"Could I have this dance for the rest of my life?" - Anne Murray

Thursday, May 31, 2012

One Year Anniversary

We've been "dancing 'cross the country" for one year now and in honor of our anniversary I thought I'd post a geographical review.

We sold our home in Naperville, IL on May 31, 2011 and moved out the same day. For the month of June we hung around in motels, in the RV dealer's parking lot, and in a nearby campground until we felt we had everything in order. Since then we've been traveling, staying places anywhere from one night to two months.  Aside from this blog, and taking photographs, here are some other ways we've recorded our journey.

This was made in Google Maps, then screen captured and imported to Picassa. I hope to learn how to remove the lettered pins soon.

This is a sticker map, common among RVers, that we've put on the outside of the RV, near the door. You can get them at Camping World and add state stickers as you go.

These are old fashioned paper maps from a US and Canada atlas that I keep track of our travels in. The one above is Southern California where we spent about four months this winter, and the one below is Oregon.

As we travel, we usually don't buy souvenirs, as we don't have room to keep them. The one exception is refrigerator magnets from the National Parks we've visited. Here's the western US collection. I try to arrange them roughly geographically on the freezer door.

Our plans for the next year include continuing north to Sequim, WA where we will stay for one month, then on to Vancouver Island, BC for three weeks. Then we start the long trek diagonally southeast across the country so that we can be with family in South Carolina for Christmas 2012. We will probably winter somewhere in Florida, then head north to New England for summer 2013 to see many friends and family and get a few New England contra dances in. 

As always, our purpose is to gratefully embrace opportunity, explore possibilities, 
have new adventures, and dance as we go.  

Friday, May 25, 2012

Gig Harbor

After spending the afternoon at the Tacoma Museum of Glass we decided to head north rather than drive through Tacoma and Olympia on Route 5 during rush hour.

So, once safely across the Tacoma Narrows bridge with high wind warnings (remember Galloping Gertie, the bridge that collapsed due to structural defects?) we found the very cute harbor town of Gig Harbor.

As you can see, it's a very protected little harbor, with many recreational and fishing boats, and homes along the shores.

It has a small historic downtown, including the Skansie Netshed, one of the buildings left from the homes and business of the Skansie family, one of the town founders.

While hanging around the docks, we watched some young people receiving lessons in high kneel, or Canadian canoeing, which I have since learned is an Olympic event. It seemed to be very difficult, as balance is much harder to achieve in this position. The lesson starts on the dock. See the foam pad under her knee? Can you imagine balancing this way while paddling in a canoe?

These two boys struggled along in tandem as they came into shore.

We watched long enough to see this young man successfully set off on his own. See the unusual shape of the canoe? Looks incredibly unstable.


We found some supper at Tides Tavern overlooking the harbor and then headed home on the back roads through the Kitsap Peninsula. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Tacoma Museum of Glass (MOG)

Yesterday we took a rainy day drive to the Tacoma MOG and an unplanned side trip to Gig Harbor.  It was a moody day, swinging between brief downpours of rain, dramatic clouds and bright blue sunshine skies. This proved to be a perfect backdrop for the architecture and outdoor exhibits of the MOG, as you can see here.

This glass sculpture in the fountain is called Fluent Steps and represents the different states of water.

Fluent Steps and the MOG building

The cone part of the building is the Hot Spot .

Another view of the Hot Spot.
Inside the Hot Spot is a glass blowing studio presented in proscenium theater style, with the audience looking down into a pit with five oven doors, kilns, and a team of working glass blowers. One of them doubles service as an MC of sorts, fielding questions from the audience and describing what the glass blowers are doing. There is a catwalk around the "stage/pit" so that you can view the work from all sides.

The glass blowing studio theater.

The ceiling is the inside of conical Hot Spot
which also serves as a chimney. 

This man standing is blowing air into the glass at the end of his tube, and the other man is holding a mold that forms the glass as the bubble inside it expands.

This man is rolling his tube with a glob of glass at the end, which he is flattening the bottom of with 
another tool.

Glass artist Cappy Thompsen's rendition of a glass blower.

Another permanent exhibit at the MOG is the Bridge of Glass, which seems to serve as a giant display case for pieces made by Chihuly, the very well known glass artist who is from Tacoma. One of my favorite displays, the Seaform Pavillion, was the glass ceiling of the bridge above which thousands of Chihuly pieces are laid out in a crowded chaotic fashion reminiscent of the tide pools I saw on the Oregon coast.

The Bridge of Glass also has two glass structures called the Crystal Towers.

After a full afternoon at the MOG, we surprised ourselves by heading over to Gig Harbor for dinner. Stay tuned for that, coming soon.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Rainy Day to Catch Up

We've had about two weeks of great weather, and it looks like now we're about to have a week of rain. This is a perfect time to catch up on laundry, cleaning house, cooking and blogging about what we've been doing in the sunshine.  So today I baked the worlds best brownies. Here's the recipe. Try them. I promise they are the best. I got the recipe out of a Bon Appetit magazine that I picked up in a laundry room. I'll never make any other brownies again.

Brownies from scratch today!

10 T (1 ¼ sticks) butter
1 ¼ C sugar
¾ C unsweetened cocoa powder
2 t water
1 t vanilla
¼ t salt (generous)
2 large eggs, chilled
1/3 C plus 1 T unbleached flour
1 C walnut pieces

Position  rack in bottom third of oven
Preheat oven to 325
Line 8x8 pan with aluminum foil and coat with nonstick spray

Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat.
Continue cooking until butter stops foaming and browned bits form at bottom of the pan, stirring often, about 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and immediately add sugar, cocoa, 2 t of water, vanilla, and ¼ t (generous) of salt.
Stir to blend.
Let cool 5 minutes (mixture will still be hot).
Add eggs to hot mixture 1 at a time, beating vigorously to blend after each.
When mixture looks thick and shiny, add flour and stir until blended.
Beat vigorously 60 strokes.
Add walnuts.
Transfer to prepared pan.

Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out almost clean (with a few moist crumbs attached), about 25 minutes. Cool pan on rack. Using foil lift brownies from pan. Cut 4 by 4.

OK, here's what else we've been doing:

Mt. St. Helens

Olympia, WA - Wooden Boat Festival

Astoria, OR and Cape Disappointment, WA

Vancouver, WA farmers market

Mt. Hood and Timberline Lodge

Cascade Dining Room at Timberline Lodge

Timberline Lodge lobby

Timberline Lodge staircase

Hiking ...

with my good friend Carolyn.

Bird watching

Biking - We are living on Dike Access Rd. which runs along the top of a dike between the Columbia River and farming land (corn, raspberries, grass, cattle). It's a level ride for several miles. Along the way we've seen many bald eagles and an elk that has joined the local cattle herd.

Driving in and out of Portland three times to get our computer fixed. Now we have doubled the size of our hard drive to accommodate all these photographs.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Columbia River Gorge

Before I leap into the gorge,  ; )  I need to revisit the Oregon coast for just a moment to share this little fellow.

Is he adorable or what? He looks just like a little ivory carving of a seal. He was amongst his friends lounging around near Yaquina Head, OR. We spent a dark and cold afternoon tide pooling there and I didn't get a lot of pictures I liked, except this one.

And while I'm on the subject of wildlife, I have to just mention my once in a lifetime sighting of................
a mountain lion! I didn't get a picture, but I'll remember it always. Kona and I were exploring the Gifford-Pinchot Forest near Mt. St. Helens. It was a very overcast day so we were focusing just on what was in front of our noses, poking around in the woods and taking pictures of lichens and such. We were basically the only people on the back roads in the area because all the roads leading up to Mt. St. Helens were still closed with snow. We had seen many elk in the woods and crossing the road, and thought that was pretty special. We stopped often and got out to take pictures. So as we're driving along, a mountain lion just calmly loped across the road about 75 yards ahead of us. The moment was only about 5 seconds long, but it was a beautiful one.  What I remember most was his long gently curling tail as he left the road and disappeared into the woods.  I just never think about mountain lions in the green, wet, deep woods environment, but I guess they follow where the prey are, and if there are elk, it makes sense there would be mountain lions too.

Okay, now on to our drive along the Columbia River Gorge from Portland to Hood River, OR and then back on the Washington side. Beautiful day, gorgeous scenery. Rick, Kona and I spent a lot of time at various waterfalls that empty into the Columbia River, each with their own little gorge. Our first was Latourell Falls.

Then we took a hike at Wahkeena Falls.

The top of Wahkeena Falls:

The trail starts just next to the base of the large falls as I recall,

and then zig-zags up a very steep ascent to the stream that feeds the falls. My memory of the exact sequence may be a little sketchy, but Northwest Hiker is a great website that describes many hikes in the area, including this one.

This is the initial ascent:

Then the switch backs:

A moss covered retaining wall along the switch backs:

Once above the main falls the trail follows the moss, wildflower and fern lined stream,

and passes other smaller falls.

And finished our falls tour at the famous Multnomah Falls, which was really crowded.

Lunched at Celilo's in Hood River,

and caught a perfect view of Mt. Hood from Panorama Point County Park before we headed home.

Tomorrow we hope to visit Mt. Saint Helens National Monument.