Travel

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More Thanksgiving Escapes

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Island Kayak

NOTE: After a week, Thanksgiving turkey is probably getting old and not something you want to eat. I’m about a week late with this post, and I’m hoping it’s not quite as stale.

It was a week of lots of home health care visits. The nurse who will be staying with Laura’s mom on a regular basis dropped by a couple of times over the holidays. Another nurse came by a couple of times, and there were two different physical therapists in multiple times to work with her. Laura and I were tasked with heading out to get various items necessary for all of these pursuits. Add to that the desire for a traditional Thanksgiving meal, and things could get stressful very quickly.

Even so, we managed to have a traditional Wright family turkey gathering, and I was able to spend some time with my family. I even managed a couple more escapes on my kayak. (more…)

Indian River Escape

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Indian River Grunge

Been a tough couple of weeks, and I seem to be suffering from writer’s block. I just haven’t been too inspired to research or photograph anything. Even when I have subject material, such as my long urban walk, or research on my grandfather’s churches, or a dozen other things I could be pursuing, I seem to lose interest about halfway through the post or project. So, I’m going to make a concerted effort to keep writing on a regular schedule.

And with that, we’re here in Florida for the Thanksgiving holidays. Laura’s mom was just released from three months in a skilled nursing rehab center after breaking both legs in a fall. Our job was to help her get re-established at Laura’s sister’s home and situated with home health-care, etc. I needed an occasional escape, so I brought a kayak down with me.

Escape #1 – Night Paddling

We arrived later Sunday evening than I had planned. Monday was spent running errands and getting supplies for the house. By Monday evening I was ready for an escape. I headed out for an after-dark paddling trip.

Indian River Paddling-013 (more…)

Jupiter Inlet

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Highway 1 Drawbridge over Jupiter Inlet

It’s been a stressful week.  Laura’s mom fell on Friday and broke both legs.  She had surgery on Saturday, and is looking at a long recovery time.  Laura had flown down to Florida so she could drive back with Amy and her mom and some time with us.  Her mother fell as they were getting ready to go to the airport to pick her up.  So, with Laura in Florida with no way back and not enough supplies for an extended stay, I packed more gear for her and clothes for me and drove down Sunday.

Monday was spent in the hospital. Tuesday I had a bit of a break. Amy and Laura stayed with their mom, and I headed ab hour down the road to Jupiter, where my niece, Katie, and her husband, Aaron had just moved. My sister, Glynda, had come down to help them get settled in, and it was also their son, Jack’s first birthday.

Apparently first birthday cake smashing is a thing. If you buy the first birthday cake from Publix, they throw in a “smashing cake.” Katie thought that the small one was too small and wouldn’t show up in photographs well. She bought a larger one. She had a little set in place, so we put Jack in front of the cake… (more…)

Local Skagit Discoveries

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August 7, 2014

We were enjoying our time on Samish Island. After driving many, many miles up the west coast from San Francisco, it was refreshing to hold still for awhile. We still had lots of chores around the house – sorting through some things, and packing up a few things to ship back east for her mom. We worked through the morning, and before we knew it, it was time for lunch.

The problem with Samish Island is that it takes awhile to get into town. We didn’t have much in the refrigerator, so we didn’t have too many options. We timed it so that we could go to the Bow post office and ship some stuff, and get lunch. As we were driving through the town of Edison, which is about a mile from Bow, we counted at least three cafes, and wondered why we couldn’t try one of those. We decided to see what was available locally.

We selected Slough Food as our experiment in local cuisine. There were a few seats out front, but decided to eat out back next to the slough. We had an interesting little one-sided picnic table set in a lovely little garden next to the water.

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We started with beer and olives.

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Lunch itself was a light sandwich on homemade bread with light deli meat and greens. It was fantastic.

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When we’ve visited in the past we’ve had Laura’s mom with us, and we were somewhat limited in our food options. We just hadn’t tried any of these local places, and now I’m glad we did.

After lunch we started wandering around the tiny town of Edison. There was a biker bar…

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…and several art and antique stores that used to be something else.

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We spent the rest of the afternoon doing chores around the house and relaxing. Our time on the island seemed to be slipping past far too fast.

Samish Time Lapses and Family Discoveries

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Eligin Pocket Watch

August 6, 2014

It was another day on Samish Island, and we had a full day planned. Most of this involved taking care of some family business in town, but there were opportunities for shopping and photography.

One thing I wanted to do was try some time lapse photography on the island. I had done this before, but that was with limited equipment. I had an iPad, which I couldn’t leave outside for extended periods. Now, with the GoPro, I could set up a session and leave it for much longer.

My first attempt was actually yesterday evening. I set up the camera and let it run for a couple of hours over the late afternoon, evening. While the GoPro worked great and I like the overall view, the wide angle made it so that I couldn’t capture the incoming tide as I wanted.

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Morning Light in Skagit Valley

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Mount Baker

August 5, 2014

It had been a long week+ of traveling, but now we were settled in for awhile. I got a good night’s sleep, but, as usual, was awake far too early. I think it also has something to do with the longer daylight up here. I’ve never been this far north in winter, and would be curious as to how that would affect me. I’d probably still get up early.

From a photography standpoint these long days are fabulous. Long morning and evening light means you’ve got much more optimal time with the best possible light. Even with longer light, I wasn’t going to waste any of it, so I headed out early to take some photos of Skagit Valley.

First, though, I did get did get distracted by a small bunny right outside the window while I was having breakfast…

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This part of the Skagit Valley is mostly reclaimed farm land. Samish Island was once a true island, but has been reconnected to the mainland by land reclamation. “The Flats” present and ever-changing landscape, depending on crops, weather, and lighting conditions. Today the weather was clear and spectacular. (more…)

From Long Beach to Samish Island

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Samish Island Sunset

Monday, August 4, 2014

We got a good night’s sleep in our quaint little hotel, but it was time to move on. We were very close to the end of our journey, but we still had some exploring to do. We got up and had a large breakfast at a local joint, where I demonstrated my prowess with one of the triangular peg puzzles.

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Portland, Oregon to Long Beach, Washington

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Marsh's Free Museum at Long Beach

Marsh’s Free Museum at Long Beach

Saturday, August 3, 2014

It had been a long day already. We had seen some amazing waterfalls, some incredible vistas, and some enormous crowds along the Columbia Gorge. It was time to move on. I didn’t want a repeat of Friday’s scramble to find a place to stay in Portland, so Laura dove into the task of finding us a place for tonight. Our only requirement was that it needed to get us further on our way, preferably somewhere on the Washington State coastline, but not too far of a drive. Laura was successful, but I didn’t know anything about the town or location. Regardless, I set the GPS and we set off.

I-84 took us through downtown Portland and over the Willamette River on another spectacular bridge. We didn’t linger for sightseeing, or even for a photo of the bridge and skyline, but kept going. We left the interstate for the coastal highway, which mimicked our Friday trip over from the coast. We passed through rural lands, then ascended over the coastal range, dropping back down at the appropriately named community of Seaside.

We began seeing signs pointing to historical locations for Lewis and Clark. Seemed fitting. Our last two week road trip was ten years ago, when we followed the Lewis and Clark route across country in another convertible.

The highway followed only a short span of the Oregon Coast before turning back eastward. Most of this was through developed seaside communities. Soon, though, we were crossing the Young’s Bay Bridge toward Astoria. We didn’t linger, though, because we immediately drove onto the Astoria Bridge across the Columbia River.

Astoria Bridge over Columbia River (more…)

Waterfalls of Columbia Gorge

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Columbia Gorge from Vista House

Columbia River Gorge

Sunday, August 3, 2014

We wanted to get an early start. However, gas and more coffee were calling. We found a Starbucks in the little planned community of Wilsonville, then headed on our way. We circled past Portland on I-205 until we came to an overlook of the Willamette River. We had a good view of the Willamette River Locks.

Willamette River Locks

Soon we found ourselves headed east on I-205, and entering the Columbia River Gorge. The gorge was much wider than I had imagined. I don’t know what I was expecting – perhaps a narrow river gorge like the Green in North Carolina?

Tom Driving along Columbia River Gorge (more…)

Coos Bay to Portland

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Heceta Head Lighthouse from Sea Lion Cave

Heceta Head Lighthouse from Sea Lion Cave

Saturday, August 2, 2014

It was time to continue our trek up the west coast. We weren’t really sure where we would end up today, but from Aunt Ellen we had gotten suggestions about a couple of place we wanted to stop along the way.

We retraced our steps northward from yesterday’s trip, driving along miles and miles of dunes. It would have been tempting to stop at several of the locations with dune overlooks, but with Dunefest in full swing that wasn’t very appealing.

Soon we came to the town of Florence on the Siuslaw River. As we crossed the river we made note of the fascinating architecture of the bridge. It turns out that this is one of the historic bridges along this road designed by Conde McCullough, an architect active during the 1920s and 30s. McCullough had a penchant for adding art deco elements to his designs, such as unusual obelisks at the entrances to the bridge. We had already crossed several of his bridges, including the ones at Coos Bay, Umpqua River, and Gold Beach. This wouldn’t be the last one we crossed today.

The town of Florence looked like it would be a great place to explore, with an interesting waterfront along the Siuslaw. However, we kept going. The dunes also continued, ending abruptly at Cox Rock, near Sea Lion Point. The dunes stretch for over 35 miles of the Oregon Coast, and it was interesting seeing the massive piles of sand right up against the highway in some areas. I had to wonder about the shifting nature of the sands, and how hard it must be to keep the highway clear. I was also glad it wasn’t exceptionally windy in an open top car. (more…)

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