Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

The Unknown Unknowns

Gordon was rolling in and no one knew if it would come as a tropical storm or a hurricane. Trust me, preparing for a hurricane is a lot of work, and we had to make a decision whether or not to put up the window coverings (we did not), to check over our hurricane supplies, like water, batteries, towels, buckets, cat cages, etc, which we did. I even made a big fresh pot of coffee, in case it were a long time before I saw coffee again, I could even drink it cold. AdventureMan cleaned the gutters, brought in outdoor furniture that could blow around, and placed heavier plants strategically so they would damage the house as little as possible if carried by hurricane force winds. Like I said, it is a lot of work.

 

We had wind and rain, lots of wind and sheets of rain, and bangs of thunder, and bangs of electrical conduits exploding, but although the power dimmed, we did not lose power entirely. Our only leaks this storm are in the garage.

The morning dawned; continued windy and rainy and thundery. We decided to go to a nearby Italian restaurant for lunch and had to detour three times before we could get there, twice due to deep pockets of water in the road, too deep to drive through, and once due to a tree down over the road. There are lots of pockets of deep water, and several trees down. We got off easy.

Aarrgh; now for putting all the carpets back down, getting the outdoor furniture back outside and putting the house back in “normal” mode.

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September 5, 2018 Posted by | Florida, Living Conditions, Survival, Weather | | 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

Never a Dull Moment: Hurricane Nate

 

We breathed a sigh of relief when the crew came and took down our hurricane protection on the upper story. Our house has been very dim on the upper level with the ballistic covering over the windows. That was ummm . . . . Monday? Tuesday?

Wednesday, we started hearing little rumblings about a fast-developing storm called Nate. By Friday, many activities for this weekend have been cancelled, even some church services on Sunday. Our guidance was “even if you are signed up to read or to sing in the choir, if it is a hurricane, DON’T COME.” You have to spell things like this out for Episcopalians, or they will kill themselves trying to keep a promise, to fulfill a duty.

Everyone has been sort of sure that the storm will head toward New Orleans, as it usually does. We don’t wish New Orleans any harm, we all love New Orleans and it is a favorite overnight or weekend getaway. They, in turn, love Pensacola Beach, and many spend a week or a month here ever summer. So they are our neighbors and we wish them well. But would we voluntarily take a hurricane for them . . . ? I’m not so sure.

I was up this morning at six, checking the most recent weather channel forecasts, and it doesn’t look good. Even if we get peripheral winds, they could be up to 100 mph. Just to be doing something to calm myself, I hit good old Home Depot for a tarp or two. I was home before eight, and AdventueMan was up sorting through the hurricane protection bags, the ones we just put away. The ones we just put away THIS WEEK.

As we are trying to prioritize, our contractor and his crew that installed the hurricane protection called and said he was in the neighborhood, did we want their help getting the protection back up. What a relief.

If we had done it yesterday, when the humidity was low and the temperatures were lower, it might have been a piece of cake, but this morning, even with the garage door open, we were sweating buckets just sorting out the upstairs and downstairs covers.

The crew is here now. I had to scurry to take a shower; did not want to give someone putting up window protection a bad shock. I have the cat cages ready to go, and extra food. I have a couple loads of laundry ready to be washed and dried, and I have packed the emergency bag in case we need to leave in a hurry.  Extra money, important papers, a couple days worth of clothing. Shoes. Underwear. I’ll pack my computer with me, and I hope I remember my charger. Having had to do things now and then in a big hurry, I know that sometimes your mind goes on hold and your forget the most essential thing. AdventureMan filled his gas tank, and will put up the garage supports when we get home from the movie this afternoon (the hurricane is not expected to hit until early tomorrow morning).

And, honestly, when you live with hurricanes, their terrifying power (as the Psalm says “terrify them with your hurricane”) you learn that the most important things of all are not things, but the people you hold most dear. Everything else can be replaced.

October 7, 2017 Posted by | Adventure, Circle of Life and Death, Community, Cultural, Family Issues, Hurricanes, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Survival, Weather | | 3 Comments

Wake of the Vikings: TugBoat Dances to Welcome us to Quebec

 

It is a joyful morning. The air is soft, the sky is blue, and Quebec shines like a jewel in the harbor.

The sun is gleaming off a smaller white boat – a tug?

 

The tug starts shooting off water. This is interesting! What is he doing? Is the tug able to use seawater to form the chute of water? Is it also a fireboat?

 

The boat starts toward our boat, and one chute of the water is grazing the bow! Oh no! Is he going to spray all the cruise ship guests? Is this a security risk?

 

No! He veers away, just in time to keep from giving us a soaking, but bouncing port to starboard, starboard to port, dancing for us, dancing with us. One of the crew members waves seeing me shooting this segment. AdventureMan joins me, he waves back.

 

What a delightful and lovely way to start the day. It just keeps getting better!

He is having so much fun. We are having so much fun! The water sparkles off his joyful waterspouts!

 

He almost disappears in a spray of water. He goes around the back to welcome the other side of the ship.

It doesn’t take much to thrill our hearts. This joyful welcome does the trick.

As we dock, the World Cafe is full of people and their cameras; we are docking in the heart of the old city, and views present themselves for the taking. You couldn’t ask for a lovelier day in Quebec; the temperatures will be in the high 70’s F.

 

 

The tug boat harbor:

 

 

“Oh look, the local Vikings are coming,” I said to AdventureMan, and looking right at them, he asked “where?”

“That’s them, the local Viking crew, coming to help get people onto their tours and hand out water,” I pointed out.

“Oh, I thought you meant REAL Vikings,” he grumbled.

LocalVikingsArrive.jpg

Hmmm. When I attended the Bayeux Tapestry lecture, the speaker said that the Battle of Hastings in 1066 is considered the end of the Viking Era, meaning exploration, pillage, plunder and settlement. But really, the Battle of Hastings was Norman (Norseman) against Northman, Viking fighting Viking, and perhaps . . . perhaps . . . the Viking Era goes on, hidden under a thin veneer of civilization.

Don’t you like that idea?

We have a tour late into the afternoon, then final goodbyes, dinner, and making sure our bags are out in the hall and ready to go by ten tonight. The good part about a cruise is unpacking and not having to pack and unpack again. The bad part is that a reckoning always comes, and we are stuffing our suitcases, and throwing out old underwear to make room for the few souvenirs we picked up along the way. The Viking Sky leaves Quebec City tonight for Montreal, and from our landing we head to the airport, en route back to Pensacola. I don’t believe I will be able to post again until we are there, and perhaps not right away, as you know what it is like, the deluge of things that must be done, when you get home . . .

So for now, au revoir from Quebec.

September 22, 2017 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Cultural, Customer Service, ExPat Life, Marketing, Pensacola, Travel, Weather | , , , | Leave a comment

Wake of the Vikings: A Short Day in L’Anse Aux Meadows

 

We have a wake-up call for six o’clock; we are on the first tender headed into L’anse Aux Meadows and we are excited. Who wouldn’t be; just look at this gorgeous morning sky to greet us. I’m good with drama if it is a morning or evening sky.

We wait a long time to get clearance; there is one other boat in town, and it is the National Geographic Explorer. Canadian Customs officials have to go through our paperwork and interview a select few face-to-face. Our 0700 departure is more like 0830.

 

No rain, so we are thankful, because rain is predicted. We are hoping it will hold off until we have visited the L’anse Aux Meadows Viking Site. Or is it a Native American Camp? For many long years it was believed to be Native American, but a team of archaeologists did a re-look and determined it may well have been an early Norse settlement.

The people in L’anse Aux Meadows go all out to make this interesting for their visitors. They dress in Viking costume to welcome us, and the site we visit has people who are “in character” telling us about their challenging lives in the early settlement, which only lasted maybe ten years.

Below is the woman who organized the buses:

 

 


A beautiful statue of the Vikings reaching the new world:

Statue detail of the ship:

 

There are a series of rooms built together, covered with sod. At one end is an outbuilding with a lathe. This may be someone’s imagination rather than something they really found, like they may have found evidence of an out-building and someone thought “oh it might have been a place where people worked wood, which Vikings did, a lot.”

 

These character actors really enjoy playing their roles. They were a hardy lot, and they work hard.

Decoration on entry to middle of houses:

Outside view of houses:

To the far end of the connected rooms is a multiple bedroom, with kinds of clothing they might have worn. The beds are small, the mattresses thin. It would appear this might be where a family might live, or a father keep his unmarried daughters, as it looks like the next room, much larger, is more of a lodge room where unattached men might sleep along the side of rooms or on the floor near the fire.

 

 

 

More clothing, and cooking tools. Sigh. I am guessing mostly women did the cooking, and that those are women’s clothes, and the corner where they speculate women might have worked preparing meals.

I love the room at the far end. I bet some old woman lived there, some old woman who loved fabrics and colors and textures, who would shear the sheep and clean and comb the wool, card the wool and make it into yarn, or thin threads that could be woven into serviceable clothing.

 

And I am speculating that old woman slept in this chaste little bed among all the supplies for spinning and weaving the wool into yarn and fabrics to clothe the inhabitants. Maybe she even made warm blankets 🙂

Outside the far end of the long house, with an opening for smoke to escape, and light to come in.

This was a forge. What it seems they might have made there was nails, using the most primitive tools and techniques.

We walked back to the center, where we were told to catch the bus, but we are told no, go to this bus-gathering place. Our meet-up seems to have been scheduled about the same time as the National Geographic Explorer meet-up, as their buses are there and . . . ours are not. It is starting to rain.

We wait a long time, and then our bus comes, to take us to another stop, a sort of re-creation of someone’s idea what things may have been like. AdventureMan and I look at each other. He is really tired. He wants to go back to the ship. When the others get off, we stay on, and one other couple asks if the bus can take us to the ship. More and more people figure out that this bus might be going back to the ship, and hop on.

It is really raining now. A tender has just arrived, and a lot of people get off, more people than I would have thought possible. We get on. I learn that a tender can hold a total of 234 people. We head back to the ship. On our way to the elevator, we ask the spa lady if the spa pool is open and she says “YES!” We run upstairs and take off all our clothes and jump into our swim clothes and head down to the hot pool. There is no one else there, just us, rolling around, warming our chilled bodies in the relaxing hot pool and the “ya-kut-zee.” We have a quick lunch, AdventureMan sacks out, and the ship is making rumbles like we are leaving L’anse aux Meadows any minute now. Life is sweet, or as the Captain ends all of his daily announcements from the bridge – All is Well.

September 19, 2017 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Community, Cooking, Cultural, Customer Service, Education, ExPat Life, Geography / Maps, GoogleEarth, Living Conditions, Photos, Quality of Life Issues, Travel, Weather, Women's Issues | , , , , | Leave a comment

Wake of the Vikings: Day at Sea Between Qaqortoq and L’Anse aux Meadows, Canada

 

AdventureMan pokes me awake, he’s hungry. “I felt like I was falling out of the bed a couple times last night!” he told me.

I am sympathetic. I don’t have motion sickness, but the other day, after a massage, in the spa at the bottom of the boat, I felt queasy. I’m pretty sure it was the moisturizing lotion; there was something about the smell of it, but once I had showered it off, I was OK again. I can imagine what it must be like to have that feeling every time the boat rocks and rolls.

 

 

The sun is coming up; it may be a little rocky but it is a beautiful day. We even see some gulls.

After breakfast, we grab our reading material and head up to the Explorer’s Lounge, where we  have a 180 degree view facing forward. There is a rainbow, ending almost on our ship, and a shadow rainbow with it. Surely, that is the best of luck!

 

Midmorning, we still have beautiful skies, even some blue, lots of sunshine. A little rocky but people are getting used to it.

I love the way the wind blows the spray off the top of the waves and leaves a ghostly mist.

 

 

 

We had a wonderful dinner in the Italian restaurant, Manfredi’s, last night. I had a cold tomato soup, very tasty, even some peppery heat, and the seafood platter, AdventureMan had Caprese Insalata and the Seafood Platter. It was a lovely evening altogether, great food, attentive service and very interesting dining companions from the Carolinas.

 

Every day the Captain comes on at noon to give us a location and conditions update. “Ladies and Yentlemen” he begins and then brings us up to speed on what we can expect, ending with “From the bridge, all is well.” We love that ending. All is well.

September 18, 2017 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Birds, Customer Service, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Restaurant, sunrise series, Travel, Weather | , , | Leave a comment

Wake of the Vikings: “Wake-Up! It’s Prince Christianssund Inlet”

 

AdventureMan wakes me early, and it’s perfectly OK. I’ve been asleep since about eight the night before. It might have been a little seasickness; I was down on level 1 having a massage and the heavy waves didn’t bother me, I liked seeing them crash, but for some reason, not seeing, and the smell of the lotion started to bother me, and I found myself breathing deeply and thinking I might end my session a little early. Fortunately, it was toward the end of the session and it finished and I managed to stay the whole time.

AdventureMan had ordered dinner – after massages, we like to just settle in, and Viking has a wonderful room-service menu. I really needed to shower, I needed to get this scent off me, it was making me uneasy, so I showered and drank some ginger ale, and felt much much better, only tired. I only ate the soup and salad, and went straight to sleep, sleeping soundly through the night.

When AdventureMan woke me, I was ready! And what a thrill, calm seas and gorgeous new scenery to start our day.

“Get dressed! Let’s go have breakfast in the Explorer’s Lounge!” he urged me, so I hurried, but we were not the first, LOL, we have a sturdy demographic on this ship!

 

The views are stunning, and change by the moment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We spend a couple hours in the Explorer’s Lounge, and then it is eight and as the surf is calm, I need to see if the spa pool is open!

September 16, 2017 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Exercise, ExPat Life, Geography / Maps, Travel, Weather | , , | Leave a comment

Wake of the Vikings: Reykjavik and Thingvellir in Iceland

We can’t believe our good luck, after the clouds and rain in Oslo, Bergen and being shut out of Lerwick, here we are in Iceland, and the weather is PERFECT. Perfect, that is, if you are an Alaska girl who loves to chill 😉 as AdventureMan debates whether or not he needs to wear his long underwear to keep warm.

The cruise director, Aaron Syfert, has told all of us, his cruise-children, to dress “like onions,” in layers, so that we can dress down if possible, and be warm enough when it is really cold. As we enter the bus, we have three or four layers; within minutes, there is a loud outcry from those aboard “Please turn down the heat!” In our full-up onion garb, it is really hot. The driver laughs and said he had wanted us to be warm enough, and turns down the heat until everyone is happy.

We drive through part of Reykjavik en route to our first stop, and the place I have wanted to see the most, Thingviller.

I have a thing about sacred spots, that it seems to me that there are some places in the world where the interface between this world and . . . the next? . . . the former? . . . .the alternate? . . . the interface is thin and perhaps not open, but permeable. Thingviller is a very very old place, a place where all those spread out in rural Iceland would gather to made decisions for the community. It was one of the most ancient forms of democracy, or democracy of a sort, of course it was mostly chieftains making the decisions, advised by their counsel, and while those decision makers were probably mostly men, they made decisions by consensus, and vote, for the greater good of the community.

Some of the decisions they reached would chill you. You will see a waterfall, below, by which there is a pond where violates of the law were drowned. Our guide tells us that most of them were women who had children out of wedlock. “What happened to the men?” one guest asked. “They were beheaded, if they could be found, if they could be identified,” she replied. She added that most of the time, the women went to their death without identifying the man who had impregnated her.

Geologically, Thingviller is fascinating. Thingviller is a huge rift between two tectonic plates, the North American Plate and the Euro/Asian Plate. I had known of “The Thing” the Viking Thing, about the decision making places, but it wasn’t until Digg, or one of the other news sourcing articles I get told me in some spectacular photos from around the world, that I knew about the rift. There were photos underwater, photos of daring young divers with one hand and foot on the North American Plate and the other on the EuroAsian Plate, truly spectacular. I wanted to visit the decision making place, and I wanted to visit the rift.

Last – and not least – Thingviller is one of the locations where Game of Thrones is shot, many of the scenes north of The Wall and of The Wall are shot here. It gives us a thrill, first Spain and the Alcazar and Alhambra, then Dubrovnik, and now Iceland, we are on a roll.

We had a great day, a truly great day, and the weather held. For me, Thingviller was worth the trip to Iceland.

September 15, 2017 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Circle of Life and Death, Community, Crime, Cultural, ExPat Life, Faith, Family Issues, Leadership, Living Conditions, Political Issues, Social Issues, Travel, Weather | , , , , | 4 Comments

The Wake of the Vikings: Dawn in Torshavn, Faroe Islands

Our wake up call comes at 0730, and we have slept through the night! We celebrate even minor blessings 🙂 another of which is that despite the heavy clouds, it is not raining, and rain is not expected until late afternoon. We’ll take that 🙂

September 12, 2017 Posted by | Adventure, Living Conditions, sunrise series, Travel, Weather | , , | Leave a comment

Wake of the Vikings: The Fantoft Stave Church

People are irrational, or anyway I know I am irrational. I think I am logical and make decisions using my mind, but I know that I often make decisions based on an emotional tug, and I rationalize my decision to make it seem logical. Such is the Fantoft Stave Church just outside of Bergen.

I really wanted to see this church. I found a way to take a bus there, but it was a long way out and it was a Sunday and I wasn’t sure about buses running on Sunday. I signed us up for a tour.

I really like churches.

I really like being alone in a church, or being with other church-y people, people who respect churches as a place where people do their best to communicate with a God they can’t figure out.

This was not that kind of visit.

One group out, another group in. I never had a moment alone in this lovely church, built entirely of pegged wood. Imagine, putting an entire church together without a nail. Pretty amazing. The church is beautiful and unique. I just wish I had had time there to get to know it better.

 

The roof is stunning. They used the same technology they used to build Viking boats.

The tour was also listed as “moderate” walking, but several people were on the tour who had wheelchairs or walkers. The second part of the tour, visiting Grieg’s house, museum, studio, grave site, etc required hiking up and down rock paths and leaf strewn paths in wet, rainy conditions. There were places I just didn’t go; I didn’t want to take a chance on a slip-and-fall that could hold me up the rest of the trip. I did fine, but I felt really sorry for those who had signed on thinking it was ‘moderate’ walking and it was really some fairly dangerous turn for those with mobility impairments.

Back on the ship, we went straight to the safety muster, where we gather to be shown how to put on a life-jacket and to go to our life boat, when and if needed.

Best part of the day was Sunday church services held in the Torshavn Bar. It’s a light interdenominational service with inspirational readings, but it soothes my grumpy soul and sets me right for the week to come.

September 11, 2017 Posted by | Adventure, Aging, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Cultural, Faith, Survival, Travel, Weather | , , , | Leave a comment