15. July 2009 · Comments Off on From the Redwood Forest to the Desert Highway · Categories: Life & Family, Travel

This land was made for you and me…

We had to say goodbye to our sweet friend Alice on Thursday morning and hit the road toward home. We had programmed the GPS to take us down the Oregon and California coast through the Redwood National Forest, with a via point set in the Redwood National Park.

Around mid morning, the trees started changing from deciduous to conifer, and by noon they were thick and towering. We had a constant flow of traffic and a winding road which made it a little hard for the driver to really look around much of the time. But we made a couple of stops to take photos and also took some pictures through the windshield. I wish I’d gotten a picture of Glenda holding her camera out the window taking pictures as we were driving along at 55 mph.

The GPS pointed out a turn off the highway with a 6 mile drive on an unpaved road to the entrance to Redwood National Park. We were skeptical that it was the best way to get there, and after a half mile, decided we were not going to see anything different driving 5 1/2 more miles on a dirt road than we were seeing right along the 101. So we made a U-turn and got back on our route south. (Yes, I had to reprogram the GPS to head for our hotel in Petaluma.)

We decided to stop in the early afternoon for coffee. We found a little coffee house in a small town and pulled in. Glenda got a latte and I got a mocha frappuccino, and we tried to get back on the road. We had some confusion with Miss GPS as she steered us wrong for the first time. Maybe the signage had changed or we didn’t hear the direction clearly, but we found ourselves going north on the 101 and had to drive 2 miles before we could turn around.

We drove on to Petaluma where we spent our last night where the temperature stayed below 100. The next morning, we drove toward San Francisco, but the GPS took us across the Richmond Bridge, instead of going by way of the Golden Gate and Bay bridges. Glenda was disappointed, and we started talking about making a trip to San Francisco next spring. We’re going to see if Daryl and Gisele would consider making one of their many sojourns to the Bay area and be our tour guides.

The remainder of the trip scenery was pretty boring, so we listened to an audio book, talked, and traded off drivers (Glenda slept when I drove and I worked on my bible study when she drove – both very worthwhile and rewarding undertakings).

Our final night was spent in Palm Desert. We drove about 5 miles off the interstate and found a beautiful community in the middle of the hot desert. We checked into our hotel and drove around looking for someplace to eat. We ended up at a local Mexican restaurant, then went back to our room to watch the first episode of “Kings“, streaming the video from hulu.com on my laptop. Too bad this good show didn’t make it, but NBC is showing the 13 episodes that were completed and then releasing them on DVD.

We got back into Mesa about 1:00. I dropped Glenda at her house, then went home to unpack my raspberries. Unfortunately, the dry ice had evaporated, and the berries were thawed! Nearly mush. 🙁 They had to be used immediately, so I quickly made a raspberry cobbler and two cream cheese pies, packed them up and headed over to Brian and Carrie’s to see the grandkids and take a swim.

I discovered Andrew had started rolling over while I was away! He has done it dozens of times, so we know it’s not a fluke. Here’s proof.

13. July 2009 · Comments Off on Hike to Punchbowl Falls · Categories: Life & Family, Travel

We planned to hike to Multnomah Falls on Wednesday, but in talking to Keith, we discovered it was a very crowded place in the summertime, and was also quite a steep hike. We decided we were in the mood for something a little more relaxing for our day in the woods and picnic enjoyment. He suggested we go to Eagle Creek and take the 4 mile hike to Punchbowl Falls. It turned out to be the perfect choice.

The day dawned clear and comfortable and we splashed on sunscreen, packed sandwiches, snacks and water in a couple of backpacks, and headed out the highway. We started up the trail at about 10:30. I’ll just let the pictures describe the scene.

We got home at about 3:00 and took a rest, then later that evening drove to Gersham to visit a pub owned by a friend of Glenda’s. If you’re ever in the area, we highly recommend the 4th Street Brewery for dinner, and either the apple or cherry beer. I’m not a fan of the taste of beer, but those were delicious. We decided to eat family style and each ordered a different item off the menu and shared it with each other. The cheesy rice and battered fish and chips were our favorites. In fact, Alice sent word back to the chef that they were the best fries she had ever eaten in her life, and that was a lot of fries! We giggled over that, but the waitress was very sweet and didn’t comment at all about our ages. We left her a nice big tip!

13. July 2009 · Comments Off on Berry Pickin’ · Categories: Life & Family, Travel

On Wednesday morning we met up with Alicia and her kids, Payton and Kinsley, at a berry farm and picked Cojo raspberries.  We were a couple weeks too late for strawberries, but these beauties were just ripening and they were large and easy to pick. The farm has a policy that you can eat as many as you want while you pick, so we all filled up on delicious, sweet, juicy berries while still managing to get a massive amount into our bowls and boxes. I know it wasn’t a competition, but I found myself working hard to fill that 8 pint flat Alice had given me. When I got it filled, it was really hard to stop picking. I just kept seeing more big berries that I didn’t want to leave behind.

We went back to Alice’s to wash, dry and freeze them so we could pack them on dry ice to bring them home. Then we were off to Alicia’s for a boat ride and dinner. On the way, we stopped at an outlet mall to see if the goods are any different in Oregon than they are in Arizona. (They aren’t, and I didn’t buy anything.)

Alicia and her family live about 500 yards from the Willamette River, and have access to a friend’s boat docked there. So we took a nice long boat ride, pulling the kids on skis and everyone on the tube. Everyone, that is, except me. It’s not that I was afraid, or didn’t want to go, I just didn’t “want” to go and decided to let those who did have the rides. Here’s a video of Alice, Alicia and Kinsley (three generations) getting a ride.

Later, Keith grilled hamburgers and we had a picnic in their back yard. Alicia had made a cream cheese pie and we enjoyed it … oh did we enjoy it! I was ready to pop. I’ll post the recipe on my recipe page.

13. July 2009 · Comments Off on Columbia Gorge · Categories: Life & Family, Travel

The road from Boise to Portland cuts through the Columbia Gorge. It’s a favorite location for wind surfers and follows the trail of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. I am sure I have been through there many times, but I did not remember it. I programmed my GPS on Sunday evening with Ken’s suggestion to drive part of the way on the Washington side to get more diversity in our view. So I set several via points on the Washington side and the final one just before we needed to cross back over to Oregon to head into Portland. I thought it would just carry us along state route 14 all the way. Wrong! Since I had originally told it to always pick the fastest route, the crazy thing kept directing us to cross back over to the Oregon side and whizz along I-84. The first two times, we just ignored it and let it recalculate. But she was insistent that we get back over to the fastest road and we listened to her “Recalculating” over and over again until we finally muted the thing and drove as far as we wanted on that side of the road. Then we crossed back over, set our destination for Alice’s and let her rip. I’m not sure it picked the best route through Portland, but we did get a good taste of all the businesses on Powell Blvd for many miles.

We arrived at Alice’s at 6:00, and she had dinner waiting for us. We enjoyed barbecue beef sandwiches and garden salad while our mouths were flapping 90 miles an hour. After all, we had LOTS to catch up on! We took a walk on the park trails after eating because it’s daylight until almost 9:00. Glenda and I started out with our sweatshirts on, but by the time we got back to Alice’s condo, we had them tied around our waists. The weather was absolutely perfect the whole time we were there!

13. July 2009 · Comments Off on Heading North · Categories: Life & Family, Travel

I’m going to attempt to record some of our trip, but since it’s been over a week since I’ve been home, I’m sure I have forgotten some of the juicier parts.

Glenda and I loaded up and headed out at about 8:30 on Friday morning. It was hot in the Valley of the Sun, so we were very glad to be heading north. Just out of Flagstaff, it started to rain and continued off and on for the next few hours. When we turned on the windshield wipers, the driver’s side blade was split and the strip of rubber made more mess than clean, so as soon as we came to a town, we asked the GPS to find us an auto parts store, and stopped to buy new blades. Glenda belongs to AAA, so her discount saved me some money. The clerk even installed them for us (in the rain) while we waited safe and dry inside. Back on the road, everything was much clearer then.

We had planned to drive through Zion National Park, but as we got close we realized the rain was going to severely impact our view of the scenery, and the detour would add at least an hour to our drive that day, so we decided to bypass it and head straight for our hotel in Provo.

It was after 8:00 when we arrived and after checking in, we let our trusty GPS direct us to a Denny’s for “brinner” (breakfast for dinner). And we found our way back to the Hampton Inn with no wrong turns.

Day 2 started with breakfast in the hotel and a photo op as we were leaving. We were trying to hold our cameras at arm’s length to get pictures of both of us with the hotel behind when a nice man stopped and offered to take our picture for us. I’ve always been a little leary of handing my camera to a stranger to take my picture because I’ve heard stories of people running off with nice cameras that way. But he was intentional in his nice offer and got a good shot of the two of us, before handing our cameras back to us.

Our drive to Boise was without incident or adventure until we pulled into Robin and Ken’s neighborhood at 3:15. My GPS was still directing us, but I was ignoring it since I know exactly where the Holsingers live. Or at least I thought I did. Imagine my surprise when I turned down their street and discovered they had painted their house and parked a new car in the driveway! That was when I realized I had turned one street too early. Actually, I just wanted Glenda to relive the glory of our usual trips in bygone days.

Robin had to leave for church an hour after we arrived, so Glenda and I settled into our room, played with the kids and picked strawberries in their back yard berry patch. We picked Robin up at 6 and went out for dinner.

We went to church on Sunday morning and got to experience a Spirit-filled service. They had a guest speaker from a very charismatic church in Las Vegas, and he had folks rolling in the aisle, dropping to their knees, falling on their backs, and recommitting their lives to Christ. It was quite an event, and we had fun watching and then discussing with Ken and Robin afterwards. They were as “impressed” as we were, and said that has never happened in their church before. Lucky us to have hit it on that particular Sunday. (I must give a caveat here: I love visiting Capitol Christian Center, their typical style of worship, the pastors and all the people, and especially their childrens’ ministry programs (Robin’s area). But it actually was kind of fun to see a full gospel demonstration.)

We had lunch out, toured Ken’s new offices (and reported the ceiling leak in the lobby conference room to the facilities folks — good thing we stopped by!) and then relaxed at home on Sunday afternoon. Glenda, Robin and I found ourselves upstairs playing with the kids and their Playmobil toys for a good while. What fun to be 4 or 10 again!

After a second night at their house, we were on our way to Portland on Monday morning.

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