Friday’s Passing Fancy: January Detour to Florida

I don’t have major travel plans this winter but I need a break from our saturated, chilly January in the Pacific NW. So, I went in search of sunnier climes with suitable diversions captured in photos of years past. Viola! I found sunshine in one lovely visit to Florida–just the remedy for moderate winter drear, chock full of happy memories, too. Many pictures were taken on Pine Island, a touristy but fun spot. Enjoy!

(And in memory of 2 family members lost to us in 2018: Sherril and Beth.)

Sneaky shot from across street: l.to.r.: my husband, Marc; brother-in-law Bill; tired out mother-in-law Beth (or.. is she puzzled by the odd polka dot chicken-creature?)
Glad to be together, l. to.r.: Me, sister-in-law Sherril, daughter Cait

This Monday’s Post Has Already Departed for the Beach!

 

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We’re off to luxuriate in blue skies and sunshine, leisurely days and evenings and a little exploration–much needed since Marc has been travelling a lot for work, as usual. We do still miss each other (even at this point in married life) after awhile! Plus, it’s his birthday present, not saying for which one, out of loving respect. ūüôā Hope you readers can create time to enjoy yourselves and loved ones, too. I’ll be back with more pictures and words by Wednesday or Friday, depending on timing (and perhaps how very relaxed I become on the trip…)

May blessings surround you; may peace visit all.

Cannon Beach-Astoria-Lg Beach, 5-17 486

 

Friday’s Quick Pick: Return to a True Love

cropped-victoria-trip-7-12-101.jpgVictoria, Victoria, how well and easily I am romanced by your exceptional character, your elegance and vibrancy never losing my attention…I find myself returning to those days and nights, to your intriguing vagaries, even your more pedestrian secrets that are revealed whenever I seek you out. It has been so long since I presented these eyes and ears, this heart and spirit to the enchantment of yours. When may we meet once more?¬†

Wait, I am not writing a romance novel, thrusting upon you a first overtly flowery paragraph. No, I am only daydreaming about another vacation on Vancouver Island and a stay in Victoria, its crown jewel. For today I am full of reminiscences and wonders of this small land parcel between the USA and Canada. I actually restrain myself from returning there in this blog so that readers need only put up with my praises and images once a year or so. But I find I can’t wait a few more months to share a spattering of pictures from five–or six?–trips to Victoria and¬†all which¬†thrives there. I can hardly post enough of the sights, but here is a teaser.

It is January, after all, and it’s remained simply too cold; my legs, hands and cheeks have barely thawed from an energetic afternoon walk. I must have relief and so I reach back to more temperate weather marked by color, movement and very good food (and chocolate). Some hear the siren call of the drowsy tropics or vast glittering ski slopes. I would happily settle for Victoria another visit, and if I manage not the actual flight from my chilled urban center, at least let me linger over past enticing moments. Some places just catch and hold you in a happy state. And, honestly, I have a thing about ferries…you may note there are a few shots of the rides.

Yes, Victoria, here I come–husband in tow.

Care to join me? (Click on bottom of photos for a pop up description and also to see full photo.)

Rain Talk

My favorite beach spot in Oregon is Yachats, but Oceanside, on the northern coast, nestles nicely into its own hillside and bluff. Whether it is crouched in deep fog or illuminated by a dozen gradations of light, it asserts a homey beauty. As you round the last bend that descends to the ocean, it reels you in, saying: come. So we have, for twenty-five years and counting, walking the lazy length of beach, exploring the nooks and crannies between rocky protuberances. Out to sea a bit rise the Three Arch Rocks, housing for bird colonies. Our lengthy treasure hunts net milky-white, yellow and amber agates that are pleasing to eye and palm. Sometimes we sit on the driftwood and admire surfers as they patiently wait for a good wave. Climbing the huge rocks are a standard bit of exericse. There is a tunnel that cuts through the headland that we like to follow to another side of the beach. This visit, I carefully navigated water-covered rocks in the near-darkness until I reached the end. I watched from the opening as the tide surged forward and the sky brightened, the rain eased.  It was as if a small doorway opened to yet another heavenly place.

We have stayed at both condos and a place that perches high atop the headland. This time we decided to finally try small motel that sits closer to the sea, right in the village. It offered an efficiency apartment-style room, which meant we could dine in, as we prefer. We made reservations in late August for mid-October, knowing the weather could turn from carefree to dour and chilly, plain ole wet. That is just one more mood of the coast that we love.

And¬†it did just that: rained and rained.¬†From¬†misty breezes to downpours that drummed against the roof and swept across the¬†balcony of the room, the rain dominated day and night. Marc traversed the beach alone the first morning as I slept luxuriously late. He returned thoroughly saturated from sea and rain. “Just¬†a little damp,” he smiled, although¬†pants and¬†jacket were draped, dripping,¬†in front¬†of an electric wall¬†heater.¬†He showed me a handful of¬†rocks he¬†rescued from the beach. After a late brunch, we ventured out on a short shopping jaunt, admiring the slick red- and yellow-leafed trees among the conifers, the cows, horses and deer unperturbed by the weather.¬† We returned to our spot in the afternoon, glad to be back.

We refilled our coffee mugs and settled down on the couch with sandwiches. For a time neither of us spoke much. The water drilled the roof and battered the windows; the wind swept across the sea. The tide rolled in, then gradually retreated.  We watched from the warm quietude. Shadows were nearly indiscernable; the last fingers of light pulled back quickly.

The soothing rainy rhythms¬†crowded out stray thoughts, our feet touching, our heads bent over reading materials. Marc worked on Sudoku puzzles, then¬†read a history of the Cascades, a book he always seemed to take on trips. I poured over the latest¬†Smithsonian magazine, although four other books lay nearby. It’s our belief that one can never pack too many¬†reading materials.

As we read on, we sporadically shared what we found amusing or intriguing, tidbits of fact and myth, a small feasting on ideas. We discussed beauty¬†in a variety of forms and functions, from mathematics to NASA’s Hi-C telescopic images of the Sun’s corona¬†and the curious study of pulchronomics, or the connection between beauty and economics. We laughed over¬†“pulchritudinous”, as it seems¬†such an unpleasant word to refer to beauty. Brain function was brought up as¬†I read to Marc about neuroscience chiming in on how the brain processes art. A poem was offered.

Time vanished as the light diminished. The worries of work and home faded. We were afloat in a world of thought, the pleasures of easy discourse, with the music of rainfall imbuing the night with all that was good.

We turned the lamps on and travelled to the African Republic forest to learn about western lowland gorillas. He shared with me about the Cascade Mountains insects and plants, trees and explorers. That led to random sharing on nature, hiking, health, our gratitude. I arrived at the topic of books and book reviews, a couple of which I read aloud, then wondered over.

“This book talks about¬†the electricity it requires¬†to flex a muscle or smell a flower. It’s all about charged particles moving across cell membranes. I bet we glow a lot more than we realize. Probably send off charges as we breathe, even. And this¬†one is about¬†dance in the¬†ordinary, daily¬†world, a photography book of dancers doing fabulous things.¬†Moving for the joy of it…Well, none of this planet and the life on it is very ordinary, is it? Can I come up with a new way to write about this?”

Marc said, “Why don’t we do this more often at home? Just sit for hours and read and talk?”

We determined to be more attentive to one another and to what matters most, then circled back to silence. One short afternoon and early evening had allowed us the chance to do nothing but think, imagine, share ideas and wonder. We smiled at each other from our respective ends of the couch, toe-to-toe, stilled by abiding affection and contentment.

Cool rain swayed and fell outside our window; the ocean drew back and gathered her powers and again flushed the sands. The wind came up and fell like a swirling veil upon rooftops. Gulls lined up on the balcony railing as an autumn horizon melded with white-crested waves. The gentle drumming of October rain spoke in secret waysРwords can sometimes only say so much.

The Light, Water, Flowers, Buskers and Boats of Vancouver Island

I missed a post last Friday as we were  on vacation. We have driven up and around the Olympic Peninsula several times, and this trip to Victoria, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, was our fourth. As you might imagine, there are good reasons for this.

The Olympic National Park is only the glorious beginning of things.

As the ferry emerged from thick, chilled fog, the light presented itself as a passageway through which we seemingly sailed from one dimension into another. Everything was vivid and  bright, the beauty so palpable that people braved the winds on deck, riveted by the study in blues.

We rounded coastal land and moved into the inner harbor of Victoria, a city deemed British in style but accented by many delights. The yachts lined up by cheerful yellow water taxis and sailboats, and the Empress Hotel seemed to proudly rise from the earth behind them.

I have come to think of the inner harbor as a stage, and have enjoyed countless performances by buskers there: musicians, fire eaters, jugglers, comedians and acrobats. As ever, the mammoth Government Building was imperious, hinting at all sorts of important work within. Everywhere the sidewalks and streets were filled with congenial energy, people speaking excitedly in many languages. Laughter wafted through the sunny air.

After we checked into our perfectly situated hotel–we could see the harbor, the Empress and were within three blocks of¬†downtown–we headed out for dinner. I lingered at the end of Trounce Alley¬† and spotted a brightly lit Tapa Bar. I had a vague memory of reading about this Spanish style of eating and was ready to dig in. Sitting at our outdoor table, I felt as though I had truly left Portland and possibly¬†North America to dine with Marc at a lively European cafe. The service was exceptional; the food, perfection. I left, satiated, a devotee.

It was with reluctance that we finally walked back to the hotel but sleep came easily and I slept soundly, the night sounds of the city left far beyond our casually elegant room. There was a loose plan for the next four days, the primary objective being rejuvenation physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  When we awakened the next morning we stepped onto our balcony and took in the glorious, clear light once more, the cool air so inviting that we sat with coffee and breakfast in hand, letting our  eyes roam over the stately buildings and sapphire water. It was hard to believe that I had nothing more pressing to do than simply breathe and be happy. Below are a handful of highlights from our trip (I took 700 pictures) to that lovely lady, Victoria, and the island where, I discovered, there is a greater concentration of bears and cougars than anywhere else in North America. The wilderness called me, as always. And at the end of five days: bliss. Come see a  bit of what we found.