Category Archives: Travel

July in August

Warning…county music fan geeking out…

This past month, over the U.S. Fourth of July, eleven people from my family met up for what felt like the vacation of a lifetime. I think it was the first time all five of us siblings have gone on a trip together. We were celebrating a banner birthday, some resolved health issues, and each other.

We went to Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.A.

And it was awesome.

It started last Christmas when my brother said they were going to Nashville at our annual brunch. We all fell like dominoes and within two days, hotel reservations were set. I’ll say it was a little scary that nine out of eleven of us were on the same plane, but we made it there delayed, but without issue.

On the Fourth, the downtown corridor in Nashville was cordoned off and we all filtered through metal detectors to get in. It was crazy busy, but Florida Georgia Line’s restaurant, FGL House, got us in for the most amazing dinner. Everyone there was so nice and the food was yummy, especially the No Joke Mac n Cheese (bacon, chicken, and calories, but melt in your mouth.)

Because we’re older, and because the crush of what turned out to be 348,000 people for the fourth of July was rather daunting, we bought rooftop reservations at Blake Shelton’s bar, Ole Red. That was the best choice ever! We got to sit, visit, and watch the crush of people below without being jostled. And…here’s where the fan geeking comes in…our waiter was also waiting on Blake Shelton’s manager (Kelly Clarkson’s husband.) Okay, so we didn’t meet him, but I’m still saying that us (and 300 other people) partied with him. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

The fireworks were the best we’ve ever seen. Getting home wasn’t much fun that night, even though we sat and waited for another hour after the show ended. It still took us two hours to get back to the hotel seven miles away.

Totally worth it.

The next night, with a LOT less people, we went back downtown to enjoy some music. From place to place, you could hear so much variety, from country, to Hard Rock Café style, to dueling pianos, to some amazing blues.

We ended up listening to a great singer, Becki McLeod, and her rocking band. Loved her voice, her cover choices, and her fiddle player even did The Devil Went Down to Georgia, a fast, difficult piece. Okay, the whole band was involved in that, but the fiddle player, in particular, was outstanding.

Again, it was the best ever!

We all broke away for our own tours, too. Some went to the Jack Daniels distillery tour and said it was one of the best tours they’d ever done.

Hubby and I went to the Grand Ole Opry. Fan geeking again here…it was pretty amazing to stand where people whose music I love have stood. The Opry is music royalty and we loved seeing it.

We also got some pool time at the hotel, ate what the south calls Wicked Chicken (spicy), and did a lot of visiting. A LOT of visiting.

I’d have to call it one of our top five favorite trips ever, ranking up there with the cruise that took us to Iceland and Greenland, the overland tour to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska (Northern Lights!), the motorcycle trip to Banff, Canada (snow in July, Brrrr!), and our road trip to Mt. Rushmore (majestic.)

I know I’ve been truly blessed with our travels and I have so many great memories. I hope you’ve been blessed with memories that make you smile when life is handing you lemons.

Have a great rest of your summer, everyone!

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Montesano Washington

220px-Grays_Harbor_County_Courthouse_03Last week Karen and I resumed out trips to small towns. It was a beautiful day to visit the Montesano courthouse and walk along the residential streets.

The courthouse was damaged in the 1999 earthquake and I didn’t know if it was open. It was, in fact, the work to repair the quake damage led it to be restored to its former glory. The courthouse today is considered one of Washington finest and is an important part of the state’s architectural history.

The entrance is through the side making the building look like it is closed. Karen and I took a self-tour of the building. The murals in the rotunda B6B29826-E0D5-448B-B6FB-2925752DC32Aare some of many throughout the courthouse.

Just seeing the courthouse is worth the trip but the town itself is an experience. The 1987 survey made by the state referred to the county’s collection of homes as “the richest in the state”.

It was a beautiful day so when we left the courthouse we wandered down some streets. Many of the homes looked to be in the process of renovation but the Hubble House was in perfect condition and is for sale.  The listing reads 5 bedrooms – 5.25 bathrooms and 5352 square feet.  It was built in 1903.Grays-Harbor-Historic-Homes-Hubble-House-Montesano-Historic-Homes

Of course, we finished off with lunch stopping at a Mexican restaurant recommended from people we met at the courthouse.

Visiting small towns are one of my favorite out and about days.

 

A Trip Down Memory Lane

Shakespeare's BirthplaceLast week, we spent a few days in leafy Warwickshire (Shakespeare Country) and, since we lived in the area about thirty five years ago, took the opportunity to visit some of our old haunts. Stratford-on-Avon, where we spent many happy hours showing visitors around Shakespeare’s town (especially his birthplace, pictured), then on to Leamington Spa, where I used to work, and a day spent in the city of Coventry which, for me, was the highlight of our trip.

Coventry is probably best known for it’s medieval cathedral, which was bombed in November 1940 and left in ruins. At the end of World War II, it was decided to build the new cathedral beside the ruins of the old one as a symbol of hope, peace and reconciliation.  Unfortunately, the photo I took is too blurry to post, but there are many great images on Google if you’d like to check them out.

20190519_125326Another reason for Coventry’s fame is the story of Lady Godiva. According to legend, she was the wife of a powerful tyrant lord who demanded high taxes from the people of Coventry. Lady Godiva asked her husband to stop this tax since she knew it was causing such hardship amongst the people she loved. He allegedly told her that he would do so if she rode naked through Coventry.

Lady Godiva took him at his word, and with only her long blonde hair covering her naked body she rode through Coventry on market day. Pious and modest, Lady Godiva is said to have sent word to the townspeople that they should go inside their homes and not watch as she rode by. Because they loved her and knew she was doing it to save them hardship, they complied. Except one young tailor who couldn’t resist looking. He became known as Peeping Tom and was blinded by heaven for not adhering to Lady Godiva’s instruction.

On the plinth below the statue are words from Tennyson’s poem:

“Then she rode back
clothed on with chastity.
She took the tax away
and built herself an everlasting name” 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gallery

Looking Back on 2018

This gallery contains 3 photos.

Ho Ho Ho, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. I love this time of year and what a fun way to end a year.  Only 10 more days until we see 2019. Today is the first day of winter and we … Continue reading

One Final Grab at Summer

We took advantage of some glorious late summer/early autumn weather this month to grab a few days away on the south coast of England. Sidmouth in Devon has been a favourite spot of ours ever since we moved to the south west area well over thirty years’ ago. The town is considered the gateway to Devon’s Jurassic Coast. Sidmouth has amazing beaches situated at the foot of prehistoric red cliffs and surrounded by the beautiful green hills of the Sid Valley. 20181010_160357

During one of our mega walks along the coast we stopped off at Jacob’s Ladder Beach and managed to find enough puff to climb the Ladder itself up to a rather splendid tea shoppe. Afternoon Devon tea served with a huge slab of coffee and walnut cake helped give us the energy to walk back to our hotel.It had some lovely views, too.20181009_180911

The hotel we stayed in was incredibly interesting. Some parts of the hotel date back to the 13th Century and boasts connections with Sir Walter Raleigh and the Prince Regent. It has fabulous gardens where you can sit and enjoy the sunshine under the shade of ancient trees like the one in the photo.20181009_161801 The hotel was one of the first buildings in the UK to achieve listed status in 1951. During renovations in the 1970s, archaeologists discovered some of the oldest structures in the town consisting of a spooky network of ancient tunnels and a domed subterranean chamber. Alas, we didn’t experience any spooky goings-on while we were there, just a lovely relaxing and enjoyable break.

Viv and Me Oct 2018Unfortunately, Ms. Vivvy couldn’t join us, although the hotel was incredibly dog-friendly, because she is not the best traveller. But we know how much she’ll love the beaches, so we’re going to dose her up and take her with us when we visit again over Christmas. She was pleased to see us when we got back, and as the autumn chill set in, she snuggled up with me under our furry blanket. The very best welcome home after a great trip away.

Hoquiam Washington

AB15B500-E45E-4ACA-A3C6-FE841E0929C4Karen and I picked Hoquiam for our second, “exploring our own backyard”, mission.  The weather the day we went was unbelievable. Perfect for a Sunday outing.

Hoquiam is a small town, population of 8,726 in 2010. I’ve been to Hoquiam, both Karen and I remember going through it to the ocean beaches.  Amazingly it hasn’t changed much, the houses along the route are the same, older but well kept up.

Our first stop was Duffy’s for lunch. We both had shrimp fettuccini. Delicious.  Our main destination for the day was the Polson Museum. Again on the route to the coast, you pass it and yet neither Karen nor I had ever stopped.  The picture at the top of this blog is of the 6,500 square foot mansion. The man at the entrance gave us a brief history of the house and invited us to tour at our leisure.  He told us to look for 1942 photographs as most of the rooms have a picture of how the room looked when the Polson’s lived there.

The house was a wedding gift to Arnold and Priscilla Polson from his uncle. The house has twenty-six rooms with six bathrooms and four fireplaces.  The Polson Museum website is very well designed and includes history and pictures.   If you’re going to the ocean via Aberdeen/Hoquiam I would recommend a stop. If not, a virtual tour is the next best thing.

Another historic site is the Hoquiam Castle. We were fortunate to be able to tour the castle years ago when it was open to the public. There is so much history in Hoquiam. For a while, it was a Bed and Breakfast, but we were told it is now a private residence.   The website from the B/B time is the only tour available. Karen and I drove past it and even though you can’t go in, I would recommend the slight detour to see it.

So what’s next on our mission to see out of way places in Washington? Not sure yet we are thinking of Whidbey Island and Coupeville.  Any suggestions? We are open to ideas.

Oh almost forgot, check out the rose garden at the Polson Museum. It is late in the season but there were still some beautiful blooms.

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Living on the “economy” in 1976

***WARNING*** Badly preserved pictures ahead.

This month, for some people, is devoted to Oktoberfest. I drink beer, so I get it. Especially since I’ve had the privilege of going to the original Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany. I was way too young to recognize that this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I was 21. And I only drank wine then. So if we hadn’t of taken a bus that day, I’d have been the designated driver. We didn’t find the one little tiny wine tent until about 7pm. Lol.

I went to Kitzingen, Germany to join my then husband. It was an experience that I learned so much from and I am so grateful for my time there. He was a Spec 4 in the Army, so not high enough in the chain to get base housing. So we lived “on the economy” as it was called. We had a small apartment above a very nice German family.

I was five months pregnant when I flew there. I scared the wits out of my husband because I got there and slept for twenty hours.

What am I grateful for?

  1. That we had no car, so I walked the two miles into base two or three times a week. There was a bus that would take us grocery shopping and to do laundry, thank goodness.
  2. That it’s okay to not trust a taxi driver on the autobahn. We never got in an accident, but boy, sometimes, it was close!
  3. That we had no running hot water. I learned to stoke a boiler under the hot water tank with paper, wood, and coal. And to plan baths because it took two hours to warm up enough water for a bath. Oh, and one night, when my husband was in the field with his platoon, the pregnant me got stuck on that floor. Stoked the fire, then couldn’t get up. Sat there for about the two hours it took to heat the water. That was the best bath ever!
  4. That we couldn’t just turn a switch and have heat. I learned how to pour oil into our heater, and how to keep track of how much oil we had left. Taught me to keep my house stocked.
  5. That I met Yolanda. In 1976. And we have been best friends ever since. I was pregnant and alone a lot of the time, with my husband out in the field. She’s my age and managed to be my friend, confidant, shoulder, and mother.
  6. That one of my daughters was born there. Definitely the best part of this whole trip.
  7. That, when I got off the plane after a year with my eight-month-old daughter, the nice Captain helping me with all my stuff, after a 9 hour flight, looked down through the customs window at all the people waiting there. There were a lot. He asked me which ones were my family. I say “see those three on the right?” “Yes,” he said. “Well, everyone but those three are my family.”

You see, I had the first grandchild born in the family and they’d only seen her in pictures for eight months. So they all showed up at the airport.

Yes, Germany will always be a special place to me. My husband and I did not stay together, and I’m happy for almost 30 years now with my soul-mate. But my first husband and I had a good life while we were together and he made sure I remembered our time in Germany with happiness. I do. I treasure the memories I have from that year, and will for the rest of my life.

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