Purple Haze

Sequim Lavender Festival, Sequim, Washington
18th thru 20th July, 2014
“Lavender Capital of the Nation”

 

Jardin du Soleil Lavender Farm

Jardin du Soleil Lavender Farm

Purple Haze Lavender Farm

Purple Haze Lavender Farm

 

It's only fitting with a name like "Purple Haze" that the address be "Bell Bottom Lane."

It’s only fitting with a name like “Purple Haze” that the address be “Bell Bottom Lane.”

 

Lavender Oil Extractor

Lavender Oil Extractor

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Purple Haze, all in my brain,
Lately things they don’t seem the same,
Actin’ funny, but I don’t know why
‘scuse me while I kiss the sky

Washington Lavender Farm and Bed and Breakfast

Washington Lavender Farm and Bed and Breakfast

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Lavender hung upside down to dry...same technique works in RV shower stall.  ;-)

Lavender hung upside down to dry…same technique works in RV shower stall. ;-)

Lavender comes in many different varieties, some even pink.

Lavender comes in many different varieties, some even pink.

Purple Haze, all around,
Don’t know if I’m comin’ up or down
Am I happy or in misery?
Whatever it is, that flower put a spell on me.

Even purple bees!

Even purple bees!

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Lavender honey was on my shopping list.   So yummy!

Lavender honey was on my shopping list. So yummy!

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Purple Haze, all in my eyes,
Don’t know if it’s day or night,
You’ve got me blowin’, blowin’ my mind
Is it tomorrow or just the end of time?

These men harvested this field at amazing speed!  Rain was in the forecast...

These men harvested this field at amazing speed! Rain was in the forecast…

Harvest is done with a small hand sickle.

Harvest is done with a small hand sickle.

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Help me
Ahh, yea-yeah, purple haze
Oh, no, oh, Oh, help me
Tell me, tell me, purple haze
I can’t go on like this
Purple haze
You’re makin’ me blow my mind
Purple haze, n-no, nooo

There's a horse up there peeking at me...can you see him?

There’s a horse up there peeking at me…can you see him?

Sequim Lavender Festival Street Fair

Sequim Lavender Festival Street Fair

My Lavender Margarita that I had been waiting all week to try...

My Lavender Margarita that I had been waiting all week to try…

The Purple Hat ladies enjoy the live music

The Purple Hat ladies enjoy the live music

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Even Walmart gets in on the action with their purple displays

Even Walmart gets in on the action with their purple displays

A special thanks to Mr. Jimi Hendrix, who provided the perfect soundtrack that played on a continuous loop in my head for the entire festival. “Purple Haze,” 1967

Light at the End of “The Spit”

Through the “kindness of strangers,” who I now consider great friends, I am driveway surfing in Sequim, just 3 blocks from Dungeness Bay.    I mentioned to my Winnie friends, Scott and Jan from Eugene that I really wanted to visit the lavender festival.  After all, Sequim is “The Lavender Capital of our Nation.”   But I was late in making my reservations, and all the campgrounds were full for the weekend.   So Scott and Jan contacted their friends Kay and Bill, and before you know it, I had five star accommodations for the week!

Railroad Bridge Park, built 1915 as part of the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul, and Pacific Railroad, known as "Milwaukee Road."

Railroad Bridge Park, built 1915 as part of the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul, and Pacific Railroad, known as “Milwaukee Road.”

The 130-mile Olympic Discovery Trail runs across the bridge.

The 130-mile Olympic Discovery Trail runs across the bridge.

There is plenty to do around Sequim, with beautiful U-Pick Farms and nice trails for hiking and biking.  My driveway hosts, Kay and Bill, are the consummate ambassadors to their town, even providing me with welcome brochures and driving me around on a tour to show me their favorite hiking spots.   And I was surrounded by beauty in my “mini-botanical garden / wildlife park,” parked amidst their beautiful garden where the fawns came to graze each morning.

Graysmarsh U-Pick Farm

Graysmarsh U-Pick Farm

The man instructs, "Put your fingers beneath the bunches and fondle them until the ripe ones fall off."  eeuww.

The man instructs, “Put your fingers beneath the bunches and fondle them until the ripe ones fall off.” eeuww.

Never had a raspberry plucked straight from the vine before.  Tastes like sunshine...

Never had a raspberry plucked straight from the vine before. Tastes like sunshine…

The fruits of my labor...literally.

The fruits of my labor…literally.

BUT!  There was something out there beyond the lull of the fog horn, calling my name.  At the end of the five mile Dungeness Spit, there she was, the Dungeness Lighthouse, blinking at me, saying “Come.  Come to me, you lighthouse nut!”  But a half mile hike through the Dungeness Wildlife Reserve, followed by five miles of beach-walking put this hike at eleven miles round trip.  Just beyond my personal limits.    My longest hike since my 2002 “tramping” in New Zealand has been Springer Mountain in Georgia at nine miles.  But I was in better shape back then.   So I knew the New Dungeness Light at eleven miles was just beyond reach.

View of New Dungeness Lighthouse, a tiny white dot from Dungeness Nature Reserve.

View of New Dungeness Lighthouse, a tiny white dot from Dungeness Nature Reserve.

Tide Table for Dungeness Spit

Tide Table for Dungeness Spit

But what kind of lighthouse nut was I anyway, that I would not at least try to stretch myself beyond my personal limits?  I have never been one for lobbying for my limitations.  Besides, no self-respecting lighthouse nut would ever let a little thing like foot pain get in their way!

The Dungeness Spit is the longest natural sand spit in the US, and the New Dungeness Lighthouse, built 1857, sits at the very end.  As I stand on the shoreline gazing out in the distance at the tiny white dot on the horizon, I think to myself, “I’ll bet NINA would do it!”   Nina from Wheelingit fame is the only person I know who loves lighthouses maybe even more than me!   So I email her…

“Look what’s out there, way out on the horizon…beckoning, calling me like a Greek Siren with her seductive song.  ‘Come to me, you Lighthouse Nut.’   Just a mere 11 mile hike out to the end of the spit and back.  I am so tempted!”

I thought Nina and Paul were in Port Townsend, so the best I could hope for was a few words of encouragement telling me I should go for it.   But not only were they on their way to Sequim, Nina (of course) had already scoped out the hike, and was planning on giving it a go!   So we talked about details and tide tables, and before I could chicken out, we had a plan…

The hike must be made at low tide, or it is a real ankle-roller.  I had already walked the spit at high tide, and knew I had no chance to make three miles, let alone eleven, crawling over giant driftwood logs and large granite stones.  The volunteers at the Dungeness Wildlife Reserve kiosk strongly recommended leaving two hours before low tide to allow ample time for hiking on hard packed sand.  This would give just enough time to tour the lighthouse, have a bit of lunch, and get back before the six foot tidal swing.  So there was a small window of opportunity, in fact just two days out of our overlap in visits.IMG_1525 IMG_1526

I make plans to take half a day off from work on Thursday and meet Nina and Paul at the kiosk at 11:00am.   Timing is critical.  If I am going to make it, it will have to be on hard-packed sand.   But early Thursday morning as I am starting to pack up, the news comes.  Malaysia Flight 17 has just been shot down.   It is my job responsibility to determine whether my client has any employees on that plane.  I can’t leave until I am sure we are all clear.  I breathe a sigh of relief when my report results come back with no names, which means my part is done except for a few thoughts of respect for the victims and their families.

I grab a change of clothes and shoes, thinking if I have to turn around after a couple of miles, I will drive over to explore Port Angeles.  At least if I can’t make it, my afternoon off will not be a total loss.   I quickly throw together a peanut butter sandwich, and fly out the door.

I race to the end of the path to see Nina waiting.  I apologize profusely for being late, and ask “Where’s Paul?”   Nina tells me he has decided to stay behind with Polly Doggie, as dogs are not allowed on the beach in the National Wildlife Refuge.    Well, on one hand, I am sad, as I had enjoyed our conversations back in Cape Disappointment.  On the other hand, I am now more committed than ever to finishing the hike, since there are only two of us!

No sight of the light as we begin our hike, though it does not quell our enthusiasm.

No sight of the light as we begin our hike, though it does not quell our enthusiasm.

As a long-time fan of Nina's photography, it is fun to watch the photographer in action.

As a long-time fan of Nina’s photography, it is fun to watch the photographer in action.

As we start out, it’s a gray, cloudy day, and the end of the spit is completely obscured by heavy fog.   The Spit narrows as we are flanked on both sides by water – The Strait of Juan de Fuca on one side, Dungeness Bay on the other.  As we get further away from National Wildlife Refuge, there are fewer people, until soon we can’t see anyone in either direction!  It is just the two of us and a few dozen sea gulls, walking along in rapid-fire conversation to match our quick cadence.   Time flies.

Before I know it, Nina observes that we are turning.  We have reached the “elbow” where the spit makes an easterly turn.  The fog is now lifting, and we see patches of blue sky.  We climb up over the tall ridge of driftwood debris to see if we can get a glimpse, and there she is!    We can see the 15 second light flashing.  Between our mutual enthusiasm and constant conversation, I think for the first time, I just might make it!

Finally, we have her in our sights!

Finally, we have her in our sights!

Loose sand makes it harder to get traction.

Loose sand makes it harder to get traction.

By now, the clouds are almost gone, and the sky is brilliant blue.  The Strait is calm and inviting.   The lighthouse still eludes us though, as our pace quickens up the path through the loose sand, and making time gets harder.   It is a bit like a mirage….not as close as it appears.

Please don't send me back to "Reality" just yet!

Please don’t send me back to “Reality” just yet!

Nina and our Lighthouse Host, also a member of the Board, "talk Fresnel"

Nina and our Lighthouse Host, also a member of the Board, “talk Fresnel”

View of the narrow Spit from the lantern room.

View of the narrow Spit from the lantern room.

Finally, we arrive at the lighthouse, and I am feeling surprisingly good for having just walked five and a half miles! I am trying not to think of it as eleven miles, but rather two 5.5 mile hikes with lunch in between. ;-)

BEST peanut butter and jam sandwich I have had in a long time!

BEST peanut butter and jam sandwich I have had in a long time!

Keepers quarters where volunteers pay $350 a week for a room...tempting.

Keepers quarters where volunteers pay $350 a week for a room…tempting.

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We waste no time in the climb!  Then enjoy a leisurely picnic table lunch in the sun, before making the 5.5 mile return.  Fortunately, the conversation is just as engaging on the return, and we are back in the heavily forested Nature Reserve before I know it.  I am thrilled at having made the lighthouse, though I must confess, once back in my rig, my eyelids set long before the sun…IMG_1619

It is such fun to tour a lighthouse with a fellow “Lighthouse Nut!”

My thanks to my friend Nina, without whos enthusiasm I would nave never had the tenacity for the eleven mile hike to see another beauty in the lineage of lighthouses!

My trusty pedometer...23,615 steps!

My trusty pedometer…23,615 steps!

Paradise to Sunrise (Mt Rainier Part II)

The weekend masses have not yet descended upon Cougar Rock Campground, so it is a cool, quiet morning.    I marvel at my good fortune to get two blue sky days in a row in one of the “the snowiest places on earth.”   I can see a few wisps of clouds, though, so I know the weather system is changing, so I hurry out for my intended destination for the day, Sunrise.

Mount Rainier creates its own weather system.

Mount Rainier creates its own weather system.

Crossing the Nisqually River -- A very fast moving stream!

Crossing the Nisqually River — A very fast moving stream!

Part of Wonderland Trail has views of three waterfalls; Carter Falls, Madcap Falls, and Narada Falls, all seen on 5.4 mile out and back...

Part of Wonderland Trail has views of three waterfalls; Carter Falls, Madcap Falls, and Narada Falls, all seen on 5.4 mile out and back…

At elevation of 6,400 feet, Sunrise is Mount Rainier’s highest visitor center.  It is also on the drier side.  Due to the rain shadow effect, there is not as much snow on the trails, although the mountain itself has a much snowier view from this side of the park.DSC_0660

View of Emmons Glacier from Emmons Trail Overlook

View of Emmons Glacier from Emmons Trail Overlook

If you think of the park road as a giant, backwards letter “C,” Cougar Rock campground is at the bottom of the curve’s end, while Sunrise is at the top.  Paradise is about a third of the way, with Box Canyon being about half way.   So I must retrace my steps from the previous day in order to reach Sunrise.

The estimated drive time from Cougar Rock Campground to Sunrise is at least two hours, so I race past all the stops I visited yesterday in hopes of getting to Sunrise with ample time for hiking.  The weather is nothing short of perfect, so I put the top down on the Tracker for the two hour drive.   I recently “retro-fitted” the Tracker with a cassette tape adapter that allows me to play my ipod tunes over the four-speaker stereo, so I put on some Allman Brothers to crank me up and over the mountain.

It's a beautiful day, and a beautiful drive to Sunrise!

It’s a beautiful day, and a beautiful drive to Sunrise!

Lest there is any question as to why I love my Tracker!

Lest there is any question as to why I love my Tracker!

The drive is gorgeous through thick forests with occasional mountain views.  Once I reach the end of the road at Sunrise, I hear the “pinging” of my iphone.  I have a signal!!  Sad to be this excited, but I have been without email for almost three days now.  ;-) DSC_0636

More Avalanche Lilies

More Avalanche Lilies

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I stop into the Visitor’s Center to ask the staff for a recommendation for the best wildflower opportunity.  She suggests a choice of two hikes;  Emmons Overlook Trail to Silver Forest out and back, or a loop around Shadow Lake.  I am feeling surprisingly energetic for 6,400 ft so I do both!

Surely "Sister Maria" can't be far!

Surely “Sister Maria” can’t be far!

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The beauty around me is overwhelming. There are lupines, magenta paintbrush, creeping phlox all along the trail. The hills are alive, and the only thing missing is Julie Andrews!  Good thing I don’t know how to turn cartwheels, because I sure do feel like it!DSC_0656 DSC_0675 DSC_0694

The trail to Shadow Lake leads me along a bit of the Wonderland Trail, the 93 mile trail that circumnavigates Mount Rainier.   Only an estimated 200 to 250 people per year complete the entire trail.  I wander through one of the back country campgrounds, Sunrise Camp, and ponder what a great adventure this would be, to hike around the mountain seeing remote wilderness areas that so few people get to experience.  This gives me pause for thought about my own fitness level, and how disappointing it is to be limited by one’s abilities.  On one hand, I regret not having “discovered” my love for hiking sooner in life, but on the other hand, I am grateful I still have some time, hopefully…

Thawing stream along the Wonderland Trail

Thawing stream along the Wonderland Trail

Outhouse at Sunrise Camp

Outhouse at Sunrise Camp

Shadow Lake

Shadow Lake

As I start my two hour drive back to Cougar Rock Campground, I put the top down again, and ease out of the parking lot to Hendrix’s “Red House.” I notice clouds are starting to roll in with the promise of a colorful sunset.    I still have the top down, and the sky is painted with a gorgeous palate of salmon, pink, and lavender.  I pull over to grab some shots as the sky lights up the mountain.   I catch the last of the afterglow at Reflection Lake, and continue back via Paradise as the full moon is rising over the mountains.DSC_0744DSC_0746 DSC_07661 DSC_0772

I reflect back on what a perfect day it has been, driving through the mountains with the top down, hiking through wildflowers, with a 14,000 ft mountain “in my face,”  capped off by a gorgeous sunset and a full moon rising behind the silhouetted mountain.    On the scale of unforgettable days,  Paradise to Sunrise has to be one of the best.

'scuse me...while I kiss the sky.

‘scuse me…while I kiss the sky.

Off the Grid and On to Paradise

After being in Oregon for two glorious, fun-packed months, it is finally time to say goodbye. Summer is fleeting, and the entire state of Washington is still yet to be explored. I have loved the state of Oregon more than any other state in the US…granted, I have yet to spend a winter here. But the winters would have to be pretty darned horrendous to offset the glory days of summer.

So I leave behind the Columbia River RV Park, no sales tax, and the luxury of all fuel stops being full service gas stations as I cross the bridge into Washington State bound for Mount Rainier.

I pull out at noon, and park at the Safeway to finish my particularly long work day before I get underway.   My plan is to overnight before I reach the park entrance at some free camping spot like a Walmart or a Casino parking lot along the way, but there are none. I keep driving further and further as what little sunlight left is swallowed up by the darkness of the thick forest canopy. Finally, I have reached the Mount Rainier park entrance without my planned overnight stop. I have no choice now but to keep going deeper into the park and hope there is an open campsite.

The nine mile road from the Nisqually entrance is under construction, with large gaps in the pavement every quarter mile, so it is slow going. It is dark by the time I reach the first campground, Cougar Rock. This is the first kiosk I have seen where you pay for your campsite by swiping a credit card. I am relieved to meet a man at the kiosk who tells me the park is quiet, with quite a few open spots. He suggests I try Loop A where the “big rigs” usually stay. Luck is with me, as the tent campers seem to have left me one lone, level pull thru. I awake the next morning to realize just how lucky I am, as I seem to have one of the only campsites in the heavily treed campground with no shade over my solar panels. ;-) IMG_1434

Campsite A9 in Cougar Rock.  Sun where you want it....shade where you don't!

Campsite A9 in Cougar Rock. Sun where you want it….shade where you don’t!

But where a signal is concerned, I am not so lucky. I have come this far without letting any of my family know my whereabouts. It’s nine miles back down the choppy road to the park entrance and another six to Ashford, the last place I had a signal, so I must drive the 30 miles round trip to send an email home. I also take this opportunity to refuel the Tracker, as Ashford is the last opportunity. There is no fuel available in the park…not only diesel, but no gas either. And it is a LONG way across the park!

Now with my chores out of the way, I set out to explore the park by driving the scenic road to Paradise, location of Paradise Lodge and the largest of the park’s Visitor Centers. It doesn’t take long before the breathtaking mountain is in full view in all its snow capped splendor. The sight literally takes my breath away, and I stop at every pull-out to take a ridiculous number of photos of the same mountain, different angle. But it is so beautiful, I just can’t stop shooting!DSC_0543

Sometimes, this lifestyle moves me to tears...

Sometimes, this lifestyle moves me to tears…

DSC_0541Paradise is a beehive of activity, as this is the most popular dropping off point for climbers on their attempt to summit the 14,409 ft mountain. There are outfitter trucks parked all along the way, and I enjoy the hum of energy that comes from listening to the guides give instructions on what to expect. Conversations overheard range from instructions for the novice on how to put on a heavy backpack without straining one’s back, to when “skins” should be strapped onto skis (strips of material with hair or scales that prevent the climber from sliding backwards on their uphill trek through the snow.) I sit on the bench for a long while, listening to these conversations, and have the good fortune to be there when a group returns from the summit. Sighs of relief from removal of heavy boots, slaps on the back, handshakes, and congratulatory photos for having “made it.” One woman shouted “I feel so ALIVE!” I am fascinated by this sport, and feel a bit sad that I will never have this experience. Yet their elation is so palpable, I can relate to the joy that they are feeling.

Backpacker Meeting Point "at the flagpole."

Backpacker Meeting Point “at the flagpole.”

Beautiful Paradise Lodge

Beautiful Paradise Lodge

I am surprised to learn that even the fancy Paradise Lodge has no cellular or wifi service. The Lodge is booked to capacity. I wouldn’t have thought there were that many people willing to pay over $100 a night to be off the grid!

I go into the Visitor’s Center to inquire about hikes and my best opportunity to see wildflowers, but the ranger tells me that all trails at this elevation are still covered in snow! He explains that due to the weather patterns over the mountain, Paradise is the “second snowiest place on earth.” Second only to nearby Mount Baker, Paradise receives on average 641 inches of snow per year!

Bench and Snow Lake Trail

Bench and Snow Lake Trail

Trail to Bench Lake

Trail to Bench Lake

Avalanche Lily

Avalanche Lily

The Ranger suggests I hike the Bench Lake and Snow Lake trail at a bit lower elevation for some good wildflower views, particularly of the Avalanche Lily, which emerges shortly after the snow has melted. He tells me not to bypass Reflection Lake along the way…

No further explanation necessary!

No further explanation necessary!

Bear Grass

Bear Grass

DSC_0625This trail is only 2.5 miles round trip, but the estimated time to hike is 2 hours. I soon find out why, as it is a succession of ups and downs over small ridges that give my knees quite a work out. The views of the mountain are spectacular!

Hello, young lovers, whoever you are...

Hello, young lovers, whoever you are…

Snow Lake

Snow Lake

DSC_0628I drive a bit further through the scenic Stevens Canyon. But it is getting late, so I decide to make Box Canyon my turnaround point. I hike this short, but stunning loop trail around the deep forest canyon cut by decades of rushing water. The narrow canyon reaches well over 100 feet in depth, but never more than 30 feet wide across.

Box Canyon Overlook

Box Canyon Overlook

Short loop around Box Canyon

Short loop around Box Canyon

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Rangers doing research ;-)

Rangers doing research ;-)

I head back to the Cougar Rock Campground as the near full moon is rising over the ridge, and vow to get an earlier start tomorrow…

Do you think the mountain looks better in PINK?

Do you think the mountain looks better in PINK?

Or RED??

Or RED??

 

Portland is a Hoppy Place

My friend Jane said it best.  “Portland is probably best known for its food and its beer!”IMG_1170

Having now visited all three of the “weird” cities, that is, those cities who have adopted the marketing slogan of “Keep XXX Weird,” – Asheville, Austin, and Portland, it’s interesting to ponder how a movement like this gets started.  It’s hard to say what constitutes “weird” when defining a city.  For Asheville, it seems to center around their aging hippie/boomer population that gathers every Friday night from April through October for the giant, en masse rhythmic drumming circle.   For Austin, just being a blue Democratic island floating amidst our largest bleeding red Republican sea in the “lower 48” makes it seem weird to some.  But as for Portland?   It’s too weird to even care about the marketing slogan.IMG_1171IMG_1189

There are so many things I love about this city.   Like how they don’t shy away from their homeless population.  Instead of looking past them like they don’t exist, they hold a Thursday night community service to feed and clothe the hungry.  There are volunteers staffing makeshift barber shops, sewing machines, and washing stations to help the less fortunate.IMG_1389 IMG_1358

IMG_1373Known as the “Bike-friendliest city in the nation,” I love how Portland mandates that bicyclists crossing the highways have the right of way.  In fact, a flashing light stops opposing traffic so bicyclers can cross safely.  There seem to be bike paths on most roads, and those without a path emphasize a “share the road” policy.IMG_1370

IMG_1342The town has not one but TWO rivers – the Columbia and the Willamette (pronounced “Will-AAAMM-et.”  There was a weekend Blues Festival going on while there.  It was amusing to watch the draw bridges open and close as the barge “barged” its way through all the pleasure boats, blasting its five-horn blast, “GET OUT OF MY WAY!”IMG_1378

Note center of "draw bridge" raises up to allow gravel barge to barge through pleasure boats at Blues Fest

Note center of “draw bridge” raises up to allow gravel barge to barge through pleasure boats at Blues Fest

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Portland also has a great “Food Pod” scene.  Though maybe not as inventive as Austin’s East Side Kings, they still offer a fresh, healthy alternative to fast food.    And one step above the food truck seems to be the trend of ordering at the counter and having your food brought to you, as opposed to sit-down wait service.  Cheaper, faster, and so sensible.IMG_1287

Lobster Roll from Maine Lobster food truck.

Lobster Roll from Maine Lobster food truck.

IMG_1173I often use Trip Advisor to find the top attractions or restaurants in a city I am visiting.  It took me by surprise to find the number one restaurant in a “foodie” town like Portland was an ice cream shop!   Salt and Straw is another place with a waiting line, this time half an hour to taste bizarre but oh-so scrumptious flavors like “Honey Balsamic Strawberry with Cracked Pepper.”    It tastes as good as it sounds strange!  But my far, my favorite was the Pear and Blue Cheese – described as “The delicate, sweet flavor of Oregon Trail Northwest Bartlett Pears from Salem, OR with perfectly aged crumbles of Rogue Creamery’s Crater Lake Blue Cheese (recently named the best in the world at a fancy competition in France) mixed throughout.”  As a serious lover of blue cheese, I am not exaggerating when I say this was the best ice cream I have ever eaten.   You just can’t imagine the salty, savory, sweet creamy cheese bits enveloping those crunchy frozen pears.  And the best part?   If you buy a whole pint, you don’t have to wait in line.  ;-) IMG_1433 IMG_1367And BUGS??  What happened to all the bugs?   I have seen only one spider in two weeks, and that was it for bugs.  What a treat it is to sit outside and enjoy a nice dinner without feeling like a mosquito’s dinner at the same time!

“Reuse, Reduce, Recycle” is prevalent everywhere!  After seeing so much plastic refuse during my travels overseas, to include an entire shoreline of blue plastic water bottles, I really have a thing about plastic.  I won’t throw it in the garbage, even if it means hauling around to the next recycle location.    Sometimes, I can accumulate the entire back seat of the Tracker full of plastic bottles.  But in Portland, I was never far from a recycle bin.   And I love the whole “Life without Plastic” campaign that is evolving, whereby restaurants are using cardboard cartons for take-out.

Stainless Steel water dispenser and glasses inscribed with "Life without Plastic" URL.

Stainless Steel water dispenser and glasses inscribed with “Life without Plastic” URL.

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"Manifesting wool blankets and natural fiber pants."

“Manifesting wool blankets and natural fiber pants.”

And finally, music is everywhere!   Restaurants, brew pubs, garden and farm venues, coffee shops.  On any given night of the week, it is possible to find a small local band offering up their own brand of unique tunes, from street side musicians to big name artists playing at small, intimate venues.IMG_1181 IMG_1415 IMG_1385

It may be a big city, but it is still possible to find that eclectic, neighborhood feel.  Yep, weird or not, Portland is still a Hoppy Place!IMG_1169 IMG_1172

Overexposed?

I had more social interaction during my time in Portland than the past year all put together. From seeing old friends to meeting new ones, I find myself wondering what happened to my introverted self? I am feeling a little like the Kim Kardashian of the RV community. Continue reading

The Dalles to the Dry Side (Road Trip Part II)

Since it is now long after dark, I decide to go for the cheapest option, so I pull into the Motel 6. The clerk behind the desk is helping a man who is angry because his TV does not work. He asks to move to a different room, to which the clerk replies, “You got the last room. We are full up.” GULP!   I decide to wait anyway, thinking I can ask her if she knows of any other hotels that may have rooms. She hands me a list of hotels in the area, and suggests I start calling… Continue reading

Pack a Bag…It’s a Road Trip!

I booked two weeks at the Columbia River RV Park – not only to take care of some “city errands,” but also to hunker down in a location with a reservation to ride out the holiday madness of the Fourth of July weekend.   It is a rare treat for me to have a weekend in between work weeks where I don’t have to reposition the Winnie.   Two whole days with no driving required, so what do I do??   Take a road trip! ;-) Continue reading

Hello, Walls…

Sometimes the shift in “vibe” from being in the solace of a remote location, then immersing myself into a big city and back again can cause me to feel discord. I attribute this mostly to my work situation, and to the fact that I am trying to treat this odyssey as “life” rather than “vacation.” One wouldn’t typically go from building Excel Pivot charts in the middle of the woods one week, to the middle of a new bustling city the next “in real life.” Continue reading