Monday, May 22, 2017

Pacific City, Oregon

Landing again in Pacific City, Oregon several days ago for a two-day stay was a return to a place from which we have a number of fond memories with family and friends on past visits: walking the amazing beach; the view of surfers against the background of Haystack Rock; clamming (we watched several years ago in amazement as a friend found and dug the clams, we cooked them, then all joined in the eating); an home-made sushi feast a few years back; a "welcome here" salmon dinner just a few months ago prepared on the fly by son John; sharing beer and conversation at a local bar, and coffee and breakfast in a local eatery after a storm took out the electricity in most of the surrounding area.

Things are changing here, new buildings going up, new businesses sprouting; while it's good to see a small town be healthy and vibrant, I worry that the type of building and new businesses coming to Pacific City will make it forever lose its small beach town charm and personality.  In reviewing the photos I took while visiting here, I realized I stayed clear of documenting any of the incipient growth taking place around me; I turned my back to it all and just took photos of the places that made this town dear to my heart.


This trip we had the opportunity to experience a totally different aspect of this region - its rivers.  Our son took us on a brief rafting trip on the Wilson River, which we had seen briefly in passing by short sections of it on the road to Pacific City.  Experiencing it from the water, rather than the road, was amazing! I LOVE, love, love the forests of this area: the huge old trees hung heavily with mosses of various types, the underbrush heavy with ferns, the numerous small streams and waterfalls emptying into the river, bubbling over mossy rock beds. I cannot help but expect fairies and gnomes to appear at the riverside as we glide by.  But those fairytale figures eluded us, instead we passed a few fishermen who were experiencing a beautiful, sunny day with no fish to speak of.
Starting the launch down a steep bank

And....the raft is in the water!

I could live here..... 
Little streams rushing into the river...
Moss-covered rocks, small and (in this case) beautiful!

HUGE, moss-covered, wind-formed old tree - SO beautiful (the photo does not do it justice).
Hard to see in the photo, but this tree spans the area where the water has washed away the sand between roots so that the tree is in effect sending down roots on each side of the rushing water; the tree bark is covered with mosses and ferns.
THANK YOU JOHN H. GREENFIELD for being our host, our guide and wonderful son!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Westward Ho!

We're on a westward trip this spring, and have seen such incredible natural scenery between Michigan and Idaho so far.  I will share some photos of those views below. While it is frustrating to find State and National park campgrounds full or nearly at capacity this early in the season it is also encouraging to see how many people visit these parks, stay at their campgrounds, and appreciate these natural resources. It is clearly confirmation that these nature reserves are used, revered, and valued.  These are always our "destination campgrounds" - the places we choose to call home for several days to two weeks when we travel, but they are also beautiful places to stop overnight as we have done on most of this trip.

My heartfelt hope is that the governmental agencies that oversee the managment of these resources and the elected officials who designate funding for these sacred places continue to recognize their irreplaceable value and fight for the funding and manpower needed to maintain them as the national treasures that they are.

First night of travel we spent at Cherry Glen Corps of Engineers campground in Iowa (detailed in previous blog entry.  The second night we had pushed through a long day of driving and just wanted to get off the highway, so stayed at a private campground, named - aptly enough - I-80 Lakeside Campground; while there were traffic noises from the nearby highway, overall it was a nice-enough little campground for on overnight stay.

Our third night on the road was spent at a Wyoming State Park, where the sky was magnificent and the park beautifully maintained; we could have easily remained here for a number of days just to relax and enjoy the scenery, but on this trip we are more destination-bound than most trips, so just one glorious evening it was.

On day four of our drive we entered Grand Teton National Park and were so blown away by the beauty that we decided to spend two nights and the day in between just savoring the scenery.  When we started our drive that day, the temperature was in the high 50's in the morning, by the time we had wound our way up into the still snow-covered mountains it had dropped to 37, then climbed again to high 40s and low 50's by the time we reached the Colter Village RV Campground in the valley of the park.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Cherry Glen Corps of Engineers Campground, IA

On the road again for our first extended trip in months!  We've lucked out with a beautiful first day of travel yesterday, starting at home (Richland, MI) and ending our day at Cherry Glen, a beautiful US Army Corps of Engineers campground on Saylorville Lake in Johnston, IA, located a bit north of Des Moines, IA.  As has been the case with most Corps of Engineers campgrounds we have visited in the past, this one is beautifully maintained and set up in a way to provide visual privacy and reasonable space between sites in a lovely, heavily treed park.  With our National Parks Senior Pass (cost of $10 once for a lifetime card), we pay half-price at all National Park campgrounds.  Last night's camping cost was $10 compared with $40-$50 for a private campground which would have much less privacy but include amenities such as pools and rec. rooms which we do not use. These National Parks are a bargain indeed, even when we only stay for the night when passing through the area while heading to our ultimate destination.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

2016 East Coast - King Arthur Flour Baking Class

One of my yet-to-be achieved goals for retirement was to learn to bake really good homemade bread. Despite collecting and reading lots of books on baking breads, and my valiant tho' somewhat sporadic efforts at baking various types of bread, I seem to always come up short. When we were first planning this trip to the east coast, I looked into visiting the King Arthur Flour facility in Norwich, VT.  I guess I was hoping some baking magic would rub off on me just being in the vicinity.  But once I discovered that there was an opening in a 4-day rustic bread baking class that coincided with the end of our trip, that became a "must-do".  The class was all I could have hoped for and more!  Outstanding instructors, a magnificent facility,  a group of highly compatible classmates (14 of us in total, a mixture of folks from east, west, and midwest), and LOTS of hands-on practice.  Now to practice, practice, practice once we get home!

Friday, October 7, 2016

2016 East Coast - Shelburne Museum, Vermont

We spent two days closing out September by wandering through Shelburne Museum, a museum of art, design, and Americana in Shelburne, Vermont. This unusual museum has a three-star rating in the Michelin Green Guide - the highest possible rating. The founder of the museum described it as "a collection of collections", which is a very concise description of this museum. Lest you think we are a bit slow for spending two days in a museum, be aware that this one covers 45 acres and 38 buildings, many of which are historic buildings, purchased and moved to this location by the founder, Electra Havemeyer Webb, specifically for the purpose of displaying the family's many collections, each one more extensive and amazing then the next.  The link I've provided in the preceding sentence gives more information on the collections as well as on the buildings that comprise this museum. Here are some photos from those two days to hopefully whet your appetite to visit Shelburne Museum:

This was one of the most intriguing exhibits of art quilts by one artist that I have EVER seen!

Same quilt as one immediately above, but this time with backlighting.

The museum has a whole room full of amazing  miniatures executed by a friend of the museum founder 
View from the Blacksmith Shop, looking out 

Thursday, September 29, 2016

2016 - East Coast - New Hampshire

More lovely stone walls, more charming New England towns, now nestled in valleys or perched on hillsides, more church steeples piercing the sky, the mountains blue in the distance, trees beginning to display their autumn coats, rivers and streams running clear over slate and granite.  BEAUTIFUL!

We have been fortunate to have spent our stay in NH at a campground situated between Littleton and Lisbon, where we have had a remarkable campsite right on the Ammonoosuc River, a tributary of the Connecticut River. Every morning we've watched mist rising over this fast-flowing, shallow river until it was burned off by the sun, and one morning watched a fly-fisherman at play in front of our campsite. 

The city of Littleton flies in the face of the current negativism as reflected in the daily news by focusing on happiness - seriously focusing on happiness through things that universally bring us joy.  There are painted pianos in little kiosks scattered every few blocks on the main street inviting people to play, some stores have painted guitars on stands outside their doors encouraging passersby to play a few chords, and an installation of various xylophones on the bank of the river running through town, with a sign saying they are for those with all levels of musical skill, or lack of it. One day we visited a quilt show sponsored by a local quilt guild. The quilts were lovingly displayed in the Opera House, a beautifully restored town hall.  That same day - a Sunday - the town was hosting a farmers market by the river and an arts and crafts show all up and down the main street.  

We came to this city, this campground, so that we would have TV and/or Wi-Fi signal for Monday's Presidential Debate, and stayed because of it's charm and the perfect location from which to explore the White Mountains on driving tours and walking tours. 

One day we visited The Frost Place in Franconia, NH. This museum is the charming old farmhouse perched on a hillside where Frost farmed and wrote for four years, and where he returned for summers for years afterward. The Frost House now sponsors one poet a year to live on the property and concentrate on their art during the months of July and August. There is a lovely nature trail with scattered placards that display poems that Frost wrote during his time in Franconia. This was a relaxing way to spend part of a day in this area.