Tuesday, July 31, 2007


If you read this blog regularly, you know that I particpate with an online enterprise called Kiva. Through Kiva, Odel and I, along with over 85,000 people around the world (and all the people listed in the left column of this blog), loan small amounts of money to struggling entrepreneurs in developing or war-ravaged countries. These "micro-loans" are administered by an "MFI" (MicroFinance Institution) in the borrower's country, and are generally paid back over a period of 6 to 18 months. At that time, you can withdraw or reloan your money.

I also participate regularly in an online, and very active, forum related to - but not part of - Kiva, called Kiva Friends. Here, we who are addicted to Kiva and it's borrowers discuss anything and everything - usually Kiva related, but not always.

On July 25th, a new thread was started on the Kiva Friends forum: A Sad Event, Noted in the Journals Today: Mark Agwonah. This discussion brought to our attention the death of Mark Agwonah, one of the Kiva borrowers in Kenya, while in the custody of the local police.

The MFI in Kenya posted a note in the journal for Mark's loan detailing his death (murder seems the more appropriate word). Mark left behind his mother and two dependent members of his extended family, now with no means of support.

This was shattering news.

Since we received this information, a wonderful group of "Kiva Friends" was inspired to action. Within just a few days, a "lending group" was established in Mark's name with contributions from "Friends" - already put to work helping to fund loans to Kenyan borrowers.

We also have contacted the MFI in Kenya and are working out details of making a contribution directly to Mark's mother.

It is amazing to me how one small step can open us up to a much larger world. We made our first Kiva loan just a few months ago, and I found "Kiva Friends" a few weeks later. Never had I imagined how much I would find - and learn - on these sites, about geography, about people on the other side of the globe, their lives, their struggles, their countries. There are so many good, strong, creative people working to make the global village, the world, a much better place...

I just wanted to let you know.

If you want to get involved, click on any of the links included in this entry, or go directly to http://www.kiva.org/. Watch out - it can be addictive!

Monday, July 30, 2007


Check out our new pad!

We arrived in Canby this afternoon, where we will be spending the next three weeks or so looking after the property of a Boomer couple we met online. Scoopy is parked a little way from the Dopps' house, near to their amazing vegetable garden and the little "Red Barn" that you can see behind us.

We're looking forward to our stay!

Sunday, July 29, 2007


We we woke up this morning, Luna was nowhere to be found. We looked and looked...

Finally we heard a teeny, tiny meow - it sounded like it was outside...

Look what we found! LUNA, baby, what happened??

Ha, ha, just kidding. But - doesn't this look just like her? I found this funny picture posted on another website I frequent (Kiva Friends) and just couldn't resist posting it for you all to see.

Have no fear, Luna hasn't really changed a bit.

Saturday, July 28, 2007


Port Townsend, Washington, is definitely one of our favorite summer spots. We've been here for over two weeks.

Tomorrow we are taking off, heading "down south" to Kelso, Washington, for an overnight stop before we head to Canby, Oregon, on Monday. Today was a day to enjoy more of what we love about the area.

We started off with a walk along a well-known and well-used walking/biking trail that goes along the bay southwest of the port. The trail begins in a busy and fascinating boatyard, full of boats/yachts large and small. Lots of activity and noise, interesting and mysterious to us landlubbers.

Then we were off to the Port Townsend Saturday farmer's market. It isn't large, just one block long, but they pack a lot of variety into the small space, with an adjacent park to handle the overflow of people watchers, music lovers (live music anchors the market), lively kids and dogs - and a mother and daughter reading the last Harry Potter book outloud.

Last week, Odel had an awesome salmon sandwich from one of the vendors, so that was our first stop today. The bread was so great that we stopped back by the vendor to find out what it was: panini from - who else? - the bakery vendor. That was our next stop: add three panini rolls to the bag.

While we roamed the stalls picking up fresh vegetables, tasting cherries, cheese and anything else we could snag, we came across a vendor selling freshly-dug clams and oysters. Tonight's planned menu went right out the window when we added two pounds of fresh clams to our bags.

Top photo: fresh clams, ready to steam, and red "green onions", ready to be chopped and added to the steaming broth.

Middle photo: Grilled panini and fresh steamed clams; Odel pours a local Fume Blanc. We have roasted olives for our vegetable.

Bottom photo: I don't think it took even 15 minutes to empty the shells and clean our plates!

Nothing like a dynamite meal of fresh local ingredients to make you wanna' come back already.

Thursday, July 26, 2007


We got out and made the most of the great weather today! As soon as the morning clouds cleared, we packed up a picnic lunch and took off for Olympic National Park. It is about an hour from here to the main visitor center near Port Angeles, then another 30 minutes up the twisting, turning road that climbs from sea level to around 5,000 ft.

The wildflowers were beautiful! I took this shot alongside the Hurricane Hill trail, heading up to the top of a ridge for a 360 degree view: Port Angeles, the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Vancouver Island in one direction, the snow capped Olympic range in the other.

In this photo, you can see the gravelled ridge (to the right of the patch of snow) and a bit of the trail we had traversed. The only "fly in the ointment" was just that - HUGE flies, and tiny mosquitos. There weren't enough to cancel the hike, but they were sufficiently annoying that we didn't pause to eat our picnic lunch - and many of the photos I took were snapped on the go.

We were hungry by the time we got back to the car. Here is our recipe for an Ambrosia Sandwich:

Spread peanut butter and apricot jam between two slices of "Fig and Anise Bread" from the bakery stand at the Port Townsend Farmer's Market. Put the sandwiches in a baggie and carry them around in a backpack in warm sunshine for 3 hours, or long enough for the juice from the jam to be absorbed into the fig and anise bread. Eat with plenty of napkins on hand. These sandwiches are particularly delicious served in 62 sunny degrees at 5,000 ft.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


It has been a drippy, gray week, culminating on Monday with a cloud that settled down on Chimacum and my head. While it didn't actually RAIN, everything dripped due to the heavy mist.

Now, I know I should be happy we aren't running both air conditioners in 90+ degree weather somewhere, but I admit that my mood was quite droopy.

At last! On Tuesday, we awoke to sunshine - and what a difference it made. Whew.

We hopped into Jules and took off for a drive and hike. We had the windows down, and even opened the sunroof to bathe ourselves in rays.

Look at the difference between these two photos, both taken overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca, between Washington and Canada. I think I could have walked ten miles in the sunshine on Tuesday - I was FILLED with energy.

Sunshine wasn't the only energizer, though. After semi-hibernating during the gloomy weekend, we were looking forward to visiting with Boomers David Brown and Ann Howell. We had been invited to join them and five other couples for a wine tasting at their place near here.

Now, in any group of a dozen people, I usually enjoy talking with most... and perhaps politely disengaging with one or two when our personalities don't mesh well. In this case, Odel and I both said the same thing as we left: "What a GREAT group of friends!"

I admit, the sunny day, fabulous view, mulitple bottles of wine, delicious snacks, the endless laughs might have influenced us, but there wasn't a person in the group that I wouldn't want to spend time with again. Interesting, funny, friendly. We were warmly welcomed and completely enjoyed ourselves. Thanks, David and Ann and all of your wonderful friends.

Friday, July 20, 2007


Today is Day One of the three day Sequim Lavender Festival. This type of event falls well outside of Odel's area of interest, so I was off on my own fairly early this morning for the 30 mile drive to Sequim. The weather was cool, blustery and damp, spitting raindrops off and on.

Since it was a weekday and not the best weather, I figured it would be less crowded than it will be on the upcoming weekend. That may have been true, but these northwesterners are HARDY. Well before noon, the traffic in little Sequim was heavy.

The festival includes a street fair - entertainment, food, art, crafts and ABSOLUTELY ALL THINGS LAVENDER! Sequim is awash in lavender farms, and all of them vie for your eye with every possible lavender product you can imagine, including a calming neckerchief for your DOG (hmmm... I can think of a certain Jack Russell that probably should own one).

Besides the street fair, you can pay $15 for a three-day ticket that gets you on to the Farm shuttle buses and the grounds of all the lavender farms participating - 8? 10? There also is a tour of artists studios (free), and shuttle buses (free) from parking lots on either end of town to the street fair, a far better idea than taking your car downtown.

I parked, shuttled, ate, browsed, listened to music and to gardening advice and generally participated in the festivities for about 4 hours. I got a big laugh listening to the guy talking about gardening: he and his wife both are avid gardeners with their own ideas, so they each get half the garden. When one discovers and brings home a new plant, the other one isn't allowed to go out and get one just like it! I thought that was so funny!

I ate a delicious crab cake sandwich, helped support the local economy with a few lavender purchases, and finally found the right solution for the "paper or plastic" dilemma at the grocery store: the strong, perfectly-sized, "bring your own" bags being sold at the Washington Tilth booth for JUST $2 each!

They are strong, shaped like a brown paper bag, have two comfortable handles and a solid, flat bottom. This is the first time I have run across a non-disposable bag that is priced inexpensively enough that you can buy several. The front says "Wake up and Save the Farmland"; the back says "Save Energy, Buy Local". Maybe it will be just the reminder I need the next time I eye the mangoes at Safeway.

Now I just need to figure out what we will use to line the kitchen trash!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Between Canada's Vancouver Island to the north, the Olympic Peninsula of Washington state to the south, and Seattle and its northern neighbors to the east is a watery region of straits, sounds, and islands, with ferries plying the waters in all directions.

Whidbey Island, long and narrow, is right in the middle of it all, accessible from the north by bridge and from Seattle and Port Townsend by ferry. We have explored the northern half of the island on prior visits; yesterday we took Jules on the ferry to check out the small southern towns.

The ferry crossing is short, just 30 minutes. This is just another way to commute for some of the travelers, who stay in their cars and read the newspaper or a book. The rest of us climb up the stairs to the decks (and warm, indoor seating areas) to watch Port Townsend recede into the distance as Fort Casey state park comes into view up ahead.

It was a showery day, overcast and cool. We had a few campgrounds to visit (our usual agenda when sightseeing!) before we turned south and drove to the far end of the island. Destination: Langley, WA.

We travel with a book called "The 100 Best Art Towns in America", and I always check it to find out what is in the area. Northern Washington seems to have more than it's share of art towns, Port Townsend (where we are now) and Langley among them. A town with a lively arts scene is always visually appealing and Langley is no different. Look at the effect the Pacific Northwest weather has on flora!

Becky, I took the Library photo just for you. How many libraries have a purple door?? The building in the lower photo is a little shop on the main street; I love the masses of bright white daisies.

We had lunch at a busy pizzeria before I set out to see the town (this involves browsing through every store and gallery that looks interesting) and Odel went off on a long walk (reflecting his interest in Art Towns). It was a good way to spend a day.

Sunday, July 15, 2007


When we last were in Sacramento, my good friend Becky found and presented this cookbook to me after we had spent a fruitless afternoon searching the bookstore. I had printed several recipes from the Eating Well website but, as a confirmed book-lover (not a good trait when you live in a small space), I really wanted to be able to sit back and peruse the recipes in a book rather than on the computer.

When we had an abundance of fresh fruit recently, I found a simple and yummy "Old Fashioned Fruit Crumble for 2" recipe here - quick, easy, and delicious (I used blueberries and peaches), and just right for two people. The cookbook had another recipe I wanted to try and, after I bought an important ingredient - a fresh fennel bulb - at the farmers' market in Port Townsend Saturday morning, I made Fennel-Crusted Salmon on White Beans, another keeper. The link here. to the Eating Well website, serves 6 (the one in the book has been modified for serve two).

One more recipe to recommend, this time from The Oregonian, Portland's newspaper: Tuscan White Bean and Chicken Pasta Salad. This recipe uses leftover, cooked chicken. We buy rotisserie chicken often when grocery shopping and this was a delicious way to use the moist, leftover breast meat (we eat all the dark meat as soon as we get it home!) It was an easy, cool dinner during Portland's heat wave.

Saturday, July 14, 2007


We get the biggest kick out of Luna, who has turned out to be an excellent travel cat. If we are in a crowded area, she adapts by staying inside, but her preference is to spend a part of each day (especially the morning) outdoors. Here at the Port Townsend Elks, where we have a HUGE lawn next to Scoopy, she is in heaven.

For some reason, she has decided that this little stool makes a good shelter (she prefers shade to sun). Here she is, yawning a BIG one.

I hope she doesn't think this is a hiding place... as you can see, it really is NOT large enough to offer much protection.

We have seen many cats that walk on a leash (as does Luna, when absolutely necessary), but not many that can be let outside without restraint. She is generally happy with a sniffing circuit of Scoopy and Jules, a little exploration of her immediate surroundings, then a short rest under the stool or in her little "hut", the large soft-crate where she can play with her mousey or simply sit and watch the world go by.

What a perfect travel companion.

Friday, July 13, 2007


As soon as we finalized our plans for August with the Dopps, we lit out of Portland and the 100+ degree heat wave. Since the weather forecast included one more day of record-breaking heat in the Pacific Northwest, we again made a reservation for a site with 50 amp electric power. We overnighted in a beautiful campground on the Hood Canal, overlooking the water.

This cool scene was just a few steps from our site, the photo taken when the tide was high. In the morning, low tide uncovered rocky, shallow flats. Folks with rakes and buckets were strolling along, intent on the rocks, harvesting oysters, the prime "crop" of the Hood Canal.

On Thursday, it was a short hop up to Port Townsend where we snagged our favorite site at the Port Townsend Elks Lodge. Look at all that space! We are settled in until Monday morning when a rally group with reservations will be chasing us out. We're not sure where we will head next, but there are a lot of choices up here.

Today Odel is off to play golf while I revisit some of my favorite shops. Dinner tonight will be clam chowder at Fins Restaurant - we've never found clam chowder anywhere that can come close to the chowder at Fins. Yum!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


In 2004, my sister, Sydney, and her husband, Frank, moved from the San Francisco Bay area to Bisbee, Cochise County, Arizona. We are GLAD they did, because it is much easier and more fun to visit them in Bisbee than in the Bay area.

Since the move, both have focused on their art, especially images from the southwest and Cochise County. Sydney is a painter; Frank is a photographer. Both exhibit their work at a Bisbee art gallery, and each has just released a website of their work.

The black and white photo of the datura is from Frank's website. To see more, click on Frank Baker's Photography.

Not long ago, I posted Sydney's painting of my grandfather on this blog. That image prompted more comments than any other I have posted.

This is Sydney's rendering of the datura. Many of my favorites among her works are the familiar landscapes of the southwest. Click on this link to view more of Sydney's Fine Art.

Many of you who read this blog travel in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Mexico in winter and will find some of these images particularly familiar and appealing. You also can view Sydney's and Frank's work at Verano Fine Art Gallery, 22 Main Street, Bisbee, Arizona, and on the gallery website. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


On July 4th, we read this message on the "Boomer Bulletin Board" (an internet forum that is one of the ways we keep in touch with our traveling friends):


"We have a paved site, 30 amp, water, and sewer. We're looking for a Boomer to use the site in exchange for tending our garden and watching our house... The garden just needs watering and occasional picking of vegetables and berries. You can eat all you harvest."

We had been trying to figure out how/where to stay to explore Portland, and our plans for the rest of the summer were fuzzy - so we responded immediately. After an exchange of emails and phone calls, we thought this might be a good fit, so today we met these mystery Boomers, Richard and Marlene Dopp. Boomers who were at the Quartzsite 'rang this past winter probably will recognize them, and many of your names came up! We were surprised to find how many Boomer friends we have in common.

We were sold as soon as we saw the garden and our "site", but Marlene sealed the deal when she served us a fabulous homemade/homegrown lunch right out of the garden (plus a parcel of fresh vegetables to take home) - and Richard sent us home with a bottle of homemade wine! Food, wine, travel, campsites, airplanes (they have one in their hanger/garage, and fly it), RV's, gardening, golf... we talked for 4 hours (except while chewing) and are now on the schedule to return at the end of July for our caretaking job.

We are looking forward to it, but the best thing is that we have started a new friendship with two wonderful people.

When we talked with Richard to get directions to their property, he suggested we take a backroads loop that would take us across the Willamette River on a car ferry. He said that visitors go out of their way to take this ferry, so we decided to take his advice.

The drive took us through beautiful, hilly, farm country, past large "estate" homes with paddocks and stables, huge barns, and fields green with crops bordered by dark green fir trees.

Swoop left, swoop right, down a hairpin turn and there it was: a signal light, the deep blue river beyond, and the ferry on the other side. I took the photo of the ferry on the river by poking my head and camera out of our sunroof; this photo was taken looking through the windshield when we loaded.

The trip was a couple of minutes, very pleasant and unusual. We will have a good time exploring the area when we return in August. What fun.

Sunday, July 8, 2007


Tomorrow we say goodbye to the coast and it's lovely weather. Goodbye to turning on the furnace when we get up in the morning to take away the "chill". Goodbye to tossing on a sweatshirt when we go outside. Goodbye to closing the windows around 7 pm 'cause it's getting cold... we're heading inland, to see what you've been talkin' about!

Tomorrow even Oregon and Washington, including the coastal areas, are heating up. We had a couple things to do near Portland, and decided we would handle the heat better with 50 amps than 30 (not too may places on the coast bother with the higher amperage). We're checking into a park with all the amenities - including a swimming pool - and preparing for 100 degrees. Or trying to, anyway. Sigh.

Friday, July 6, 2007


Unlike most Elks Lodges we visit, where the RV sites are in the parking lot (gravel, dirt, or asphalt) behind or beside the lodge, the sites for RV's in Lincoln City are several miles from the lodge. The Elks here own Wapiti Park, a HUGE, GREEN park with river frontage where they gather for various events in the summer - and that is where they have put 40 RV sites with electric and water.

The sites are spacious, right in the middle of the park. We have a great view: a foreground of mown lawn, a wide fringe of tall, tassled grasses, then a high, heavily forested ridge that protects the park from the fog bank that hovered over the beach yesterday and the winds fiercely blowing today. This spot is a jewel.

Lincoln City is about 25 miles north of Newport, which we decided to explore today. It turned out not to the best idea because of the wind, but we weren't detered from our main mission, which was to check out a couple of the public areas that use volunteers - just in case we want to do some volunteer work along this stretch of coastline sometime.

Standing at the entrance to Yaquina Bay in Newport, this is the view to the south. When I turned to the west, we faced the long jetties that protect the entrance to the bay (bottom photo). Looks like a wonderful spot for a walk on the beach, huh?

This is the general area where the first recorded landfall from a ship was made, at noon on March 7th, 1778 by Capt. James Cook. The weather was so harsh he named it Cape Foul Weather, very apt for today as well.

What you can't see in the photo is the stinging sand blasts that scoured the beach and finally drove us back to the higher bluffs (windy, but sand-free). Still, with record-breaking heat gripping just about all of the west, including parts of Oregon, we aren't complaining (much)!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007


It's July 4th, Independence Day. Is it time for a new revolution?

No matter how disgusted I am with the present administration, and how disappointed I am with the lack of leadership from the front-running candidates, it seems unlikely that revolutionary political change is on the way. Lately, I've been spending a lot of time thinking about what changes I want to see and how I can support those changes in spite of feeling completely disenfranchised.

Loaning a bit of our capital through Kiva.org is one way - a very fun and inspiring one - that we can help other citizens of the world gain or retain a bit of their own independence and strengthen their local communities. I've recently added links to the Kiva "Lender Pages" of our friends and family who are doing the same to the upper left side of our blog - check 'em out.

Closer to home, we support local small entrepreneurs - and simultaneously reduce negative effects on the environment - through our purchasing decisions. More and more frequently, the term "locavore" pops up in my reading - all over the internet, in books, in the interesting local weekly papers we pick up as we travel, and even in mainstream daily newspapers. The most common definition is that a locavore eats mostly food produced in a 100 miles radius of their home (locavores in the US don't get to eat bananas!).

As fulltimers, we have a real advantage over stationary locavores, since the weather we follow happens to concide with "growing season". Now, as the midsummer peak of the growing season approaches, it is easy and totally delightful to support local farms. We've been looking forward to the Wednesday market in Coos Bay, where we'll replenish our produce supplies later today and help strengthen the local food web in the process.

A passing conversation with a young organic farmer at the Farmer's Market in Hood River led me to research another fascinating organization: WWOOF (pronounced "woof" like what a dog says, and those who participate are called "woofers"), an acronym for "World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms". WWOOF connects subscribers who want to learn about sustainable organic farming with host farms who need volunteer workers. If I had limited funds and the travel bug, this is how I would be traveling. Check out the fascinating descriptions in their "Preview Directory" and daydream!

Supporting local economies, changing the way we spend to help support the environment, finding ways to reduce the negative impact of "free trade" and to instead support "fair trade"... I just finished a fascinating book that ties many of these ideas together: "Deep Economy" by Bill McKibben. I like the term "Relocalization" to describe his prescription for the changes he suggests to help reverse the negative impacts of our "growth at any cost" economy.

It is not light reading but, like Al Gore, Bill McKibben is able to present a lot of otherwise mind-numbing data in a digestible manner. He puts our individual economic decisions in a larger context that has changed the way I think about what I consume.

Independence from agribusiness farms, less dependence on fossil fuels, interdependence among neighbors... maybe there is a revolution on the horizon afterall? I'm ready to enlist.

Sunday, July 1, 2007


Yesterday was as perfect a day as you are likely to get along the Oregon coast: sunny, calm breezes, temperatures in the mid-60's.

For a change, we got up early and hit the beach. The tide was very low, and we were able to walk way out into the Pacific on a long finger of rock that usually is inaccessible.

From that vantage point, we had a closer view of the abandoned Cape Arago Lighthouse and the deteriorating access bridge.

We also had great, closeup access to the tide pools on the rocky ridge we were climbing. We saw a couple starfish (one was bright orange) and lots of anenomes, mussels, barnacles...

By the time we got back to the beach, it was full of color: kids jumping in the shallows and running on the beach, a few hardy surfers heading out, dogs tearing around with tongues hanging out, and families flying kites. We sat in the sun watching the action and soaking up the rays.


We spent a couple of hours on Saturday afternoon at the 7th Annual Lumberjack Competition on the boardwalk at the Mill Casino in Coos Bay. Coos Bay is a lumber town, and the Mill casino reflects the logging and milling heritage. It was a fitting location for the lumberjack competition, and a perfect day for it.

This competition is similar to a rodeo circuit. From March to September, the Lumberjack Competition travels the Pacific Northwest - lumber country - with a hardcore group of competitors who obviously know each other well, complemented by visiting competitors from as far away as New Zealand.

Not all men; there were a couple of women-only events and several "Jack and Jill" competitions (male/female team).

As this series of three photos shows, this is dangerous stuff! This is one of the few events that used a power saw (the rest use hand tools). Beginning at a starting line, the competitor runs to the low end of the log, runs up the log (or falls off), fires up his chain saw after crossing a red line near the end of the log, saws off the end of the log, turns off the saw before recrossing the red line, runs down the log and back to the starting line. I don't think it took even 60 seconds.

Here is another that seemed exceptionally dangerous, using two "springboards" (the boards they are standing on) and a huge axe: Competitors start on the ground and chop a "slot" in the side of the pole. They wedge their first springboard into the slot and climb on, using it as a platform to chop their second slot. The second springboard is wedged in the second slot, and they climb up to chop the top off of the pole. The winner is the first one to chop off the top.