Victoria, BC

A 70th birthday present from my son and daughter: a long weekend in Victoria with just the three of us. The trip started with a two and a half hour ride on the Victoria Clipper from downtown Seattle to Victoria’s Inner Harbor. What a comfortable way to travel!

12651221_10207101280742805_3772451732173176390_n.jpg

George and John

No need to fasten seatbelts

Jennifer

Lots of room to move around the cabin

Lots of time for a friendly card game

Time enough for a friendly card game

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jennifer reserved this town house through AirB&B.

20160131-IMG_0338.jpg

Our first day in Victoria mainly involved checking out various food options.

Chinatown for dim sum

Chinatown for dim sum

Beer and poutine at the Beagle Pub

Beer and poutine at the Beagle Pub

The owners here obviously didn't hold the Maple Leafs in high regard

Different pub but the owners here obviously didn’t hold the Maple Leafs in high regard

The Victoria Public Market is a good place to forage for dinner stuff

The Victoria Public Market is a good place to forage for dinner stuff

Not to overdo the gastronomy thing, but…..

Breakfast at John's Place

Breakfast at John’s Place

Daughter and father

Jen and me

The son

George

We spent the morning at Fort Rodd Hill, one of Canada’s Historic Sites west of Victoria.

This was one of Canada's coastal artillery defense positions from 1878 until 1956

This was one of Canada’s coastal artillery defense positions from 1878 until 1956

20160130-IMG_0205.jpg

20160130-IMG_0199.jpg

These people hadn't heard that their post had been decommissioned

These people hadn’t heard that their post had been decommissioned

20160130-IMG_0210.jpg

7,662 km to London

20160130-IMG_0234.jpg

Sentry Geese

20160130-IMG_0223.jpg

The Fisgard Lighthouse was built in 1860 and was the first lighthouse on Canada’s rugged west coast

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next stop was the Hatley Castle and Gardens, now on the campus of Royal Roads University.

The castle commissioned by one of Canada's coal barons and was completed in 1908

The castle commissioned by one of Canada’s coal barons and was completed in 1908

Even in winter, the gardens are a nice place to visit.

Signs of spring

Signs of spring

20160130-IMG_6965.jpg

Snowdrops

This wisteria was probably planted in 1908

This wisteria was probably planted in 1908

Peacock

Peacock

Papparazzi and Peacock

Papparazzi and Peacocks

Landscape with George

Landscape with George

Landscape with Jennifer

Landscape with Jennifer

Last stop of the day was at French Beach Provincial Park.

Looking out at the Strait of Juan de Fuca

Looking out at the Strait of Juan de Fuca

20160130-IMG_0281.jpg

Our town house was only a couple of blocks from Beacon Hill Park, a 200 acre park in the heart of Victoria, so the next morning we headed over to check it out.

20160131-IMG_0296.jpg

Interesting statuary

The Moss Lady

Lots of ducks

Lots of ducks

20160131-IMG_0293.jpg

More ducks

Yet more ducks

Yet more ducks

Yet even more ducks

20160131-IMG_6974.jpg

A Giant Sequoia

20160131-IMG_6971.jpg

Peacocks roosting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Canadians are so polite

Canadians are so polite

A classic

A classic parked on the street

Sunday afternoon we drove up the Route of the Totems to Duncan, home to 39 totem poles located throughout downtown.

A sun break along the way

A sun break along the way

A photo of a trash can on another trash can along the highway

A photo of a trash can on another trash can on the highway

Starting along the Totem Trail in Duncan

Starting along the Totem Trail in Duncan

20160131-IMG_0588.jpg

20160131-IMG_0340

20160131-IMG_0349.jpg

20160131-IMG_0354.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

20160131-IMG_0576.jpg

20160131-IMG_0370.jpg

20160131-IMG_0372.jpg

20160131-IMG_0887.jpg20160131-IMG_0376.jpg

20160131-IMG_0361.jpg

But if you thought Duncan was a cool place because of all those totem poles, just wait…

Duncan is also home of the world's largest hockey stick!

Duncan is also home of the world’s largest hockey stick

Monday, our last day. The Clipper doesn’t leave for Seattle until 5:00 PM so we had time for one more educational activity.

The Victoria Bug Zoo!

The Victoria Bug Zoo

20160201-IMG_0658.jpg

20160201-IMG_7011.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

20160201-IMG_0690.jpg

20160201-IMG_0671.jpg20160201-IMG_7026.jpg

20160201-IMG_0420.jpg

20160201-IMG_7021.jpg

20160201-IMG_7017.jpg

20160201-IMG_0700.jpg

20160201-IMG_0703.jpg

20160201-IMG_0709.jpg

Who knew that scorpions floresce under UV light?

 

On our way to the pier, we passed the Parliament Building.

The BC Parliament Building

The BC Parliament Building

And just as we were getting on the Clipper, this happened…

Giant bugs escaped from the Bug Zoo

Giant bugs escaped from the Bug Zoo

Whew, barely made it on board with our lives!

Thanks, Victoria, for a great weekend

Thanks, Victoria, for a great weekend

 

Thanks, Jennifer and George, for a great 70th birthday present!

 

 

 

Guayabitos 2016

We enjoyed it so much last year, we decided to do a repeat. This time we invited friends, Patti and Jeff, who were both in need of a relaxing getaway, to come along. After a nonstop flight from Seattle, Guayabitos is about an hours drive north of Puerto Vallarta.

Patti and Jeff at SEA with the official pre-departure beverage

Patti and Jeff at SEA with the official pre-departure beverage

Most of these photos could have come from last year’s collection but that’s what I like about the place: elegant yet affordable simplicity that doesn’t change much from year to year. Charlie and Mona are amazing hosts.

Casa de Ensueños (House of Dreams) from the beach

Casa de Ensueños (House of Dreams) from the beach

The beach from the living room

The beach from the living room

View from our veranda

View from our veranda

However, this year there was one significant change.

Cooper

Cooper

New best friends

New best friends

Breakfast, which is different each day, is included in the price of your room.

One day Charlie bought homemade tortillas from a lady that sells them in front of the church

One day Charlie bought homemade tamales from a lady that sells them in front of the church

I do believe that these are the best tortillas I have ever had!

I do believe that these are the best tamales I have ever had!

Also included in the price of your room is happy hour on the veranda at 5:00 PM each day.

Margaritas and conversation

Margaritas and conversation

The beach is a great place for a walk before breakfast.

20160118-IMG_0088.jpg

20160118-IMG_0052.jpg 20160122-IMG_0137.jpg

20160122-IMG_0148.jpg20160118-IMG_0055.jpg20160118-IMG_0059.jpg20160118-IMG_0074.jpg

Hey, look guys, breakfast!

Hey, look guys, breakfast!

A fisherman's early morning catch

A fisherman’s early morning catch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of our favorite places for lunch was Karla’s, just a short stroll down the beach.

Ahhh. cold beers with feet in the sand

Ahhh. cold beers and warm sand

Lorette

Lorette

Jeff

Jeff

John

John

Lunch

Lunch

After a discussion on the relative merits of tequila one day, Charlie conducted a blind test to determine if there was a perceptible taste difference based on cost.

Almost everyone could pick out the moonshine tequila (in the jug on the left). Otherwise no correlation between cost and perceived quality.

Almost everyone could pick out the moonshine tequila (in the jug on the left). Otherwise no correlation between cost and perceived quality.

And one more thing included in your stay: games.

Mexican Train in Mexico

Mexican Train in Mexico

Cooper thinks that Guayabitos is a pretty cool place to spend the winter.

Charlie and Cooper

Charlie and Cooper

Cooper, the water dog

Cooper, the water dog

Toward the end of our stay, there was a regional volleyball tournament just down the beach.

Jeff

Jeff

one way to work up a thirst for una mas cerveza

One way to work up a thirst for una mas cerveza

We missed the full moon by just a few days but the ‘almost full’ version was still pretty spectacular.

The reflection of moonlight on water: moon river, moon wake or moon glade?

The reflection of moonlight on water: moon river, moon wake or moon glade?

When the moon got really close to the horizon, the atmosphere caused it to glow red

When the moon got really close to the horizon, the atmosphere caused it to glow red

Well, that’s it for another year….

View from the living room at dusk

View from the living room at dusk

Sunset over Jaltemba Bay

Sunset over Jaltemba Bay

Cuenca, Ecuador

After our seven day cruise around the Galapagos Islands, we flew to Guayaquil where we were met by our guide, Javier, for the drive from sea level, over a 13,500 foot pass in the Andes, to Cuenca, elevation 8,315 feet.

Sunset above the clouds in the Andes

Sunset above the clouds in the Andes

Home for this last leg of our Ecuador adventure was the Hotel Santa Lucea. Many boutique hotels in Ecuador occupy former houses from the colonial era which were built around large interior courtyards.

Street view

Street view

Interior courtyard with the hotel restaurant

Interior courtyard with the hotel restaurant

One of the sitting rooms

One of the sitting rooms

Cuenca is Ecuador’s third largest city with a population of 330,000, making it far smaller than Quito or Guayaquil. UNESCO declared the center a World Heritage site in 1996. Here are some photos

View of the city from the hill of Turi

View of the city from the hill of Turi

School kids on a tour

School kids on a tour

A view of the New Cathedral

A view of the New Cathedral with domes of sky-blue Czech tile

Panama hat are actually made in Ecuador. Homero Ortega is one of the best

Panama hats are actually made in Ecuador. Each one is woven by hand. Homero Ortega has a nice museum and factory tour.

They all start out looking like this

They all start out looking like this

Javier with some examples of the finished product

Javier with some examples of the finished product

The Parque Calderón with the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception (also known as the New Cathedral) on one side

The Parque Calderón with the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception (also known as the New Cathedral) on one side

Construction began in 1885 to replace the Old Cathedral on the other side of the park

Construction began in 1885 to replace the Old Cathedral on the other side of the park

The Old Cathedral was started in 1557, the year Cuenca was founded. Now deconsecrated, it is a religious museum and concert venue

The Old Cathedral was started in 1557, the year Cuenca was founded. Now deconsecrated, it is a religious museum and concert venue

Happened to catch a parade honoring one of the church's black saints

Happened to catch a procession honoring one of the church’s black saints

Ecuador's climate is ideal for growing flowers year round

Ecuador’s climate is ideal for growing flowers year round

Most of the indigenous women we saw wore hats.

20151110-_MG_6972.jpg20151109-_MG_6905.jpg

I don’t think we ever had a bad meal in Ecuador.

Lunch at El Jardín. At the table next to us were two American couples who had recently moved to Cuenca

Lunch at El Jardín. At the table next to us were two American couples who had recently moved to Cuenca and made a pitch to us to do the same

20151109-IMG_6413.jpg

City Hall at night

City Hall at night

We spent one entire day with Javier exploring the countryside around Cuenca.

Hat, check; water, check; camera, check!

Hat, check; water, check; camera, check!

Ecuador's mountains and valleys make for some beautiful landscapes

Ecuador’s mountains and valleys make for some beautiful landscapes

San Bartolome is a little village known for its guitar makers

San Bartolome is a little village of guitar makers

All made by hand

All made by hand

20151110-_MG_6925.jpg

Chordeleg is a small town known for its jewelry making

Chordeleg is a small town known for its jewelry making

Lorette doing her best to support the local economy

Lorette doing her best to support the local economy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This market in Gualaceo had some interesting food options.

20151110-_MG_6958.jpg20151110-IMG_6440.jpg20151110-_MG_6966.jpg

Unfortunately (or fortunately), we skipped the market and had lunch at a nice country inn just outside of town.

20151110-IMG_6451.jpg

A couple more people photos.

20151110-_MG_6982.jpg20151110-_MG_6979.jpg

After lunch we had a fascinating tour of Ecuagenera, a company specializing in the propagation and growing of orchids which are shipped worldwide.

20151110-IMG_6455.jpg

One of the owners took time to walk us through the operation

One of the owners took time to walk us through the operation

20151110-IMG_6461.jpg 20151110-IMG_6473.jpg20151110-IMG_6472.jpg
20151110-IMG_6475.jpg 20151110-_MG_7014.jpg 20151110-_MG_7025.jpg

Next stop was La Casa de la Makana, an artisan weaving workshop.

20151110-IMG_6483.jpg 20151110-IMG_6484.jpg 20151110-IMG_6480.jpg 20151110-_MG_7045.jpg 20151110-IMG_6498.jpg

Lorette found her happy place

Lorette found her happy place

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back in town, we visited the Museum of the Central Bank Pumapungo which had excellent displays of Ecuador’s diverse indigenous cultures.

20151111-IMG_9966.jpg 20151111-IMG_9971.jpg

One of the more interesting exhibits was the eerie tzantzas (shrunken heads) from the Shuar culture of the southern Oriente!

20151111-IMG_6515.jpg 20151111-IMG_6516.jpg

We were wondering why the museum had Central Bank in it’s name until we came to a small exhibit in the basement. Because of extreme inflation, the Sucre was replaced with the US Dollar as Ecuador’s official currency in 2000. Therefore, no need for a central bank so the building became a museum.

When the conversion took place, the exchange rate was 25,000 Sucres to 1 US Dollar

When the conversion took place, the exchange rate was 25,000 Sucres to 1 US Dollar

Behind the museum are the Pumapungo ruins dating back to the 15th century Incas. When the Spanish arrived and started building modern day Cuenca in 1557, most of the Inca stones were removed to construct churches.

20151111-IMG_9990.jpg

Finally, here are some architectural photos taken from the top of the hop on/ hop off bus our last day in Cuenca.

20151112-_MG_7058.jpg
20151112-_MG_7064.jpg20151112-_MG_7074.jpg20151112-IMG_0009.jpg
20151112-IMG_0035.jpg
20151112-_MG_7062.jpg20151112-IMG_0012.jpg

I mentioned earlier that we didn’t have a bad meal in Ecuador and Cuenca was no exception. So to end this post and wrap up our Ecuador adventure, two photos of our last meal.

Decisions, decisions!

Decisions, decisions!

Great sushi!

Great sushi!

 

Galapagos Islands

After three nights in Quito we boarded a plane for the Galapagos Islands, about 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador. The archipelago consists of six larger and several smaller volcanic islands lying on or near the Equator. Home for the next seven days was the Silver Galapagos, an expedition ship of the Silversea Cruise Line.

Silver Galapagos

Silver Galapagos

Charles Darwin spent six weeks here in 1835 studying the wildlife and, as a result, wrote The Origin of Species which became the foundation of evolutionary biology. I dare say that the Silver Galapagos was a bit more upscale than Darwin’s HMS Beagle.

Every activity involved transport by Zodiac.

IMG_0245.jpg

Photo courtesy of Marlene who came all the way from Switzerland to take it

Landings were either ‘wet’ or ‘dry.’ our first adventure was a dry landing and a hike to the top of Bartolomé.

20151101-IMG_9384.jpg

The Galapagos Park Service has installed a boardwalk and stairs to reduce erosion.

388 stairs

388 stairs

Panoramic view from the top

Panoramic view from the top

Sometimes we just explored the coastline by Zodiac.

20151101-IMG_9426.jpg

I believe that this formation is called Bishop's Rock

I believe that this formation is called Bishop’s Rock

At a landing at Tagus Cove on Isabela Island, a Galapagos Hawk didn’t appear to be perturbed by these strange creatures invading his territory. The ‘graffiti’ in the background is from sailing ships that have used this cove for shelter since the 1800s (but is no longer allowed).

Galapagos Hawk

Galapagos Hawk

Some other critters we saw on the hike…

With a nice view back toward our ship.

Darwin Lake, a perfectly round saltwater lake

Darwin Lake in the forground, a perfectly round saltwater lake

A sea lion waiting for us at the end of our hike

A sea lion waiting for us at the end of our walk

Even though the cruise dates didn’t exactly coincide with my birthday, the crew must have known. So after our morning adventure, we came back to find this courtesy of our cabin stewards, Enrico and Xavier.

Complete with treats, music and disco ball

Complete with treats, music and disco ball

We had a small veranda which was perfect for relaxing between adventures.

Knitting a Seahawk shawl

Knitting a Seahawk shawl

Wine with a view

Wine with a view

There were several opportunities for snorkeling. The ship provided wet suits and we took our own masks and snorkels. In all, we had four of those waterproof one-use cameras. Unfortunately, none of the pictures turned out very well but here are a few just to prove we did it.

Floreana Island was a ‘wet’ landing.

20151104-IMG_9644.jpg

20151104-IMG_9645.jpg

An adult and a juvenile Blue Footed Boobie

An adult and a juvenile Blue Footed Boobie

Galapagos Flamingos

Galapagos Flamingos

Hike down to a deserted beach

Hike down to a deserted beach

The beach was definitely worth the walk

The beach was definitely worth the walk

Nice spot for a self-indulgent photograph

Nice spot for a self-indulgent photograph

The food on board was quite good with an interesting Ecuadorian influence.

Emma, the Head Chef

Emma, the Head Chef

If you have made it this far, the rest of the blog is all about the critters. First set, the Galapagos Tortoises which are found nowhere else in the world.

20151106-IMG_9786.jpg

After giant tortoises, the next most unusual species on the islands is the Marine Iguana. As fierce as they appear, they didn’t seem to want to eat any of us.

20151102-IMG_9517.jpg

This next photo is a nice transition from reptiles to birds.

Coexistance

Coexistence

and of course Sea Lions…

And, finally some Sally Lightfoot Crabs…

I can’t imagine a better spot to celebrate my 70th birthday!

Cheers!

Cheers!

Next stop: Cuenca

Next stop: Cuenca

 

Quito

Our trip to Ecuador began with a couple of days in Quito before flying out to the Galapagos Islands for a seven-day cruise. Here are some photos from the first part of our Ecuador adventure.

Quito sits at an elevation of over 9,000 feet above sea level, making it the second highest capital in the world (behind La Paz, Bolivia at 11,913 feet). The city is surrounded by several volcanos: Pichincha to the west (15,000 feet), Antisana to the east (18,700 feet), and snow-capped Cayambe to the northeast (18,725 feet). The latter is the highest point in the world crossed by the Equator and the only point on the Equator with snow cover.

Our home base in Quito was the Casa Gangotena Hotel, a meticulously renovated former residence in the heart of Old Town. Casa Gangotena has been rated as one of the best hotels in South America so we started this trip on a very upscale note.

Exterior view

Exterior view of the Casa Gangotena.

Interior courtyard

Interior courtyard.

Ecuador's climate supports growing flowers year-round

Ecuador’s climate supports growing flowers year-round.

View of the Virgin of El Panecillo from the hotel's rooftop terrace

View of the Virgin of El Panecillo from the hotel’s rooftop terrace.

Turn around and the view is of the Church and Monastery of San Francisco,the largest architectural ensemble among the historical structures of colonial Latin America.

Turn around and the view is of the Church and Monastery of San Francisco.

Pigeons in the Plaza San Francisco

Pigeons in the Plaza San Francisco.

Construction of the church and monastery began only a few weeks after the Spanish conquered Quito from the Incas in 1534. San Francisco eventually became the largest religious architectural complex in the Americas at over 8,670 acres.

After a wreath austere entrance...

After a rather austere entrance…

... we entered into a large courtyard with definite Moorish influences.

… we found ourselves in a large courtyard with a Moorish feel.

The monastery is still active

The monastery is still active.

 

Photography wasn’t allowed in the main church so I pulled the next photos off the Internet.

Lots of gold leaf. Must have been pretty impressive to the indigenous people the church was trying to convert to Christianity

Lots of gold leaf. Must have been pretty impressive to the indigenous people the church was trying to convert to Christianity.

A view of the wood tiled ceiling. Again, some definite Moorish influence imported from Spain.

A view of the wood tiled ceiling. Again, some definite Moorish influence imported from Spain.

Quito has a lot of churches. Perhaps the most famous is La Compañía, built by the wealthy Jesuit order between 1605 and 1765.

Ornate exterior of La Compañía.

Ornate exterior of La Compañía.

Just a small part of La Compañía's intricate exterior.

Just a small part of La Compañía’s intricate exterior.

An even more ornate interior with seven tons of gold just on the ceiling.

An even more ornate interior with gold leaf on every surface. (Again, no photography so another grab from the Internet)

Even though Quito is close to the equator, its elevation gives it a temperate climate year round. Here’s Independence Plaza on a sunny day at the end of October.

20151029-IMG_9274.jpg

Nice day for a concert by the Municipal Police Band.

Nice day for a concert by the Municipal Police Band.

One of the government buildings along the Plaza is the Metropolitan Cultural Center. The building was originally constructed by the Jesuits in the 1600s but when Charles III of Spain banished the Jesuit Order from the colonies in 1767, the building became a public university. Now it houses a museum, library, and rotating art exhibits.

Lifesize reproductions of women from an Ecuadorian village with strong African ties.

Lifesize reproductions of women from an Ecuadorian village with strong African ties.

In real life this lady can dance without tipping the bottle on her head. In real life the guy in the piffle can't dance at all.

In real life this lady can dance without tipping the bottle on her head. In real life the guy in the photo can’t dance at all.

After our tour of Old Town, we drove up to the Pululahua Volcano, the first National Park in Ecuador. The volcano was last active over 2000 years ago and now about forty families live in the crater, mainly growing corn and quinoa and raising cattle.

Shortly after we took this photo, the clouds rolled in.

Shortly after we took this photo, the clouds rolled in.

Lunch was at a restaurant right on the crater rim, named, you guessed it, El Crater Restaurant.

A typical Ecuadorian lunch with fried pork and 'special' sauce, plantains, and hominy which the locals call maize.

A typical Ecuadorian lunch with fried pork toped with ‘special’ sauce, plantains, and hominy which the locals call maize.

Next stop: La Mitad del Mundo or The Center of the World, a somewhat touristy complex that provides photo ops at the Equator. The French sent an expedition here in 1736 to determine whether the circumference of the Earth was greater around the Equator or around the poles. (It’s greater around the Equator by 26.54 miles.)

So close yet hemispheres apart.

So close yet hemispheres apart.

After a day of exploring, it was time to check out the hotel bar. I should have looked at the price of a Martini before ordering since this one was $35. Evidently Ecuador has a hefty import tax on liquor to protect the local beer industry.

My first and last Martini in Ecuador.

My first and last Martini in Ecuador.

And one last shot of the San Francisco Church from the hotel rooftop.

20151029-IMG_6206.jpg

Our final day in Quito started out with the Casa Gangotena’s complimentary buffet breakfast. If you couldn’t find anything that appealed here, you could order pretty much anything from the kitchen and they would do their best to comply.

20151031-IMG_6234.jpg

Reading the labels was a good way to learn Spanish

20151031-IMG_6237.jpg

Pick a table, any table.

The hotel gave us two passes to the Casa del Alabado, a pre-Columbian Art Museum located in a nearby colonial house built in the 17th century. It contains a collection of over 5,000 archaeological pieces, 500 of which are on permanent display. We wound up spending the entire morning there.

The courtyard entrance.

The courtyard entrance.

A decorative wall as part of the stairway.

A decorative wall as part of the stairway.

Closeup.

Closeup.

The collection includes indigenous artifacts from all areas of Ecuador which date as far back as 4000 BC. Here are just a few examples:

20151030-IMG_9291.jpg20151030-IMG_9295.jpg20151030-IMG_9292.jpg20151030-_MG_6447.jpg20151030-IMG_9316.jpg20151030-IMG_9323.jpg

One of the signature dishes of Ecuador is ceviche, typically made from fresh raw fish cured in citrus juices, such as lemon or lime, and spiced with ají or chili peppers. I was soon addicted and ordered it whenever I found it on the menu. So, I’ll end this part of the trip with a couple of food photos.

Who says beer drinking can't be elegant?

Who says beer drinking can’t be elegant?

Seafood ceviche.

Seafood ceviche.

Interestingly, popcorn and toasted corn kernels are typical accompaniments.

Interestingly, popcorn and toasted corn kernels are typical accompaniments.

Next: The Galapagos Islands.

Oregon Coast

Every couple of years Lorette and her two sisters get together for a little family reunion and allow their spouses to tag along. This time the destination was the Oregon coast. And this time Lewey got to go.

Arch Cape between Cannon Beach and Manzanita

Arch Cape between Cannon Beach and Manzanita

We had a four bedroom, three bath rental right on the beach.

View from the beach

View from the beach

View from the deck

View from the deck

View from the dining room

View from the dining room

That rock just off shore was home to a lot of sea birds.

20150914-IMG_9139.jpg

Sunsets on the Oregon coast can be pretty spectacular.

20150913-IMG_5851.jpg

The path to the beach was right next door.

In case of an earthquake, head for higher ground!

In case of an earthquake, be prepared for a tsunami!

Oregon in the fall isn't exactly swim suit weather

Oregon in the fall isn’t exactly swim suit weather

Lewey is happy that he got to come along

Lewey thinks that this is way better than staying home in a kennel

There is Uncle Larry to give out belly rubs...

There is Uncle Larry to give out belly rubs…

...not to mention Uncle Jack

…not to mention Uncle Jack

We ate in sometimes but sometimes we didn’t. Here we are at Norma’s Steak and Seafood in Seaside.

Larry, Linda, Lorette, Diane, and Jack

Larry, Linda, Lorette, Diane, and Jack

Seafood linguini

Seafood linguini

Dungeness crab

Dungeness crab

It’s not a family get-together without a game of Mexican Train.

20150915-IMG_5822.jpg

There is a lot to explore on the Oregon coast. One day we drove down to Tillamook and stopped along the way for some people photos.

Linda and Larry

Linda and Larry

Jack and Diane

Jack and Diane

Lorette and John

Lorette and John

Another stop was at Cape Meares, an Oregon State Park.

20150916-IMG_9164.jpg

20150916-IMG_9166.jpg

The Cape Meares Lighthouse was built in 1889 and is the shortest lighthouse in Oregon at only 38-feet-tall

The Octopus Tree, a Sitka Spruce estimated to be 400 years old. No one is sure how it was made to form this way.

The Octopus Tree, a Sitka Spruce estimated to be 400 years old. No one is sure why it formed this way.

Even on a cloudy day the views are pretty spectacular

Even on a cloudy day the views are pretty spectacular

But with a beach right out our door, who wants to spend a whole lot of time driving around? Here are some photos of the beach at Arch Cape that we had almost to ourselves.

It's pretty hard for a Corgi to keep his belly dry when there is this much water

It’s pretty hard for a Corgi to keep his belly dry when there is this much water

Reflections at low tide

Reflections at low tide

Reflections with Lewey

Reflections with Lewey

Wonder if any of these guys could be a descendant of Jonathan Livingston Seagull?

Wonder if any of these guys could be a descendant of Jonathan Livingston Seagull?

Leave only tracks... and maybe a feather or two

Leave only tracks… and maybe a feather or two

Somebody had seafood for dinner

Somebody had seafood for dinner

Most of the shells on the beach were sand dollars

Most of the shells on the beach were sand dollars

Meanwhile, back at the house…

A perfect spot to catch up on some reading (A History of the World in 6 Glasses)

A perfect spot to catch up on some reading (A History of the World in 6 Glasses)

Larry watching the Humpback whales heading down to Mexico

Larry watching the Humpback whales heading down to Mexico

Ahhh, sunset with a gin and tonic

Ahhh, sunset with a gin and tonic

So, what will we make for dinner tonight?

Reservations

Reservations!

Cannon Beach's version of a New England Lobster Roll: A Dungeness Crab Roll

Cannon Beach’s version of a New England Lobster Roll: A Dungeness Crab Roll

Another day, another stroll on the beach with Lewey.

A dog and his beach

A dog and his beach

Had to share it with some seagulls

Had to share it with some seagulls

We walked down to the rock outcroppings we could see from our deck

We walked down to the rock outcroppings we could see from our deck

During high tide, these rocks are covered

During high tide, these rocks are covered…

Mussels appear to like it here

…which makes for good mussel habitat.

20150918-IMG_9223.jpg

Lewey and I discovered how Arch Cape got its name

Lewey and I discovered how Arch Cape got its name

20150918-IMG_9229.jpg

A sea anemone in a tidepool

A sea anemone in a tide pool

Whole bunch of sea anemones in a tide pool

Whole bunch of sea anemones in a tide pool

As our time at Arch Cape came to an end, Lewey enjoyed one last sunset.

20150919-IMG_5923.jpg

My best vacation ever!

 

 

 

Commencement Bay

One of the fun activities around here is to explore Commencement Bay with Destiny Harbor Tours. So when my neighbor abandoned his sister who was visiting from Arkansas and went to Europe with his wife, I thought it would be neighborly to entertain Carol for an afternoon.

The two-hour cruise leaves from the dock beside the Museum of Glass.

Carol on the Bridge of Glass with the Museum's cone in the background

Carol on the Bridge of Glass with the Museum’s cone in the background

There are several nice restaurants along the Esplanade to grab a bite to eat before setting out.

Al fresco lunch at the Social

Al fresco lunch at the Social

Destiny Harbor Tours uses a repurposed Navy launch.

20150825-IMG_9055.jpg

Leaving the Thea Foss Waterway under the Murray Morgan Bridge.

Originally opened Feb. 15, 1913

Originally opened Feb. 15, 1913

A houseboat

A houseboat

Two tug boats used for moving huge cargo ships

Two tug boats used for moving huge cargo ships

A couple of Tacoma's fire boats

A couple of Tacoma’s fire boats

The Port of Tacoma’s largest export based on tonnage is grain (corn and soybeans) that come by rail from the midwest.

A Cargill grain terminal

A Cargill grain terminal

20150825-IMG_9067.jpg

Stadium High School was originally built as a hotel in 1891 but has been operating as a public high school since 1906. It’s on the National Register of Historic Places and was the filming location for many of the scenes of the 1999 movie 10 Things I Hate About You.

View from the water

View from the water

Carol enjoying the sunny afternoon

Carol enjoying the sunny afternoon

One of the Crowley tugs heading out to meet a cargo ship

One of the Crowley tugs heading out to meet a cargo ship

Seagulls

Seagulls

Harbor Seals

Harbor seals

Yet more harbor seals

Yet more harbor seals

Looking east toward Mt Rainier

Looking east toward Mt Rainier

Each year the Port of Tacoma handles between 9 and 13 million tons of cargo which equates to more than $425 billion in commerce. Major imports include automobiles and electronics.

More than 70 percent of all commerce moving from the Lower 48 to Alaska by water comes from Tacoma

More than 70 percent of all commerce moving from the Lower 48 to Alaska by water comes from Tacoma

20150825-IMG_9107.jpg20150825-IMG_9110.jpg

And with that, we head back to the dock. One thing about using a repurposed Navy ship: it was designed to transport sailors back and forth from ship to shore, therefore no head required. For those of us at a certain age who happened to have iced tea for lunch, a two hour tour was just fine!

20150825-IMG_9114.jpg

Bainbridge Island

Another adventure of the Retired Amigos. Several weeks ago Jeff and I drove over the Tacoma Narrows Bridge and picked up Max in Gig Harbor. There are two ways to get to Bainbridge Island. One is by ferry from Seattle. The other is to drive up the Kitsap Peninsula and take the bridge over Agate Pass which is what we did. That put us close to the Bloedel Reserve which is on the north side of the island.

The Bloedel Reserve is a 150 acre estate that the previous owners had turned into a forest-garden with natural and landscaped lakes, immaculate lawns, woods, a rock and sand Zen garden, a moss garden, a rhododendron glen, and a reflection pool. Being the Renaissance Men that we are, we decided to check it out.

Max and Jeff angling for a senior discount at the visitor center

Max and Jeff angling for a senior discount at the visitor center

A two mile trail wanders through the property. Here are some photos of our stroll.

As we set off,  Jeff is describing to Max what a great day this is going to be

As we set off, Jeff is describing to Max what a great day this is going to be

Soon we are out of the meadow and into the woods

Soon we are out of the meadow and into the woods

One of those pristine lakes described in the brochure

One of those pristine lakes described in the brochure

The trestle bridge

The trestle bridge

A Banana Slug

A Banana Slug

A frog enjoying the sunny day

A frog enjoying the sunny day

Max and I contemplating the tranquility of it all

Max and I contemplating the tranquility of it all

The path leads to the Bloedel’s former residence, an 18th century French Country style home.

View of the front

View of the front

View of Puget Sound from the dining room

View of Puget Sound from the dining room

And a view of the back

And a view of the back

Coneflowers

Coneflowers

Lace Cap Hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla)?

Lace Cap Hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla)?

20150722-IMG_8989.jpg

A Birch tree

A Birch tree

The Japanese Sand and Stone Garden

The Japanese Sand and Stone Garden

Easy place to get your Zen on

Easy place to get your Zen on

Home of a very fortunate bird

Home of a very fortunate bird

All that walking worked up quite an appetite so we headed into the town of Bainbridge and Restaurant Marché where we were lucky enough to get seats at the chef’s counter.

20150722-IMG_9026.jpg

A front row seat

A front row seat

Jeff and Max claim to have never had country pâté so we had to order one with three forks

Jeff and Max claim to have never had country pâté so we had to order one with three forks

Mussels & Frites

Mussels & Frites

Mussels steamed in Fennel, Cream and Pernod. Russet Potatoes with Aioli.

Mussels steamed in Fennel, Cream and Pernod. Russet Potatoes with Aioli.

Max getting the recipe for country pâté

Max getting the recipe for country pâté

Three happy campers

Three happy campers

On the way back to Gig Harbor, we went through the little town of Polsbo where Max had to make a couple of stops.

Boehms Chocolates

Boehms Chocolates

Sluys Bakery, home of the famous Polsbo Bread

Sluys Bakery, home of the famous Polsbo Bread

An so ends another adventure of the Three Retired Amigos.

The only thing the last photo has to do with the day is that I took it of a poster somewhere along the way. I’ve discovered that when I put a link to my blog on Facebook, Facebook always selects the last image from my post as the album cover. So, I’ll stick this here and see what happens.

20150722-IMG_5530.jpg

The Big Seven- OH!

It was more of a group birthday party than an official reunion. In 2015 everyone in my high school class from 1963 turns 70. Some of us have maintained contact via email over the years and starting about a year ago, an idea popped up in one of those conversational threads: would anyone be interested in celebrating our transition to the next decade? In looking back over the emails it was amazing to see how one small idea had enough weight to create its own gravitational field. Within a matter of weeks, enough critical mass had been generated to make The Big Seven-OH weekend a reality.

20150718-IMG_5456.jpg

Courtesy of Marion Redd

The Friday to Sunday party took place in Carrboro, right next to Chapel Hill where a number of my classmates have settled. Friday night was an informal gathering at the Hickory Tavern where we could reconnect with each other and rekindle old memories. For some of us, that meant a gap of over fifty years.

Dick Forbis, Sam Rankin and Steve Wainscott

Dick Forbis, Sam Rankin and Steve Wainscott

Sue Glasgow, Judy Ramsey Roberts and Candy Crumley Rankin

Sue Glassgow, Judy Ramsey Roberts and Candy Crumley Rankin

Sheryl Forbis, Rob Girard, Pam Hoyle, Marion Redd, and June Fortess

Sheryl Forbis, Rob Girard, Pam Hoyle, Marion Redd, and June Fortess

These people are not acting their age

These people are not acting their age

Saturday morning started with a stroll over to the Carrboro Farmers Market.

Ineke Wilson, Bob Wilson, Sig Huitt, Sue Glasgow, John Guy, and Patty DeLaney Horsch

Ineke Wilson, Bob Wilson, Sig Huitt, Sue Glassgow, John Guy, and Patty DeLaney Horsch

20150718-IMG_5446.jpg

Getting a morning sugar high: Sig Huitt, June Fortess and Sue Glasgow

Getting a morning sugar high: Sig Huitt, June Fortess and Sue Glassgow

20150718-IMG_8839.jpg

20150718-IMG_8843.jpg

A neighborhood sculpture

A neighborhood sculpture

The agenda for the weekend was pretty loose but we did have a couple of educational sessions. Steve Wainscott, Director of the Honors College at Clemson University, has been taking students to Belgium since 2008 for a five-week study program. Steve gave us a mini-course on the battles of World War I that took place around Ypres.

20150718-IMG_8852.jpg

20150718-IMG_8853.jpg

The Third Battle of Ypres lasted 102 days and resulted in over 500,000 casualties, nearly 5,000 a day

Our class isn’t short on people with interesting lives and stories to tell. Carter Heyward was among eleven women who were ordained as the first female priests in the Episcopal Church on July 29, 1974 in Philadelphia.

20150718-IMG_8857.jpg

The women became known as the Philadelphia Eleven.

The women became known as the Philadelphia Eleven.

Two years later, the Episcopal Church’s General Convention — under pressure from the events in Philadelphia and elsewhere — affirmed and authorized the ordination of women to the priesthood.

Carter at 29

Carter at 29

Carrboro and Chapel Hill have a vibrant array of dining options. For lunch some of us walked to The Mediterranean Deli.

Only a small view of the scores of options

Only a small view of the scores of options

Sue Glasgow, Gene Matthews, Pam Hoyle, Steve Wainscott, June Fortess, Patty DeLaney Horsch

Sue Glassgow, Gene Matthews, Pam Hoyle, Steve Wainscott, June Fortess, Patty DeLaney Horsch

20150718-IMG_5465.jpg

Ah, a healthy Mediterranean diet

Saturday evening’s dinner was graciously hosted by Judy Ramsey Roberts and her husband, Larry, at their farm in nearby Hillsboro. Thanks to Ineke Wilson for this group photo.

The names are left to right:
Jane O’Brien Fellows, Candy Crumley Rankin, Judy Huitt, Peter Bridge, Sara Dorton Threat, Sig Huitt, Robbie Miller, Jean Lemmon Hunt, Patty Delaney Horsch, June Fortess, Marion Redd, Gene Matthews, Patty Daniel, John Guy, Carter Heyward, Judy Ramsey (partially hidden), Susan Weston Scercy (Carter’s partner), Rob Girard, Bobby Threat, Sheryl Key Forbis, Sam Rankin, Sue Glassgow, Steve Wainscott, Pam Hoyle, Jane Lynch, Dick Forbis, and Bob Wilson.

IMG_0128.jpg

A perfect evening for reconnecting…

20150718-IMG_8872.jpg

20150718-IMG_8880.jpg

Patty Daniel channeling Vanna White

Patty Daniel channeling Vanna White

The other end of the Chevy was the bar

The other end of the Chevy was the bar

20150718-IMG_8887.jpg

BFFs

BFFs

Candy Crumley Rankin, Brenda Matthews, and Gene Matthews

Candy Crumley Rankin, Brenda Matthews, and Gene Matthews

Gene as Master of Ceremonies and Judy as hostess extraordinaire

Gene as Master of Ceremonies and Judy as hostess extraordinaire

Well, somebody has to be first!

Well, somebody has to be first!

P1000358-2.jpg20150718-IMG_8889.jpg20150718-IMG_8890.jpg

20150718-IMG_8891.jpg

And just as dinner was winding down, along comes an evening shower.

Pam Hoyle must have brought her umbrella from Boston

Pam Hoyle must have brought her umbrella from Boston

However, the ever insightful planning committee had thought of everything.

A tent. A very large tent!

A tent. A very large tent!

Gene goes way above and beyond the call of duty

Gene goes way above and beyond the call of duty

It would seem that New Yorkers are impervious to rain

It would seem that New Yorkers are impervious to rain

Everyone else was happy to be nice and dry

Everyone else was happy to be nice and dry

Judy and Larry's cabin

Judy and Larry’s cabin

Happy Birthday to us!

Happy Birthday to us!

Sunday morning was an informal drop by the hotel lobby for coffee and good-bye’s. Here are some parting people shots…

Bobby and Sarah Dorton Threat

Bobby and Sarah Dorton Threat

Sam and Candy Crumley Rankin

Sam and Candy Crumley Rankin

Jane O'Brien Fellows and Sue Glasgow

Jane O’Brien Fellows and Sue Glassgow

Gene Matthews, Peter Bridge and Patty DeLaney Horsch

Gene Matthews, Peter Bridge and Patty DeLaney Horsch

Sig Hewitt, Marion Redd, Dick Forbis, and Ineke Wilson

Sig Hewitt, Marion Redd, Dick Forbis, and Ineke Wilson

Carter Heyward and Pam Hoyle

Carter Heyward and Pam Hoyle

Robbie Miller and June Fortess

Robbie Miller and June Fortess

20150719-IMG_8932.jpg

Steve Wainscott, Susan Weston Scercy (Carter's partner), John Guy, Marion Redd, and June Fortess

Steve Wainscott, Susan Weston Scercy, John Guy, Marion Redd, and June Fortess

Robbie Miller and Gene Matthews

Robbie Miller and Gene Matthews

Sig Huitt and dick Forbis

Sig Huitt and Dick Forbis

Sheryl Forbis an honorary member of the class of 1963 because 1) she married Dick, and 2) our class is better than her class

Sheryl Forbis is an honorary member of the class of 1963 because 1) she married Dick, and 2) our class is more gregarious than her class

For some of us that didn’t have to drive home or have early flights to catch, there was one last goal to accomplish for the weekend: locate the perfect Shrimp and Grits.

Crooks Corner's signature recipe for Shrimp and Grits has been written about in the New York Times

Crook’s Corner’s signature recipe for Shrimp and Grits has been written about in the New York Times

A Sunday Brunch Bloody Mary

A Sunday Brunch Bloody Mary

Unfortunately, in North Carolina, Bloody Marys can't have alcohol in them before noon on Sunday. It doesn't matter if you are from out of state.

Unfortunately, in North Carolina, Bloody Marys can’t have alcohol in them before noon on Sunday. It doesn’t matter if you are from out of state.

The last meal with friends

The last meal with friends

In search of the perfect Shrimp and Grits

The perfect Shrimp and Grits?

For me, it was back to RDU for my connecting flight to ATL and the flight back to Seattle/Tacoma. Unfortunately, about 3:00 PM a thunderstorm parked itself over the airport and the incoming flight I was supposed to catch for Atlanta had to land somewhere else.

20150719-IMG_5502.jpg

Delta’s computer figured out that I was going to miss my connection and rescheduled me for the following day so I found a Hyatt Place near the airport. Arrived grumpy for the delay but Ms Lisa had a way of making it tolerable. Plus it provided an opportunity to reflect back upon the weekend and realize what a special time it had been.

20150719-IMG_5506.jpg

 

Many thanks to the planning committee who made this all possible:

Judy Ramsey Roberts and her husband, Larry
Sheryl & Dick Forbis
Marion Redd
Sue Glassgow
Jean Lemond Hunt
Jane O’Brien Fellows
Gene Matthews
Pam Hoyle (from Boston-who handled hotel logistics online)
Patty Delaney Horsch (from Chicago-who helped Sue with arrivals and welcome bags)

Columbus

Columbus was actually the beginning and the end of my trip to Georgia with Serenbe and Lakemont in between. So, even if it’s not chronologically accurate, I thought I’d start with the flight to Atlanta.

20150709-IMG_5313.jpg

After driving back to Columbus from Lakemont, Ena had a package waiting on her doorstep. Remember that ‘art’ that was hanging on the wall in the old family house on Lake Rabun? When Helen had discovered it earlier and posted it online, Ena commented that it was one of her favorites. (Or did I just make that up?) Anyway, another copy had been sitting in my garage gathering dust for fifty years so I had it re-matted and sent it to her as a present.

Looks better on her wall than in my garage

Looks better on her wall than in my garage

The heat index each day during my visit was over 100 degrees so we elected to stay inside as much as possible.

20150715-IMG_5366.jpg

Columbus is home to Fort Benning where I went through Officer Candidate School in 1968. I thought I’d never want to see the place again but, after so many years, checking out the National Infantry Museum had some allure (not to mention, it was air-conditioned).

The National Infantry Museum

The National Infantry Museum

One of my favorite parts was the Imax Theater which was showing a 3-D film about the Allied invasion of Normandy during World War II. It was especially meaningful for me since Lorette and I had just spent time in that part of France last fall and had visited many of the sites shown in the movie. Unfortunately, single lens cameras don’t capture images from 3-D movies so there are no photos to show.

However, here are some shots from inside the museum which is a walking timeline of our country’s military engagements.

The main exhibit called The Last 100 Yards contains life-sized dioramas depicting significant battles in the Infantry’s history, including Yorktown, Antietam, Soissons, Normandy, Corregidor, Soam-Ni, LZ X-Ray, and Iraq.

The main exhibit called The Last 100 Yards contains life-sized dioramas depicting significant battles in the Infantry’s history, including Yorktown, Antietam, Soissons, Normandy, Corregidor, Soam-Ni, LZ X-Ray, and Iraq.

World War I

World War I

World War II

World War II

Vietnam

Vietnam

And one from the OCS section.

Good thing a tach officer didn't ask me to drop and give him 50

Good thing a tach officer didn’t ask me to drop and give him 50

I’m pretty sure that everyone who visits the museum has their photo taken with the Follow Me Statue.

Landscape

Distance

Closeup

Closeup

Adjacent to the museum is a three-quarter replica of the Vietnam Memorial.

20150716-IMG_8829.jpg

The wall has the names of more than 58,000 that were killed or missing.

25,000 were under twenty years old.

More than 17,000 were married.

Nearly 1,000 died on their first day in country.

More than 1,400 died on the last day before they were scheduled to come home.

20150716-IMG_8826.jpg

Columbus must be the chicken salad capital of Georgia. Or maybe even the entire south. Because we had lunch out twice and both times were at chicken salad restaurants.

Chicken salad at Chicken Salad Chick

Chicken salad at Chicken Salad Chick

And for dinner, Southern Fried Chicken at 11th and Bay with people I see only every couple of years but who are the kind of folks that make me feel like I’m a neighbor just next door.

John, Linda, Ena, Sherry, and Tom

John, Linda, Ena, Sherry, and Tom

Columbus used to be a mill town and the Chattahoochee River was dammed to generate power for the mills. Several years ago the dams were removed and a whitewater section was created along with a beautiful river walk right in the downtown core.

20150715-IMG_5400.jpg20150715-IMG_5392.jpg20150715-IMG_5394.jpg

A few more photos of downtown Columbus in the evening light.

20150715-IMG_5412.jpg

20150715-IMG_5414.jpg

For my last lunch in Columbus, Ena took me to, you guessed it, another chicken salad place.

Lunch at Plucked Up Chicken and Biscuits

Lunch at Plucked Up Chicken and Biscuits

I found this sign to be helpful guidance.

20150716-IMG_5417.jpg

And to close this post, a photo of some tomatoes from one of Ena’s friends. I guess that’s one advantage of having temperature’s consistently in the 90s.

20150716-IMG_5423.jpg