Archive for May, 2009

Day tripping …

Van_01(blog)My sister bought a Chevrolet utility van fitted with a “high top”. She’s been fixing it up to sleep two for caravanning. She built two bed frames out of 2×4’s and plywood. One runs along the length of the van, across from the side doors. The second is elevated about a foot above the lower bed and perpendicular to it alongside the rear doors.

Van_vinyl(blog)She laid vinyl flooring and drilled a hole in the side and caulked in a ‘cat door’ for the extension cord for power at RV camps.  With a small porta-potty and lots of on-board storage we were very comfortable. The RV camps provide laundry, showers and regular bathrooms ~ all for $25!

An oblong cooler with a top doubling as a tray and a wicker laundry basket (stuffed with a comforter and topped with a doggie bed) fit perfectly between the two front seats.

We camped in Gig Harbor the first night at a lovely RV park. This is a fun town. Lots of chi-chi, artsy shopping and the best birding/garden store ever.

We ferried to Vashon Island to see Betty MacDonald’s farm. This was a thoroughly enchanting island! These clematis formed a large shaded arbor at the farm.

Then it was back to the mainland via another ferry. (You only pay to get onto the islands, the return trip is free.)

The views of the Olympic range were stunning.

My sister stayed in Bellingham to visit her daughter over the holiday weekend. So I came home by Amtrak. It rivals the Coast Starlight route between San Diego and LA for beauty. Nearly the entire trip is on the shoreline of either the Puget Sound or the Columbia River.

I rarely sit in my assigned seat. I spend the ride in the commissary/dining car for the best views and a table. You have to book your tickets in advance, however. This route is so overused that even the dining car seats were sold! We need more public transit in this country!!!

Here’s a view from inside the Seattle station.


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Garden newbie …

Sibley’s says the Spotted Towhee is a year-round bird, but I just started seeing it mid-May. It feeds on the ground and tends to stay out of sight — coming out only in the early morning hours.

Happily my camera was handy when this guy took a dip. He’s still shaking off the water in this picture.

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Alberta Art Hop

Portland excels in neighborhood spirit. A friend and I strolled through the “Alberta Art Hop” — a monthly street party and crafts fair.

I spied this lovely sequined gallery doorway.

And this colorful mural …

Ever wanted to write on a car?

Now this is the first portable ATM I’ve come across.

There were lots of plant vendors. I was charmed by these pots. Why didn’t I think of this?!

And how’s this for doggie comfort?

There was a parade too … anyone could participate … whenever they felt like doing so. They were an hour late, but they still got a police escort. Mostly they were stilt-walkers. Everyone was just having fun!

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I’m back …

About two weeks ago I dropped my computer off at a nearby shop expecting to bring it home the same day with more memory. But no, it wasn’t responding to the new memory so it got put in the service queue. A week later I learned the motherboard was shot … actually leaking acid!

So I gnashed my teeth over night and bought the store’s special the next day. After a nightmarish impasse with my wireless mouse and lack of driver software to utilize it, I gradually installed the basic applications to get myself set up.

What a hassle! I’m all for just subscribing to a service and letting someone else deal with keeping stuff up to date and compatible. Computers should be a “utility” like the phone or cable TV.

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This has been a long time landmark for my family. My sister took her kids here when they were small. They could run on the trails and there were koi and bridges, etc. It’s a photographer’s mecca. I bought a membership with high hopes of future gems.

Here’s a sweeping view of the main pond. (click on image to enlarge)

This little water bowl is part of the tea garden.

Every nook and cranny has been carefully attended to. Even this little bamboo fence has a woven pattern.

Each path and trail is a work of art.

And what they do with the sand/rock gardens!

We were told that the person who does this starts before dawn. It’s a mystery how all trace of footsteps is concealed.

The iris should start blooming soon. I’ll be back!

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Odds and Ends

On my way to the dentist last week, I couldn’t resist joining in on my friend’s fetish with shopping carts.  There was an odd array of them along the road.


… just stopping to catch up on the latest gossip …

A newbie showed started showing up a few weeks ago. It wasn’t until I visited Midmarsh Jottings (in England) that I identified it as the House Sparrow — a common but very pretty little bird. Sibley’s refers to it as an “old world sparrow”.


This female American Gold Finch showed up weeks after I last saw the males. She was feeding ravenously and was unphased by my camera.


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The weather broke up last week and the skies opened — making for dramatic cloudscapes — the kind that conjure fantasies and semblances.

Having lived on the coast my entire adult life, this “cloud life” is new and exhilarating. The coast has its virtues — but clouds aren’t one of them. It’s either fog, overcast “marine layer”, sunny or (boring) scattered clouds.


While I was gazing skyward I caught this view of downtown Portland. It gives you an idea of its proximity to Vancouver, WA.

And PDX (the airport) …

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