Wednesday, September 18, 2013

On The Road, continued...

Day two continued...

South Bend,Washington touts itself as the Oyster Capital of the World or something like that. I didn't pay much attention because neither Mom or I care for that variety of shellfish. But Willipa Bay, where the Willapa River enters the sea, has a thriving oyster industry and so the claim will stick. The town is, wait for it, on the southern end of a big looping bend of the river.

It's also just a few miles down the road from Raymond, WA, the town where my free-spirited grandfather lived his last days. We wanted to stay in that area so Mom could revisit some memories. South Bend has a much nicer motel than any in Raymond.

It is also the county seat of Pacific County and has a most amazing courthouse...

This is the floor in the entry rotunda. You stand in the middle of it to take photos of...
...this amazing creation of glass that makes up the dome of the building.

And you climb up these graceful stairways, at either side of the entryway, to get to the second level where the courtrooms are.
I had a chat with someone who works in this building and she agreed that yes, it is a spectacular place to come to each day, even though she admitted she took it for granted sometimes. Oh, human nature...
This is over the doorway leading to the sheriff's building.
As we lingered here, we discovered that this sleepy little town, like so many built on someone's hopes, has a history long on hard work and short on glory. But the people who live here love it and the views from the hill above the town were stellar. (And of course, I didn't have my camera when I went for a morning walk on that hill.)

So...on to Raymond, previously just a name on an I-5 exit and a place I sent a few Christmas cards to while my grandfather was alive. It's actually is quite a ways from I-5 and is an old lumber town with bumpy streets, brick buildings and a lot of metal sculptures of things like bears, beavers, fish, flowers and odd looking people.

It also is home to the Northwest Carriage Museum. Woo-hoo! A whole building with nothing but beautifully restored vintage carriages! Mom and I had a wonderful hour there.

So nice for a summer day.

Or a winter one.

And this beats a mini-van for toting the kids around!

We found my grandfather's old house and Mom was able to sift through some memories that hadn't been disturbed in a while. This was a good thing, and now I'll know what's out there next time I go past that freeway sign.

We left Raymond to continue on Hwy 101 to Port Townsend. No road trip is without its dramas, and ours happened when we didn't open the map completely to see that we should have taken a cutoff toward Olympia and bypassed Aberdeen altogether. Heading through that town, we followed the 101 sign, not realizing it was taking us up the west side of the Olympic Peninsula. My brain turned on again after about the third sign stating the mileage to Forks. Oops. It would have taken us 6 hours at least to get to Port Townsend that way.

In Aberdeen - should have turned right, went straight ahead instead. Could have ended up a really long, scenic drive.
Thankfully we weren't too far along and got back on the right road, after stopping to recharge the brains with some food. We did laugh about it, eventually.

The correct part of 101 runs along between the Olympic Peninsula to the west and Hood Canal to the east. The sun came out then and we saw lots of sparkling water and quiet coves.

The beach at Potlatch State Park

There was a store at Pleasant Harbor Marina, so we stopped to look at the boats and treat ourselves.

The twisty, winding road eventually led to the intersection with Hwy 20, the route to Port Townsend. It was a sunny day there too...

Looking toward the Strait of Juan de Fuca, from Point Hudson. There's a big fog bank out there...

You can't see it here, but this boat is named Kia Ora, Maori for 'hello'.

The Olympics in the background.

We used to come to Port Townsend on our boat and the old hotel I chose was right next to the marina we would come to.

The Swan Hotel, in the morning after the fog rolled in

I walked over there, and later we ate dinner in a restaurant there. When we asked for recommendations, the hotel person didn't even mention Point Hudson. Perhaps its because it isn't strictly in the historic downtown. But we liked it much better. Port Townsend is cute and funky, but the shops are a bit woo-woo and touristy for me. I liked looking at the wooden kayaks at the only retail shop at the Point.

I did walk downtown early the next morning, when you couldn't see more than about a hundred feet. The ferry was coming in - I knew this because I could hear the rumbling engine and the foghorn, but it was invisible in the fog. By the time we boarded the ferry an hour later, it was still so thick all we could see was the wake of the boat. On a blue sky day, Puget Sound sparkles like the gem it is. This was not its day.

Our landing point, Coupeville on Whidbey Island, was also gray but at least the fog had lifted a bit. We drove the hour or so along the main road up the island to Deception Pass State Park, stopping to, well, look at the fog. And a very weird looking tree.

We slipped into Anacortes via the scenic route, following all the back roads Mom and Dad would take when they had to go to Whidbey. It will always be a homecoming, driving into Anacortes. Part of me will ever be there, in my memory and up at Grand View Cemetery. Rest in peace, Dad. We had a great visit to your neck of the woods.

Mom and me, with our dear friend Colleen, who treats us like royalty when we visit!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Road Trippin' with Mom

Ramsay's taking us on another trip! This time Mom and I are on a very scenic route from Sisters to Anacortes, WA, via Hwy. 101 from Newport, up the Oregon coast to Washington and through places my mother's parents lived in their final years. It's been a bit emotional and some interesting and unheard stories have come out. I really thought I'd heard them all, but seems not. As Mom says about her father,  "You can tell your grandchildren that their great-grandfather was a bit of a free spirit."

He spent his working life doing many things, among them mining in Idaho and sailing around the world as a journeyman electrician in the Merchant Marines. All I really remember was that he brought us fun and exotic presents on his infrequent visits.

Back to the road trip...

Our first port of call was the Esther Lee Motel at Lincoln City, right next door to the Inn at Spanish Head. My grandmother lived in a cliff-edge house there in the 60's before the Inn was built. They tore her house down.

The Esther Lee, built in the 40's, was Grams' next door neighbor and not a lot has changed. Especially the views. They are always stellar on the Oregon coast.

But there was a lot of fun stuff in that old motel. Mom was most taken with the shower, a testament to creative tile work.

My favorite was this quirky window, also in the bathroom...

And then there were the hundred or so cupboards in the full kitchen. With everything except a toaster.

The sunny days hoped for on our September trip haven't quite appeared.

Except for this brief moment at Nehalem Bay.

But part of the allure of the coast is walking through fog, everything all misty and drippy and mysterious. Or so I told myself as we struggled to actually see the the ocean.

But weather makes no difference to shopping so we stimulated the economy of the outlets at Lincoln City on our first morning and eventually hit the road north.

My mom is finding that walking isn't as easy as it once was, so we drove on toward Astoria and finally found Manhattan Beach.

It was easy to access and fulfilled my need to feel the ocean breeze in my hair. It doesn't have to be much of a breeze these days since my hair is so short! But that squeaky feel of sand under feet and stopping to empty it out of shoes is part of the beach experience. Mom was able to walk out to a convenient bench and feel the breeze in her hair too. And get sand in her shoes.

We scooted through Astoria, saving exploring that funky town for another day. South Bend, WA was our destination. Granted, a town with only one motel doesn't generally rate as a destination, but we had another reason for staying in that neighborhood.I'll share that in the next post...

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Story of Ramsay

Hi-Ho, Ramsay

When Evan and I set out in 2009 on The Epic Journey across America, I thought it would be fun to tote along a mascot, a little toy of some sort that would pop up in photos occasionally. My clever daughter-in-law, Alyssa, suggested we look on Etsy, because you can always find something unique and quirky there. (Hmm, if it were a dating site, I wonder what sort of profiles there'd be.)

Anyway, she's scrolling through and up pops a photo of a cute little stuffed pony. Reading along, we discover this repurposed toy began life as a tea towel in a New Zealand tourist shop. Where his creator placed his right eye is an image of a big, old ram. Perfect! He fit all the criteria; sheep - check, horse - check, New Zealand - check, which we hadn't actually set prior to looking but who wants to split hairs?

When Ramsay arrived he had his own little carry bag and a note from his maker about how excited she was for Ramsay to have a purpose in life.

So far Ramsay's been on the Epic Journey; Hunting for Heritage with my mother and I as we went to her childhood stomping grounds; experienced A First Time for Anything with Goddy and me on our first ever multi-day road trip around Oregon; he went Traipsing around Tucson with us last winter; and now he's gone full circle, back to his homeland in New Zealand to the Max. (All those capital letters signify what I've named Ramsay's trips in my journal.)

A man and his horse

I know some people's underwear is better traveled than my little horse. I imagine he won't wear out as our trip mascot since we don't go all that often, but as time goes on he becomes a special marker of the significant moments in my life. He sits on the top shelf of my big roll-top desk, and when my mind wanders and I look around my office instead of finishing an article or paying the bills, Ramsay is always gazing out into some middle distance with a secret little smile on his face. He's ready to be stuffed into a bag and go somewhere.

Next stop, ????