#233–San Clemente at Last

In January 2019, Theresa Baer and I planned a trip to San Clemente to include the Laguna Beach area where she had gone to high school. She looked forward to seeing her old stomping grounds, and I looked forward to some warm, dry weather in Southern California. We planned to go in April and Theresa made lodging reservations. We were excited and ready to go.

Then in March, her stepdad, John, took a fall where he hit his head. The injuries turned out to be fatal, and we postponed our trip. Theresa needed to be there for her mom.

Theresa was ready for a vacation.

The trip was postponed until my next trip down in December and the motel graciously moved our reservations.

Day 1, Thursday, December 12––I arrived at Theresa’s on the 11th and the next morning, the truck was loaded and we left about 11:30 a.m. We were headed to the beach, to the ocean.

We took a less direct, scenic route closer to the San Gabriel Mountains. Still there was lots of traffic. It was LA after all! And the traffic was moving right along.

We stopped in Dana Point for lunch. It was an organic foods place. I had lots of interesting stuff on top of slices of sweet potato. Good but really different. Theresa had a veggie burger. We were able to get coffee next door and ate outside on a terrace that served both places.

Judy at the pier in San Clemente.

The nicest part of the trip was driving along the ocean. When we finally got to San Clemente, we couldn’t find the hotel. On our third pass through town, we found it—the Volare. It was on the street one block east and parallel to 101. Parking was scarce. So we were glad that there was underground parking. We were on the second floor, facing the ocean with a balcony. We arrived before dark, which was our goal.

It was quite a nice room and the complimentary breakfast buffet had a lot of choices. Our only disappointment was that there was no restaurant as advertised. There was an eating area, but it was only open one night, which we didn’t hear about until a couple days later.

Since there was no dinner at the hotel that first night, we walked into town. It was not far. We went into a place where they had wine on tap, and we had tapas with wine. The food was quite good. No idea what the place was called. We walked home and watched a couple episodes of “Naked and Afraid,” which was totally crazy! The beds were comfortable and we slept well. Theresa thought the pillows were the greatest she’d ever met!

The pier at San Clelmente.

Day 2, Friday, December 13––The morning routine was that I got up and did my exercises and got ready and headed off downstairs to the breakfast buffet.  It was a very full buffet, with lots of choices. Theresa, not being an early breakfast person, waited to eat until I brought her coffee and a heated, buttered bagel out on the balcony when I returned. One could get spoiled.

The Greeter at Greeters Corner in Laguna Beach was still there.

The weather was perfect. The plan was to check out Laguna Beach. Theresa was amazed over and over again at how much it had changed and how easy it was to get lost. She said that she felt totally gobsmacked! So we spent some time exploring the countryside on our way to various places. It was all unfamiliar to me. If I had ever been there, I must have been just passing through because nothing was familiar.

Although much was unfamiliar to Theresa, she did see some familiar sights in Laguna Beach. Some businesses were the same, and the statue of “The Greeter” was still there.

We walked around and found lots of great shops. One was Ryan’s Art for the Soul. That’s where we bought some fabulous stemless wine glasses decorated on the bottoms with flowers. They weren’t identical but very much alike. On this trip, we used them for drinking wine on the balcony after dinner. And they worked very well for that.

One of our fabulous stemless wine glasses.

After exploring the Laguna Beach area by truck, we headed up the coast and stopped at Newport Beach. We explored the town and then the neighborhoods, where we admired the houses as well as the Christmas decorations.

It was in a lovely neighborhood that we found a spot for lunch. It was the Succulent Coffee Company and Café. Funny thing, the coffee was terrible, but the food was terrific. This time I had a veggie burger and a mountain of fries. Almost more than I could eat. Theresa had mac and cheese that she shared with me and a fabulous chicken sandwich with her own mountain of fries. The fries were delicious but totally unexpected. We were stuffed!

Casa Romantica is today a cultural center and gardens open to the public.

We got lost heading back to San Clemente, so we explored more countryside. That evening, we had no dinner because we were still full. We sat up late drinking wine and talking on the balcony.

Day 3, Saturday, December 14––After our breakfast routine, we spent this day in San Clemente. We visited Casa Romantica, the lovely Spanish Colonial Revival style home of Ole Hanson, one of the founders of San Clemente. It is now the Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens. In the courtyard and outside of many rooms are various gardens. We especially enjoyed the many and unusual succulents. And were surprised to see so many absolutely lush with fruit.

Cactus and succulents were tucked in everywhere.

While at Casa Romantica, we got to see the artwork of an artist from San Diego, whose work was on exhibit. Her name is Erin Hanson, an oil painter who uses vivid colors and lots of paint. We both greatly admired her work. 

We continued down to the picturesque pier. There was a seafood restaurant there, Fisherman’s, and we had a great lunch. We had yummy coconut shrimp appetizers, then a cup of chowder for me followed by a pail of mussels. I just love mussels. Theresa had grilled seafood on a skewer plus another mountain of fries. We were eating on the deck with the waves directly below. It was ideal––until I bumped my bucket of mussels, which knocked over my giant glass of water. Not only did it get all over stuff on the table, but on Theresa too. Fortunately, it was a nice warm day, so that helped. I felt like such a klutz!

Even the ceiling was interesting at Casa Romantica.

Later we explored the area partly by foot and partly in the truck. And we even went for a walk on the beach. As it grew dark, we headed back and parked downtown.

We walked around, enjoying the trees along the sidewalk all decorated with Christmas lights.

Some of the cactus were most unusual.

Then we had dinner at an upscale Mexican restaurant—South of Nick’s Mexican Kitchen. Both of us had killer lobster rellenos. They were absolutely delicious as long as I kept eating. When I stopped, the burn kicked in. Theresa pointed out that there were small slices of jalapeno pepper hidden within. I found some and deleted them. I got so hot that I had to mop the perspiration off my forehead, and my mouth and lips burned. But I ate it all. It didn’t bother Theresa.

We saw this sign on our beach walk. Not exactly inviting! We thought it rather priceless!

Later, we relaxed with wine on the balcony.

Day 4, Sunday, December 15 After our breakfast routine, we explored up the coast and saw some interesting cars. Because Laguna Beach and San Clemente are quite upscale as well as parts of Newport Beach, we saw a lot of expensive cars. We saw many a Lexus, Mercedes, and BMW and a few Maseratis and Ferraris. But when we saw a sporty convertible with unusual rearview mirrors mounted on stems attached at the rear of the fenders that looked like a Batmobile from the rear, we took a second and third look.

When we pulled alongside, I couldn’t resist. I rolled down the window and shouted to the young, good-looking driver that it was a really cool car, but what was it? He shouted back that it was a Bagami or so I thought. Then I asked again and heard the same plus he added a second name, which I didn’t catch at all.

Pagani Huayra price tag is in the millions!!.

When I looked it up on my iPhone and we saw the name on the back a little later, I realized that what he actually said was Pagani and it was the Pagani Huayra. We were stunned to find that it costs $2,500,000-$2,800,000. Yes, millions! Like I said, an upscale neighborhood. It has a 750-horsepower engine, a mid-engine design, and very low production numbers. Of course, we both wanted one. Can you imagine how frustrating it must be to have 750 horses under the hood on clogged Southern California freeways? We did see it zip around cars, and eventually it was out of sight.

Mission San Juan Capistrano.



We continued on in Theresa’s almost 20-year old red Ford Ranger in our quest to find San Juan Capistrano. It took a couple of tries and exploring more countryside, but we found it. On past excursions in California, we’ve checked out nearby missions, so this was not unusual for us.

We did not expect to see exposed ruins.

But San Juan Capistrano is special. It is large and had some of the original ruins that were not embedded within different restorations. It was fascinating to see the ruins, and Serra’s Church within the mission was quite large. There is a museum and many rooms were open and provided a peek into how life used to be. We ended up in the gift shop where I bought a Christmas ornament—the one thing I collect.

Nearby was a Basilica. Since it was Sunday and services were being held there, we got to see and hear beautiful bells ring out.  

The statue of Father Junipero Serra.

On the way back, we had lunch at Siesta Café in San Clemente.  It was a typical Mexican restaurant and the food was good. I had enchiladas with rice and beans. Not too hot, this time. It was a fairly late lunch, so we skipped dinner. We still enjoyed our wine on the balcony. And this night, our last night, had a beautiful red sunset. Just gorgeous!

Day 5, Monday, December 16––We continued our breakfast routine each day of our trip.  This morning was different, though; we were leaving. The weather had been perfect every day, and our room was very nice. We loved the balcony. From our perch on high, we felt like we got to know some of the neighbors and routines on the street.

Inside the Serra Church at San Juan Capistrano.

We packed up and checked out at 10:40 a.m. Just made the 11 a.m. check out deadline. By 11 a.m., we were on the road.

Later, we stopped in Newport Beach and had lunch at Mama’s Comfort Food & Cocktails right on the harbor. It was a bit funky and had the most incredible menu. It must have had 100 items or more on it. The food was great, and, once again, very filling. I had a lobster roll and Theresa breakfast sliders and fries.

We had some terrific meals on this trip. I guess we could call our trip how Judy and Theresa ate their way around Southern California.

We took a more direct route back––the Pacific Coast Highway up to Hwy 55 to the 405 freeway. What a slog along the 405––soooo much traffic and barely moving! Poor Theresa was worn out by the time we got to her place in Porter Ranch by 3:35. She had wanted to be back before 4 p.m. That’s when traffic really gets bad! Hmm!

The ocean between San Clemente and Laguna Beach and part of our memories of this trip.

It was a wonderful trip. A chance for Theresa to get away and for me to get some warmer weather. And for both of us to enjoy a chance to be together to enjoy each other’s company. . . . Now we have to think about where our next trip will take us.

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#232–Day by Day in Washington DC––Part III

By now we were very familiar with the hotel and who to talk to about problems such as with the toilet that liked to wheeze continuously, which places to see and how to get to them, where to eat, how to get a taxi, and so on.

View of Capitol from Bartholdi Park.

We also knew how to get to many places. We now were walking along with confidence––just like the other folks who knew where they were going. There were always lots of folks on the sidewalks––a real mix of tourists and office workers.

Not being a big city person, I have never seen so many men in suits in my life. Definitely, not a usual sight in Florence. And the traffic was horrendous. It was a very noisy place on the streets. Every car that turned, I swear, honked at least three times. And there were zillions of taxis and tourist trolleys and Metro buses. Just a very busy place. Most cars and taxis were small sedans, no big SUVs or pickups like in Florence. 

“The Castle” as the original Smithsonian Museum is called. Now there are 17 Smithsonian Museums.

We were there in October, which is not peak tourist season. But there were a fair number of tourists. In the various museums, we talked to folks from all over the country. The weather continued to be wonderful. So perhaps October is a good time to visit.

Day 11, Friday, Oct 11

We were up at 7 and after our fabulous buffet, we returned to the Newseum. We saw the last two floors and took photos.

Then we walked west to the Natural History Museum to see the Butterfly Pavilion. It was crowded with people and was very hot and humid. And everywhere you looked were the most wonderful assortment of butterflies. They were very attracted to Edna. Folks came up to take close-up shots of butterflies on her back, on her head, on her hand.

This Swallowtail Butterfly spent about 10 minutes on Edna’s head as we made our way through the Butterfly Pavillion.

In the rest of the museum, we saw every type of critter, including every type of insect and spiders. We, also, saw every type of skeleton from tiny frogs to a giant whale.

This moth spent nearly our entire visit on Edna’s back.

We stopped and bought dinner from a food truck as we crossed the National Mall. Every day many food trucks were there. We ate the dinner in our room. It was another great day.

Skeletons of all sizes were on display.

Day 12, Saturday, Oct 12

We were up at 5 because we were going on a cruise up the Potomac. We skipped one fabulous breakfast for another aboard the Spirit of Mt. Vernon small cruise ship. We took a taxi from the hotel at 8:30. It was a lovely day for a cruise on the Potomac up to Mt. Vernon. We sat with a large friendly family.

Edna and I at Mt. Vernon.

We took a shuttle the quarter mile uphill to Mt. Vernon. We saw George Washington’s home across a large expanse of lawn. The inside tour was well organized. It was a lovely older home, but not nearly as grand as I thought it would be.

George Washington’s office.

We walked back down instead of taking the shuttle and saw the original tomb  of George Washington and the new one where George and Martha are buried. After the cruise, we took a taxi home. That evening, we walked to the Bistro for crab cakes dinner for both of us. Absolutely wonderful. Another great day.

The Spirit of Mt. Vernon small cruise ship.

Day 13, Sunday, Oct 13

We slept in til 7:20 and returned to our fabulous buffet. We walked to the Hirshhorn Museum  of modern art, which is also one of the many Smithsonian museums. It is a cylindical building that is a work of art in itself. It had lots of interesting work—not my cup of tea. I did find the building fascinating though.

The gardens around “The Castle” were fabulous and went on and on.

We had lunch in the Smithsonian castle, the original Smithsonian building.  It is now used for offices and a cafeteria for lunch. The cafeteria was terribly expensive; so we only had tea and a muffin. Then we toured the beautiful gardens intertwined between and around buildings with winding paths and plants that were labeled. They went on and on and were a highlight of the trip.

The Peacock Room.

We then walked to the nearby National Museum of Asian Art that includes the Freer  Gallery of Art and  the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. They are also part of the Smithsonian museums. There were some lovely works dating from Neolithic times to early 20th Century.

The most interesting was the Peacock Room done for Mr. Freer by James McNeill Whistler. It’s Whistler’s masterpiece of “interior, decorative mural art.” There were also other works by Whistler. We walked home through the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden and enjoyed spending a couple of hours reading in our hotel room in the late afternoon. That evening, we didn’t even feel like going out for dinner, so we had snacks for dinner, including popcorn already in the room.

Peacocks in the Peacock Room.

Day 14, Monday, Oct 14 (Holiday celebrating Columbus)

We were up at 6:20 and had our fabulous breakfast. We walked to the major Metro station for our part of DC. We passed it every day. But this day we took the escalator uunderground. We got tickets for $20 worth of rides with the help of the person on duty. We rode the Met underground and popped up like a mole in the middle of the National Mall.

Julia Child’s Kitchen as seen in the National History Museum.

Then we walked to what we thought was the National History Museum. Because it was a holiday, Columbus Day, it was the first time for us to see lines outside of buildings. We got in the wrong line and waited for almost 20 minutes before realizing it. Then we went to the next block to the Natural History Museum and waited another 20 minutes in correct line.

Highlights were portraits of Presidents’ wives and of the Presidents. We also saw Julia Childs kitchen. We saw quite a bit, but there were whole floors that we missed. We were getting museum overload! So we left. We ate our usual quickie lunch in a small park-like area. Then we walked to the Newseum gift shop to add to our collection of gifts and souvenirs.

National Cathedral was five miles from the National Mall.

Then we walked west to the National Archives Building. No photos allowed. Very crowded. Got to see replica of Constitution. Apparently, it sat with sunlight on it and not well protected for many years. Did see originals of Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights. Guards at attention everywhere. Lovely paintings on the wall high up and the rotunda was lovely. We got back to hotel via nearby Met. Had another too-expensive dinner from hotel store and bought more wine.

Day 15, Tuesday, Oct 15

We got up at 7 and after fabulous buffet, we walked a few blocks to 4th and Independence to get Met bus to go to National Cathedral. We waited an hour. On our last day in DC, we didn’t want to waste time waiting for a bus. But we needed a bus to go the 5 or so miles through Georgetown to the hill where the Cathedral is located.

It was worth the wait. The Cathedral is fabulous, it’s 1/8th mile long and has lower level below ground where even there the chapels have high ceilings. Not the 100-foot high ceiling on the main level with its fabulous arches and more than one level of stained glass windows.

Inside the National Cathedral on the main level.

The main area on the main level seemed like a cross between a cathedral and an events center with sound equipment and stacked folding chairs here and there. And workmen were busy hammering away on a platform around the pulpit for an upcoming special program. On this same level were many smaller chapels.

The chapels downstairs were filled with pews and it was quiet and seemed more churchlike. We took the 30-minute tour through the whole cathedral, which was very interesting. We learned that it took 83 years to build the cathedral. I bought a book in gift shop.

The arches and the 100-foot high ceiling on the main level were quite impressive.

We took an elevator to the upper level where we could look down on DC and even look down on the Washington Monument. Afterwards, we had our quickie lunch on Cathedral grounds. We caught a bus with very little wait time back to a stop not far from the hotel.

Before heading to our room, we got info on when to catch taxi the next morning to get to the airport. Then we had another free hotel Tuesday night dinner. We took our dinners and ate them in our room and finished our wine from the previous evening. Then we got mostly packed ready to go the next morning. The National Cathedral was another highlight of the trip.

The underground chapels were also very impressive and quiet.

Day 16, Wednesday, Oct 16

We got up at 5 and finished packing. We brought our suitcases down and staff locked them in a closet, while we had our fabulous buffet for the last time. We called for a taxi, retrieved our luggage, and left for the airport at 7:10. Since our departing airport was in DC, it didn’t take long. We boarded at 8:30 and left at 9:15.

It was a pleasant flight. Much better than flying during the night. It was nonstop, and we arrived in LA at noon. It took 5 hours. Edna had to rush to catch her shuttle bus to Van Nuys where she would get her actual shuttle to Bakersfield. (I found out later that she made it and got home before I did.) I had an hour before boarding the plane to Portland. When I flew to LA, it was nonstop. But the return trip was through Portland. So I had a latte and blueberry scone while I waited. In Portland, I only had to wait half hour before boarding the flight to Eugene.

On this third flight of the day, I sat next to the CEO of Alden Ice Cream out of Tacoma area. He was pleasant and gave me two coupons for free Alden Ice Cream, which Freddies carries. Who knew!

Sir Groucho was very happy to see me home after being gone 16 days.

I arrived in Eugene by 7. I got my luggage, found my car in long-term parking just as it was getting dark. Then the rain started—welcoming me back to Oregon. It was a long, rainy drive in the dark with glary oncoming lights—not fun!. I got to Florence by 8:30. I shopped for a few necessary items at Freddies and saw Todd, my yard guy, and my neighbor Ruth. Seeing folks I knew, made me feel right at home. Got to the house by 9:30. Groucho was so glad to see me, he was purring before I even picked him up. He made one of my favorite quotes come true, “One small cat changes coming home to an empty house to coming home.” –Pam Brown

Glad to be home, but what a wonderful trip! It was indeed the trip of a lifetime!

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#231–Day by Day in Washington DC––Part II

The Lincoln Memorial

By now, we were beginning to know our way around and the weather had been perfect, except for that first day. My right knee has been affected by osteoarthritis and gradually getting worse these past few years. It was not so painful, but very knock kneed and that was making it hard to walk very fast. I had a cane to help me. The most difficult times were crossing wide streets. We only crossed at signals, and there was a countdown to help you judge how fast to go. But I could only go so fast. Because walking was difficult for me, and we did about a mile or two each day, I was usually exhausted at the end of each day.

Day 6—Sunday, Oct 6

Jefferson statue in Jefferson Memorial. No those are not toy soldiers. It’s a really tall statue.

We got up at 7, had our fabulous buffet, and leisurely discussed plans for the day. We walked to the Smithsonian Art Gallery and Portrait Gallery. It was a few blocks on the other side of the National Mall. It was much too long a walk for me, and I was exhausted. Every bench I saw, I rested.

We were Impressed with both galleries, which seemed to intersect with each other. We had our quickie lunch in a shaded park-like area near the museums. That evening I was too tired to go out to dinner. So we bought a bottle of wine and frozen enchilada dinners at the hotel’s tiny store in the lobby. We used our microwave to cook them. It was much too expensive for what we got, but we enjoyed it. I was in bed early.

Day 7––Monday, Oct 7

The Washington Monument is a remarkable sight day or night.

We got up at 6:30 and after our fabulous buffet, we walked to the trolley stop near the Air & Space Museum. That’s when we discovered that the main entrance and main hall and some exhibits of the A & S Museum were no longer open to the public because of major renovations. Boy, were we lucky to have seen it when we first arrived.!

We caught the trolley to the Washington Monument. This was the first of our two days to use the trolley. The monument is spectacular. At 555-feet high, it can be seen for long distances. I did not know and was surprised to find out that the stones are stacked, not mortared in place. Prior to our trip, it has been closed for nearly two years for renovations. The elevator is now working, and I really wanted to ride it, but we would have had to return about 7:30 a.m. the next day to get tickets and make reservations and then return again to take the elevator. (Because it had been closed for so long, there is incredible pent up demand to ride it.) That was too many trips for me, so we didn’t get to do it. Darn!

The five-story high first amendment on the outside of the Newseum as seen from across the street.

Then we caught the trolley to the spy museum. It was great. Very interactive. Thoroughly enjoyed it. We learned about real-life spies as well as movie spies. The actual Aston-Martin that 007 drove in a James Bond movie was on display. We all signed in at computers, answered a few questions, then we were assigned a name, occupation, home location, a spy location, and a code name. I forget my name, but I was a teacher, lived in New Mexico, would be assigned to Tokyo and my code name was Viper! The whole experience was fun! We ate our quickie lunch of banana, yogurt, and hard boiled eggs at the trolley stop, before taking it back to the A & S  stop. Then we walked to the Bistro restaurant at the  Holiday Inn for another terrific meal. This time sandwiches. Salmon sandwich and steak fries for Edna and pulled pork and steak fries for me. It was more filling than a regular meal. Another great day!

Vieetnam Memorial with single flower and my reflection.

Day 8––Tuesday, Oct 8

We were up at 7 and off to fabulous buffet before using our second day on the trolley. We walked to A & S Museum to catch it. (Can do this in our sleep by now.) We got off at Jefferson Memorial. It was totally under scaffolding, and that was disappointing. So we went inside and took photos. The statue of Jefferson was much larger than I imagined and impressive.

Next we caught the trolley and got off at the Lincoln Memorial. From there, we walked to the Vietnam Memorial. I was not as impressed as I thought I would be. It is sort of a black retaining wall with names. I was impressed,  however, with the old soldiers who were there with flowers and wreaths. Then we walked over to the Korean Veterans Memorial. Here I was impressed. Every soldier was different and I was also impressed with how they were displayed.

The very impressive Korean War Memorial.

We then hopped back on the trolley and got off at the Natural History Museum and enjoyed the Origins of Man exhibit. And the entry rotunda with its massive columns and the elephant in the center. All of the animal exhibits were incredible. We returned to the hotel where we had a free dinner, which happens once a week. We took them up to our room to eat. Another great day.

Day 9––Wednesday, Oct 9

The fabulous Rotunda of the Natural History Museum.

Up at 6:30 and had our fabulous buffet. We then walked to the Rayburn Office building. That was the easy part. Finding out which floor was which and finding Peter DeFazio’s office took asking directions more than once. We finally found it, and once there, chatted with the friendly staff.  They even asked me to send copies of my books for the office! Hey! Hey!

We were there at an appointed time, because I had contacted the office to see about a tour of the Capitol. A few other folks arrived who had made the same request. There were about eight of us, and one of the staff led our group. We used underground tunnels to get there, which I found fascinating.

The U.S. Capitol. Capitol Hill is not much of a hill according to Oregon standards.

The Capitol is such an impressive building inside as well as outside. Inside we saw the rotunda and Statuary Hall. Jason Lee was the statue for Oregon. We also got to see one meeting room left in its old-fashioned splendor before electricity. I posed next to replica of  the statue that is atop the Capitol dome. We also walked past Nancy Pelosi’s office and those of other familiar names. Congress was not in session.

A bronze version of the Statue of Freedom is atop the Capitol dome. It’s not a teacup or bird on her head–it’s feathers.

After the tour, Edna and I walked through another tunnel to the Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress. It is the most elegant of the three buildings that comprise the L of C.  And it’s elegant inside too. There were several exhibits, including one of the women’s movement. There was a great mural of a young woman adding ‘and women’ to Declaration of Independence.

Then we went to the Madison building and I filled out paperwork and had a photo taken to create a library card for me to enter one of the 21 reading rooms. Edna urged me on.

With her encouragement, I walked up to a man behind a desk and asked about my five books. I felt a little stupid as I stood there and said, “I’m an author, and I’ve sent a copy of each of my books here  and received a control number and just wondered if you could tell me where they are.“ They have millions upon millions of books and prints and other items there besides mine. But he did not roll his eyes. He simply led me over to a chair next to where he then sat at a computer. I gave him my name and the titles. He found out that The Oregon Coast Guide to the Unexpected is shelved in the Jefferson Building. I was thrilled. But it was downhill from there.

The main reading room at the Jefferson Building. Incredible!

Around Florence and Crossings are housed at L of C storage facilities at Fort Meade, which is in Virginia. They can be requested and sent to any public library in the country but cannot be checked out. Only Congress can do that.

And The Crossings Guide came in in 2012, but has not been shelved yet. When I pointed out that Unexpected was sent only a year ago and it’s shelved. He said the place was like a giant pinball machine. Books came in and spun around, sometimes for years, before they find a home. I thought that was hysterical, but he said it with a straight face.

And there was no record at all of Devil Cat. Yet, I have L of C control numbers for all five books. So he suggested I send another copy each of Devil Cat and Crossings Guide, which I will do.

The fountain at the Bartholdi Garden. In the background is the glass Conservatory of the Botanical Garden.

Before heading back to the Marriott, we toured Bartholdi Garden on way back and rested on a bench enjoying the wonderful fountain designed by Frederick Auguste Bartholdi, the architect of the Capitol. There were paths bordered by lovely flowers and shrubs and trees all around and most were labeled. When we got back, I napped and Edna read. For dinner, we got pizza next door and took back to our room. I was so thrilled to have learned about my books. This day was a highlight for me.

Day 10, Thursday, Oct 10

We were up at 6 and had our fabulous and familiar buffet. We went online and found out about the National Cathedral and, also, made arrangements for a cruise on the Potomac to Mt. Vernon.

Journey of Hope by Don Barletti, LA Times, 2003 Pulitzer Prize winning photo. One of my favorite photos.

Then we walked to the Newseum. What a fabulous place. We spent much of the day there and planned to return the next day because the tickets are good for two days. Highlights included seeing the five-story high first amendment on the front of the building, all of the Pulitzer Prize winning photos, coverage of 911, New Yorker cartoons., Edward R. Morrow exhibit, Jon Stewart exhibit, and much more. We walked home, which was becoming very familiar. That evening, we had left-over pizza from night before. I had no idea, I would enjoy the Newseum so much. So another great day!

Throughout DC we saw exhibits regarding Women’s rights. This one was in the Jefferson Building. I loved it!!

So many incredible sights. Tune in next week for Part III.

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#230–Washington DC Trip–Part I

Day by Day in Washington DC

In April 2019, my sister, Edna, and I planned a trip to Washington DC. Neither of us had been there before, so we would make this the trip of a lifetime, since neither of us would probably get there again. We used our brother’s 10-year-old Fodor’s Guide to Washington DC to plan our trip, and I typed our Itinerary as we planned. When we finished, we had a dozen places to see over 16 days, and we had booked our lodging and flights. We were ready! My life got really busy between May and end of September marketing my books as well as planning and preparations for the Florence Festival of Books, so I didn’t think about it again until two days before our flight.

The Washington Monument––visible from much of DC

Day 1—Tuesday, Oct 1

The Festival of Books was Saturday, September 28, which gave me two days to prepare for my trip. I left home about noon, October 1, and drove to Eugene for the nonstop light to LA. Figured it would take some time to find the terminal at LAX. Not so. It was quick and easy.  Then I checked both of us in, since I had made the flight reservations. I checked my bag, but knew Edna wouldn’t be checking hers.

Then I stood in a non-crowded area and attempted to call her when someone tapped me on my shoulder. It was Edna. This was LAX; this was too easy! Neither of us could believe how easily we found each other. She had taken a bus shuttle from Bakersfield. Since we had plenty of time, we stopped at one of many places to eat for some dinner. Then headed to the gate for our DC flight.  It was an overnighter. We boarded at 10:25 p.m. and took off after 11. We arrived at 6:35 a.m. (EST) in Baltimore at the Thurgood Marshall airport. Our flight was nonstop and took only 4 ½ hours. (This was one of the airports listed for Washington DC. We didn’t realize that it was actually quite a distance from DC.)

Day 2 ––Wednesday, Oct 2

We took a taxi from the airport to our lodging. It was morning commute traffic and took more than an hour and cost $92. A train would have cost less, but it would have not been as convenient. And we were weary—not having slept overnight.

Our lodging, the Marriott Residence Inn on E Street, is only a few blocks from the National Mall, around which most of what we wanted to see is located. It had a fabulous breakfast buffet, which would be open another half hour and we were invited to partake. So we stowed our luggage and had a lovely breakfast. Then they let us have our room about 9 in the morning instead of waiting until 3 p.m.––normal check-in time. We were very appreciative. We each took a long nap in our 10th story room.  There was an elevated freeway about a block in one direction and an elevated train in the opposite direction, but we were high enough not to hear either one.

Once we left our room and headed outside, we wandered around lost for awhile heading into not such a great part of town. We  finally asked someone where the Capitol was. Sure nuff, we were headed in the wrong direction. The weather was miserable—95 degrees with about 100 percent humidity.

We did visit the Botanical Garden, which was in a huge, beautiful glass greenhouse. It was lovely. Then we headed back to our room for another nap. Later we ventured out to find a place for dinner and wandered around lost again and finally ended up at a Noodles place. It was okay. It was still quite warm outside. Thank goodness our room was air-conditioned. The heat and humidity had really gotten to us, so we showered and headed to bed early.

Edna, who spends much of her time gardening, loved the Botanical Garden.

Day 3––Thursday, Oct 3

I was on the phone early the next morning and got tickets for the Monuments by Moonlight Tour as well as tickets for two-days on a hop-on, hop-off trolley. Then we headed downstairs to the fabulous breakfast buffet. When we went outside, we were pleasantly surprised to find that it was much cooler and hardly humid. We walked to the Air & Space Museum. It was fabulous. (We didn’t realize it, but the next day, the main area of the museum would be closed. We really lucked out.) We had a catch-up afternoon, where we did postcards and caught up on emails. Upon recommendation of the wonderful gal at the desk downstairs, we walked to the Holiday Inn for dinner. Edna had salmon and I had crab cakes. The food was excellent, service good, and not too noisy.  What more could we want. It was wonderfull. It had been a very good day. We watched TV and to bed early again.

We saw the Spirit of St. Louis and much more at the Air and Space Museum.
This plane was once owned by Amelia Earhart.

Day 4––Friday, Oct 4

We started with our wonderful breakfast buffet. Before venturing out, we tried familiarizing ourselves with a map of the area. The weather continued perfect. We walked directly to the Museum of the American Indian. The building is a work of art, no corners, surrounded by water with a waterfall in back. We enjoyed lunch there ––wild rice salad and apple crumb cake. We spent most of the day there. The museum covered all the Americas–the native people from Alaska, Canada, US, Mexico, Central America, and South America through several representative tribes. Everything about the museum was impressive.  That evening, we went next door and ordered pizza to go and had it in our room and watched TV. Another great day.

The building housing the Museum of the American Indian is a work of art.
The Annishabe had very colorful clothing.
Quechua hats fascinated me.
Inuit girl’s dress with both real and imitation elk teeth.

Day 5––Saturday, Oct 5

We were up early and had our fabulous breakfast and the weather continued great. We covered both parts of the National Gallery of Art. The East Building was designed by I. M. Pei and is a work of art itself. We saw many beautiful paintings and sculptures. One of the highlights were the sculptures of Alexander Calder.

Ground Swell by Edward Hopper.
Small Alenander Calder sculptures.

We had a quickie lunch from what we had filched from the breakfast buffet—bananas, hard-boiled eggs, and yogurt. We saw many more paintings at the older elegant West Building in the next block. Here, the entry area has a rotunda, huge columns, and a fountain in the middle. For first-timers, it’s a Wow! moment.

Painting by Auguste Renoir
Self portrait by Vincent Van Gogh.
Painting by Claude Monet.
Self portrait by Paul Gauguin

Afterwards, we walked around a fabulous sculpture garden with landscaping, paths, and interesting sculptures. It covered blocks.

We thought this giant eraser was hysterical! We loved it.
Glad it was daytime when we saw this giant spider.

And we actually saw the National Mall for the first time.

The National Mall has the Washington Monument at one end and the Capitol at the other end.

That evening, we took a taxi to Union Station to connect with the trolley for the Monument by Moonlight tour. It was one of the highlights of the trip, seeing such familiar monuments all lit up. And we had a good narrator. It lasted from 7:10 to 10:30 with stops at Martin Luther King and FDR memorials, Lincoln Memorial and at Iwo Jima Flag raising statue. At each stop, we were allowed off the tram and walked in mostly darkness to see the memorials.  It was a magical and wonderful evening.

Martin Luther King Memorial.
Lincoln Memorial
Raising of flag at Iwo Jima Memorial.

So far it has been a wonderful trip. Check in the next two weeks for Part II and Part III.

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#229–Sales Up, Up & Away

It has been since January when I last posted on my blog. That post was about a Christmas trip to Barstow, California. Since then, it has been a busy year. I always had plenty to write about, but always forgot to take photos whenever I was involved in book related activities. And since I like to have photos with my posts, that is the main reason, I haven’t posted. I still don’t have many photos, but I’m still going to post.

My latest book, The Oregon Coast Guide to the UNEXPECTED that which is odd, unusual or quirky!!!, has done very well. As of the other day, it’s just about 900 copies sold since last December 11, when 1,500 copies arrived. And I don’t sell on Amazon. I write, market, and distribute my books myself—sort of a one-woman show.

Latest book.

Starting the year with a bang!

I had done some preselling—150 names with contacts on a clipboard. Within days of my books arrival, I headed for Bakersfield for Christmas with family and my Barstow trip with Theresa Baer. After I returned home in early January, I contacted all the folks who had signed up. Many bought the book right then and for many months those presales dribbled in.

On the 10th, I headed south as far as Gold Beach and back in one day. Many stops at libraries, bookstores, tourist info centers, and tourist hotspots. I had called ahead, so I wasn’t a surprise. I sold 53 books. Then on January 26th and 27th was the Winter Music Festival where I sold 36 books over two days. (First time to participate as a vendor at this festival.)

Then on January 31 and February 2, I headed up the coast. I again had called ahead and made many stops at same types of venues. Spent first night in Astoria and next morning went across the river to Ilwaco in Washington. Intended to head home after stops in Tillamook, but I was really tired and it was raining and starting to get dark. So I spent the night in Tillamook. I sold 75 books on this trip and dropped off a copy of the new book at venues that weren’t sure if they wanted to buy any. Those drop-offs resulted in later sales.

The fun continues

The new book really took off. I ‘m still making sales with the bridge books, but this year, the new one was definitely the super star. Around Florence continues to sell in the Florence area, but I don’t sell it to booksellers. And Devil Cat doesn’t do so well. I’m still finding its niche.

Over the next several months, I made a few trips up the coast as far as Lincoln City and down the coast as far as Bandon. Each time, I called ahead and sold several books. In the first five months, I sold 500 of the UNEXPECTED.

Devil Cat is now for sale in California’s Bay Area.

Help for Devil Cat

Then I decided to see if I could get Devil Cat into the California Bay Area, where two of the stories took place. This book means a lot to me because it is the only one of my books that has my personal stories and the two stories from the Bay Area were the first stories I ever wrote. It’s like a memoir of my life through my most remarkable pets.

So in August, I took a trip to California and stayed with my roommate from college in Palo Alto. I donated a copy of Devil Cat to the Los Gatos Public Library and did a PowerPoint program on Devil Cat at Books Inc, the nearest bookstore to Los Gatos. It is in Campbell at the Pruneyard. They now carry my book Devil Cat. Actually, they’ve carried it since April, when I stayed a couple days with my college roommate on my way back from seeing family in Bakersfield. That’s when I got the ball rolling.

Same ole, same ole still works—Yachats Farmers Market, PowerPoint Presentations, and Florence Festival of Books

Meanwhile, UNEXPECTED and the bridge books continued to do well at various venues and at the Yachats Farmers Market where I was every Sunday all summer for the sixth year. This year, I brought my large cooler each time, and filled it with fresh produce that I bought. Yum!

Yachats Farmers Market

I did a PowerPoint presentation for the new book in the spring at Coos Bay/s public library, in the summer at Florence’s public library, in October at Ft. Clatsop up near Astoria, and at Florence’s Siuslaw Pioneer Museum also in October. I did my bridge PowerPoint presentation at Portland State University in March and for a Portland group of RVers at a campground in the Florence area in September. And next Friday, I’ll do the bridge program for a group of 4th graders in Coos Bay. Just look at the diversity of groups requesting these programs. I’ve done about 60 programs, and the only one I set up was the one in California. Once the word gets out that you are a speaker, the requests come pouring in.

Bob Serra and I create books through a hybrid form of publishing.

The 9th Annual Florence Festival of Books, held in late September, was a big success both days, starting with a panel discussion about the “Ins and Outs of Publishing” on Friday afternoon. For the first time, I was on the panel. I covered the hybrid way Bob Serra, my publisher, and I create books. Then that evening, Bob Welch gave a fabulous Keynote address. The book fair on Saturday had 70+ authors and seven publishers. It was a wonderful event where everything worked perfectly. There weren’t as many attendees as last year, but they were in a more buying mood. I sold 19 books and all the authors sold books, several sold more than I did. And it’s also such a wonderful opportunity for networking.

Ending year by being crazy busy

The day after returning home from a two-week vacation in October with my sister, I hit the phone and made numerous calls up the coast. It would be my first trip as far north as Astoria since my late January trip.

On this trip, I made stops from Lincoln City to Astoria. I was scheduled to speak at Ft. Clatsop on Sunday at 1 p.m. It was a rainy weekend of monster waves whenever I glimpsed the ocean and bright yellow maples from Tillamook north. I stopped at Ft. Clatsop visitor center on Saturday, and we were able to work out some problems. My laptop had died two days before, so I had to use theirs. Their laptop had recently received a security update and many folks there were not in the loop to be able to use it. It took awhile and several people, but we found a way to make it work.

On Sunday, there were 63 in the audience, and they were lovely—laughing at my jokes and listening attentively. Afterwards they bought 20 books and the gift shop bought eight more. That was a very successful weekend with 119 books sold. It helped that the Tillamook Air Museum bought 25 and the Columbia River Maritime Museum bought 20. And that’s just UNEXPECTED sales. I also sold 24 bridge books at various venues.

The next weekend was the presentation at the Siuslaw Pioneer Museum, which went very well. It was videotaped, and will be for sale soon at the museum.

On the first weekend of November, I had a table at the Yachats Harvest and Holiday Craft Fair for the first time. It has many, many vendors and is always packed with folks from as far away as Corvallis, Eugene, and up and down the coast. I sold 39 books in two days. (These were an even mix of bridge books and UNEXPECTED sold with a couple each of Around Florence and Devil Cat.)

Here are both bridge books: Crossings and The Crossings Guide.

At the Craft Fair, I got into a discussion about rivets being replaced on the McCullough Bridge over Coos Bay with a fella who had been involved with bridges. I had told him about being presented with a rusty rivet after doing a presentation at the reopening of the Oregon City Arch Bridge back in 2012 after it had been closed for 22 months for major repairs. He told me about how he worked on the Golden Gate and S.F./Oakland Bay Bridges in 2001 when the rivets were being replaced.

Then he asked me if I would like a rivet from each of those bridges. I said, of course, I would. Two days later, a very heavy package arrived with a rivet from each bridge and a letter authenticating that they were, indeed, from the bridges with a photo of him on the Bay Bridge and signed by him. I was thrilled! It’s just not everybody who has an original rusty rivet from the Golden Gate Bridge!!

Next Friday, November 15, is the bridge presentation to 131 fourth graders at Millicoma Elementary School in Coos Bay. Wish me luck; it’s been more than 30 years since I worked with elementary school students.

And on November 22-24, I’ll be at a table at Three Rivers Casino Events Center at the Victorian Belles Holiday Sale, for the ninth year, selling my books with a few other authors. It always has a very good turnout.

So this has been a busy and successful year selling books through bookseller venues and at book fairs and presentations. And most of the sales are because of the new book, The Oregon Coast Guide to the UNEXPECTED!!! The sales took off and kept going. They went up, up, and away! And I couldn’t be more pleased!

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#228–Barstow as destination? Who knew! . . .

 

Barstow, California, isn’t everyone’s idea of a destination for a few-days getaway, but, hey, it was cheaper than Laguna—our first choice. Besides, my friend, Theresa Baer, whom I was traveling with, wanted to get away from the LA area and to the wide-open spaces of the desert. And that we did. Even the weather cooperated––mostly sunny with only one windy day.

Day 1

Theresa picked me up in Bakersfield, where I was spending the Christmas holiday with family. Then we headed out Hwy 58, 130 miles to Barstow. When we were getting close, we followed Theresa’s directions to the visitor center—surrounded by outlet stores a few miles outside of town.

Here I am at my sister’s house with her two cats, Alfie and Ziggy.

We were asked where we were from and where we were headed. When we said that we were headed to Barstow, there was a pause, since that was not the expected response. But they were cool, and provided us with town maps, places to visit info, and directions to get to the actual town without using the I-15 freeway. This was the day after Christmas, and the I-15 was a parking lot—nothing was moving.

After looking at the state map, I jokingly said that all roads lead to Barstow—I-15, Hwy 58, and Hwy 40. And the junction with Hwys 58 and 395 is nearby. So Barstow today is a stopping point for travelers, mainly between the LA area and Las Vegas. This town of only 23,000 has absolutely zillions of motels and fast-food venues along its main thoroughfare. In the past, its claim to fame was Route 66, as its main street through town. And nearly every business still has the Route 66 road sign.

After finding our motel, tucked in among many others, and settling in, we walked to a nearby restaurant and had a terrific meal. It was Jenny’s Grill that specialized in Mexican food. Theresa had shrimp tacos and I had fish tacos with the requisite refried beans and rice. Everything was delicious.

Day 2

The sheriff telling his life story to Theresa after welcoming us to Calico.

After the motel’s comp breakfast, we headed northeast to the ghost town of Calico. It has quite a history, and the hillsides are pockmarked with silver mines and their tailings. The “sheriff” greeted us, and spent some time recalling his life story to Theresa. (She has that effect on people.)

 

 

The ghost town of Calico.

 

 

Many of the buildings were original and some restored. There were gift shops, replica old-time businesses, a museum, and eateries. We also took a ride on a narrow-gauge train around the area. The history was fascinating and the weather perfect. We enjoyed it all.

Old dwelling built into the rocks. Most likely used before wooden buildings were constructed.

This fire engine could pump 600 gallons a minute.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A view of mining from the train.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before leaving the area and closer to the highway, we stopped to eat at Peggy Sue’s Diner. Although it has expanded and become commercialized, we ate in the original diner area and were charmed. The waitresses were older, personable, and gave great service. We both ordered burgers, mine with curly fries and Theresa’s with onion rings. I also had a chocolate shake, which was served with the classic glass full and the extra in the metal container. We loved it all—even the 1950’s music! Nearing the end of the meal, the waitress informed us that an anonymous someone had paid for our meal!!!! Can’t remember when that last happened!

The amazing Harvey House train station about 1979.

Closer to town we stopped at the historic Harvey House train station. At one time there were about 100 of these elegant stations, which were much more than a train station.

There were fabulous restaurants with hotel rooms, as well as the station portion, all within an architectural wonder of a building. Back in 1946, there was even a movie called The Harvey Girls starring Judy Garland. Today there are only about 30 Harvey Houses remaining, and the one in Barstow is the largest. And it is not a historic relic but a vibrant part of the community. It houses 14 businesses, including three museums––the Space Museum (NASA Goldstone Visitor Center), Barstow Route 66 Museum, and the Railroad Museum.

The only one open on Day 2 of our trip was the Space Museum, so we checked it out. It covered the many milestones of the past space programs, what is happening today, and future plans. Barstow’s connection to space is the nearby Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex with its numerous antennas that communicate with manned and unmanned spacecraft. NASA needed a remote location free from radio signal interference, and the Mojave Desert fit the bill. The first antenna was built in 1958, and every few years, more were added. The complex is one of three on earth that are part of the Deep Space Communications Network. The others are located near Madrid, Spain, and Canberra, Australia. We were impressed! Who knew such important space related work was going on near Barstow.

Day 3

Instead of the comp breakfast at the motel, we headed across the highway to a small shopping center and Lola’s Kitchen. It turned out to be another Mexican restaurant. I ordered scrambled eggs with all kinds of great stuff mixed in with the eggs, but requested that the optional jalapenos be left out. It was the first time for me to have rice and refried beans with breakfast and to be asked if I preferred corn or flour tortillas. When the waitperson noted my hesitation, he asked if I would prefer an English muffin. I quickly said, “Yes!” Theresa had a breakfast burrito with chorizo. Everything was yummy.

This was a very windy day, but it was okay, since we would be indoors. We had four museums to visit on our schedule and two were in town. So we headed to those first. The Mojave River Valley Museum was heavy on geology of the area with lots of rocks on display and many books. Theresa bought some of the geology books. It was a great small museum, and the volunteer on duty gave us each a cookbook put together by the folks that volunteered there.

The next museum was nearby and had a fabulous building and landscaping that was exactly what you would expect in the desert. But it was closed because of the federal government shutdown. Dang!

A postcard from the Barstow Route 66 Museum.

Next we headed to Harvey House where the other two museums were located and only open Friday through Sunday. The Railroad Museum was closed because no volunteers were available during the holidays, but the Barstow Route 66 Museum was open. There was a 1964 ½ red Mustang and many displays of what life was like in the 1960s. Of course, we remembered the TV program “Route 66” (1960-64) with two young men in a Corvette having adventures all along the way. It starred Martin Milner and George Maharis. We also remembered the popular theme song for the TV program “Get Your Kicks on Route 66” originally recorded by Nat King Cole and then others such as Ray Charles. For both Theresa and me, the whole museum was a step back in time and great fun! We each bought Route 66 T-shirts.

We passed this perfect Joshua tree on the dirt road leading to Rainbow Basin.

Then we were off to Rainbow Basin. Again, the wind wouldn’t be a problem because we would be staying in the truck. After taking a highway out of town, we turned on a wash-boarded, two-lane dirt road for several miles before turning into a narrower, one-way loop also dirt that was as wide as a narrow driveway. It was hard to go faster than 5-10 mph, but you didn’t want to. There was so much to see. We loved it! We saw only a few other vehicles, and they also stopped every couple of minutes to gawk or take photos.

 

Some of the interesting formations in the Rainbow Basin.

Some formations looked like ruins in Egypt. Others looked like small versions of Bryce Canyon. There was what looked like mudstone along the sides of the road, and the topsoil looked like dried mud and was flaking. This was the desert and everything was as dry as could be. But everywhere were signs of where water had been.

More interesting rock formations.

The colors weren’t as vivid as Oregon’s Painted Hills, but there were pastel variations of red, green, beige, and more. As we got closer, we were surrounded by rocky formations. I kept saying, “Oh, look!” and Theresa, “Now what do you suppose caused that?” We saw examples of uplift, fracturing, and erosion, which exposed many layers of soil, rock, and colors. It worked out well for us to have seen the museum explaining the geology of the area and then seeing many examples at Rainbow Basin. It was fascinating!

Strange rock formations, greenish tint to area, and notice narrow road.

Back in town, we had a late lunch at Habibi’s that had Mediterranean food. I had lentil soup with hummus and pita bread. Theresa had a chicken and rice dish. Both of us were happy with what we ordered.

Then we headed out to the outlet stores for a little shopping. Outlets have reduced prices anyway, and they are reduced even more after Christmas. So why not! I found great deals on some pajamas at Calvin Klein and a fleece vest at Columbia sports wear.

It was dark before we got back to our motel. It had been a very full day.

Day 4

We returned to Lola’s Kitchen for more Mexican breakfasts. We both had variations on the scrambled egg breakfast, and both were yummy!

Then we hit the road about 10 a.m., heading back to Bakersfield. The weather was good and the traffic in our direction was not bad. Not so in the other direction. That was a different story. It was the Saturday morning of New Year’s weekend and many folks were heading to Vegas.

We arrived in Bakersfield about 12:30 p.m., which gave Theresa time to continue on to the LA area and arrive well before dark.

On our drives to and from Barstow, we saw many trains since the tracks paralleled the highway. The trains had multiple engines, several double-decker cars, and were very long.

Here in Calico and throughout the trip, we had a good time.

 

 

On this trip, we started with Theresa’s list of places to visit in Barstow and the surrounding area, but had no idea how they would measure up. As it turned out, we were pleasantly surprised over and over. We had plenty of worthwhile places to visit to fill our time, and plenty of good eateries that were not fast food. So in spite of everyone’s raised eyebrows when we said where we were going, visiting Barstow turned out to be a delightful trip. We thoroughly enjoyed it.

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#227–Bar Harbor & Acadia National Park . . .

We end up our trip in Maine in two of the most well known locations in all of Maine––and two of the most mispronounced. Every time I mentioned Bar Harbor, folks would immediately go into the Bah Habah routine. So that’s what I expected, but folks who actually lived there pronounced it Bar Harbor. Go figure! And, of course, most of us want to say Arcadia National Park instead of Acadia National Park. The folks at the park realize this and, in the film about the park that we watched, make a point of the correct pronunciation.

Day 13, Saturday, Oct 13

As we were wheeling our suitcases down the street in Vinalhaven, a car stopped. A women we had not met asked it we wanted a ride to the ferry terminal. We accepted, and she stayed right where she was in the middle of the street as we loaded our stuff and got in the car.

A different view of Owl’s Head Lighthouse.

Unlike the trip on the ferry to Vinalhaven, the trip back was smooth with no rain. I was able to see Owl’s Head and Rockland Breakwater Lighthouses and take photos of them.

 

 

 

This Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse is at the end of a nearly mile long breakwater.

 

On the mainland, however, it was raining. Our car was still in the shelter of the fishing boat where we left it. The nearby boat storage doubled as ferry terminal parking while the ferry parking lot was being redone. While we thought it a bit strange to see cars tucked in next to boats of every description, everyone else seemed to think it was normal.

The Penobscot Narrows Bridge.

We headed off to Bar Harbor. Hwy 1 took us up Penobscot Bay until we came to the Penobscot Narrows Bridge and Observatory. The tall pillars of this bridge rise 420 feet with an elevator in one of them to take visitors to an observation room at the top. This was one of the places that I wanted to visit, to ride the elevator to the top, and to observe Maine from that high up with a 360-degree view. Because of the heavy rain and low cloud cover, we just stopped and took photos before driving across the bridge. Dang!

The observation room is at the top of one of the pillars of the bridge. Photo taken during heavy rain.

It didn’t take long to reach Ellsworth and head south to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park. They are on an island. It was such a short connecting bridge that it seemed we were crossing a river. It is Mount Desert Island and the location of the largest and most popular segment of Acadia National Park.

Our motel was outside of town. It was a Days Inn and when we got there mid-day, we were initially told that our reservation had been canceled. That was a bummer cause there was a bicycling race in the area and no lodging was available anywhere. But she kept looking and discovered that the owner had cancelled our reservation and moved us across the highway to a Holiday Inn. That was a relief, but it would take some doing to get there.

Penobscot Bay had narrowed considerably by the time we got to the bridge. The tree colors come through even in the rain.

This section of Hwy 3 was being worked on and had only one-way traffic. We would have to take a detour through the national park and retrace Hwy 3. So we did, but could not see any sign to a Holiday Inn. So we went around again. This time I saw the sign, unlit and behind trees. Evidently, it was now a part of the Bar Harbor Regency, which was nearby. It had taken the better part of an hour, but we finally found our hotel and got checked in. Our room was very nice, and on an upper story. It was a bit of a walk to the Regency, which had the Bella Vita Restaurant. It was the second best meal of the trip. I had a minestrone type soup with a great caprese salad and to-die-for bread and good wine. Back in our room we watched TV, continuing the adventures of the North Forest Fish and Wildlife.

Day 14, Sunday, Oct 14

After a terrific breakfast buffet at the Bella Vita, we spent much of the day seeing the sights of Acadia National Park. The rain had stopped and it was a gorgeous day. Unfortunately, we were not the only ones. It was a sunny Sunday and one of the last days portions of the park would be open, which we did not realize. But we saw tons of people everywhere. There was bumper-to-bumper traffic and circling parking lots to find a place to park. That was the bad part. The good part was the beautiful colors of the trees and fabulous views from the top of Cadillac Mountain.

We stopped at the entrance lodge and stood in line for a day-pass. While there, Edna bought me a telescoping cane for my birthday, which would be in a few weeks. We also saw a film chronicling the history and beauty of Acadia.

The Atlantic Ocean from Cadillac Mountain.

Then we headed up to Cadillac Mountain. At 1,530 feet, it is the highest point on the East Coast. That was hard to believe for us from the west where mountains tend to have a bit of steepness to them. This was like a high softly rounded hill with scrubby growth and lots of granite showing—thus the name Mount Desert. But the views were spectacular—all 360 degrees.

Another view from Cadillac Mountain.

 

Next, we headed to Jordan Pond. It’s a lovely lake with a grand house famous for its popovers. Since we were here, we felt we had to partake. I think we circled the parking lot a dozen times before finding a spot. I remembered reading that Acadia is one of the most visited national parks in the country. On this day, I believed it.

A beautiful tree right outside the Jordon Pond House.

There was a nice trail through the trees to the Jordon Pond House and some gorgeous tree color. Once inside, we had to wait a half hour to be seated. We placed our order and were brought some popovers and then surprisingly some more. They were quite good even though our waitress forgot the strawberry preserves for the first ones. Then she wanted to know if we were ready for our bill, and we said we were ready for our order. Her response, “Oh, that’s why they were there.” So my lobster stew was no longer hot. Even so, it was very good. We found it was the last day for the lodge to be open for the season, and our waitress was definitely ready for it to be over. After eating, we browsed the gift shop, and I got a couple of things.

The trees were lovely throughout the park.

We drove around the park a bit more and then headed for Bar Harbor. It was another charming seacoast village. We browsed the shops and headed back to our lodging. We were still full, so no dinner that night. But we did watch more North Forest Fish and Wildlife adventures..

Day 15, Monday, Oct 15

We enjoyed the last day of the wonderful breakfast buffet for the season. Then we drove inland to Ellsworth and headed on Hwy 1 to Schoodic Peninsula for another segment of Acadia National Park. Although this was a cloudy Monday, not a gloriously sunny Sunday, this segment of the park had no traffic. Occasionally, we saw another car. Couldn’t have been more opposite.

Winter Harbor (Mark Island) Lighthouse as seen from the one-way drive through the Schoodic Penninsula portion of Acadia National Park.

 

We checked out a couple of small towns––Winter Harbor and Prospect Harbor. Both very small and neither touristy—just very small coastal towns where the main industry is fishing. In one of the towns, we found a tiny bakery located in the glassed in area of the entry to a large house. We stopped and got coffee/tea and pastries to go. We found the entrance to the park—no day-pass needed here. Drove along water, it was an inlet. Stopped at Frazier Point to enjoy our pastries. Saw a couple of lighthouses across the way. One was Winter Harbor and the other Prospect Harbor Point Lighthouses. Got some photos, too far away to be any good.

Prospect Harbor Point Lighthouse.

We drove on out to Schoodic Point and found several cars and the Atlantic Ocean in the distance. First time to see the ocean since we left the southern beaches area, except for when we were on top of Cadillac Mountain. Since entering the park, we had been on a one-way road. It took several tries to find a two-way road to get off Schoodic Peninsula. Did I mention that signage left a bit to be desired. We ran into rain on the way back to our lodging.

Schoodic Point with Atlantic in the distance.

That evening we had dinner once again at Bella Vita. I wanted the same as before, but they were out of the wonderful soup. So I had an Italian dish that started with ‘t’—something like tagilitini. It was good. And I had the same wonderful caprese salad and bread and wine. Edna had their pizza. Back to our room and we watched more North Forest adventures.

Day 16, Tuesday, Oct 16

The grounds at the Bar Harbor Regency as seen from the Bella Vita Restaurant.

We missed the wonderful buffet and had a regular breakfast at Bella Vita. We packed and left by 11 a.m. Our vacation was nearly over. We took the faster route via turnpike back to the Portland area. We took I-95 and I-395 both part of the turnpike. The trees were lovely, and there was little traffic and good signage. What’s not to like. The $1 toll was definitely worth it.

We stopped at Freeport, home of L.L. Bean, to gas up the car and to get a snack. When we got off the turnpike, we turned the wrong way and everything was L.L. Bean. When we got turned around in the right direction, we found what we needed.

The airport is actually in South Portland, a separate city. The signage getting from the turnpike to the Days Inn near the airport where we would be staying, was tricky. Thank goodness for the Mapquest directions I had run off prior to the trip. It helped us navigate our way.

Once we found the motel, it took three clerks before one could figure how to check us in. Because the price was different through the third party booking agency, the computer system wouldn’t cooperate. But finally, one gal said she had dealt with the problem before and figured a way around. Whew! Before heading to our room, we got directions to the airport so we could return our rental car.

We only unpacked what we absolutely needed because we would be getting up at 4 a.m. for a 5 a.m. shuttle to the airport. After we got settled in, we went down and told the front desk that we would be heading for the airport to return our rental car. They would send a shuttle to bring us back.

When we got to the car rental and pulled into a slot. A fellow with a clipboard was instantly at my window, saying, “Judith?” I asked him how he knew my name, and he said they were expecting the car to be returned that day. Duh!

We waited awhile for the shuttle, and it took us back to the motel. Since it was dinnertime, we headed next door to a Mexican restaurant. Edna had fajitas and I had enchaladas. They were good. Because of our early wake-up call, we hit the sack early.

Day 17, Wednesday, Oct 17

We were up and out in record time––brushed out teeth, wore the same clothes as the previous day, and packed the little we had taken out of our suitcases. And we weren’t the only ones in the lobby waiting for the shuttle to the airport. Before we left, the driver prepared a boxed breakfast for each of us, since we were too early for the comp breakfast. It was unexpected and very much appreciated. We ate ours while waiting at the airport.

The plane left 35 minutes late and was full. We each got the dreaded middle seat and, of course, didn’t sit next to each other. I had a nice chat with one of my seat partners. And she also had been interested in the lighthouses. She and her husband had gone farther north than we did, so she got a photo of Quoddy Lighthouse, the one with the red and white stripes. She said she would share her photo with me.

West Quoddy Lighthouse is farther north than we traveled in Maine.It is located on the easternmost point of the continental United States.

We had an hour and a half layover in Chicago but we were at least 35 minutes late. It took awhile to find a departure/arrival board to discover our gate. Since it was a different terminal, we had a ways to go. Fortunately, there was a people conveyor belt. That helped. And it was decorated above with a neon light display. Very impressive. Once we were in the right terminal, more walking. When we saw our gate number in the distance, we turked into a restroom. Then we continued onto our gate. They were boarding our flight when we arrived and were on Group 3. We were Group 5. Whew! I don’t like cutting it that close.

Again we had middle seats, and this time we were across the aisle from each other. We both had books to read and could wave at each other. We arrived at 12:45 p.m. in Portland, Oregon, and surprise, surprise, it was 75 degrees. We retrieved our luggage and than I stayed with Edna for awhile.

She got checked in and her boarding passes for her two flights to Bakersfield. We found a place to get some coffee and a cookie for a quick lunch. Then we parted. She headed to security and wouldn’t have long to wait for her flight. And I headed for the tunnel back to the parking garage.

I found my car easily, but had to turn my purse inside out to find the long-term parking ticket. Finally found it.

It was a stressful bumper-to-bumper drive along 1-205 because of road construction. And it continued heavy as far as I-5 to Woodburn. I finally got home about 7 p.m. I was really tired. I talked to Carole, the gal who rents my downstairs and takes care of Groucho when I’m gone, and received a loving welcome from Groucho. He was very glad to see me . . . for days.

Takeaways:

  • Book lodgings ahead, but not through third party. Go onto the booking sites to find what you want, and then book through actual lodging.
  • Plan trip earlier in the year, less chance of rain and places won’t be closing for the season. Didn’t realize that so many coastal tourist facilities are closed during the winter.
  • The geology of the coast of Maine is so different than that of Oregon.
  • Maine has so many lighthouses, 67, and so varied. Surprised that many were attached to houses. Also surprised that many were shorter than our shortest one on the Oregon coast—Capes Meares at 38 feet. Nearly all of Oregon’s lighthouses have a range of 21 miles, but the ones in Maine can be anywhere from 12 to 29 nautical miles.
  • Lobster tastes good no matter how it’s prepared.
  • Wonderful trip. Yes, I’d do it again. Yes, I’d recommend it.
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