Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

LaPine, Oregon and the Cinco de Mayo

The road from the turn off to Crater Lake to LaPine, Oregon is probably the most boring road we were on the entire trip. It was flat. It was forest, but not the thick natural forest like in Alaska, but the planted and harvested kind of forest. We were glad to get to LaPine, where they had a surprisingly comfortable Best Western, with a pool.

First, had I realized Bend was just such a short drive, I probably would have put us there, but somehow, I didn’t see Bend when I was planning the trip. Bend is one of those WAY cool places that west coast people head to if they are artistic, or want to live ecologically, or close to the earth. Bend is just WAY cool.

 

There is a children’s birthday party going on, and it looks like they are going to be in the pool, and we are hungry, so we go to find someplace to eat. The top rated places in town are Mexican, there seem to be a goodly number of Mexicans working in the area and we love authentic Mexican food, so we go to the nearest one, Cinco de Mayo, and as soon as we walk in, we are happy!

It’s an odd time, not lunch, not dinner, maybe around 4 in the afternoon, so we have our choice of where to sit, but almost as soon as we have ordered, a huge crowd starts to arrive. There is not only a gun show in town, but there is also a large martial arts competition, and this is one popular restaurant.

 

 

 

I took the interior shots before the food arrived, and once the food arrived, I forgot to take any photos at all. The chips were thin and crispy, with three different salsas, two of them lethal. I had carne asada, which came with a weird sauce. I asked the waitress and she said “oh lots of people don’t like that sauce, but it is the sauce Mexicans eat with Carne Asada” so I felt humbled and unworldly, because I am normally an adventurous eater, and I didn’t like the sauce. The meat was very good. AdventureMan had a big platter of tacos, and he could barely walk out of the restaurant. “I’m normally so self-disciplined,” he moaned, “But these were so good and I couldn’t stop!” All in all, this was one of the best restaurants on our trip, and one of the most authentically ethnic.

The hotel was packed. We had to share the pool with kids, which we normally don’t mind, but we mind when the parents aren’t paying attention – pools can be dangerous places. Parents need to pay attention. We left quickly, and had some fears about how well we would sleep; there were parties going on all over the hotel. Around ten o’clock, however, it all stopped, the hotel was quiet, really quiet, and we got a great night’s sleep.

June 3, 2018 Posted by | Eating Out, Food, Hotels, Restaurant, Road Trips, Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Mt. Shasta and Crater Lake

We have a process, a road trip planning process. I come up with an idea, a route. I sketch it out and run it by AdventureMan. He gives me input like “Oh good, I’ve always wanted to see Crater Lake, can we fit that in?” and we build it into the trip.

The truth is, I love to plan trips. I spend hours looking for fun, unique, interesting little hotels to stay in, or if there is some destination, at least see if we can find a hotel with something interesting nearby, or the least uninteresting hotel in town.

We have discovered we do better as a couple if we don’t spend too much time on the road, driving, something it really took me a long time to figure out.

You know how you grow up in a culture, and it never occurs to you that there is another way of doing things? Like I grew up thinking that men always put the gas in cars, so it was a great shock to my husband when we got married and we would get close to running out of gas because it never occurred to me that I was supposed to fill the tank (I learned that one fairly quickly!) It has taken many years for me to figure out that not every family gets up before the crack of dawn to start a road trip, and drives hell-bent-for-leather for many hours to get somewhere, or to get as close as you can to somewhere. My poor husband! I thought a twelve hour day on the road was normal. His family never took road trips! We had some mutual adjusting and negotiating to go through. 🙂

So we added Crater Lake to the trip. I didn’t much care; I had been there years ago, well, close to fifty years ago, LOL, but OK, let’s go. I had no idea how cool this day was going to be.

First, I am going to bore you with several photos of Mt. Shasta. Starting from McCloud, we almost totally circled Mt. Shasta, stopping in Weed, California, to buy a T-shirt for our son, which he assures us he will never wear, that says in big letters “I LOVE WEED” and under it in small letters, “California.” I just thought as a prosecutor, he might find it humorously ironic. Sigh.

 

 

 

 

And then, we hit the snow. I keep hoping the roads are open all the way up to the Crater, and the snow keeps creeping higher, and into the road 😦

 

But we make it, and I am wearing my Florida sandals. I love the cold, and it doesn’t bother me one bit, but people can be rude, all dressed in their snow suits and boots, looking at my bare feet.

 

We stop at the lodge to buy post cards; it really is open, there is a temporary tunnel that you can take to get inside. Below is our rental car; you can see how high the snow level is.

 

As concerned as I was about being able to reach the lake, I am so glad we did this. It was a thrill to see Mt. Shasta from all different angles, and to see the huge crowds of people from everywhere visiting Crater Lake, even this early in the season. When I visited last time, about the same time of year, so many years ago . . . we were the only ones there!

 

June 3, 2018 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Family Issues, Road Trips, Travel | | Leave a comment

The McCloud Hotel

If you know me from this blog, you will know that we love interesting hotels. The McCloud Hotel is a gem! We are really happy to be here in the Spring, lucky that the roads are open, no fresh snow, the sun is out, Mt. Shasta glistens from every angle.

When we get to the McCloud Hotel, we almost dance for joy. It is lovely! It is a very old hotel, beautifully renovated with a care to preserve many of the old features. The owners love the place, and it shows. We were lucky to reserve a place in the hotel restaurant for that evening, as it was a Friday and the dining room was packed. The food was exquisite, locally sourced, and we can tell that many of the people dining there are regulars.

See the old suitcases? There are pieces like that everywhere, original pieces. The hotel was at one time a hotel, then a boarding house with separate floors for women and men during the time when it was a major timber resource, with a railroad spur to transport the timber cut from the mountainside. They have renovated the first two floors, you will see our room later, but they say the third floor still has the original small rooms, now used for storage. She said three rooms are used for Christmas decor, and I just wish I could see this hotel at Christmas!

This is the lounge at the back entrance.

 

This is the dining room, although on a weekend night, the dining room actually stretches out into the lobby to accommodate all the people.


This is our bedroom, very spacious, high ceilings, wood trim, huge windows, I am in heaven.

 

 

This is the upstairs sitting room, again, a large assortment of very old, original pieces.

This is the downstairs lobby next to the registration desk, next to the dining room. It is beautiful and comfy.

 

This is the coffee, internet and tv lounge:

We would love to come back here again and again.

June 3, 2018 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Hotels, Road Trips, Travel | , , | Leave a comment

McCloud and the McCloud Mercantile, and the White Mountain Cafe

As we checked into our beautiful hotel, we asked if there were somewhere we could eat. It was a quarter of 2:00 and breakfast was wearing thin.

“You can eat at the White Mountain Cafe,” our hotelier replied, “but go now! They close at 2:00!”

We hurried down the street, where the waitress graciously welcomed us and told us we had plenty of time to eat, so not to hurry.

 

This is the White Mountain Cafe Bacon, Lettuce, Avocado and Tomato. AdventureMan says it is one of the best BLT’s he has ever had; the bacon was especially tasty.

This is my grilled chicken salad, which also contained some of the fabulous bacon. This led to a long discussion with an equally enthusiastic waitress, and we all three agreed that life is too short to eat bad bacon, and that really really good bacon is one of the sweetest of life’s joys. She told us that anyone who doesn’t like bacon has never tasted really good bacon. As she works so closely with food every single day, I am inclined to give her a lot of credibility.

I also found myself thinking deeply about how difficult it would be for me to be a good Jew or a good Muslim if I could never eat good bacon or an occasional slice of Smithfield ham.

The White Mountain Cafe (walk out the door and you see a huge Mt. Shasta) is connected to the McCloud Mercantile, a winding old-timey store with all kinds of goodies, and a lot of original old store furnishings. McCloud is a historical timber town.

 

June 3, 2018 Posted by | Cultural, Food, Restaurant, Road Trips, Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Beulah’s Kitchen for Breakfast

 

There was no breakfast included at the spa, which was fine, we got up and hit the road, knowing we would come across something. As we leave Calistoga, we are in the thick of wine country; it is Spring and the vines are still just waking up, but the world is lush and green and beautiful. We are on a small winding road, through hills and vineyards, inching towards Interstate 5 when we come across Middleton and Beulah’s Kitchen.

Beulah’s Kitchen is the exact kind of place we hope to find when we want to have breakfast. It isn’t a chain, real people are cooking real food, and it is not cookie cutter food, either.

This is AdventureMan’s Biscuits and Gravy – so much food! He did his manly best and finished some of it!

 

I had the breakfast burrito – again, a lot of food, and I was able to eat about half, but I enjoyed every bite. The coffee at Beulah’s Kitchen was exceptionally good.

This food was so filling that we were fine until about 2 in the afternoon, when we finally had lunch.

June 3, 2018 Posted by | Food, Restaurant, Road Trips, Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Ft. Bragg to Calistoga Springs; A Short Day and a Mud Bath

 

OK, here it is. There is no point in being “old enough to know better” and not taking any chances. Life is short. It might as well be sweet, and sometimes, you just have to take some risks.

You might say, and we might agree, that life is full of unknown risks, like ending up on California highway 1 through the hilly, unguarded woods in late afternoon. On the other hand, a little adrenaline is the spice of life for AdventureMan and me.

One year, long ago, AdventureMan and I were living in Tunisia and we found ourselves at the beginning of the road General Montgomery took to break the Mareth Line in WWII.

(from Wikipedia:

Battle of the Mareth Line

Montgomery launched Operation Pugilist against the Mareth Line on the night of 19/20 March 1943. Elements of the 50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division penetrated the line and established a bridgehead west of Zarat on 20/21 March. A determined counter-attack by 15th Panzer Division destroyed the pocket, re-establishing the line by 22 March. On 26 March, X Corps (Lieutenant-General Brian Horrocks) drove around the Matmata Hills, capturing the Tebaga Gap and the town of El Hamma at the northern extreme of the line in Operation Supercharge II, making the Mareth Line untenable. The following day anti-tank guns from German and Italian units checked the advance of X Corps, to gain time for a withdrawal. In the next 48 hours the Axis defenders pulled out of the Mareth Line, establishing a new defensive position 60 kilometres (37 mi) to the north-west at Wadi Akarit near Gabès.)

The road was challenging at first, a rocky dirt road, very narrow. “How on earth did they get tanks through here?” I wondered to myself as my 3 year old son went sound asleep in the back seat. The road became dicey, but there was no place to turn around, so AdventureMan gamely drove on. Several times, he had to find a place in the road wide enough for me to get out without falling over the cliff, to guide him around ruts in the road that went 2 – 3 feet deep. It got later and later in the afternoon, there was no other traffic on this pass, and I was beginning to  . . . . have a little anxiety, but we never say anything, like to say it might make it true. There comes a point where the adrenaline doesn’t even surge any more, you just want it to be over, you want to be safe. And, as you can see, we lived to tell the tale 🙂

All that to introduce that today is a day of challenges.

First, as we drove down Highway 101, we looked for a winery I really wanted to find, Graziano winery. We had a bottle of Zinfandel from there, a red, complicated zinfandel, which changed my idea about zinfandel wines. We never found the winery, but we did see a sign for it, pointed back the way we had come. Arrrgh.

On to Calistoga Springs, where we check in to the Golden Haven Spa, a quirky motel/hotel with it’s own hot springs and spa, where we are going to have a first – a mud bath.

 

This is our very spacious room, with lovely high ceilings.

This is in the quiet room, at the entrance to the spa itself.

It’s always fun when you really don’t know what you are getting into. I couldn’t tell from the photos if this place was “nice” or “clean. You can read reviews, and you can’t always believe either the really good or the really bad. I looked at all the places in Calistoga, and this one looked quirky and fun, and I just had to hope it was clean (it was.)

The other thing is that with these mud baths, you can be totally nude, you can wear a bathing suit or underwear, whatever makes you comfortable. There will be an attendant in the room with you to help you, so how does that work? We brought our bathing suits, but once we saw the mud bath (black black mud mixed with peat moss) we figured we might as well just go nude. There were two of us, and we’ve seen each other nude before. It made us a little braver.

The attendant was sweet and modest, explained how things worked and then left us, saying she would be back. Well, the whole process is actually funny; you don’t climb into these big concrete tubs that look a lot like sarcophagi, you are supposed to ROLL into them, which got us giggling right away. And they are very hot, and you are not supposed to put your feet on the bottom, or you could get burned feet, and the mud is so thick you really do float. While you are waiting for the attendant to return, you use your hands to put mud over all the parts you  . . . ummm. . .. you know, like want to keep hidden, and that made us giggle more, but you can’t giggle too much or you bend and might start sinking and the mud/peat moss is really HOT.

Then the attendant knocks, and comes back in and puts a special mud on your face and then leaves again for about half an hour while you soak. We were ready when she came back, and we ROLLED out, but actually, I couldn’t figure out how to do it by myself so AdventureMan came over to give me a hand, but he looked so funny I was laughing too hard and couldn’t roll out the right way for a couple minutes.

Then you take this two-person shower, which sounds a lot sexier than it really is, because you have mud everywhere, and it really needs two people to spray each other in places you can’t see for yourself, like your upper back and your hairline, and other places where you can’t see yourself, the other person needs to spray you.

After you’ve sprayed as much as you can, you get into the hot tub, which is also very hot and I forget to mention, sulpher-y. Sulpher doesn’t bother me in hot springs; I got used to it as a kid, Baden-Baden, Wiesbaden, there were fountains where you could “take the waters” and it was always sulfur-y. It’s kind of stinky, but you get used to it. After the hot tub, we were like limp noodles, perfect for having massages, which was our mid-trip treat, along with the adventure of having a mud bath. We slept well that night.  🙂

So was it worth it? Oh yes, it was. It’s not often we are so out of our comfort zone, nor that we laugh so much. It’s a good thing to try something new and different. Would I do it again? I might, but I wouldn’t seek it out. It was fun, and there are other fun things in the world we haven’t tried yet.

June 3, 2018 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Cultural, Entertainment, ExPat Life, Hotels, Road Trips, Travel, Values | , , , | Leave a comment

Ft. Bragg; Our Old Friend, Cucina Verona

We have such great memories of Cucina Verona. We had a wonderful meal there the last time we were here, we couldn’t wait to eat here again. Some meals are just memorable; we wanted another meal that memorable, that good.

We started with a broccoli soup which was rich and thick and tasty. We were hungry; I didn’t even think to pull out my camera.

But once the soup was finished, I remembered 🙂

I had Pasta Puttanesca, again, rich, delicious, and full of taste.

 

AdventureMan had Salade Nicoise, or Salad Nicosia, as it appeared on the menu. It was all wonderful, so wonderful that when we couldn’t eat it all, and there was so much left, we had them pack it all up and shared salad and pasta again for dinner that night back in our wonderful hotel room.

 

 

Cannot wait to get back to Cucina Verona!

June 3, 2018 Posted by | Cooking, Food, Restaurant, Road Trips, Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Ft. Bragg, California; Where we Dined at Mayan Fusion

AdventureMan had a bug; he had found a place on Yelp called Mayan Fusion, and here we are in California, he wants Mexican-Mayan. So we head to Mayan Fusion, which is full of our demographic (retired, still physically active, travelers, etc) and the smells are delicious.

 

 

Mayan Fusion Ginger Berry Sangria

Here is where everything starts to get fuzzy for me. One of the specials of the day was this Ginger Berry Sangria. I’ve made Sangria – you know, fruit and a light wine, and this sounds interesting. The first sip had a wallop. I could have stopped drinking then, I probably should have, but oh, I do love ginger, and this “sangria” was delicious and refreshing.

Well, one sip and I lost a lot of my higher thinking functions.

I think this was my husband’s dinner. I can’t remember what it was called.

Or maybe this was my dinner.

 

Or maybe this was my dinner, but I think it might have been my husband’s.

Here was the special dip; it tasted a lot like bean dip made with several different beans; I think we started with this.

“What was in that Sangria?” I asked the elderly waitress as we were waiting for the bill and she was clearing.

“Oh, we start with a big shot of vodka . . . ” she started.

I don’t know when I last had hard alcohol, not at all in the last seven or eight years, rarely for maybe 15 years, since we left Germany.

We went straight back to the hotel and I fell sound asleep.

June 3, 2018 Posted by | Adventure, Aging, Cold Drinks, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Food, Restaurant, Road Trips, Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Ft. Bragg . . . where??? (California)

Most people, when they think of Fort Bragg, think of a military post in North Carolina. The Fort Bragg we discovered several years ago in California has little in common with the North Carolina Fort Bragg.

Our first time in Fort Bragg, as we left Cucina Verona, an Italian restaurant where we had eaten dinner, we were startled by the loud sound of hoofbeats, and the sudden appearance of two riders, galloping hell-bent down the middle of the road in Ft. Bragg. It was one of those adrenaline moments, when you wonder if you really saw what you just thing you saw, followed by all the things that could go wrong when you mix horses, highways, automobiles and high speed.

This time, one of the first things we saw was this sign:

 

But . . . it doesn’t say anything about riding horses, skateboards, or bicycles down the center of the street!

Ft. Bragg has a very laid back vibe. The town is full of couples who look a lot like us, maybe even a little older, maybe a little more hip and less retired military than we look, but relaxed, comfortable in their own skins. We love the vibe. My very favorite activity in Ft. Bragg is at the north end of the town, where they have a place called Glass Beach. Glass beach is where the old town dump used to be, a long time ago, and all the bottles dumped there broke and were washed by the waves, tumbled by the gravel and sand, and became beach glass. Most of what you find is pretty small these days; Glass Beach has been discovered, but if you venture out the the furthest inlets and rocks, you can find some larger pieces, sometimes even a green piece. I found one tiny little blue piece, the grand prize of all beach glass.

We love the North Cliff Hotel, where every room has the same view, looking out over the water at the inlet to the little bay.

We love the hot tub with a view.

 

We love the view. On the morning we were leaving, we looked out and someone had written a huge message on the sand, “Annie will you marry me?” How cool is that?!

Time is flexible in Ft. Bragg. We get up when we want to, we don’t have to drive to any destination, we can be lazy or we can just meander around, which is what we choose to do.

Love this tunnel of eucalyptus trees entering Ft. Bragg from the north:

This yard had no flower but yellow flowers, and a LOT of yellow flowers!

 

 

Just a short drive south is Mendocino, one of the most beautiful little California towns you could hope to find. We were looking for special gifts for two special people, and found them, polished carved natural bay laurel bowls, at this shop.

 

I read a recent article on how California leads the way for the American soul; it gives me hope for the future of our country. California pioneered gay rights, California champions the rights of immigrant children to education and health benefits, and Californians “welcome the stranger,” as all people of the book are supposed to do.

This was in the window of the main grocery/hardware/sundries store in Mendocino. When a woman saw me taking a photo, she asked me why, and I told her, it made me feel welcome and filled my heart with joy to know that it specifically would also make my Arab / Muslim friends feel welcome. She smiled, sternly, and said that they welcome ALL people, that is what California is all about. I was happily chastened. 🙂

 

I want the United States of America to be a safe place for all people. No wonder I love California!

Well, there is another reason to love Ft. Bragg – they have one of the world’s best ice creameries right on the major through street in Ft. Bragg. 

Cowlicks Ice Cream is never not busy. On our first trip (we went twice in one day!) I had a scoop of ginger ice cream. It was a huge WOW. On the next trip, I had a chocolate which was really chocolaty, but I wished I had another scoop of ginger.

As we sat, eating our ice cream, I overheard a stylish but somewhat-frail looking 80’ish woman tell her daughter that she didn’t want to be bothered being married again, she was just looking to have a little fun without the complications of a relationship. Such is life in Ft. Bragg. 🙂

 

June 3, 2018 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Character, Civility, Community, Counter-terrorism, Cultural, ExPat Life, Faith, Hotels, Interconnected, Living Conditions, Quality of Life Issues, Road Trips, Social Issues, Travel, Values | , , , , | Leave a comment