Thursday, August 22, 2019

Still Traveling

It has been quite a while since my last post. After the wedding, we had two more days of celebrations. On Sunday everyone was invited to an afternoon party at the lake house of the groom's parents. It was a lovely day. The younger generation enjoyed playing in the water; most of the oldies sat in the shade and visited. In the morning most of our group drove out to the Oregon coast to see some of the sights.

"Cobra" plants that are carnivorous

Coastal rock formations
Monday afternoon we had a rafting expedition on the Mackenzie River. There were about 40 people who went. It was fun, but it was a very long, tiring day. In the evening my sister Becky suffered from dehydration and ended up in the emergency room. They kept her for observation for two nights, worried that it might be something more serious. In the end she was fine and was able to fly home Thursday as planned. But it did fill our last few days!

After dropping Lucy and Becky at the airport, I headed north toward Portland to visit some old Charlottesville friends. We had a wonderful afternoon catching up. Dinner was at an authentic Kashmiri restaurant, which was delicious. The next morning I drove to Bainbridge Island to visit cousin Sally. It was good to miss all the driving on the Seattle side of the Sound. I had lunch with former student and friend June on the way.

The next day Sally took me on a driving tour of the island. There are many, many beautiful homes. There is a lovely park as a memorial to the Japanese people who were interned from the island during World War II. We walked along the pathways and saw the place where they were herded onto ships taking them away from their homes. You can see some of the stones on the ledge; they spelled out words such as "love", "remember", and more.

Sally loves animals, even the wild raccoon that she feeds just outside the back door.

My next trek included a ferry ride from Port Townsend. I had time to stop very briefly at Elevated Ice Cream and visit with Dave, also a former Woodstock student. From there, I drove through Whidby Island and onto I-5 heading for Vancouver. Janice and Evan are some of our oldest friends, going all the way back to college over 50 years ago. I was happy to have a very relaxed stay with them. On Monday we went to Granville Island, a well-known tourist destination. The produce stands in the market were amazing. The fruit was beautifully arranged and we got quite a lot of it. We also visited a store called Maiwa that has imports from India. Their textiles were wonderful and we talked Janice into purchasing a skirt.

A highlight of our past visits to Vancouver included dinner at Vij's, a fusion Indian restaurant. Vij is a creative chef and everything was delicious. We had a paneer-based cutlet topped with a pickled beet slice, a coconut-gravy vegetable dish on lentil-rice pilaf, and eggplant with onion rings. 

The following day they took me to the campus of the University of British Columbia, where they both worked before retirement (Evan in musicology, Janice in the library). It is a huge campus. One place we stopped overlooked a beautifully designed rose garden.

My next drive was to Spokane to visit the family. I woke early and headed out before 6:00. It was rainy but I didn't have any difficulty with the driving. I was worried about getting through Seattle, but my GPS took me east and south before Everett. After I crossed the mountains, everything was dry. I stopped at a scenic overlook at Lake Wanapum on the Columbia River. 

Dan is flying out to Spokane on Friday. We'll have a weekend visit and head home on Monday, with a stop to visit Glenn and Peggy near Driggs, Idaho. I'll be glad to get home after more than a month on the road!

Monday, August 12, 2019

Getting to the Wedding

Our first day in Eugene we had a few things to do before we could get into our rental house. We picked up Lucy's daughter Rachel and took her to get her car from a repair shop. It turned out to be right next door to the rose garden so we took a walk through. Many of the blooms were past their prime, but it was lovely anyway

We picked up Lucy's rental car and headed for our rental in Creswell, about 12 miles south of Eugene. It is a very nice ranch house with 5 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms. We are a party of 10, so it works out very well. Our two sisters were due to arrive at 2:00, but their flight was delayed and they finally got in about 7:00. Lucy and I ended up eating at the airport, not the best choice, but we didn't starve. Her daughter and partner were due to arrive that evening, but they were delayed well into the next day. Our cousin Jenny and her family arrived later in the evening.

On Friday we had a delicious lunch at a Thai hole-in-the-wall restaurant here in Creswell. Lucy and I were on call to help with wedding preparations at the venue, a lovely wooded area about a half hour out of town. We went out in the afternoon and helped finish up the corsages. Rachel (mother of the bride, Lucy's daughter) had made all the bouquets and boutonnieres and did a wonderful job. Then we were asked to fold the napkins for the reception table and place them on the tables, which were already set.

While we were there, two deer were quietly grazing on the lawn.

Saturday was finally the day for the wedding of Memoria and Noah. we were in charge of the pre-wedding snack table so got there early to set things up. Here is Lucy pinning Rachel's corsage on.

Can you tell we are sisters? There was no planning for our dresses!

Azia, sister of the bride and maid of honor, had a crisis with her dress. I tried to pin it, but it didn't work. A phone call got Becky (Lucy's other daughter) to bring a needle, thread and thimble, and I sewed her into it. Fortunately, it held together and did not fall off. About an hour before guests were to arrive, the photogrpher took the wedding party photos on the lawn. They all looked wonderful.

Here is Lucy with her two daughters, Rachel and Becky.

The ceremony was short and sweet, led by Tammy, aunt of the bride. Mem changed out of her gown into a more comfortable dress, and they arrived at the reception after we were all seated. They both were glowing with happiness. It was a lovely event and all went well! We old folks didn't stay to the bitter end. In addition to dancing, a major entertainment was a Mario Kart video game tournament. We heard later that Mem won, Noah came in third!

Thursday, August 8, 2019


Today we arrived in Eugene, where we will be for the next week. Lucy and I are in a hotel for one night. Tomorrow we pick up our sisters and cousins and move into a rental house big enough for all of us. It's been a great trip; we have seen so many beautiful vistas, mountains, valleys, and everything in between.

We stayed at a pretty basic motel in Redding and decided to skip the "continental" breakfast and go out. We went to Deja Vu, which had excellent reviews online, and it lived up to expectations. I had a veggie Eggs Benedict with spinach, tomato, and avocado and a side of fruit. It was both beautiful and delicious.

Before leaving Redding, we wanted to visit the Sundial Bridge, designed by a Spanish architect. It is both functional and a technical marvel. Read more here:

The pedestrian bridge has a walkway made of glass. It spans the Sacramento River.

The drive through northernmost California and into Oregon was beautiful. We were pleased to see Mount Shasta poking up across a ridge from us. We ate our lunch at a nice rest stop with lots of trees.

After settling into our hotel, we went into town for dinner with Lucy's daughter Rachel (r), Azia (l), and Memoria (c, the bride). I got a good shot of the three of them. The groom, Noah, and Azia's boyfriend, Christian, were on my side of the table.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Lassen National Park

Today we headed north and west of Reno toward Lassen Volcanic National Park. It was a beautiful drive over the hills. The park was very interesting, with a wide variety of scenic views.

The only town of any size on the way was Susanville, and we decided to stop and buy a sandwich for our lunch, as we were told there were no services in the park. Susanville had two Subways, according to the map, but they were both closed. We ended up at Safeway, which had an excellent deli where the clerk made us sandwiches.

Pine forest
Our first stop was a bubbling sulfur spring. The mud was popping and steaming. And it smelled terrible!

Emerald Lake
One thing I noticed throughout the park was grouped stands of pine trees. This set was at one of our scenic overlooks. At one stop I asked a ranger if she knew what was special about these, and she had no idea. I've seen trees growing together before, but never so many clumps like this.

This volcanic rock broke apart like a jigsaw puzzle when it landed here during an avalanche.

We were glad for pleasant weather in the 70s, especially when we arrived in Redding, California, at our hotel, where it was 104° F. Too hot!!! Tomorrow we head for Oregon, where I'll be for the next week for the wedding festivities that were the impetus for this trip.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Virginia City and Lake Tahoe

Our original plan for Monday was to drive down to Lake Tahoe and see what there is to see. But Sunday evening we were doing some Googling and realized that Virginia City isn't far away. So we started the day there. The town sits on the famous Comstock Lode, one of the richest deposits of silver, inspiring a silver rush a few years after the well-known Gold Rush. We took a trolley tour around town (supposedly at 9:00, but the driver meandered in about 9:30). That gave us a good overview. From there we took the train ride out to Gold Hill and back. Both rides were narrated and we learned a lot about the history. (Virginia City was also a major town in the TV show Bonanza.)

Wooden sidewalk and typical shop
There was a lot of drunken brawling and fighting. The story is that the morning after the cleaners of the saloon had a bucket of blood from the evening before.

This school had 1000 students and was ahead of its time, with indoor plumbing. It closed down around 1936.

A typical scene looking out from Virginia City, high mountain desert.

Mining equipment abandoned
The Virginia and Truckee railway. It was supposed to be a steam engine, but we were glad it was diesel today, as I'm not fond of the soot from steam (it's not so romantic if you actually had to travel that way....).

From Virginia City we headed on to Lake Tahoe. All the roads were mountainous, with plenty of curves. We were surprised (perhaps we shouldn't have been) at the amount of traffic and people around the lake. Everywhere was crowded and we couldn't get close to the water. We finally found a park up the hillside where we ate our lunch sitting on a bench. There were beautiful Ponderosa pines everywhere.

We did manage to pull over and get a shot of the lake. Earlier in the day it had shone deep blue but by this time the sun was behind a cloud and it wasn't so bright.

Sunday evening we ate dinner at the Naan and Kabob, a Mediterranian restaurant I found on the internet, and only a couple of miles from our hotel. It was so wonderful that we went back on Monday evening; we couldn't think of anything we would prefer. So now we are regulars, I guess.

Minced meat kabob, outstanding!
Vegetable appetizer tray with dolmatas, hummus, falafel, baba ganoush and salad under some of the items. We also had a basket of pita (they called it naan, but I called it pita) and some tzatziki sauce.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Salt Lake to Reno

We had a long drive today, so we left as soon as we had breakfast at our hotel. The drive across Nevada turned out to be more interesting than we expected. Yes, it is dry and long, but the landscape is constantly changing with a variety of hills and mountains and flat land. There isn't much population and the towns are quite far apart.

I was looking forward to seeing the Great Salt Lake. There wasn't much to see, but I did get a shot from the road.

Great Salt Lake

Salt mining along the lake

Typical mountain view
A couple of hours out from Salt Lake City, we saw a sign for the California Trail Interpretive Center and decided to stop. It was a fairly new facility, with a wonderful museum to walk through that had many artifacts and descriptions of the pioneers who took the trails west in the mid-19th century. Outside there were a few exhibits as well, including the covered wagons shown below.

The outside walls had many quotations from pioneer days; this one was especially poignant.

We had our regular picnic lunch at a rest stop along the way and got to our hotel near the Reno airport about 3:00, having once again gained an hour. Tomorrow we are going to Lake Tahoe.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Salt Lake City

We hit the road early on Saturday morning for our drive to Salt Lake City. We stopped for lunch at Mom's Cafe in Salina, Utah, not realizing that it was a well-known place. This National Geographic poster was one of the many items on the wall.

We made it to Temple Square by 2:30, in time to join the 3:00 tour. Our guides were two young women. They took us into three buildings and told us some of the history of the Latter Day Saints.

The temple -- can't go in, of course

Guides outside the Tabernacle

The famous tabernacle organ -- I was the only one who knew there were more than 10,000 pipes

Assembly Hall

Inside Assembly Hall two pianists were practicing for a concert
The temperature was in the upper 90s and we were very happy to get to our hotel, which was only about a half mile from Temple Square. Tomorrow we head for Reno.

Black Canyon and Ouray

On Friday morning we left early for the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, about a half hour from our hotel. This canyon is the steepest and narrowest of all the major canyons in the US. It is as deep as the height of the Empire State Building doubled.

The scenery was incredible. We took many short walks to viewing points along the road that went along the south rim.

The river was far below us, and we could only see it some of the time. You can see how steep the sides of the canyon are.

Lucy took this shot of me at one of the overlooks.

The painted wall shows some of the layers of different minerals as they were laid bare by the water cutting through.

In the afternoon we headed to Ouray, about 45 minutes south of Montrose. Ouray is called "the Switzerland of America," because it is surrounded by high mountains. Out plan was to go to the hot springs. But when we got there, a swim meet was going on and the pools were closed to the public. We were disappointed, but went to a hotel spa that allowed guests. It wasn't as great as the big pools, but we enjoyed ourselves. The snow-topped mountains below appeared on our drive.

One of Ouray's natural wonders is the Box Canyon Falls, up a narrow dirt road. It is a popular hiking spot and the parking lot was quite full, but we eventually got a spot. The picture below is looking straight down at the river below the falls, where some old mining equipment was abandoned.

I hope you can play the short video I took to see how fast the water comes down out of its slot and the volume of the roaring.