Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Suitcases and a New Adventure

We are off to Seattle, taking our eight year old grandson, no-longer-baby Q, and his almost-five sister, N, for a great adventure. We have been taking them on trips for several years now, but were waiting for N to reach the magic age of cooperation before we endeavored to make a trip of this length.

I’m excited. These are nice kids, and we have a lot of fun together.

“Will we have to be quiet in the hotel room?” asks N, who is very perceptive, and has a great memory. She remembers our hotel rooms in New Orleans, and we have to keep the volume of our wild rumpuses down, and we can’t be making lots of bumps on the floor or walls.

“Yep,” I respond and give her the eye. N is a lot of fun, and loves figures of speech, as we do. Her latest accomplishment is “shooting daggers.” We can pass a lot of time at lunch helping her to shoot daggers with her eyes, and she has come close to mastering that fine art.

We are concerned about baggage. We will each have a bag, and we want to carry them on. AdventureMan and I will have to be paying attention.

Like Goldilocks, I found myself in the position of having bags that were too small or too big, and nothing that was just right, especially now that TSA is so particular about the exact size of carry-on bags. I found one:

It is exactly the right dimensions, and I added the “M” in silver nail polish to distinguish it from all the other black carry-on bags, in case I am required, after all, to check it. Another friend told me to add ribbons, so I will.

It sent me back in memory, however, years and years. Early years, traveling from Alaska, where the plane had a ladies lounge which even had seating, and cosmetics provided. We carried cosmetic cases with us on the planes. Contrast that with the 15″ ports-potties we are forced to use now, even in business class.

As we began our treks back and forth overseas, there was a baggage “limit” of two bags, and I believe there was – technically – a limit of 77 pounds. My sister and I, en route back and forth across the Atlantic to university had HUGE bags, and the kind people at the check-in never batted an eye, just told us other people were under the limit and it would all average out.

Hauling supplies to our overseas posts – things like chocolate chips, shoes for growing children, levis, all the things we couldn’t get in countries like Tunisia and Jordan in the ’70’s and ’80’s, we used huge Land’s End or LL Bean duffels, packed to bursting and strapped with luggage straps. Some held books; books are really heavy.

It wasn’t until we had retired from the military and began government contracts overseas that things changed. Maybe it was 9-11. Partly, for sure, it was an issue with human rights, and bags that were causing disabilities among baggage workers. Partly, too, I believe it was a matter of greed for additional profits among the airlines. More people squeezed in, less room for baggage.

Thus, my modest little carry-on, and the new adventure of rationing space and clothing to last the whole trip.

Each time we travel, AdventureMan and I try to spot the Arabs. It used to be easy. So many people would come to visit the USA, and we could usually spot them based on facial features and body language as well as clothing. Now, we believe there are fewer visitors, and fewer students, and they have learned to fly way under the radar. They look like us. And then again, We Americans came from someplace else, unless we are First Nation, so why shouldn’t our visitors look a lot like us?

At the YMCA there is a new cleaning lady, who says she is from Hungary, but I think maybe Bulgaria or Albania. She doesn’t speak a lot of English, but told me “the Jews took all her money” so she came to the United States. I don’t even know what to say when someone says something like that to me. What if I were Jewish? I’m still pondering how to react. I was friendly to her at the start, but something inside me turned cold when she said that. I don’t want to be anywhere near her, now. I wanted to say “this is America, we don’t say things like that,” but America has changed, has taken a very divisive turn, and we have a leader who does say things like that.

I think it has to do with the political climate, where we are quick to turn on one another, to call names, to point fingers, to assign blame – whether it is true or not. I find it disheartening. I like the safety of building networks, introducing ourselves, knowing we can count on one another for help when needed. Individually, we are all so vulnerable, but when we unite and care for one another, we are strong.

 

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August 3, 2018 Posted by | Adventure, Civility, Community, Counter-terrorism, Cultural, ExPat Life, Faith, Family Issues, Living Conditions, Relationships, Seattle, Social Issues, Stranger in a Strange Land, Travel, Values | Leave a comment

Doha, Qatar, in Transition

I didn’t start shooting digital until 2005, so there are two years of Doha documentation I only have in prints; I was shooting film, taking it down to the shop on old Electricity Street, Karabah. I came across these tonight . . . just wish I had been able to find some shots of the old Bandar restaurants, taken down with the modernization of Doha.

What a breathtaking transition. Doha, when we arrived, was still sleepy. There were a few tall buildings in the little capitol, mostly public utilities. The airport parking was free, and the airport itself was tiny. Most people knew one another, and the expat community was small. We were in Doha from 2003 – 2006, and again from 2009 – 2010.

 

When camels still had real riders at the weekly races:

 

 

 

Souq al Waqaf

Parachute Roundabout Comes Down:

 

Making way for the new connector street from old Karaba to Souq al Waqaf:

 

Ramadan finery:

 

 

 

 

Dinner at The Majlis

 

Karabaa Mosque, now gone

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June 6, 2018 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Building, Cultural, Doha, ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Photos, Qatar, Travel | Leave a comment

Pilgrimage to Powell’s World of Books

It’s the last day of the trip, and we are back in Portland. In a day when Amazon reigns supreme, Powell’s still stands tall, a bookstore that is a legend, taking up city blocks in Portland in its multi level building, all sectioned off with a mix of new and gently used books in every subject.

Powell’s World of Books is overwhelming. If you love books, if you love all things related to reading, you must at some point in your life make the pilgrimage to Powell’s.

 

 

 

When you’ve got your fill of books, they also have a wonderful coffee shop.

 

June 4, 2018 Posted by | Adventure, Books, Cultural, Road Trips, Shopping, Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Multnomah Falls and the Multnomah Falls Lodge

The theme of this trip was Mountains, Sea and Lodges, and, too, I guess Museums and restaurant meals, but mostly the lodges. Multnomah Lodge is another lodge from my childhood, visiting Oregon with my mother, an Oregonian, and Multnomah Falls was often a day trip on our agenda.

It’s fun going back as an adult. A lot has changed, and because a fire took out a bridge, we were unable to walk up to the closer view point for the falls. We still had a great time, and enjoyed our lunch at Multnomah Falls Lodge.

 

 

 

 

 

Albacore Tuna Salad sandwich – tuna taken to the top!

Salmon broccolini, fabulous!

June 4, 2018 Posted by | Beauty, Food, Restaurant, Road Trips, Travel | , | Leave a comment

Vista House

 

You have to really want to find Vista House these days, but it is worth the effort. Two roads up there say “closed” but there is a third road, narrow and winding and seeming like you will never get there, but you do, and when you do you have a panoramic view up and down the Columbia River.

This was built to last. The ladies room is entirely marble!

 

 

 

 

 

June 4, 2018 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Building, Public Art, Road Trips, Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Clocktower Ales, The Dalles, Oregon

OK, OK, here is the truth. Sometimes I am just wrong. Sometimes I have a prejudice, and I am proven wrong. This was the case in The Dalles, Oregon.

I have a prejudice against brew-pub food. I have the sense that it is meaty, burger and fries or fish and chip kind of food, heavy on fat and calories and low on anything fresh. We looked around The Dalles for something, but kept coming back to the Clocktower Ales.

The building is a lot of fun. It is a big old building, an old County Courthouse, where decades ago hangings regularly took place.

 

 

 

 

So yes, AdventureMan had a burger and onion rings, which he claimed were awesome, but it might have been the beer talking, it was a really good beer.

I had Thai Noodles. It was light, and full of vegetables, and VERY spicy, in fact, the waitress warned me that many people find it too spicy. It did pack a wallop, and I loved it. So I was really wrong, I never would have thought I would have a dish this truly delicious and memorable in a brew pub.

June 4, 2018 Posted by | Eating Out, Food, Restaurant, Road Trips, Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Columbia Gorge Discovery Center and Museum

“She shows us the same things,” you might complain, and again I say “I write this blog for myself and for the love of writing about the things I love. You are welcome, all are welcome, and if you are not happy, you are welcome to go elsewhere!”

I’ve lived an odd life, a life I would’t trade with anyone. I grew up in Alaska, on an island with a lot of native Americans as my fellow students in my little elementary school. I grew up with Alaskan art, Indian artifacts, masks, baskets, and the hand made costumes, red and black images, sparked with trimming of white shirt buttons. I went to high school in Germany, traveling far and wide with my family or with friends through that continent, visiting more than a few churches and museums, even making special trips to see an exhibit or two.

Then a big change, life in the Middle East and Africa, where I learned to see things through a very different set of eyes and experiences, but something strange started happening, as I noted the differences, I could also see amazing similarities.

I love women’s handwork. I love the nomadic textiles, often made on very narrow looms that could be mostly a couple sticks and yarn from sheep or goats you’ve raised and slaughtered, died with whatever you could get your hands on. And, oddly, the weavings and patterns from Native American baskets and weavings have a lot in common with weavings from the Middle East, West Asia (the ‘Stans) and Africa. There is a love of working with black, white and red, for example, and a similarity to the structure of the animals, even when the animals themselves differ.

If you are interested in the work women do with their hands, you never lack for conversation wherever you go. There are always groups where women are teaching one another new techniques. I’ve met wonderful, creative women in Germany and in Kuwait and in Tunisia, all finding new and innovative ways to create, and also exploring preservation of early and ancient techniques.

So this Museum, the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center and Museum was richly rewarding for both AdventureMan and myself; it was rich in history, in interviews and movies showing early salmon runs, for example, and interviews with early Native Oregonians. It was also rich in exploring the techniques of early basket making and cooking techniques, preservation of salmon by drying and salting, etc. We spent hours in this museum, and we heartily recommend that you do, too 🙂 It is also a very gorgeous museum, rich in sensory impact, unforgettable.

I will show you pictures, and every now and then I will put in a little explanation.

Below is a dugout canoe, created from one very large cedar tree trunk, carved out by hand

There were really Direwolfs? GOT didn’t make them up?

Look at the motifs on these baskets! African? Azerbaijani? Kazakh? Kuwaiti?

For grinding chestnuts into paste, then the paste is cooked into a kind of meal like oatmeal. The morter and pestle is the same in so many places.

The round cooking stones, heated in fires, dropped into the meal, fished out once they start losing their heat, washed, reheated and put in again until the meal reaches a boil, all in this tightly woven basket.


Activity in the Children’s exploration area

We love the creativity and persistence of humans who preserve our heritage and traditions for future generations. It is particularly delightful when the preservation is in a museum conceived and manifested with beautiful elements and natural materials.

June 4, 2018 Posted by | Adventure, Afghanistan, Africa, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Character, Cultural, Education, Entertainment, ExPat Life, Interconnected, Public Art, Quality of Life Issues, Road Trips, Travel, Values, Women's Issues, Work Related Issues | Leave a comment

Solstice Pizza in Hood River, Oregon

Gotta thank Trip Advisor for this one; told us it was a great choice and warned us to get there early. As a bonus for me, they had ginger beer, which I adore. Yummm! We had a fabulous waitress, sat at a group table outside near the wood pile for the wood-burning pizza oven, overlooking the Columbia River, it was a fabulous evening and the food was remarkable.

We split a Kale salad, which I forgot to photograph because we were really hungry, LOL.

 

 

AdventureMan’s Pizza (we are suckers for wood-fired ovens and thin crust pizzas)

My Dungeness Pasta (if it says Dungeness, I will order it!)

Little things make all the difference . . . it was a friendly crowd, we heard some fascinating conversations and just before we left, the waitress came up to me with a complimentary to-go cup full of ginger beer. I was utterly charmed. I wish we had Solstice Pizza in Pensacola.

June 4, 2018 Posted by | Cooking, Food, Restaurant, Road Trips, Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Simon’s Cliff House in the Columbia Gorge Hotel

Not only was the Columbia Gorge Hotel gorgeous and nurturing and fabulous, it also had a really good restaurant, Simon’s Cliff House, where we had several meals, breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Sadly, the very best meal we ate there, where I had Venison and AdventureMan had Steelhead Trout, I was so blown away by the food that we don’t even have any photos. I apologize.

 

Lunch with cream of broccoli soup and a Ceasar salad 🙂

 

Salmon sandwich:

 

We also had desserts! This WAS Creme Brûlée and Profiteroles!

 

June 4, 2018 Posted by | Food, Restaurant, Road Trips, Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Columbia River Gorge Hotel

This trip has been full of really happy surprises, and even the things that I had concerns about turned out well, much better than expected.

This is one of our shortest driving days of all, but the day is gorgeous, in spite of windy conditions as we are leaving Mount Hood. We had visited the historical exhibit in the hotel for the Roosevelt visit, and met a man about our age who, like my Mom, came for the skiing. He was disappointed; the conditions were so windy that skiing was dangerous. And, on our way out, we watched the ski patrol rescue two skiers who had ventured out but lost control in the gusting wind.

The skies are clear and crisp, and at the same time, it is spring and the valleys and mountain roads are full of wildflowers. On the way, on this very short drive, we take a detour; AdventureMan sees a sign saying Panorama Point. Who could resist?

Panorama indeed. You can’t even take a photo that would do justice. To the left is Mount Hood, and to the right is Mt. (something else) (Adams?) We take a short walk up to a higher viewpoint and meet a family doing devotions with two children, one a toddler playing and one a baby, sleeping. They are very kind, and very welcoming, and point out all that we are seeing, and it is glorious.

 

We are just minutes from the Columbia Gorge Hotel. We know we are way too early, but we stop in to ask for directions for a museum AdventureMan wants to see.

The Columbia Gorge Hotel was a really really happy surprise, and it is AdventureMan’s great coup. We used to watch a show, Grimm. We loved it because it was Portland, and all the characters who were mostly good guys were really good friends to one another, except when maybe they drank a hexes-poison and turned wicked for a while. Yeh, it was kind of silly, but we really enjoyed it. In the final season, there was a kind of Shakespearean episode where a bad guy poisoned the drinks and made people fall in love with people other than the ones they were already in love with, so it was this huge romantic comedy with players declaring their love for totally inappropriate people and for all the wrong reasons. The group had all gone to this resort for the weekend, and as we watched, AdventureMan said “Whoa! Where is that? I want us to stay there!”

So he made it a point to investigate all the places it might be, and narrowed it down to this hotel.

When we went inside, they were very kind, and, long story short, because we are retired military, gave us a better room at a reduced rate, AND the guy who checked us in was an extra in the Grimm episode, and had a bunch of materials, like the script and photos, and even a couple short videos that showed him doing his thing as an extra in the episode. It was so much fun, and this was all before we even got to our room.

Bellman, and Grimm extra Ricky Vaughan:


It’s been a long trip, and as much fun as it has been, we hoped for a lovely serene last few days before we returned to Pensacola. The Columbia Gorge Hotel was perfect.

Our room

 

The hotel lobby

The Valentino Lounge:

 

The grounds – this hotel has its own waterfall!

From beginning to end, we had a wonderful time at this hotel. The people were so kind to us, full of helpful information, and always wanting to go the extra mile to make us happy. We will stay there again in a heartbeat.

June 4, 2018 Posted by | Adventure, Hotels, Road Trips, Travel | , , | Leave a comment