government".  I don't know if he referred to his stint in the military or if he'd worked for the government in some other capacity.  He seemed intelligent, spoke sensibly so why would he want to go to so much trouble to appear so bizzarre as to give the impression that he isn't playing with a full deck of cards? Beats me but I wish him all the best.

When we arrived back at our parking lot, we had only used 2 hours of the ten we'd purchased.  There was a car full of friendly young kids behind me wanting our space in the over flowing lot -- so we "payed it forward" and passed our parking permit to them. In return, they got a whole string of cars behind them to back up so we could get out, then they pulled in. We all honked and waved as we drove away.

We headed back to Oregon! Thank God for GPS!

Lori Jean had told me that the two men, James and Yessler, who designed Seattle, disagreed on how to do it, so they both went about building and laying out streets.  Their ideas didn't hook up well in the downtown area. The GPS directions said things like "in 200 feet, make a slight right to go toward I 5 S" "In 25 feet, stay right then left to get on 189th NW."

In Seattle and Portland, which wasn't any better as far as driving in it,  I became a "Professional u-turner."

Monday, we hook up with more of Dotti's family -- including her brother Warren and his wife Donna, who live in Otis, Oregon.

Downtown Seattle as seen from the Space Needle

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Day 6 To Scapoose!

On Sauvie Island

I had an awesome time with my friend, Chuck Pierson's writer's group in Vancouver Washington on Thursday morning, then Dotti and I headed on to see her cousin, Cathie and husband, Phil, who live in the mountains near Scapoose, Oregon. 

We had to go on to St. Helens, about 7 miles from Scapoose, to find a motel.

Then we went out to Cathie and Phil's place.

Cathie and Phil's place in winter
Cathie prepared us a wonderful lunch of fresh fruit, and a zucchini and cheese casserole that was to die for. (I got the recipe) While Dotti and Cathie visited, I talked to Phil about what it's like to live in Oregon. Very interesting folks.
They live on 40 acres of heavily wooded land.  Phil had recently sold some of the timber.  He said 92 truck loads of trees were taken out.  In Oregon, when you cut down trees, you are required to reseed. So Phil will hire a crew to come in and plant new trees. The land owner is also responsible to clean up the mess made during the logging.  Phil was hard at work most of the time we were there.

We stayed a while, then headed back to our motel in St. Helens, with an invitation to come back tomorrow for breakfast and some sight seeing.

After we had breakfast, Cathie took Dotti and I out to see a Hari Krishna Worship Center in the woods near her house.

Cathie is an energetic 69. It's hard to see in the pictures of this place but the hills and the trails on them are STEEP. Cathie hikes them all the time with her "walking" buddies. I'm the youngest, but I'm standing below them, using taking their picture as an excuse and opportunity to stop and catch my breath.  Dotti is the oldest and if she's not complaining, I'll be darned if I will. So I snap this shot and off we go again. 

Cathie in the trees
Cathie tells us the history of the Hari Krishna site.  When the HK's bought the land, they had problems with getting it tax exempt, I believe is what she said.  The State of Oregon didn't recognize the site as a "church".  So the HK's built shrines to many religions in separate areas of the tract of land.  There was a Christian worship area, Jewish, Native American and several others.  We had a map but couldn't find the Native American site.  Cathie showed me pictures of it later. The HK's had built a towering Eagle with it's wings spread -- all out of wood.  There were benches to sit on an reflect.  Beautiful impressive place -- all of it.

Cathie said all were welcome as long as they treated the area with respect, so we parked her car at the entrance to the HK property. When we got out, I slid my purse under the seat.  Cathie and Dotti both took theirs with them.  Being a little bit out of shape, I knew I didn't need the extra weight of my purse.

We by passed the gate and went in.

I don't know what it is about being in the woods, but I always experience  a feeling of  distancing myself from the rest of the world. Maybe its because we don't have many large wooded areas at home. Whatever it is, it is always welcome. Even with Cathie talking about all she and her buddies have seen there on the HK trails and other places around there, the woods were quiet.

Most of the trees are some variety of pine, so I could hear them whispering.  I love that sound.  I think it's why I try so hard to keep my one pine tree at home alive -- so occasionally I can hear it whisper to me -- "all is well."

So we walk up hill and down hill, and we are huffing and puffing -- Dotti and I are -- not Cathie --and I hear her say, "The bad thing about the Hari Krishners is while people are out here exploring their meditation center, they may be rifling through the car."

Oh, crap!

I didn't say anything though.  If it happened, I'd deal with it, but my gut feeling was that everything was fine, so we went on.

Dotti finally started complaining, (she's a tough old bird) so then I felt okay with agreeing that I'd had enough, too.  It'll probably be a cold day in hell before Cathie invites these two old gals to walk with
 her again.

Next, Cathie drove us out to Sauvie Island, close to Scapoose.  This was a wonderful place of fresh fruit, veggies and flowers. I found some Marion berry pies, marionberry syrup and jelly.  I also discoveed that Marion berries are a cross of two different species of blackberries and were named after the county in which they were developed. Did I say delicious?

This pickup and the yellow one at the top of the page are the only pictures I got outside one of the farms on Sauvie Island.  There was an antique seeder  several tractors all of which had flowers growing in them some place.  It was a beautiful and unique method of creating yard art.

On down the road, we saw a farm that grows viburnum bushes.  They were outstanding but my phone had died and I didn't have a charger with me == so what can I say?  No pictures

wild blackberries from Cathie's road
When we got back to Cathie's, she fed us AGAIN and we ate one of the Marion berry pies . Yum Yum! She also had cups of fresh picked blackberries from the wild patches on her road. I'm sure the Oregon State "pain in the ass" is wild blackberries. They are EVERYWHERE. It looks like the state keeps them mowed down along the flat right of ways, which are few and far between here. You can literally stop and pick your own just about anywhere but the thorns are killers so the wildlife doesn't eat them either. (I picked a few when we were at Rooster Rock)  I have seen whole fields of blackberries mounded up well over 6 feet tall.

As a thank you, Dotti gave Cathie a crocheted doll she had bought from our friend, Doris Lackey. I gave Cathie and Phil a copy of both my books.  Phil made a point to tell me that during the summer, he didn't have time to read, but that when the winter sets in, he will sit down with them.  I much appreciated his honesty. When I wrote the books, I figured women would like them, but it's been very rewarding to find that many men enjoy the stories too.

Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed meting Cathie and Phil, and seeing their wonderful home!

We left Scapoose about three o'clock, heading to Seattle!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Day 5 -- Mt. Hood etc.

Mount Hood

Wednesday, we drove to Mt. Hood.  At 11,249 feet, it is quite an eye catcher.

On the way, we stopped at the Huckleberry Inn in Government Camp, Oregon, for breakfast.  I asked the waitress, Toni, how the town got it's name and she handed me the menu and flipped it over so I could read all about it. 

For those interested, Government Camp began in 1849.  This was when the first U.S. Regiment of Mounted Riflemen crossed the plains into Oregon country arriving at the site called The Dalles.  Most of the troops and their equipment were transported downriver by boat to Vancouver WA.  The remaining troops expected to follow as soon as more boats became available. Plans changed however and the troops were ordered to proceed to Oregon City by way of the Oregon trail. Bogged down by mud and snow, with half their livestock missing or dead, and soldiers nearing total exhaustion, Lt. David Frost abandoned 45 Calvary wagons in October of 1849, before starting down Laurel Hill.  Located two miles west of Government Camp, the challenging Laurel Hill descent earned a reputation among pioneers as a troublesome part of the Oregon Trail.

Emigrants had to lower wagons down a series of steep rocky chutes from ropes snubbed to trees, or
drag big logs behind them in hopes they wouldn't careen down the ravines.

"Come to Laurel Hill.  This is the worst hill on the road from the states to Oregon..." from the diary of Absalom Harden, 1847.

The presence of the soldiers beside the Barlow Road (now the Mt. Hood Road) became the namesake of  this Alpine Village -- Government Camp.

As I drive around through this high mountainous, impenetrable forested area, I can't help but wonder how any of those pioneers survived. It is truly amazing country.

 The Huckleberry Inn in Government Camp, Oregon

At the Huckleberry Inn, they know how to fix breakfast.  We ate as if we were some of those starving pioneers!  We also purchased Huckleberry jam and vinaigrette.

Then on we went.

Mt. Hood is the highest mountain in Oregon, with an elevation of 11,249 feet. Driving up Mt. Hood, was nothing like the trip up Pikes Peak, thank goodness. For one thing, the highway doesn't go above the timberline or even close to the summit.  It stops much lower down, where the Timberline Lodge and Ski Resort was in full swing. Skiers in summer? Yes! Dotti learned that Mt. Hood has plenty of snow all summer for different kinds of sking, plus snowboarding.  There was a bus full of skiers from Canada come to play on Mt. Hood.

dead tree on Mt. Hood
Same tree, but I turned the camera just a few inches to the right.

I thought this was interesting .
On our way down, I pulled into a camping area, stopped and got out.  In Oregon there is very little bare ground.  Mosses grow on everything that stands still long enough for it to get a toe hold. Ferns and numerous kinds of groundcovers, including wild blackberries in sunny areas, are abundant too.

campsite cooker

Moss is also a problem for roof tops here.  I saw signs advertising "roof shampooing".  I've also seen old out buildings with a full growth of green moss.  It looks awesome! but like anything that grows and spreads, it's destructive.

Click here to see a waterfall on the road to Mt. Hood.

The wild blackberries have to be the scourge of this area.  The thorns protect the fruit so well that nothing goes after them except the occasional well protected human. From the highway, I've seen whole pastures of these vines -- growing so thick and tall, nothing but ground dwelling rodents could possibly get through them.

The blackberries are delicious, though.  Dotti's cousin, Cathie, picked some for us off her own vines, but that's a story for tomorrow.  Blackberries are sold everywhere here but I'm sure they come from thorn less varieties grown on farms.
After Mt. Hood, which so far is my favorite of the mountains, we went to see Multnomah Falls. I was having problems with my phone camera at that point and I ended up using my other camera, so I can't upload those pictures from here.

The Multnomah waterfalls were well visited. I lost Dotti in the crowd and figured I'd find her on the high bridge, so I went up.

When I came back down I still couldn't find her so I stopped to visit with a little girl and her pet pig, Sparkles. I must have taken those pictures with the digital camera, but Sparkles was a CUTE little double mini, the girl told me.  Sparkles had walked up to the bridge with her people and done very well, her girl told me. I'd never gotten to pet a pig before so that was an awesome experience!

I found Dotti.  We'd passed a series of tall rock outcroppings along I-84.  The tallest was named Rooster Rock.  We headed back toward Portland to see it.  Access to it was a small park beside the Colombia River.  I noticed a young couple watching something through binoculars, so I asked.  They said they had noticed an female Osprey flying up there and had actually gotten to watch her catch a fish out of the river and carry it to her young on Rooster Rock.  They were considering coming back early the next morning to  climb the rooster and get better pictures of the Osprey's nest and youngsters.

Rooster Rock
Crown Point
Rooster Rock and the two  huge pieces on the other side of I-84 were part of a landslide  probably millions of years ago.  They apparently fell off Crown Point.

At Rooster Rock State Park, we got out our "snacks" and had a picnic.  A "squirrel beggar" came to see if we had anything to share.  She was so fat already, she wobbled, but she ate more than her share of cheese and crackers.  Three more came before we left.  They were considerably smaller than her and it soon became apparent to me and to Dotti, that she ruled the roost.  The others came up to me for food but grabbed it and ran off so she wouldn't take it away from them.

After our picnic, we, neither of us, can remember what we did the rest of the day, so I will end this here. What can I say? We're seniors.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

written in chalk on a wall in Pearl District of Portland

Chinese Gardens in Portland
Portland Oregon, Day four

Bright and early the next morning, Dotti and I headed to the Chinese Gardens in the  Pearl District of Portland. Unique place.  A tour started right after we arrived so we joined it.  The guide was very well traveled and interesting.  She pointed out and told us about every plant and structure in the Chinese Garden.  The paths were made of smooth river rocks turned on their edges.  She encouraged us to take off our shoes and feel the massaging effects of the stones.  I didn't try it because I had on lace ups and I didn't want to struggle with getting them on and off. 

She pointed to the roof which looked scalloped to me.  She said the pattern represented bat wings and that bats are a symbol of good luck.  The way the rood is designed, when it rains heavily, the run-off creates a curtain of water.  They call it the "curtain of tears"

We saw lots of unique plants and learned about their place in Chinese culture. Afterward, we went to the Chinese Tea Room on the grounds, had a light lunch, and mango nectar. It was very pleasant.

Then we went looking around.  We found a park where a huge flowing waterfall created a 12 in deep pond.  Children were playing in the water.  I took a video to show Seth.  It looked like a wonderful place to play.  While we were in the park, I visited something I have never seen before.  I should have taken a picture of it but I didn't even think about it.  Right out on a street corner was an open air restroom.  It was at least ten feet tall, open at the top and the bottom. Inside it was clean and well tended. So much better than a portajohn. It even flushed. I saw one fly inside -- and he'd probably strayed from the portajohns right next to it.

At the park, we met Derick, a professional dog walker.  He let us visit with his charges.  He had been part of corporate America most of his life, but had decided to destress his life, quit his job and started walking dogs. He said he has about 30 regular customer, plus he and his wife "dog sit" when people go out of town. He charges $15 per dog for a 30 minute walk.  He said he likes to walk two at a time but that doesn't always happen. He asked about our trip and made suggestions about what we needed to see. Most of it was on our list. We enjoyed visiting with him

Japanese Gardens Washington Park in Portland

We found Washington Park and saw the rose garden and the Japanese garden.  As far as beauty is concerned, I enjoyed the Japanese Garden the most.

everything in the Japanese garden was
 manicured and looked lush and healthy

We returned to the Pearl District.  Dotti struck up a conversation with a young man who was trying to fix the lock on his storm door.  It turns out his parents used to live in Wichita Falls, but moved to Fletcher Oklahoma shortly after he left home. He had lived in Dallas for a few years. It is a small world.

Portland Pigs
We walked the streets  until we found  the Santa Fe Taquera where we had some really tasty tacos and nachos.

Not far from where we ate, these guys were on the sidewalk. They are about thigh high sculptures.  They felt solid and heavy but apparently not as heavy as they look because they are chained together and to a post.  You can't see them in this picture but there are piglets under the one on the right. Another interesting aspect was that there was a "donation" container there. For what?

We sat for quite a while watching the wonderfully diverse and interesting assortment of people passing us, then we headed back to the car.

The Pearl district is crawling with people walking, folks on bicycles, Segways, skate boards, and scooters.  If I thought winding mountain roads were treacherous, it doesn't compare to driving in Portland.  I'm surprised I got out without running over a pedestrian. The signals and stop signs were hard to see. Plus there was so much signage, so may arrows point this way and not that way, I was in constant turmoil.  I'm real surprised only one person actually honked at me.

Tomorrow, we plan to go up Mt. Hood

Friday, August 15, 2014

Day Three of Paula and Dotti's Trip

Strawberry Mountains
Where we entered Oregon looked about the same as the last three states we'd been in, but it soon began to change. The pine trees started gradually and got bigger and taller.  The forests got denser and soon we were winding our way through green lush beauty like I have never seen before.  The forests in Colorado are thick and beautiful but there is something different about the Oregon forests. The trees are taller and the under growth is mossy. Rocks have mossy coats. Fallen logs are covered with moss.  So are the trunks of the trees.

moss covers everything
When we topped this hill, I saw the picture to the left. It took my breath away. It was one of those humbling experiences that we have a few times in our lives that brings us into full awareness and appreciation of how beautiful this Earth of ours really is.  I have seen the Rockies in the distance many times but never from this awe inspiring view.  The Strawberries are not as high as the Rockies but they are one of the least explored in the U.S.

When we came to a place where we could see the trees in the distance, I thought I saw smoke but we continued on.  In John Day, Oregon, we stopped to eat.  We struck up a conversation with the waitress. She asked where we were going and when we told her, she redirected us.  She said the road we had lined out was closed due to the wildfires. I didn't get her name and I don't remember the name of the restaurant she worked in but she saved us a lot of trouble. She said there had been eleven fires  in the past month due to lightening strikes. Later we saw the flames of one off to the north east as we traveled north west.

flowers in John Day, Oregon
If I had time, I'd love to retrace part of that scenic drive. One of the most memorable places was an area where the two lane highway zigzagged through a mountain.  I think the waitress referred to it as Picture Monument but I can't find anything about it on google. This looked like the mountain had been ripped in two parts.  It was breath taking to drive through with the jagged rugged sides of the torn earth rising hundreds of feet on both sides. Of course there was no place to stop with a blind curve in front of me and behind me at all points, so I didn't get any pictures.

flowers on the curb in John Day
Then it got dark.

Pitch dark.

Darker than any place I have ever been before.

Cell service was intermittent.

It was cloudy, raining on and off, so there was no  big full moon or stars to light our way.  I think during the whole 300 miles of that road, three cars went around me, and that was at the beginning.  About four cars total came toward us.  It made me very uneasy. But Kia brought us through with flying colors!

There were few straight-a-ways so the going was slow.  All the towns we went through were closed for the night. I didn't need gas but I needed to pee.  With absolutely no clue that there was an appropriate pit stop anywhere in my near future, I did something I haven't done in thirty five years. I got out and wee weed at the side of the road.

Of course the next open civilization appeared around the next curve.  We had finally reached the interstate.  It was still 120 miles to Portland.  We got to our motel around one am.  What a trip. Much to our consternation, we were booked for three nights up stairs with no elevator.  That was a bitch!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Paula and Dotti's Trip to Oregon

Day 1

heading out
 We left Wichita Falls about 8:30 am.  Dotti plugged in a mystery novel around Vernon and we listened to it most of the rest of the way.  We stopped at an awesome little store in Chillicothe called Valley Pecans.  There are several stores along the way that had great looking Mexican yard art, but we decided to go on.

 In Dalhart we stopped at a Dairy Queen and ate tacos.

We made it to Colorado Springs by 7 pm.  Great timing.

Gas prices here are much higher than around Wichita Falls, plus I noticed my Kia Sportage doesn't get the gas mileage it's supposed to get.  I checked it at 75 mph on cruise and it's only getting around 24 mph. 

I made the motel reservations in Colorado Springs, so I only have me to blame but it was less than awesome. The staff was friendly and after we got the comforters pulled down to the corners of the duvet covers, they weren't lumpy any more.  Both beds actually looked like there might be a dead body under the covers. Dotti searched and found no visible signs of bed bugs so we lit out for Pikes
Peak.  We drove through Manitou Springs which had banners advertising "Pikes Peak Run." It was crawling with people and I nearly sent a couple to the hospital. ; ( Not really but the pedestrian traffic was unbelievable!) No place to park even in the pay areas. Since we got here so early, we made our way towards Pikes Peak. At the turn off, I noticed we had less than a quarter tank of gas and decided to let it wait 'til tomorrow. Glad I did because during the short drive back to a gas station, it went down almost to empty! There were several steep grades which really sucked the gas out!
The mountains are beautiful! But man are they intimidating to drive in for a Texas girl accustomed to the wide open spaces.  I felt claustrophobic.  The rock walls go straight up in some places and there are warning signs along the way "falling rocks". There's nowhere to go but onward.  

 So -- from that experience, I decided we're not going through the mountains to Salt Lake City.  We'll go up to Denver and Cheyenne and across Wyoming.

Several times I've looked at the mountains and thought they were cloud banks!  Just not use to seeing this.  The temperature was almost chilly when we came out of the Bean Bandit  Mexican Restaurant.  Lol Won't go back there when we come home. First place I've ever been where the menu says if you get more than two small bowls of chips, you have to pay extra.

 I'm fixing to dig out the Tums and go to bed! Strange how the mind works.  I've been looking forward to this for a long time and I'm already home sick.  I miss my peeps and my critters and most of all my Grandson!

F*** the beauty of the mountains! F*** Pikes Peak!

I want to just turn around and go home.

Day 2

Apparently, I grew some balls during the night because I woke up thinking, "I said I was going to drive up Pikes Peak.  I'll feel gutless for the rest of my life if I back out now."

So we got some breakfast and took off for Pikes Peak.

entering Pikes Peak.
When we arrived at the first gift shop going up Pikes Peak, we stopped to look around.  I felt queasy and short of breath.  On a video Dotti was watching about the Pikes Peak adventure, I heard that queasiness is one of the first signs of "altitude sickness".  So we decided not to go.

Just kidding!  as Seth would say.

We headed on up the mountain. 

The higher we went, the worse my symptoms got but I was determined to do this! By the time we'd driven above the timber line, I felt like I might have to pull over and barf, but there was no place to stop or turn around.  There were cars behind us and cars coming down -- so I continued on.  When we neared the summit, there were dark gray rain clouds blended with the color of the pavement, creating an optical illusion that the road was where it wasn't.  My discomfort increased dramatically. It felt like panic lodged in my throat.  When I'd first heard that the road to the top had been paved and guardrails installed, I was disappointed because then I knew I wouldn't be able to get a t-shirt that said, "Guardrails are for Sissies". In my opinion, now, having been up to the summit and back down -- the guardrails are a blessing.  However, they are too few and too far between.
nearing the summit of Pikes Peak.  Wow! What a trip!
The Summit was crawling with people and people on bicycles.  I felt pressed to go on back down before all those folks on bicycles decided to go down too.  So we didn't even go into the visitor's center. To hell with eating donuts at the top.  I couldn't have gotten them down anyway.

I can't say I was one bit less scared going up this time than I was the first time with Ronnie many years ago, and coming back down, at least until we got back into the trees was not for the faint hearted, either,  but we made it.

I think part of this trip is to face some of the
What a View! from 14,110 feet up
long held demons that had become part of my makeup during forty five years of marriage.  I felt like I had accomplished some life long goal when we got back down into the trees.

BUT, I had had enough of winding roads, speeding up to make better time, slowing down for safety's sake, so we went back to the interstate and headed for Denver and Cheyenne Wyoming.

The southern part of Wyoming is so wide open, it occurred to me that even though the term, "Big Sky Country" refers to Montana, we were definitely in bigger sky country than I'd ever been in before.

tunnel through  the mountain near Green River Wyoming
You can see forever and it was different than anything else I had ever experienced.  On the winding uphill and down hill highways -- which by the way were awesome in Wyoming -- I could see  traffic  below and ahead of me for ten miles. Tiny long trains snaked through the valley below me.

The southern part of the state looks like desert. 
Not a tree in sight most of the way across the state. One thing that struck me so different than the sparsely populated areas of Texas out west, is that even out in the middle of nowhere, in Texas, you see mail boxes and you know some one lives out there some where. Not so in Wyoming. No body lives out of the small towns in Wyoming. There were no gates with brands  or ranch names and I never saw Sheriff Longmire either. Wyoming is so sparsely populated, it only has 3 electoral votes.

The buttes and mountains and rock formations were awesome but driving, I didn't get many pictures.  I did video our trip through the tunnel near Green River Wyoming for Seth.
By the time we arrived in Ogden, Utah it was dark and I couldn't tell what was around me.  Our Best Western Motel room was AWESOME!.  The bed felt like Heaven.  I thought about stealing the comforter -- but I didn't.  Best Western provided hot breakfast so we took advantage of that and hit the road again.  Ogden, Utah is a beautiful town -- at least what I saw of it. There were flowers baskets everywhere.  The city even has them hanging on the street lights. Seeing mass plantings of color seemed like a very distant memory.  It reminded me how thankful we should all be for the goodness we have in our lives.

Mountains around Ogden, Utah
We passed one of the big Mormon temples for the FLDS.
Idaho has the best rest stops all along it's freeways.  These are well maintained places where we and others felt safe to get out, walk around and stretch our legs.  They had clean restrooms and vending machines. By the time we reached Idaho, I was beginning to feel my two and a half days on the road.  I pulled into several to take a power nap.
Utah and southern Idaho were both "big sky" country with lots of long stretches where we saw no sign that anyone lived outside the cities.
It was mid afternoon when we entered the state of Oregon.