Category Archives: Vacation

Road Trip

Crossing the Siskiyou Pass, there’s a spot about 4 miles north of the California border where you come around a sweeping turn and are suddenly faced with the majestic Mt. Shasta in all it’s snow capped glory. After many long hours of driving, and with many more to come, it’s this moment when I get that overwhelming feeling of having come home. Maybe it’s the summers spent with my family on and around the mountains and lakes of the Shasta/Trinity forest or those late teen years hiking with friends throughout Lassen Volcanic Park, but simply seeing this peak brings a great comfort to my soul.

Of course once you’ve passed through this beautiful paradise, you drop into the upper Central Valley of California and for the next hundred miles you can’t help but want to turn the car around and head back north. It doesn’t take long before the miles upon endless miles of alfalfa and olive trees begin to take their toll. Not to mention the unbearable heat and horrible roads. It was this desolate landscape that slapped me back to the reality of this unexpected trip home, my fathers impending hip surgery.

After 10 days of hospital visits, cleaning, moving furniture, cooking and generally getting Pop’s house ready for his return with a walker and various other accoutrement, and sure he was in the good hands of his girlfriend, I was ready to head home. I dreaded getting back on that same highway now that I wasn’t in a hurry and I wanted to relax and enjoy the trip knowing everything was under control. So, I did a little mapquest query and found that heading West across the SF Bay and North, along the Redwood Highway would only add about 3 hours to my drive. I hadn’t taken that route in over 15 years and the choice between driving straight flat roads in 90+ degree temps, with the air conditioner on full bore revisiting those Olive trees, versus winding mountain roads, windows-down-fresh-air and Redwoods…towering Redwoods…spectacular, towering Redwoods, was a no brainer.

By the time I hit Sonoma County the Grateful Dead were moving me merrily down the road and all the stress of the previous week started to fall away. Before I knew it I was through Garberville and turning off the highway to drive along the Avenue of the Giants. This stretch of road is magical and driving through the filtered sunlight under those grand Coast Redwoods it’s as if time stops. The centuries old trees appeal to my soul, calling me close. It’s impossible to not stop and touch their beautiful bark, feel their strength, lie beneath them. That rich, woody scent fills me with a peaceful energy clears my mind. This was a journey I hadn’t realized was necessary until this very moment.

Getting back into the car facing another 7 hours of driving suddenly seems welcome and I continue out to the coast, the trees falling away and then…returning, in between short views of the Pacific Ocean and the smell of salt air. With the marine layer now moving in, blotting out the sun, I roll up the window and smile at just how far I’ve driven and how many different climates I’ve experienced since departing the Central Valley with it’s brown hills, scrub oak and dry heat earlier that morning. However, the marine layer also reminds me of Portland and the fact that I’ll be living with those gray skies soon enough so it’s time to head back over the coast range and into warmer weather for the night.

I turned East just after Crescent City and continue on the Redwood Highway toward its terminus in Grants Pass but first there’s one last stand of the big trees in the Jedediah Smith State Park before I reach unknown territory. Well…unknown to me. I’ve never driven beyond the park and was thrilled to have chosen this point to cross back to the valley. The road runs alongside the Smith River and the canyon is beautiful. It wasn’t until this point that I really missed having Mark and the dog along. Not that I didn’t want them along to begin with but here were so many opportunities to swim the dog and enjoy this narrow canyon. I’m already plotting a way to drag them down there for a long weekend of camping.

The canyon finally opens up just after the Oregon border to yet another surprise: the Illinois Valley. This area is home to many budding vineyards and its gently rolling hills, rivers and quaint little towns remind me of Sonoma County before the population boom of the late 80’s.

Of course I did have to get home as our friend Bill Hawley was arriving in Portland that very night so I said farewell to my mini-vacation and hit the I-5 at Grants Pass. Once the sun set, I started to feel the weariness of such a long drive…and not feel anything in my left foot so I decided it was time to find a place to sleep. I purposely stopped in a small town with nothing to distract me, found some dinner and promptly went to bed so I could be up for the quick three hour drive to Portland early the next morning.

Although the purpose of the trip was not a pleasant one, I was able to make it enjoyable by taking the scenic route home. It was nice to visit places I haven’t seen in many years even if only out the car window. Spending time in the Redwoods and the trek through Shasta/Trinity brought back many fond memories and those are sometimes best experienced in solitude. Back home now it’s as though I was on a little magic ride through time and still I’m filled with peace.

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Phun Photo Phriday

Sudoku

Phun Photo Phriday

We’d just finished an incredible lunch when 10 paces down the street I noticed this sign attached to the building immediately next door. A multiplex? What’s that…a rat condo? The droppings literally covering the sidewalk answered that question.

Believe it or not…I’d eat there again in a heartbeat…it was that good.

Home Again

Arrived home at 1:30 am PDT after waking at 8:30 am EDT…a very, very long day…when six hours of that time was spent flying and another two hours sitting in Seattle between flights. Although most of the folks who attended GB5 NYC have already posted about the weekend I have a few pics and comments to add to the mix.

Hopefully, I’ll get through my pictures tonight and will have time to write something after work tomorrow since the only thing I can thing about now is sleep and snuggling with Mark…and the dog.

Let the Fun Begin

We made it in to town about 7:00 Thursday night and spent the evening settling into the loft we’re renting for the next week. Here’s the view from the 28th floor balcony.

Of course we had to grab a slice of pizza before heading out on the town for a few hours. We ended up at Don’t Tell Mama’s, a fun little piano bar, and had a great time chatting up the locals. We were still on Left Coast time so we decided to head out about midnight or we’d have been there until 4:00 and hated ourselves this morning when we were to meet up with the boys we missed last fall in Boston.

Although Mark loves the subway system here, he still doesn’t quite have it figured out….

…actually, he really does love the subway and we always have a good time checking out the various stations. We also get to check out more than our fair share of stations since we usually miss our stop and end up traveling to parts unknown. Last night it was Brooklyn where we realized our mistake and jumped off the train to find there were no trains heading back to Manhattan. We were forced to wait for another train, take it to the next Brooklyn station and then double back to Downtown. Not fun when you’ve had a few drinks and there are no bathrooms in site, but we made it home without any accidents.

Today we had our first mini-event meeting Tony, Tater, RG, Stache and Father Tony for lunch. The food was wonderful and the company even better! With all those handsome men around, I felt like the luckiest gurl in town. Of course I was too dumbfounded to pull out my camera so I only have this one shot…

…but you get the idea.

It was a nice way to kick off the weekend and should make tonight’s ‘meet and greet’ a bit easier. So it’s off to find a little dinner and then up to meet the rest of the gang. I’ll be sure to document this event a little better.

Tidying Up

It’s been a busy couple of days since the house guests left, putting the house back in order, cleaning up the loose ends at work, and ironing out the details for our trip to NYC.

We leave Thursday morning and I’m beginning to feel a bit anxious. This trip was originally planned as a small gathering of those bloggers that had, or tried, to make it to the Boston gathering last fall. Now, it’s been rolled into the annual NYC gathering which historically has been a fairly large group. Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely looking forward to meeting these folks, but I’m a little uneasy in large groups of people I don’t, or barely, know.

It takes me a little time to feel comfortable in these situations, kind of like accompanying a spouse to a work gathering, so I live by the rule: “take your own party”. Mark will be with me and he’s one of the most social people I’ve ever met yet even he’s admitted to a little anxiety but, he’s my party, so I’m sure we’ll have a good time. Better yet, Tony and Tate will be there and we’ll be meeting them for lunch before the main event and that will add to “our party”. So, for now, I’m busying myself with the usual travel preparations and trying not to think beyond our lunch with the gurrrls. I feel I know them well enough that we’ll fall into comfortable camaraderie in no time.

And…if I don’t feel comfortable after the meet and greet that night…I won’t have any trouble finding something to do for the next four days. After all…it’s hard to be bored in NYC.

GBV NYC

My, oh my, where has the time gone? Losing my assistant has had quite an affect on my time at the office and the time I spend at the office. I’m lucky to get a lunch these days, which is when I’d usually catch up on my blogroll and maybe draft a post. Now it’s all work and no play, and they’re right…I’m quite the dull boy.

Fortunately that’s all going to change soon because exactly three weeks from today Mark and I will be on a plane for New York to attend this:

We were supposed to fly to Boston last fall for a blogger gathering arranged by Evilganome but the long awaited building of our woodshed got in the way and I begged off until the next get-together. Yeah, I took a lot of flack for that but my skin is thick and my word is good so it’s off to NYC.

I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to this event. Not only will I finally get to meet the Ganome and Tater and Eric, but I hear Homer will be there too. Of course the regular New York suspects will be in attendance and it will be nice to meet a few of those on my blogroll like Joe, Father Tony and possibly (hopefully) Helen! Of course, with my sorry posting history of late I may be shunned, but I’m buying the t-shirt anyway and I’ll just hang on the fringe and pretend to be part of the gang.

And, as added bonus, we’ll get to spend some time with our dear friend Rita who kindly let us stay at her place for two weeks on our last visit. She was in France and returned the same day we left so Rita, dinner’s on us!

Now, if only I could get Doug and Spo to make the journey.