May 30, 2011


...not sure, but more than 10. Tipsy thoughts tonight or hungover thoughts in the morning? Mmmmm...given the mental effort expended to log in using a computer that thinks I'm Norm (which means no matter which site I visit it logs me in as Norm and I have to log out then figure out how to be me) I'm pretty much out of thoughts. Most excellent dinner at Norm's sister's place in Vancouver, with Brianne and James. Somebody kept filling up my wine glass. With wine. I'm kaput. We did bring nice weather with us which seems to happen when I come to Vancouver. No complaining there. Pretty much no complaining about anything. Give me a million dollars and I'll live here. Seriously, you'll feel better. Just hand it over.

May 28, 2011

On The Road

Today is day 10. You get to read about Day 6 which begins after a night of sleeping in the back of the Pathfinder in the rain.
Day 6: We pulled stuff out from under the tarp and threw it in the back of the truck and we were off. There seems to be no shortage of ‘authentic Mexican’ restaurants on this route, so what’s a girl to do? I had fish tacos for breakfast. Delish. Then the drive got hairy and it had nothing to do with what we ate for breakfast. The road itself is pretty much immaculate – it must have recently been resurfaced (and I’m sure that was no small job)…but the driving…hairpin turns, curves, switchbacks, dips, rises, hills, 25mph, 60mph, 40mph, 55mph, 15mph, 55mph, entering tsunami danger zones (I’m not even kidding), leaving tsunami danger zones, speed up, slow down, watch out for those turkey thingies crossing the road, is that a FUCKING SPIDER crawling across the inside of my windshield?, do you think the wind could pick the truck off the road?, oh look: a man with a chainsaw walking along the side of the road, look at that surf, stop, walk on the beach, drive, wipers on, wipers off, up, down, around. By the time we decided to call it a day and be done driving, there wasn’t much chance either of us were game for setting up a tent in the rain. We ended up in an excellent little motel in Trinidad, complete with king-sized bed and down bedding. Had an awesome dinner at the pier and then watched the sun set over the ocean in a by-then fairly clear sky. Here's some of what we saw:


LEAVING? Just when did we ENTER the hazard zone? These signs are awfully small for the message of potential doom that they convey.

Sunset in Trinidad after a long day of driving in the rain. That's Norm right there. In the truck. He's pretty cute, huh?

All I can say about the beaches is: unbelievable. We stopped at quite a few - different light, different waves, different angles, different weather. And each time we kept on driving thinking there just couldn't possibly be a nicer view than the one we'd just seen. Then we'd round another one of those interminable bends, and there was yet another breathtaking view. When I told people we were going to weave our way up the Oregon coast, I had no idea how accurate the term "weave" really was.

Day 7: We left Trinidad CA aiming for Newport Oregon by day’s end, including time for stops for things we wanted to see along the way. It rained the entire time but it didn’t take away from the awe-inspiring Redwood Forest. No words for trees that have been here for that long. If a tree had eyes…could you imagine the things it has seen over 1,500 years? Sunrises, sunsets, generations upon generations. It’s hard to even imagine something being alive for that long.  The one good thing about the rain is the ambiance it brings to a drive through the forest. Green, green, green. Some more driving (not as twisty as yesterday’s, but it had its moments) and we ended up at the Shilo Inn on the beach (except the bug thing that was in my wallet – I let him out in the lobby). The view from our room is below. I'm including it because it's such a contrast to the view from the place we stayed in Olympia. Our window in Newport overlooked a grey and rowdy ocean and even greyer and moodier clouds. We tried the hotel restaurant for supper but when ten minutes had gone by after we put down the menus and still nobody had even taken a drink order from us, we left. Norm had to go to the drug store so while he was inside I used his handy GPS (don't tell him I said so, but the GPS, as it turns out, is rather useful) to search for some Asian food, thinking that some noodle soup would be excellent on a night like this. What I found was Bangkok Thai Food restaurant down by the marina. A serious little hole in the wall owned by a couple who each were originally from Thailand, met in Idaho, married and started a little restaurant. Probably the best Thai food I’ve had in recent memory, and certainly surprising for its location. 

View from our room at the Shilo Inn - Newport, OR. After a rather stormy night, it cleared up for the morning. Stay there. It is good. Just ignore the bug in the lobby. He's probably just trying to get back to Napa after he hitched a ride in my wallet.
Day 8: Drove to Olympia. On the way we visited the Latimer quilting centre (photos for you would love this place) and the Tillamook Cheese Factory (cheese for you Brianne). Arrived to yet more rain. Olympia is an interesting city. By interesting I mean, well, there seems to be an undercurrent of something I'll call counter-culture. Pretty city. Strange vibes. I've never been in a coffee place where the barista dealt drugs out of the mop room. 

The view from this hotel room was not nearly as spectacular as last night’s, but that’s okay because it had a hot tub. Days of being in the rain and by the windy ocean chilled us to the bone.

Speaking of rooms with a view, here's one of my favourites.

 Second night on the road was spent in Collier Memorial State Park north of Klamath Oregon. You'll remember this campground for the picture of the frozen water in a previous post. I'll remember it because I stayed snug in my sleeping bag in the truck while Norm braved the chill to make me a latte. If you haven't had a latte made by the one you love while camping, you haven't lived.

Oh, right. There is another reason I remember this place. It was gorgeous. This is Spring Creek. The campground is situated where Spring Creek meets the Williamson River.

May 27, 2011

In No Particular Order

We're into Day 8 if you're keeping track. But tonight's episode is brought to you by Days 2 and 3. Because they require the least amount of editing of my notes.

Day 2: Still driving. One of the best things about a road trip is getting reacquainted with old friends. Bob Seger. Billy Joel. Bread. Hootie and the Blowfish. Road trips make paying for satellite radio worthwhile. Remind me to thank Norm for that :)

Camped for the night in Collier State Park Campground (photo 724), north of Klamath Falls, Oregon. I was concerned about being able to secure a tent site (the camp books show the number of tent sites and RV sites and the tent sites are always outnumbered). Turns out we didn’t have to worry – it appears that tenting is a lost art in these parts – we were the only tent in the whole place. I think the guy across the road from us with the big pickup and huge camper trailer got a kick out of our setup. Said he’d never seen a ‘unit’ like that:


In the site next to him was a family with four small children who all looked  to be between four and seven years old. One of them was obviously trying out for Forrest Gump II: The Return. Norm noted that the kid had only one speed: on. He’d tear by on a bicycle one way and the next thing you know he’s running by flat out from a different direction. Norm was proven wrong a few roasted marshmallow later. There’s “on” and then there’s “ON” complete with sound effects. Serious props for the mom and dad in that family. Watching them herd those kids, kiss scraped knees and send a boy to the bathroom because “you’ve got a great big stringer of snot hanging from your nose” makes me pretty sure I should get a mother of the year award for prior campouts with my kids. That’s a LOT of work. In any event, they had the kids rounded up and in bed at a decent hour and I was able to roast my own marshmallows in peace. I slept with my head inside the sleeping bag most of the night – it was pretty cold. As evidenced by the skiff of ice on our washing-up water the next morning:

It was a terrific campground for something just off the main highway. And HOT showers. Which was nice, because I wouldn’t want to pull into San Francisco smelling like campfire.  

Day 3 P.S. Somewhere before The Dalles (Moro?) is a deli/convenience store. And for $7.25 you can get a deli sandwich (regular mustard only), some potato salad or a boiled egg, a bag a chips, a piece of freshly-baked cake, and an apple or an orange. All served to you by a lady missing her four bottom teeth in the front. Best potato salad I’ve ever had, and I’m not generally a fan of potato salad in the first place.

May 23, 2011

Day 4: Camping, Diners and Home Decor

Arrived in SF yesterday afternoon, checked into a motel in Chinatown. The deal I have with myself is that over the course of the trip the cost of campgrounds, cheap hotels and maybe one or two nice places should equalize to a reasonable dollar amount per night. I'm not sure how much reasonable is yet, but am erring on the side of thrifty. This motel isn't as cheap as camping, but it's certainly not as expensive as the place we stayed last September. I don't remember the rate we were quoted at the counter when we arrived, but it was significantly more than the rate Norm had seen in a little publication he picked up at the rest stop (26C and sunny before we got to the city so we stopped to soak it up). I went to the truck and grabbed the magazine to show the clerk the rate. So now we’re here for two nights (first night is $20 more than advertised because they’ve “sold out of those rooms”, and the second night is per the price advertised). Not sure how that works since we're in the same room both nights. Doesn't matter too much - it's clean and right in the middle of everything.

We had dinner at Joe's Crab Shack at Fisherman's Wharf last night. We had been there on our last trip and it was worth a return visit. A couple of pints of Summer Ale and some crab and lobster and I needed a shower. Norm says shellfish is the only dinner that fights back so you end up hungrier than when you started. I say shellfish is the only dinner that makes you feel dirty. No way do you want to wake up in the morning smelling like the night before. Crab is sort of like truffle that way. It smells divine when you're hungry and eating it. It definitely does not smell as appealing the next morning stuck underneath your fingernails.

On our list today was to get to Britex Fabrics in Union Square. It’s a place we didn’t even step into last time because Norm was worried I wouldn’t come out. Also because the amount of fabric we needed wouldn't have made for good airplane carry-on. This time though, we have the luxury of a vehicle and all the "carry-on" we can carry. But first a walk from our motel in Chinatown to the Ferry Building for coffee and a waffle. Then a walk to Union Square. Britex Fabrics is four storeys of floor to ceiling fabrics of every description. Having had little luck in Calgary finding a fabric for our future banquette for the dining room, I figured we’d find something for sure at Britex. And we did. The best part was walking the 14 or so blocks back to the motel – especially through Chinatown - carrying 9 yards of fabric on a 5 foot wide tube. Just imagine carrying a rolled up carpet. Through a mess of people. I’ve never seen so many people crowded onto sidewalks. And not really moving – just sort of browsing, or chatting, or shopping for vegetables (or dried things in wooden bins). And I’m sure they’ve never seen a 5’9” woman with wild curly red hair madly wielding a bolt of fabric in an effort at crowd control. By the end of the walk I was famished for lunch so I handed the fabric to Norm and he waited outside while I went into a place a few doors away from the motel. Your dining options are limited in Chinatown. Reasonably enough, the majority of food establishments seem to be Chinese. I figured I’d just go into the one closest to the motel and grab some of whatever was being served to-go. It was Dim Sum. Which as far as I’ve ever been able to tell is chopped up stuff stuffed inside dough: bread dough, won ton dough, sticky rice, whatever. There was no English on the overhead menu so I asked the lady for something for lunch, enough for two people. She made some suggestions and then proceeded to give me three of each thing I chose. We ate back at the motel room. Most of it was pretty tasty, though I couldn’t tell you what any of it was.

Later today we hope to get to Q Restaurant in the Richmond district of the city. It’s one of the places featured on the Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives series. Click the link to see the episode. I’m not in the mood for the duck confit (somehow, soaking duck in duck fat for two weeks and then deep frying it just isn’t speaking to me after the dim sum), but the pulled pork fajita things look good.  First though, I’ll have to wait for Norm to wake up from his nap. He might only be half asleep though, because when I wondered aloud if falling asleep on your back with a toothpick in your mouth was prudent, he indicated that he’d be fine. Doughy dim sum, people. It makes a man sleepy.

May 19, 2011

And The Winner Is....

The squeamish among you should stop reading. Now. Right now. Really.

You still with me?

Okay, don't say I didn't warn you.

I came home from work today to find a dog collar attached to one foot out of a six foot lead hanging from the chandelier in the foyer. I'm happy to report that it wasn't attached to the dog. Norm had hung the remnants up where Rory for certain wouldn't be able to reach them. Leave it to Rory to eat five feet of leash the day before we want to leave for vacation. Norm came home in the late afternoon to find the collar and leash bit in the living room - so we don't know exactly what time Rory decided he needed a snack. It didn't much matter. The last time Rory at something like that (his pretty orange collar) it took ten days before he threw it up. That was lucky. I knew a leash wasn't going to 'pass through' him without serious complications and no way did I want to wait days to see which way it would go.

I also had visions of being 1,000 miles from home and Rory needing to be rushed to an emergency vet. Nothing like high anxiety to prompt some quick decisions. I weighed the options: leave it alone, get an x-ray done on his stomach (no need really, I knew where that leash had gone) or induce vomiting. Yes folks, make your dog throw up. When you live with a sock-eating dog, you learn a few things. You hope you'll never have to do it, but after Rory's sock eating escapades, associated vet bills and a very sick dog I wanted to be sure to know what to do if it happened again.

15 ml of hydrogen peroxide 3% and a syringe to get it down his gullet. Then a five minute wait. Then the oddly comforting sound of Rory going "hurka, gurka, urka" and UP comes a leash. I didn't possess Norm's presence of mind (he'd put blue nitrile gloves on for the inevitable cleanup) - I was so busy waiting to see if the hydrogen peroxide would work I had no time for anything except running over and grabbing the leash to help it exit before Rory could choke it back down. Kind of like rushing in for the birth of a baby and being just in time to catch it. Almost as rewarding, too. Norm's job was to cut out a square of carpet to get rid of the rest of the mess. Not to totally gross you out: the area was chosen for its relative ease of cleanup, since most of the carpet has been ripped out in prep for hardwood anyway. It didn't surprise me at all that Rory would gravitate to one of the last remaining pieces of carpet for this adventure. I suppose we could have stood outside in the pouring rain for this, but frankly, it never occurred to me. I was rather nervous about doing this in the first place, and what would happen if it didn't work, and so on. Brain was just focused on getting that leash out.

He doesn't seem any worse for wear. We fed him a little bit of yogurt to coat his stomach, and waited a little while before giving him half-rations for dinner. All of which he gulped down with his usual gusto.

Sometimes people say that their kids, or dogs, or bosses or whatever will be the end of them. I worry that Rory will be the end of himself. He's the loveliest dog you've ever met. Gorgeous. Friendly. Curious. Affectionate. But I have no idea what gets into him sometimes. Other than socks and leashes.