Monday, June 10, 2019

Home! FL > PNW Cross-Country Roundup

Hood River Bridge, from the Oregon side.  Built in 1924, it is the 2nd oldest Oregon>Washington bridge
across the Columbia River, preceded by the Interstate Bridge in 1917.
We were coming down the home stretch, just a few hours drive from our boat in Portland Oregon. We were both excited and anxious. We were almost home! Was our boat still afloat? What would need to be done to it after it sat idle for eight month? Boats do not like sitting idle!
Nancy and Doug Yoes. Us Hewlett-Packard alums stick together.
First, though, we enjoyed the spending the night and morning with longtime friends Nancy and Doug Yoes. We've kept up through the years, even though it's been a long time since we worked together at Hewlett Packard (aka HP). 

While I chose to leave HP (with a generous voluntary severance package after surviving massive downsizing and more still expected), what I miss most about HP is the awesome folks I worked with. More than anyplace else I worked, I loved working and playing with with my colleagues there. I feel humbled and grateful so many of us continue to keep in touch.

Wayne, good naturedly put up with Doug, Nancy and me reminiscing about "the good ole days at HP." I literally laughed so hard I wet my pants with the group Doug and I used to work in - they were that funny! Who expects your colleagues to run a tortilla through a company printer at a trade show? Or mime the company CEO in the midst of a company profit-sharing announcement with a puppet fashioned from his image torn from an annual report? The list goes on, but probably isn't nearly as funny as it was to those of us who were there. We also did some amazing work along the way, I'm still proud to be part of.
Grass is greener in the Yoes Irrigon Oregon backyard, overlooking the Columbia River.
Doug and Nancy's place offered a great view of the mighty Columbia River.  I-84 mostly parallels the Columbia. I'd never been further East on it than Arlington. Back then, it was on a futile effort to chase the wind to windsurf from Hood River, on a blistering hot day. I never stopped to look around.
Abandoned shacks near the Hood River Oregon bridge.
Despite living in the small town of Hood River* for three years, I'm embarrassed to admit, I don't recall these abandoned weathered shacks alongside the river. Granted, I moved away from Hood River about 20 years ago. Someday, though, I need to find out more about those shacks. It looks like they have a story to tell.

*My only experience living in a small town, unless you count my brief stint with Youth Conservation Corps 13 miles outside of the town of Happy Camp, California.
The recently rebuilt Sellwood Bridge, Portland Oregon. View from where our boat sat for the last 8 months.
Then, finally, after 3,600 or so miles, we arrived, back where we started from when we left last September. 

For this post, I will simply say it was with great relief, our boat was still there, docked, afloat at Portland Rowing Club's marina. More in a future post on what we found.
A rare meal out for us, at Thailahnna in Sellwood, Portland Oregon.
Even though we returned to our favorite PNW grocery stores to set up our galley again, it was time to celebrate.  Besides, we returned to cold, rainy weather. Maybe I'm spoiled, but I felt like I needed a break. I wanted to eat something different, let someone else to steam up their kitchen and give me a break from doing the clean-up afterward, too.

We don't eat out often, so we especially appreciate it when we do and the meal is a good one. At Thailahnna the food looked as good as it tasted, and with leftovers, we got two meals out of it.
Roses blooming, Sellwood neighborhood, Portland Oregon. Portland's nickname is the City of Roses.
Cross-country Tips & Take-aways
What did we learn over 3,600 or so miles, crossing from the Southeast to the Northwest? Our second go at this in less than a year, in reverse.

  1. Thriving small towns appear to be vanishing across America. We feel a deep sense of loss about that, especially for those small towns able to survive with independent businesses, rather than the all too ubiquitous Dollar General. And why the heck don't navigation systems give you an option to go through rather than avoid Main Streets? Fastest isn't always best.
  2. Even taking the byways, unless we slowed down, we usually thought there was no wildlife. For example, zipping through Louisiana's low country.... We stopped, briefly. In what formerly looked like barren wetlands, we could could see birdlife thriving
  3. Our long term travel goal is to spend less time crossing broad expanses quickly, and more time in smaller areas, getting a better sense of what life there is like. We knew that taking the byways is better for us than the interstates, but that we we barely skimmed the surface of this vast land called the United States.
  4. Call it global warming or just plain weird weather. Despite hit a big patch of unseasonably cold weather which we weren't quite prepared for, we feel incredibly lucky. We just barely missed tornadoes and flooding - some truly catastrophic weather.
  5. We skipped our planned exploration of the Southwest  -- Grand Canyon, Arches, Canyonlands and Gunnison of the Black Canyon -- because of weird weather. We'd also rather come back and explore it more deeply on a dedicated trip, than too quickly, passing through. We'll return with our hiking and camping gear and not a car-load full of our most valuable possessions that would be left behind while we're hiking, camping or backpacking.
  6. We were generally happier with meals we brought with us or bought and could put together easily from the grocery store than eating out. It was faster, easier on our pocketbook and generally better for us (gummy bears and other indulgences aside). At least with grocery nutritional labeling we knew what we were getting. Our motel rooms nearly always had at least a fridge and a microwave.
  7. Google maps rocks for getting the best prices for last minute lodging passing through. It works best when you dig down to contact the hotel directly.  Plan far enough to head if you're traveling empty stretches between towns to use it when you have wifi. Yes, we learned that the hard way (on prior travels).
  8. It's stunning how much stuff fits in a Prius, and how much faster speeds, hills and air conditioning impacts mileage. While the Prius is relatively comfortable, if we didn't want to feel crotchety, we needed to stop at least every two hours to get out and stretch. In lots of ways, my Prius is an awesome trip car. Still... If we move cross-country again, would it make more sense to fly? Tallying up our road trip costs will make for an interesting comparison. Flights and a mover and what to do with our car in exchange for taking a dedicated vacation in a smaller area. TBD. 
  9. We're grateful this trip gave us an excuse to catch up with friends and family. Thank you Jule, Mark and Patty, Holly, Doug and Nancy. We appreciated talking to someone besides each other. 
  10. While we missed out on a golden opportunity to listen to stories and podcasts on our dive, it was a good time to enjoy the silence and take more notice of our surroundings. Most of what we saw, we will probably never see again. Passing though Irma's wake is a stark reminder as well you never know when a landscape can change forever.
Location Location
This is the last post of our cross-country trip. We arrived in Portland three weeks ago, in the middle of Memorial weekend, before the Rose Festival.  

At some point, I will tally up our miles and expenses and update this post for those curious on how to make the trip on a relatively tight budget. Also, we will review that data as we make our future decisions on what does and doesn't pencil out.

We are currently tied off on a public dock on Sauvie's Island Oregon on the Gilbert River off the Multnomah Channel, N45 47.505 W122 47.978.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Shoshone Falls, Chicken Panhandler & the Old West - Idaho > Eastern Oregon: Cross-Country Day 13

Shoshone Falls, Idaho.
Shoshone Falls, Idaho
Shoshone Falls is taller than Niagara Falls (212 feet tall vs. 167 feet), and without the commercialism -- though once upon a time there were some efforts to commercialize it. Based on the photos we saw of it at an Idaho welcome center rest stop, we decided it was worth a 45-minute detour off I-84. Shoshone was formed as part of the great flood 14,000-17,000 years ago, in the pleistocene era.
What Shoshone Falls looked like in 1874 before they were dammed. Photo by  Timothy H. O'Sullivan,
A shadow of its former grandeur, Shoshone was dammed in 1905 to irrigate an area now known as the Magic Valley. We lucked out and saw Shoshone at a near peak flow. In 2013 it ran almost completely dry over the summer. At its peak,the falls pump out up to 20,000 cubic feet of water per second, but has dropped as low as 300 feet per second.
Hanson Bridge overlook of Snake River Canyon near Shoshone Falls, Idaho
Snake River Canyon 
Evel Knievel busted his nose, a small price to pay after narrowly surviving drowning when his rocket-powered motorcycle didn't quite make it across the Snake River Canyon in 1974. The same wind that prevented his crossing completion just barely lifted him to safety via parachute.  A little less than three years ago, in 2016, stuntman Eddie Braun was the first and so far only person to successfully cross above Snake River Canyon without going over the bridge.

Snake River Canyon is 50 miles long, and as wide as a quarter mile. The ice-age formed Snake River runs for nearly 1,100 miles. It starts in Yellowstone, and "ends" where it dumps into the Columbia River.
Eccentric veteran panhandler at Easter Oregon rest stop.
Oregon Rest Stop
As we crossed the Oregon border, we were welcomed by a "Got Weed" billboard, as recreational marijuana, aka pot, is legal in Oregon.  

The I-84 speed limit dropped from 80 mph to a more leisurely 70 mph. We wound our way through the rolling hills dotted with sagebrush and accented with bright yellow carpets of wild mustard.

I appreciated the ingenuity of a panhandler we met at the rest stop, with his camper and his chicken. Another admirer recalled him from prior years. and noted he had a different chicken then.
Henry the chicken.
This friendly chicken, according to his owner, was named Henry. Henry, unlike his "mean" predecessor Ernie, "Didn't have a mean bone in his body." I never did think to ask the name of Henry's owner, but did feel obliged to make a donation for the pleasure of taking photos of him and Henry.
We stopped in Baker City  Oregon for gas at a spendy $3.25/gallon, but this sign lured us in for a spin through town.
Antlers "Absolutely Modern" Hotel in Baker City descriptor amused me.
Baker City steer Main street sculpture.
Baker City Geiser Grand Hotel, built in 1889.
Baker City Oregon
Platted in 1865, to support gold mining and the railroads, it took Baker City nine years to be considered a city. In its heyday, it became the biggest city between Salt Lake City Utah and Portland Oregon.

With about half of Baker City's of the 130 buildings in Baker's historic downtown built between the mid 1800s and 1915, Baker is on the National Register of Historic Places. 

Clint Eastwood was among the stars who roamed Baker City for the filming of "Paint Your Wagona musical comedy Western released in 1969. I credit Lee Marvin's crooning for making it a comedy, which featured a feminist spin on the Mormon approach, with the leading lady claiming two husbands.

Baker City's current population is roughly 10,000.
Pendleton sidewalk sign. What could be more appropriate for this rodeo town?
Beautiful detail on the sign's saddle.

Pendleton cafe, its architecture consistent with the other downtown businesses.
Pendleton Oregon
Still hankering for more of Eastern Oregon's tiny Old West towns, we stopped in Pendleton, another Oregon town on the Historic Register. 

The town got its start around the same era as Baker City, when William McKay planted his trading post there in 1851. The Oregon Legislature got around to incorporating it in 1880.

The town's probably best known for it annual rodeo the Pendleton Roundup. The rodeo's run for over 100 years, and always starting the second week of September.

We rolled through early afternoon on a Friday on the eve of Memorial weekend. The town was quiet. We wondered what percent of Pendleton's business relied on the Roundup. There is of course also Pendleton Woollen Mills, still going strong. 
Pendleton's Lot Livermore House
Pendleton's LL Rogers House.
Pendleton Arts Center, perched alongside Umatilla River.
Pendleton Methodist Church
We weren't quite as charmed with the business architecture in Pendleton as we were with Baker City's. There were some gorgeous homes, many with placards spelling out their historical origins. 
Peonies in Pendleton. Rare to see them in yellow.
Violas, making their way as volunteers on a home's retaining wall.
Despite the chill and gloom, gardens brightened the afternoon. I especially loved the violas, also known as Johnny jump-ups, making their way through an otherwise barren retaining wall.

Alas, while Pendleton deserves much more than our brief stop and this slight mention in my post, we didn't stay long. We were looking forward to connecting with friends in nearby Irrigon, who were graciously hosting us for the night.

More on that in my final post on our cross-country road trip. Then it's on to what happens to a boat left idle eight months and what we're up to now. And I need to make more headway writing my book!

Location Location
We visited Shoshone, Baker and Pendleton May 24, 2019. We are currently on our boat, Serendipity, docked at St. Helens, Oregon.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

New Friends, Old Friends, Utah to Idaho: Day 12 Cross Country

Dramatic spire points a finger skyward from the rocky buttes and rolling hills outside Price Utah.
A moment can make all the difference between an indifferent transaction and a personal connection. Diane, who runs Price Utah's Legacy Inn with her Mom, gave an honest answer when we asked where to eat. We were looking for cheap, fast and not too greasy.

"Go to the market across the way. They have a decent deli counter," she advised. We did and were quite satisfied. We didn't get off as cheap as we'd have liked, but that's what happens when you shop hungry. We left with a decent dinner of salads, chicken and lots of easy-to-eat road food that would constitute sever
al meals for us.

The next morning, I was the first person there to gather our breakfast, and was able to ask about the two gowns displayed in the hotel lobby / breakfast area I'd noticed checking in the night before. They were colorful, a swirl of vibrant red and black and white, trimmed with lace and paired with bold necklaces. I asked if they were Polish, a part of my ancestry I had little exposure to. Diane had fond memories of her Mom, Sophia, wearing them to celebrations when they lived in Chicago. I wished I had more time to get a better sense of what that was like and what brought them to Price. We exchanged emails, so perhaps I can learn more.

Sophia gave me a warm hug when I turned in our keys for checkout.
One last snowy pass on shortcut highway 6, before we dropped into the Salt Lake City area.
That warm hug was much appreciated as paid $3.19/gallon for gas in town, then headed into our final high snowy pass. Our goal was to touch the fringe of the Salt Lake City area around lunchtime. 

Again we wondered about the demise of so many small frontier towns. Some were hanging in there, like historic Helper, Utah. When I first saw the billboard for "Historic Helper" I was thinking it was some new phone application to help me learn more about the history of small towns, which would be really cool. 

Nope. Turns out Helper is a former rail town, which later became a coal mining town, a veritable hotbed of ethnic diversity in its heyday, as is often the case where much cheap labor is required.

Again, we wondered, what made places like Spring Glen and Salt Lake City a mecca for the then far more exclusive Mormons? It's a mystery for folks like us, speeding through.

Approaching Salt Lake City, it was kind of depressing after so many far flung small towns, to enter the ugliness of sudden suburbia with its big squares and rectangles of homes and strip malls, seemingly fighting each other for limited space.

Fortunately, in Salt Lake City, we were connecting with a friend, Holly Stokes, who relocated back to the Salt Lake area, where most of her family lives, from Vancouver Washington. 

it was good see Holly happy, and healthy, her wellness business re-establishing itself quickly there. She was tickled that she could easily take a half day off work to get in skiing and scarcely had to leave her neighborhood to do it.
This wind farm sprouted as we descended down and passed through a tunnel.
It was good to see some clean energy taking hold in the heart of this coal country.
Thanks to the gracious hosting of another friend. this would be our last night in a hotel room. The Boise Idaho area was a good place to stop and not pop in on our friends in Irrigon Oregon too early the next day. 

We still kept close to our $100 maximum for a room, but by trading off a stroll in downtown Boise, we got a pretty cush room at Candlewood Suites in Meridian, Idaho. A few seconds essence of eau du cow outside was a reasonable trade for a super comfortable king-sized bed in a nonsmoking room with real plates and silverware, a full-sized fridge/freezer, microwave and a dishwasher.... We didn't take the time to use the gym or hot tub or check out the board games, but we didn't rush out the door in the morning either.  It was a good splurge. The room was just too nice not to appreciate it. I spent a month at a Residence Inn when I first started working for Hewlett-Packard. Candlewood Suites was definitely giving Residence Inn a run for the money.
Utah's portion of the Rocky Mountains (as seen from our car window, underway).
Still, we had one more day of driving and one more night on the road, and a few hours drive the next day before finding out what awaited us on our boat moored in the Sellwood neighborhood of Portland Oregon.

Location Location
We're docked at St. Helens Oregon at the moment, though still playing catch up on one or two more posts of our road trip from Florida to the Portland area. Keep following it to learn about what it's like to return to a boat after leaving it for eight months.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Bee in my Bonnet?

My feet, yesterday afternoon, a few hours after a bee sting. Note the difference between my right, and left, stung foot.
I was cranky this morning. I am not usually cranky, and especially not usually in the morning. I am one of those disgusting morning people.Wayne is not.

"What's that saying about a bee and a bonnet?" Wayne asked. "A bee in your bonnet," I replied. Actually it means fixated, rather than cranky, though in my case it's fair to say since being stung by a bee yesterday, the two go together. 

This morning, more swelling. It just looks like I gained 50 pounds on the left half of my body.
In case you're wondering, in this case, a bonnet is a hat, usually an old fashioned women's hat, as the saying originated in 1700s.

We were about to pull off St. Helens city dock, when I stepped on a bee on our boat deck I didn't know was there. I realized it in a hurry, as it stung me on the inside of my "ring finger" toe of my left foot. It hurt! Worse, I tend to get bad swelling from bee and wasp stings. The worst was when I got stung on the underside of my wrist by a wasp in St. Marteen. Then, I didn't have access to any antihistamines (ex. Benadryl) for several days as it was a Sunday when pharmacies were closed and we were setting sail for a more remote area.  I was swollen and uncomfortable for days, exacerbated by the tropical heat.
Normally what I'd wear to avoid splinters, dirt or bees. My flip-flops have been with me since New Zealand.
"Must've been that blue brush you bought," Wayne teased, remembering the bee trying to pollinate our deck brush in New Zealand. I recently bought us a new deck brush, again, blue. And Wayne warned me when I bought it.

While I didn't see any bees on our deck brush, after I got stung I notice we were getting swarmed. Not sure why. As we headed down the river, one by one, they abandoned ship. Normally, I'd be on deck, cleaning up dock lines and fenders while Wayne drove. 

Instead, I made sure to take quicker anti-allergy action than I did in St. Marteen. I took Benadryl and rubbed it on as a topical, too. And after doing some more research (hooray for Google on a phone connection while underway), I popped an aspirin, got Wayne to find and pull the stinger, and wash the area in soap and water. A wet paper towel on this cool, breezy day served as my cool compress. I got off my feet, elevated the stung one, and took it easy. Wayne did more than his fair share of boat and domestic work.

I did find out my type of extreme swelling is not unusual, regardless of treatment. It is not, however, as I was warned before, a life threatening issue unless confusion, accelerated heartbeat or breathing trouble ensue. Then it's time to pull out and epi pen and get more serious help if needed. 

Still, it's annoying. I can only hope the swelling doesn't get much worse and that the itching subsides sooner rather than later. Swelling increases are normal up to 48 hours after a sting, and can take as long as 10 days to go away.
Serendipity's bow, overlooking Sauvie's Island, where we're currently at anchor. Sauvies is in the Portland Oregon area.
Location Location
We are currently at anchor off Sauvie's Island (N45.47.410 W122.47.179), where I'm being rather uncharacteristically lazy.  I still have a couple more cross-country posts to catch up on, and will, as well what happens when you come back to a boat you've left for eight months.

As well as enjoying summer in the Pacific Northwest, my goal is to refresh my marketing skills by completing an Online Marketing Certificated Professional (OMCP), start, finish and self-publish my first book, and figure out what to do for a living, where, once summer's over.

Bee stings aside, life is good.