Sunday, September 30, 2007

Notes from the Road

I am back home from the journey west. Here are some highlights of the last few days:

Canada Customs
The road from Metalline Falls to the border was quiet so when I pulled up to customs, it was a surprise to find a line up of cars. After 45 minutes, I had my turn. The officer, after looking at my package of receipts, asked, "What is Trader Joe's?"

Bellingham Grand Opening
The Friday I was in Bellingham was the grand opening of Trader Joe's. BJ and I decided that this was one event that we had to experience. So we went shopping, along with many, many other Bellingham folks. Once we went down the second aisle, we had the brainwave of getting in the check-out line and one holding the space while the other went and picked up their items. Clever.

Space Needle
I heard that one of the tenants who lives in Ryan's building is a collector of Space Needles so Saturday morning (the 29th) before I left for home, I went to visit Brian. He has many Space Needles - made of brass, gold, silver, wood, paper, plastic - some that have cigarette lighters at the top and two that have ashtrays. He has a whole shelf devoted to salt and pepper shakers. He has one of the inaugural Space Needle wine glasses made for the opening of the Space Needle which was built for the World Fair - the opening day was April 21, 1962. He has a Space Needle that lights up at the top. Brian knows many facts about the Space Needle including the names of the paints that were used on the original:

- Orbital Olive for the body,
- Astronaut White for the legs,
- Re-entry Red for the saucer, and
- Galaxy Gold for the roof.

It was a very impressive collection!

Mountain View
After eating Taco Bell with Ryan and Julie, I left Seattle at 2:15 and headed down I-90, in the rain. But l/2 hour later the weather cleared, and the roads, I am glad to say, were dry all the way home. As I came over the Snowqualmie Pass, this is what I saw...

I guess winter's arrival is inevitable.

Oh what a journey

In 15 days, I travelled 3,195 kilometres. I was in bumper-to-bumper traffic from the day I arrived crossing the Port Mann Bridge to traffic in Vancouver, Seattle, Everett (always), Portland, and Mount Vernon. I have developed a big empathy for commuters.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Crescent Beach

Another Crescent Beach in the world...

Cannon Beach

When I woke up yesterday in Cannon Beach, the weather was spectacular, so off I went to walk on the beach.

The tide was coming in:

Cannon Beach from the north:

Cannon Beach from the south:

The shops of Cannon Beach:

As you can see, Cannon Beach is one major groovy place to hang out....

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Washington to Oregon

At this moment, I am in a oceanside town called Cannon Beach, Oregon. Here is how I spent my time today.

Leaving Seattle:
Note that the red car on the left is a convertible with its top down.

I found the sun (this is for you, Ryan)....

First view of the ocean:

What happened to give a park this name?

A walk to Cape Disappointment - a first view of the ocean out of the car.

Once I got out of the forest, this is what I saw:

This is a rearview mirror picture of the bridge crossing the Columbia River into Astoria. The state line is in the middle of this bridge, which is about 4 miles long.

At the end of the bridge:

Highway 101 along the coast had much road activity - as in, lots to slow me down. At one point, the highway people were painting the white line on the right side of the road; the first vehicle after the painters was the truck right ahead of me, and this is how he spent his time:

Haystack Rock - Cannon Beach:

Gifts from the sea:

Some of the last light:

Monday, September 24, 2007

Sunday in Seattle

We had many ideas of ways to spend our time this Sunday, some of which included going distances, and Seattle is where we stayed. But in Seattle we kept ourselves busy. We went to the shops downtown, mainly at Old Navy and a groovy store, called Fleuvog Shoes. Apparently this guy is a Canadian... They certainly are everywhere, those Canadians.

At the downtown mall, we walked through the atrium and found one very interesting penguin:
If you look to the right of his belly button, you will see an ice cream scoop.

We walked to Pike Place Market to the dismay of the two Seattlites who came along with me. Pike Place Market is one very busy place. I found the Christmas presents I wanted (can't tell you what they are). One of the biggest delights at the Market is the flower stalls. Here's what came home with us:

That cost $10.00 (Canadian and American $).

After our shopping, we stopped at one of Ryan's favourite spots: Jamba Juice and then went to the park at the top of Queen Anne Hill, which is the area where Ryan and Julie live.

Friday, September 21, 2007


Day Seven of my vacation, and the first chance I have got to do a posting. My intentions were good. Travels. Posts. And then I had this most brilliant idea about taking the Myers Briggs Type Indicator training that just happened to be occurring in Vancouver the same time that I would be here for my vacation. An opportunity indeed.

The first day of the four-day workshop was on the third day of my vacation. Aimee and I spent the day before hanging out at the shops, and I was successful in acquiring shoes more appropriate for the big city, according to my daughter, who is so all over fashion that I must pay attention when she speaks.

On Monday, then, I got up, ready for my commute. I am staying with Aimee, who lives in Coquitlam. The workshop was in downtown Vancouver, 42 minutes away according to Google Maps and MapQuest. But both Josh and Aimee's advice was to stay off the freeway even though that was recommended, so I followed Route 7A into the city, allowing hour or more from my advisors. So for 4 days of my vacation, I got up with Aimee at 6 am, as she was commuting as well, and went into Vancouver.

My 4 days of commuting, which just happened to coincide with a new survey about how regular commuters spend about 3 years of their lives going back and forth to work, I shied away from the draggy part and paid more attention to the novelty. Each of those times back and forth into the city, I noticed that all commutes are not equal. It is the stop and go part of it that is a drag for everyone, but I actually found a flow to the drive one morning. The traffic, though moving quite slowly, kept moving. And certainly for someone with a standard transmission, that is a welcome event as it sure decreases the amount of time shifting, and engaging the clutch.

What else I noticed was that on the way to work, there is an aura of calm resignation - but on the way home, there is a sense of urgency. Once on the way home when I was on the Inlet Highway where the speed limit is 80 km, I looked down at my odometer as I was following traffic. Many people were passing me and I was going 100 k/hour.

Fall is settling in. Here is a photo as I was leaving from Aimee's cul-de-sac one morning:

I descended into the valley, and became immersed in the mists:

But the clouds were shortlived. Later on that day, from the hotel in downtown Vancouver where our workshop was happening:
And the final commute into Vancouver:

Today while Aimee was off to work, Josh and I went to new shops, where we found several treasures. Later, we went to pick up Aimee and I got to commute the other direction. At the end of our drive, I got to see the new store (from the outside only) where Aimee is working. It isn't even open yet... but it will be soon... the countdown is happening... as well as the mad rush... very exciting.

So now I have done five days of commuting. I need a vacation!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


In the last posting, I told tales of going to Greenbluff, north of Spokane where the blackberries were abundant. We stopped at a store called High Country and I picked up 4 peaches; the clerks were very generous in letting me taste the few varieties and I decided on Sweet Dreams, the sweetest peach I have ever tasted. I brought them home and they tasted even better. So when my friend, BJ, was on her way to visit me for the long Labour Day weekend, I requested a stop in Greenbluff for a case of peaches.

I had a dream. That would be a Sweet Dream. I would can the peaches and in the middle of winter, they would be the best treat.

As I waited for BJ to arrive, she called on her cell phone, just shortly after crossing the border. The peaches were confiscated. My dream was devoured.

I decided that I wouldn't give up without a fight. I did some fancy typing into Google, and found the phone number for Customs. BJ had told me that the peaches were being walked from Canadian Customs to the American site. When I explained my story, they knew exactly which peaches I was describing, and they agreed to hold the box until Monday when BJ went home. They couldn't guarantee how good they would be but they would hold them in the garage.

Alas, we didn't get to eat fresh peaches, but BJ had picked up two pieces of pie - huckleberry and peach. They were delicious!

The next morning, we woke up to a beautiful Kootenay day. We celebrated that morning a belated birthday present-opening for BJ. This was one of the gifts she opened that morning:

It is a wall hanging. I had bought it weeks before, well before I even knew there was a kind of peach called Sweet Dreams.

A couple days later, I told my tale of woe to Heather, and she said, "why don't you go the US and can the peaches there?" The problem, as I found out from the border guard, was the pits. No pits can be brought into our country. No cores either. But if the peaches were removed from their pits, crossing the border is no problem. Heather is a genius!

So last weekend, I travelled back to Spokane, and the Sweet Dreams were still being pulled off the trees. The delight with peaches in Greenbluff is that they are vine ripened, which seems to make them extra sweet. On Saturday, Al and I drove up to Greenbluff and found out the raspberries were ready. Raspberries in the fall?? Whoever invented that notion was a clever one. The day was sunny and warm, and we filled each of our flats. When we went back to the farm hosts, we found out that there was 18 l/2 pounds of raspberries. A lot of raspberries.

I called the Canadian Customs; I had now memorized the phone number. Yes, they would let my raspberries across.

We then shopped for the rest of the supplies, and I started canning peaches at 5 pm. I made an emergency call to my mother; actually it was the second one in two days. Having never canned peaches before, I needed some serious help. Now my mother passed along to me (I'm convinced it is in the DNA) a great love of raspberries. In the second emergency call, she said that nothing is better than canned raspberries. And since I am easily inspired when it comes to raspberries, here's what I did after the peaches:

Here's the Sweet Dreams before:

And after:

When I crossed the border, I met the same border guard that confiscated the peaches from BJ, and then kindly walked them over to US customs because otherwise they would have been destroyed. He said they were a beautiful box of peaches; it would have been a shame. I was quite delighted when he asked me to open my trunk so he could see the canned peaches - after all, in a way, I did it for him.