Tag Archives: Travel

Lucy, I’m home!

Wheeler Historic Farm, Salt Lake City, Utah

Lobby of the Grand Geiser Hotel in Baker City, Oregon

We’ve returned from our three-week road trip to find our home intact, our possessions still here, and everything functioning as it should. There’s always that moment of apprehension just before opening the door: will we find the windows smashed? The basement flooded? The fridge full of rotten food, thanks to a power outage? But all is well.

There’s nothing like a break in the routine to refresh the mind. I’m ready to tackle old projects with renewed vigor, and to jump back into the manuscript I finished while on vacation.

Vacation from retirement? Yup. Whether earning a paycheck or not, I need the occasional escape from the familiar. Every time I return from a trip, there’s a delicious whiff of newness in the air, a promise of a fresh start. I feel like tackling neglected chores and projects, trying new things.

Specifically, talking with my husband’s son the brand-new doctor has pointed me toward a new eating plan. For the next month, D and I are trying the high-protein, low-carb route to shed ten or so pounds. I don’t give two cold dog turds what people think of my middle-aged bod on the beach, but I do worry about the impact this plump tum will have on my health.

And D’s brother, a gifted guitarist, has lent me a lovely smaller-sized guitar to try. After a year of learning to play the ukulele, I’m ready to graduate to six strings. My hands are small, though, and big-bodied guitars are not comfortable with my injured right shoulder. I hope this size will work for me.

I hope the warm part of the year brings some lovely vacation time for you. What are your vacation plans?

Summer Visits and Visitors

San Francisco

One of the main reasons D. and I chose to retire when we did was to spend more time with family, and this summer was rich with visits and travel, though we haven’t gone far from home. We’ve lived in Tacoma, Washington, for over two years now, and I’ve barely begun to explore the interesting places this area offers. Having guests helps. Have you noticed how often we neglect the tourist attractions in our own home territory until there’s a visitor to share them with?

Our summer actually began in late May, when I popped over to the Bay Area to visit with my mom and daughter. The three of us spent lots of time walking about, and found a path behind the ruins of Sutro Baths that led us to the view above. There’s something soothing about walks in Golden Gate Park, especially when the afternoon fog rolls in a patters my face with tiny kisses. The smell of the pines and eucalyptus trees sings to my heart of home.

Next we gathered with the G. clan near Phoenix for D’s son’s graduation from medical school. We were able to rent a house big enough for the lot of us, and there are a lot of us. The heat was fierce, but spirits were high as we celebrated a new beginning in the lives of M. and his marvelous girlfriend.

View of Lake Chelan from a hiking trail on the south shore.

View of Lake Chelan from a hiking trail on the south shore.

Back in Washington, D. and I celebrated our second anniversary at Lake Chelan in central Washington. It was bloody hot, but the views are gorgeous. We’d hoped to rent a canoe or small boat and putter about on the lake, but all we found were Jet Skis and speed boats–not at all conducive to leisurely rides. (There were kayaks too, but I’m allergic to any craft that’s hard to exit in an emergency. The point of a boat is to stay on top of the water, right?) To soothe our disappointment, we visited wineries. Nice.

USS Turner Joy

Back at home, D. and I visited Bremerton and toured the USS Turner Joy, a destroyer-class ship that played an important role in the Vietnam War. We had the great good fortune to meet John F. Keift, author of The Saltiest Ship in the Fleet, who gave us an extensive tour. Keift showed us the control room where the men who controlled the big guns watched radar blips that represented heavily armed Vietnamese fishing vessels zooming toward the ship. He spoke with gravity about pushing the buttons that erased those blips from the radar screen, knowing that each blip represented many lives.

In July, my mother came to Tacoma, where she and I explored every quilt shop we could find. We weren’t allowed to take photos of the art quilt exhibit in the Washington State History Museum, alas. I was expecting quaint bedspreads; instead, we were amazed by the depth, detail, and texture of the artwork on display. There was even a 3-D forest scene sculpted from cloth and fibers.

We also braved the hellish traffic to visit Seattle’s Museum of Asian Art in Volunteer Park. Lovely spot, and Capitol Hill is a lovely neighborhood, with beautifully restored historic homes and mature trees. In fact, a huge branch crashed to the street just outside the Volunteer Cafe, where Mom and I were eating lunch. Fortunately, no one was hurt, but what a shock to come home and find that a third of your tree has fallen into the street, blocking traffic. Anyway, the exhibit was entitled Mood Indigo and featured textiles and clothing from around the world colored with this precious blue.

Modern clothing is so boring compared to this.

Modern clothing is so boring compared to this.

Shorty after Mom left, my daughter came with her boyfriend. Nerds to the core, they enjoyed the Pokemon hunt at the fairgrounds in Puyallup. The state fair doesn’t open until Labor Day weekend, but the grounds were crawling with people intently staring at their phones–very funny to watch.

Hunting Pokemon at the Fairgrounds

A highlight of their visit was Seattle’s Experience Music Project Museum, where we saw sacred relics at the Star Trek exhibit,

Model used in filming the original Star Trek TV series

Model used in filming the original Star Trek TV series

wearable art,

Wearable art at EMP

and a tower of guitars that plays music for visitors.

Tower of Guitars at EMP

You haven’t really experienced Michael Jackson’s Thriller until you see it on the EMP’s ginormous screen. Why was I the only person dancing? The horror movie display is also not to be missed–delightfully creepy.

Closer to home, we finally visited Tacoma’s Union Station, now converted to a courthouse, which houses several works of Dale Chihuly’s blown-glass art. He’s a Tacoma native, and has richly decorated his home town.

Tacoma's Union Station

Summer’s winding down, despite our current heat wave, and I’m getting ready for a few mini-jobs in the local schools, plus the writing I’ve put on the back burner during all these visits.

I hope you’ve spent a restful summer with your nearest and dearest. What was your highlight?



P is for Poulsbo, a Pretty Little Town



Poulsbo 2Poulsbo 3

One of the many blessings of retirement is time to explore the area where we live. And while I love the occasional visit to a big city center, it’s charming little towns that steal my heart.

Yesterday was my husband’s birthday and, although we’d already celebrated with friends on Saturday, we wanted to do something special, just the two of us. Still fairly new to the area, we were stumped as to where to spend such an unseasonably warm Monday. Our neighbor, who’s lived here for many years, recommended Poulsbo, about an hour away, north of Bremerton on the Kitsap Peninsula.

Poulsbo 1

I’m so glad we went!  On a sunny April Monday, the town was pleasantly uncrowded, and we had a delicious lunch at JJ’s Fish House, on the waterfront. After lunch we wandered along the marina and through the shops on Front Street, which runs through the historic district. We visited several vintage clothing shops, antique shops, a lovely bookshop where I bought Sy Montgomery’s The Soul of an Octopus to read during our visit to Cannon Beach, Oregon, this weekend. (Rain is predicted all weekend. Oh well.) We also bought a vintage poster of alphabet rhymes for our grand-nephew, and quilting fabric with Northwestern batik designs (whales, puffins, salmon, etc.) for my mom. The quilt shop’s owner is French, quelle bonne surprise! I taught high school French for many years and always enjoy an opportunity to chat with French folk. Here’s her website, in case you’d like to pay her a visit. She has lots of lovely fabrics. http://www.thequiltshoppepoulsbo.com/

Poulsbo quilt shop

At the little visitors’ center, we saw the usual nautical bits and learned that Poulsbo is pronounced “Paul’s Bo,” meaning something like “Paul’s Bay.” It seems that the person who filed the paperwork to incorporate the town had illegible handwriting. The area was home to the Suquamish people, who called the area “Place of Maples.” Norwegian immigrants arrived in the 1880s, and the historic town center still reflects a Scandinavian flavor today, from the gingerbread trim on the shops to the kitchy but cute Scandinavian trinkets on offer. In a pet shop on Front Street, I saw a dog dish printed with “Woof Da.”

Poulsbo 2

I look forward to spending more time in this little gem of a town; I’ll bet they do it up marvelously at Christmastime. If you’re up our way, do make time to visit Poulsbo.

Poulsbo 1

Photo credits: 1,2, and 6 are mine. 3 is from Gonorthwest.com. 4 is from the quilt shop’s website–see above. 5 is from Americantowns.com. 

October Travels, Part One: Woodstock, Vermont

D. and I spent most of October traveling, and we’re back in Tacoma now, enjoying a rainy Halloween day. I find travel exhilarating, exhausting, fun, frustrating, and very educational. Packing for nearly a month away in three different climates was confounding, and I ended up hauling a fifty-pound suitcase up four flights of stairs in Madrid—but I’ll leave that bit of fun for part two. I hope that spending nearly a month away from my computer has helped stoke my writing batteries, since National Novel Writing Month starts tomorrow.

Our first stop was Woodstock, Vermont, home of D’s oldest brother and his lovely wife. What a beautiful village! We weren’t the only ones to think so; the autumn foliage was in its full glory, and the streets around the village commons were thickly clogged with “leafers,” as the locals call them. The commons is surrounded by picturesque buildings, such as the library where K. works as director of the board.

Woodstock library

And here’s the town hall, I believe. (Forgive me if I got that wrong, S. & K.)

Woodstock City Hall

On the second day of our visit, some local kids and their parents were constructing a family of pumpkin-headed scarecrows outside the library.

Woodstock Scarecrows

Of course, there are lovely covered bridges

Woodstock covered bridge

and historic cemeteries.

Woodstock cemetary

But here’s what it’s really all about in October:

Woodstock leaves

S. and K. are very knowledgeable about local history, and they took us to visit the birthplace of Calvin Coolidge, in the tiny town of Plymouth Notch, Vermont.

Coolidge Home

The interior of the town’s chapel was particularly lovely, constructed of simple wooden panels arranged in geometric patterns.

Chapel at Plymouth Notch, Vermont

After a lunch of grilled Vermont-cheddar sandwiches, we finished our tour.

Long barn in Plymouth Notch, Vermont

Coolidge Tomb

I hadn’t realized what a handsome devil Coolidge was, and how beautiful his wife Grace was. Alas, I wasn’t able to photograph the museum’s collection of her 1920s gowns; you just don’t see artistry like that in modern fashions. Apparently, the President liked to choose his wife’s outfits and took great pride in her reputation as a fashion icon.

Another lovely place we visited was the artists’ colony in Cornish, New Hampshire, founded by sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848-1907). He started out as a cameo-carver’s apprentice, and created such famous works as the “Standing Lincoln” and the Shaw Memorial. You may be familiar with the latter from the 1989 Civil War movie Glory.

Home of Augustus Saint-Gaudens in Cornish, NH.

Home of Augustus Saint-Gaudens in Cornish, NH.

View from porch of Saint-Gaudens' home.

View from porch of Saint-Gaudens’ home.

Bas relief sculpture entitled Amor Caritas.

Bas relief sculpture entitled Amor Caritas.

Shaw Memorial

Shaw Memorial

Detail, Shaw Memorial

Detail, Shaw Memorial

We were sorry to leave such good company in such a lovely place, but after four days it was time to begin the second leg of our journey—in Spain.