Category Archives: Travel

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.

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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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Anderson Island

F6900E39-AE43-4F8A-924F-480DA5FFABB1I have lived in this area all my life and never visited Anderson Island.  A few weeks ago I was reading a story set in France and the characters were traveling through small villages. This set me to bemoaning that I wasn’t traveling. Then, in a moment,  I realized that there were a lot of places, a whole lot, right here in my backyard, that I hadn’t been to.  I called Karen and we decided to make it our mission to discover our backyard in the coming months.  First stop, Anderson Island.

Anderson Island is called “The Secret Island” and is the southernmost Island in Puget Sound. It is accessible only by boat or float plane and is about a 20-minute ferry ride.  Karen commented that going there is like stepping back in time.  It has one General Store, one Gas Station, One Restaurant and no traffic lights.

The Island is just under 8 miles in size, with a population (in 2010) of 1037.  We picked a perfect day with the weather. The ferry ride was beautiful. The picture shows it a bit windy, but not cold at all. In fact, we stopped at “The Old Swimming Hole”, and watched kids swimming.

Our first stop was the General Store where we picked up a map and met a very friendly guy behind the counter. This is one of the friendliest places I have visited.  Armed with a  map we set out to explore the island.  The guy at the store told us about the restaurant that sets on one of two lakes.  So first stop Riviera Lakeshore Restaurant.  It overlooks Lake Josephine and has a beautiful view of Mt. Rainier.  And, is sooooo quiet. We both had fish and chips, good, and better with the ambiance surrounding us.

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A resident of the island stopped by our table and chatted for a bit. The pace of the day was “Island Time”.  Karen had it right when she said it was like stepping back in time.

We drove around the Island stopping at the first school on the Island and Johnson Historic Farm.  You can see more of the farm on their website.  Unfortunately, it was closed but we wandered around enjoying the grounds and wonderful weather.

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Altogether an amazing day that made me again wonder at how I could have lived here so long and never visited Anderson Island.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bavarian fun in the middle of Washington State

If you read this blog regularly, you know that my family goes away on a winter cabin adventure each year. Well, the women in my family also do a summer weekend of wine-tasting. Okay, it started as a wine-tasting event, and we really do test wines.  But it’s kind of evolved into a “sit by the pool reading and chatting” kind of weekend. Relaxing, and a great catch up time with my sisters, daughters, and nieces.

This year was our sixth, I think. For the past three years, we’ve been going to a wonderful little Bavarian village in central Washington State called Leavenworth. It’s pretty commercialized, but it’s also, well, just plain beautiful and fun.

In the 1960’s, trying to turn a failing community around, Leavenworth remodeled an entire town into a Bavarian motif to accent the alpine hills surrounding them. All businesses have to follow the Bavarian theme, even the McDonald’s. And that idea took off. Boy, did it ever. These days, it’s busy any day of the year, but that doesn’t stop us. They make it work well.

It’s easy to walk around. In fact, we park our cars and don’t get back in them until we’re ready to leave. Our hotel is about half a mile from the center of town, and easy stroll. The area is full of shops, places to get bratwursts, beer gardens,  and there’s live polka music in the park. Oh, and you can raft the river, too.

We always have fun. Sometimes, maybe a bit too much. Lol. But this year, we actually did some wine tasting again and I found some excellent wines to purchase.

It’s a fun weekend. Bonding as a family, relaxing before the end of summer. (I did not just say that phrase, did I?) And winding down from life, just for a couple days. I love my entire family, but I cherish this time with the women who carry on our mother’s rich heritage of love and family.

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Steam Trains

#25 in Garibaldi, Oregon

My husband is a steam freak. He loves steam trains. Okay, steam anything. He grew up in the country where you bucked bales of hay for a dollar, you went to the Grange Hall for social nights, and everyone knew everyone. I could fill a year’s worth of blog posts just on the stories from his childhood. What’s most important to know is that family friends own their own steam mill and my husband has so many fond memories of those days helping out.

However, this blog isn’t about that so much as it is about a recent steam-related trip we took. There are quite a few places within driving distance of us that have running steam trains. So over the last several years, we’ve visited most of them. Actually, all of them now. There was one more, and we just got back.

Our very first steam train ride was local, within 45 minutes of home, and we got to enjoy that with Over The Backyard Fence’s own Lavada Dee and her husband. Then we began branching out, to Summerland and Port Alberni in British Columbia, and to Oregon. This most recent trip meant a 7 hour drive up and into the heart of British Columbia, Canada. It’s worth noting that just the drive itself was an exceptional piece of this trip. The scenery through the Cascade mountains is amazing. And the drive was also worth it to see the refurbished 2141 engine in action. This train sat in a park for 33 years, used as a toy for kids to crawl over and play on. Then, back in 1994 the newly formed Kamloops Heritage Railway spent the next eight years (and with 80,000 man hours) moving and restoring #2141 to its former glory. It’s been carrying passengers on an eight mile rail tour since the summer of 2002.

There’s nothing like the whistle of a steam train. And the sound of the train getting up to speed like The Little Engine that DOES, well, even I break out in a smile. The video below is from a trip to Oregon a few years ago.

On this trip, we got robbed. Well, not really, but three lady robbers rode up on horseback, guns (with caps, not bullets) ablaze. It was a great show, and an awesome finish to a warm, but fun day. Worth the drive, even though we had to come home through Friday traffic.

And, since it’s the last semi-local one that we know of, we’ll have to branch out to see more. Hmmm, I read that there’s a great steam train ride in Auckland, New Zealand. I wonder if I can convince the hubby…

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Panama Cruise

6C87FCEE-400F-4B95-A1BC-2763BAEEE6E1Last month at this time we were just boarding the ship for a ten day Panama Cruise with Princess.  We had spent two days in Ft. Lauderdale seeing the city and taking a canal excursion out to an island for a dinner and show.  We got a glimpse of the rich and famous along the way.

 

 

The picture to the right is the Ft. Lauderdale skyline taken DC83BA77-7181-433D-9E4B-0AE34E6B02A3from our balcony as we started the cruise. It’s been awhile since I’ve been on an big ship and I had forgotten how big they are.  We were still getting lost at the end of the cruise, but then knowing me I’m betting no one is surprised.

The first day was at sea and we enjoyed every minute. People were so friendly and we made friends.  In fact a few days out Linda lost her reading glasses. A woman we had just met offered her a spare pair she had.  We did eventually find the glasses but the borrowed pair made reading possible and Linda appreciated the womans generousity.  These are the kind of people we found on the trip.

The second day out we made port in Falmouth Jamacia.  We had booked a tour to Rose Hall an old plantation house that the White Witch had owned.  I had seen it and wanted Linda to see it, but we had to take our second choise. Greenwood plantation house once owned by the Elizabeth Barrett Browning.  It has been continuously used as a residence since it was built.  A part of the information from the website  

The present owners, Bob and Ann Betton, every morning since they bought the house, get up, make the beds in Richard Barrett’s bedroom and open the house for tours. Richard Barrett, the builder of the house, would feel very comfortable there today because the house, unlike other great houses in Jamaica still has the original furnishings down to the Barrett’s library. 

More Pictures of the house.

We didn’t do every port of call. The weather was hot and as we got closer to Panama the humidity increased.

On the dock in Falmouth.

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The ships entertainment was exceptional and after getting oriented to dinner in the dining room times, we managed to see pretty much all of the evening shows.  And, we always topped it off with a drink in one of the bars.  We tried all different drinks, promising ourselves we would expand our experience in a few months when we go to Cancun at the all-inclusive Palace.

 

It was Linda’s first cruise and she says it’s something everyone should experience.  A memory making trip.  We found we like being spoiled and they for sure know how to do it.