Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Tofino and the Heebie Jeebies

Today I woke up with the heebie jeebies, an unexplained restless anxiety with no cause that I am aware of. It happens; it happens sometimes when I don’t get enough sleep and this was one of those mornings when I woke up just before four a.m. and couldn’t get back to sleep, and sometimes it happens when some kind of atmospheric pressure shift takes place, and that has happened, too.

No more clear cool sunny days, the air is heavy with moisture and the clouds hang low over Pensacola.

As I read the news, CNN had an article about Tofino: Canada’s Bohemian Backwater and I thought “Isn’t that where AdventureMan and I went when we spent a couple weeks on Vancouver Island?” I checked this blog, and to my utter delight, came across several entries on our stay in Ucluelet, where we stayed when we visited Tofino.

(Sea Star at Terrace Beach Resort; Ucluelet)

I read through the entries. It was like taking a little escape all over again. My vapors lifted. I headed to the kitchen to start a big pot of baked beans and get started on my busy day. I don’t shop often these days, but I needed a birthday card and Target was stocked, better than I have seen it for a long time, with clothing in colors, designs and sizes that are perfect for my grandchildren. Woooo hoooo, such an inauspicious beginning and such a great turnaround to my day, thanks to “Bohemian” Tofino.

November 10, 2020 Posted by | Aging, Biography, Hotels, Privacy, Quality of Life Issues, Road Trips, Sunsets, Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

It’s Personal: Quality of Life

In this endless year of 2020, among all the other changes, life gave us a chance to make another move. My Mother’s death of COVID in April brought a restlessness, and a need to divest ourselves of the sorts of detritus which can accumulate if you live for ten years in one place, which we have never done before. I wanted a smaller house, and I wanted a view of the water, particularly the Bayou. Finding a small house on the Bayou is like searching for a unicorn.

But, the perfect house came available. It was a house we had owned before, and sold, and were able to buy back. The transactions were complicated, and we currently live in our smaller house and have a larger house on the market.

Getting rid of stuff was hard and easy. Some stuff we just tossed. Some we directed to people who might make use of it. Nine boxes full of wonderful finds from the Middle East went to my niece, who is a Professor of Middle East Studies; her children particularly love the clock with the call to prayer.

Every night, we can watch the sun setting across the Bayou from our choice of eight different windows, and a porch. I can lose hours watching the light shift on the Bayou, or a storm blow in from across the waters. I can thrill to the boats passing by, or putting out lines to catch a fish or two, and the dive of the pelican thrills my heart.

“Are you happy here?” AdventureMan asks me frequently, because he knows I am. He can see it in my smile. We both have offices with views out over the water. It reminds me very much of our eagle’s nest in Kuwait, where we could see for miles out over the Arabian Gulf, watch the batteels and dhows, watch families picnic and float around the Gulf in the park across the street, or the occasional horrific car crashes which happened in our front yard. Houseguests were spellbound by the endlessly beautiful and surprising views from our tenth floor tower.

And now, I have the same, a fitness track, a Bayou, a nightly sunset, squirrels, pelicans, hurricanes, an endless source of entertainment.

As I work on my masks, I watch the sun glint off the long needles of the pine tree my husband believes is too close to the house. I don’t want him to chop this one down; not only do I have this lovely play of light on dark, but also in the early morning, the smell of pine pitch makes the air seem fresh and maybe a little cooler.

We find we actually like living in less space. The house is arranged beautifully, with open public areas and a door that closes off the family bedrooms and offices. Quality of life is in the details that delight the heart.

October 12, 2020 Posted by | Aging, Beauty, Circle of Life and Death, Cultural, Family Issues, Living Conditions, Moving, Quality of Life Issues, Sunsets | Leave a comment

Back to Bandon, Oregon

We forget just how big this great United States is. We look at a map, and we think, “Oregon, piece of cake.”

Not so much.

 

This day we are bound for Bandon, Oregon. It’s been years since we have passed through, I don’t even know for sure how many years. The last time I can clearly remember is forty one years ago, our son was a baby, we travelled in a Volkswagon van turned into a camper. We had a little travel crib for our son, we slept in the way back with the seat folded down, and we had our famous cat, Big Nick.

When we got to Bandon, lo those many years ago, we bought a Dungeness Crab, had it cleaned, a loaf of French bread and a bottle of white wine. We found a motel, settled in, got our baby to bed and feasted on that crab. It is one of our most fun memories.

The route to Bandon is along the coast, but we are not always in sight of the ocean. There are some times we are, and those times are spectacular.

 

 

 

 

 

 

And my favorite of all, pouring rain and streaming sunshine and roaring waves all at once 🙂

We arrive in Bandon; I’ve reserved at a place we haven’t stayed and it is hard to tell from the online photos how this works. Our reception is less than warm. We walk in and the sole receptionist takes three phone calls before she acknowledges us and registers us. It’s annoying.

Our annoyance totally disappears when we get to our cabin. We discover it is easily accessible (not all are) and we can even take our bags in with some ease. Once in the door – oh Wow.

The cabin is old-timey, but squeaky clean, and with a view to die for. There is a part of me that could stay in this cabin forever.

 

 

This is the view from the balcony when we arrived.

AdventureMan walked the beach, came back, we stretched, walked around, napped a little, and then went to Tony’s Crab Shack for dinner. It doesn’t look familiar, but this may be where we bought our crab forty one years ago.

Tony’s Crab Shack is not a large place, like some counter seating, a booth and a couple small tables. The menu is surprisingly varied, and all up on the wall, with lots of beverages.

 

 

 

We ate something, I can’t even remember what, I probably had crab 🙂 and then we walked around Brandon downtown, which was almost entirely closed up except for a couple bars.

But I wanted to be back in our room for sunset.

The beach at Bandon is beautiful.

 

 

 

 

 

Bandon is one of my happy places.

May 2, 2018 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Food, Hotels, Quality of Life Issues, Restaurant, Road Trips, Sunsets, Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Kalaloch Lodge and Creekside Restaurant

OK, I am going to risk boring you. I have a think about lodges and historic hotels. I love the old architecture, the high ceilings, the spacious rooms. I love the restorations and renovations that include gracious private bathrooms (!) and I love the vision that created these lodges in the first place. So I am going to show you lots of photos, because I can’t help myself. Honestly, I have shown restraint, but you may not think so.

 

This is the exterior of Kalaloch Lodge

 

These are some of the cabins. Many of them have cabins with kitchens, and people bring their own food for the week.

This is the wedding pagoda; the signs posted say that the pagoda is reserved from like 1 – 4 for a private event 🙂

The registration area and gift shop

 

Upstairs area

 

Our room looking out over the beach

 

Our view – oh WOW. I just wish you could hear the waves.

Sunset at Kalaloch

 

We ate dinner that night in the Creekside restaurant at the lodge, thanks to being urged to make reservations when we arrived. There is no place anywhere near Kalaloch you can eat without 30 minute drive. Fortunately, the Creekside Restaurant had delicious food, and some great choices for wine and beer.

 

Restaurant is on lower floor; above it is one of the suites.

We don’t often end up ordering exactly the same thing, but this night we did. A great arugula salad and a big bowl full of clams, and some really good sourdough French bread. AdventureMan had a local beer, and I had a dry red wine. Life can’t get much sweeter 🙂 I am very proud that for once, I remembered to take a photo before we started eating.

 

He restoreth my soul.

April 30, 2018 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Cultural, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Food, Hotels, Photos, Quality of Life Issues, Restaurant, Road Trips, Sunsets, Travel, Weather | , , , | Leave a comment

Wake of the Vikings: Sunset over Saguenay

Ah, I do so love having a view of the sunrises and the sunsets. Here is last night’s late sunset over the city of Saguenay:

Bonne Nuit!

September 22, 2017 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Sunsets | , , | Leave a comment

Wake of the Vikings: Glorious Sea Day to Reykjavik

It’s party time aboard the Viking Sea, with gentle seas and blue skies and a whole load of sunshine:

 

One of the fun parts of this trip is that every other day or so, we gain another hour, so we often get to sleep in an hour “extra” in the morning. Even after sleeping our extra hour, we were up bright and shiny, had our breakfast, and I suited up and hit to pool when it opened, at 0800.

Except . . . it wasn’t opened. I was still mostly emptied, and closed. The jacuzzi was open (or as the spa manager calls it, the ya-kut-zi) and I spent about ten minutes there, but for me jacuzzis aren’t that fun, I really loved how the waves rolled and roiled as the ship tosses from side to side, and fore and aft. It did, however, give me time to update the blog.

AdventureMan and I laugh; we spend money to have a nice room and we spend time reading. We could do that at home, but at home, there are so many things demanding our attention. We are willing – even eager – to have this time with no responsibilities, no cooking, no cleaning, no yard work. There is some guilt associated with the luxury of having this kind of time, especially when the hurricanes have devastated to many to the east of us, and to the west of us. It’s almost primal; if we enjoy ourselves too much are we inviting destruction?

When we get hungry, later than usual because of the time change, we discover that with everyone on board, no tours, no lunches in a local city, everyone using the same facilities, that the facilities are more crowded than usual. The World Cafe, where we take most of our meals, is packed. We head for the Pool Cafe, which we also like, but there is a loud rock band entertaining the lunchers, and people have even found our hidden favorite places near the WinterGarden.

 

Below is the World Cafe, where we tend to eat. There are other restaurants, an Italian restaurant, Manfredi’s, the Chef’s Table, where a specialty menu is paired with wines, and another called The Restaurant.

AdventureMan and I are odd. We have preferences, and our preferences are strong enough to prevent us from eating often in the other restaurants. We really like Italian food, and we have eaten at Manfredi’s, where we found the tables too close together for our comfort; we could hear every word of conversations in every directions, and we felt shy about having our own conversations which could be overheard. We also asked for small portions, and were told that the plates come as they come; they didn’t split, they couldn’t give small portions, but that we would love it so much we would want to eat it all. I hope my face didn’t show how aghast I was at that response.

We had similar problems with The Restaurant. Seats too close together, no privacy, and the service is SO SO SLOW. I can manage an hour, even an hour in a half without getting too antsy, but at some point attention deficit kicks in and all I can think is “get me out of here!” Too much eating! The Chef’s Table does a lot with foam and freezing and precious tiny portions of things I can barely taste, as well as having close seating and pretentious presentation. Actually, that is too harsh, I am a fan of presentation, it is this style that annoys me and you might like it just fine.  You might like more leisurely meals, and be fine with two to two and a half hours of sitting, but I am a restless sort, so as fine as some of the food may be, I like the World Cafe.

 

It would be awful to be married to someone whose style was different from your own. Lucky for me, AdventureMan is a lot like me. We really LIKE good food (you couldn’t guess 😉 reading this blog?) In the World Cafe, I can tell the man I would like a small portion of the risotto, and I get a small portion. Or if I want to make a dinner of mushroom soup, I can go back for more. We have found the horseradish, the tabasco sauce, the red pepper flakes, the balsamic vinegar, the things we need to enhance the blander foods. We are up and down, soup, salad, maybe a little main course – or maybe not. We like having choices, and I even like being able to get up and walk around to get what I want next. All that walking helps me justify a small bowl of ice cream, or even maybe a small fudge brownie. All the desserts are tiny, which I like a lot. They also have smaller plates and larger plates; we stick to the smaller plates.

It’s not that we are so virtuous; it must be an age group thing. The ship is full of our demographic, and most are eating healthily.

This was my lunch on the Sea-Day-En-Route-to-Reykjavik – fritto misto, green beans, and a soba noodle salad which tasted of sesame, divine combination.

 

With the glorious sunshine, there is a party atmosphere on board, a huge group playing Trivia in the Explorer’s Lounge, the bridge players all down in the Chef’s Table, lectures in the Star Theatre, movies – so much going on!

My thrill – I had just washed my hair and was dressing when I saw a spout. I know that spout! That is whale! I quickly finished dressing and went out on the balcony, where I happily spent an hour or two taking photos where the whale had just been. Finally I got the one photo showing a spout as it was just finishing. I quit taking photos and just enjoyed the sunshine and the frolicking whales; one was flicking his tail after spouting.

 

The day ends with a beautiful sunset. We are nearing Reykjavik, and can’t wait to visit this beautiful, dramatic land.

September 15, 2017 Posted by | Adventure, Aging, Blogging, Community, Cultural, Eating Out, Food, Living Conditions, Quality of Life Issues, Relationships, Restaurant, sunrise series, Sunsets, Travel, Wildlife | , , | Leave a comment

Wake of the Vikings: Approximate Sunset Departing Torshavn

 

September 13, 2017 Posted by | Adventure, ExPat Life, Sunsets, Travel | | Leave a comment

Denver to Moab: Snow and Ice, Sun and Heat

 

Sometimes an early start might not be the best choice. We loved the easy access to the highway, and the quick Google Earth designated by-way that helped us avoid all but four or five minutes of the Denver morning traffic, but as we headed into the mountains, I had a pit in my stomach seeing a long red stretch between Denver and Glenwood Springs, and not a lot of options.

 

The sights of snow, truckers putting on heavy chains, and then a big sign that tells us the tunnel is blocked due to an accident, none of these are good signs. Our rental car is low to the ground, and not heavy. We watch the temperature drop as we rise higher, and tell ourselves this is the beginning of a great adventure, and every adventure entails a little risk, it adds spice. Right?

We see cars that have slid off the road, and it is starting to snow heavily. The temperature falls below 30 degrees (F) and we watch for ice, and black ice. Fortunately, there are not a lot of people on the road. We are guessing they know better. Worse, many, like us, have California plates, a sign of a Denver rental car.

“No one on the slopes,” AdventureMan observes.

“The snow is too sticky,” I reply, instincts still strong from my Alaska days.

We think we have passed through the worst, when we come to Vail and take a break for a stroll and a cup of coffee. We were enchanted. If we didn’t already have reservations for tonight, we would get a room in one of these very German, very charming hotels.

 

Safe in Glenwood Springs, where we stayed two years ago on our way to Denver, where we took the plunge in the sulphery spring fed pool. We look for the Italian restaurant where we had a great meal, but it is closed. On the other hand, there is a great barbecue place, looking open, looking warm. Smoke is where we are meant to be 🙂

 

 

They have five different kinds of barbecue sauce. We order a starter of onion rings so we can taste test all the sauces.

 

AdventureMan is really cold; he needs tea to warm him up inside and out. He wraps his hands around his hot hot cup of tea.

Very quickly our meals arrived. AdventureMan ordered a barbecued pork sandwich with a side of baked beans. He said it was as good as anything we have eaten in the South, very tasty.

I had the pulled chicken with cole slaw, and there was so much chicken I couldn’t eat it all. I couldn’t even eat the bun at all. So much food, I hate to waste it but we have miles to go, and we are heading into hotter temperatures, so we leave all the left overs behind.

As we leave Smoke, a few snow flakes catch up with us . . .

 

 

Interstate 70 is a piece-of-cake now, snow and ice free, temperatures rising. Very shortly, we come to the turn-off to Moab, and then, the turn off to Dead Horse Point State Park and Canyonlands. AdventureMan says it is one of the best $15 we have ever spent; suddenly we are in a new world, full of natural glory.

 

 

 

 

What is really fun is that the next afternoon, we were down, way far down, in this same canyon, searching out petroglyphs.

 

 

 

 

This reminds me of decades ago, in Tunisia, where villages would be built atop cliffs like this. The rock formations on top look a little like the ghorfas, storage caves, except there are no TV antennas.

 

 

The sun is getting low by the time we are ready to stop hiking around, even so, we keep stopping for one more glorious sight. But now, it is time to check into our hotel, another Fairfield, this one bills itself as “the closest hotel to Arches National Park”. Our room is spacious, and clean, the whole hotel is very very new. The beds are wonderful . . . except once again, they have this crackly plastic cover that makes for sleeping hot.

Moab is a lot of fun, full of energy. There are a lot of athletic looking people going hiking, going boating, going biking, going rafting, going rock climbing. They are all ages, and from all kinds of places. We drive up and down the main drag, looking at other hotels and motels, and really get a laugh at the one TripAdvisor kept telling me was right for us; it is a little dive with tiny rooms and limited parking lot and looks very very noisy.

We had heard the Twisted Sista was our kind of place, and when we got there, we believed it. After our hearty lunch at Smoke, we wanted light. We both ordered French Onion Soup and the Mediterranean (or was it Greek?) Salad, and the soup was fabulous (we did scrape off all the cheese, there was really a lot of cheese) and the salad even better. We had dessert; AdventureMan ordered some chocolate bombe, and I had a puckery lemon sorbet, just what I love! So tart, and just a little sweet.

The Mediterranean Salad

After dinner, we took a drive, figuring out where we wanted to go the next day, and caught the last gleam of light on the hills as the sun went down.

 

 

May 26, 2017 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Eating Out, GoogleEarth, Restaurant, Road Trips, Sunsets, Weather | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sunset Over Venice

p1130035

November 15, 2016 Posted by | Beauty, ExPat Life, Sunsets, Venice | Leave a comment

Cheminus, Victoria, Fan Tan Alley and the Grand Pacific in Victoria, B.C.

I will admit it, I was a little depressed leaving Ucluelet. If you are a frequent reader, you will know I am a believer, and sometimes my heart is just so full of gratitude to our enormously generous and open handed God that I can’t even think of the words to adequately give thanks. I take comfort in knowing he knows my heart. Ucluelet and Tofino were everything we hoped they would be. I could imagine myself living there happily. And leaving . . . it was painful.

We had a nice drive to Victoria, stopping in Chemanus for lunch at a small cafe which surprised us and knocked our socks off. It looked like something from the forties. Owls were everywhere. Most of the menu was breakfast offerings, nice, but breakfast. We ordered the spinach salad and the Scallop and Crab Cakes – have you ever heard of Scallop and Crab Cakes? We hadn’t either.

OwlsNest

 

OWL

We split both the salad and the Scallop and Crab Cakes. They were both taste treats!

SpinachSalad

The Scallop and Crab Cakes were made the way my good friend who is Chinese makes Crab cakes – good, tasty ingredients and no distracting filler. These cakes were meaty, full of whole small scallops, crab meat, some green onion, pimento and some minimal binder. They were truly extraordinary. They were accompanied by an apple slaw, tart and tasty. It was a great combination.

ScallopCrabCakes

 

We made a stop at the Butterfly Gardens near Buchart Gardens so AdventureMan could take some photos of rare butterflies, or at least butterflies we don’t get to see in Florida. They had some awesome specimens.

Then on, on, into Victoria. Highway 17 empties right into downtown Victoria, and ends almost right at the Grand Pacific Hotel, where we are staying. While we were checking in, the concierge told us it would be another 10 minutes, but that we had been upgraded. I hoped it was an OK room; I had chosen our room on the basis of a view of Victoria Harbor. With trepidation, we headed for our room.

 

This is the Grand Pacific from Victoria Harbor

Grand Pacific fm Victoria Harbor

 

Lobby

GrandPacificLobby

Our bedroom

GPRoom

Our office/sitting room

 

GPSittingRoom

Bathroom

GPBath

Our view of Victoria Harbor (and Empress Hotel)

GPHarborView

Night time view. Sigh. Isn’t it lovely?

HarborViewNight

Sunset peeking through the overhanging clouds.

VictoriaSunset

 

May 20, 2016 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, ExPat Life, Hotels, Quality of Life Issues, Road Trips, Sunsets, Travel | , , , | 3 Comments