Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Tuesday, Dec 24th, Christmas Eve in the Zen Garden House


We're back on the road again for a short trip to Mendocino, to a vacation rental cottage owned by Lindsay Wansbury.  Earlier this evening, Lindsay and her dog Stella met us as we drove up, and introduced us their place.  We unloaded our gear, and took a short walk around.   Our guest cottage sits in the back left of the photo.

Before dark, we walked down the pathway to the dunes just west of the house.  Tomorrow, I'll make my way farther to the beach, as I brought my boogie board and wetsuit specifically to see if I could get in some wave time before the year ended.

To see all of the photos we took this afternoon, click on Zen Garden House.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Tuesday, September 17th, Santa Rosa


After two weeks home from our Airstream trip to Northeastern British Columbia and Western Alberta, you're probably wondering why I'm writing in our travel blog?  We can't be going somewhere again?  Or can we?

I want to suggest we broaden the concept of travel.  Why reserve this space only for stories about adventures around the planet?  Every day, our lives are filled with adventures that challenge the spirit, tangle the brain, and stress the body.  Why not write about those?

From now on, when Pat or I embark on these personal adventures, I'm going to use this blog to capture some of the high and low points, and the lessons we learn along the way.  I hope they are interesting readings.


Saturday, September 7, 2013

Wednesday, Sep 4th, Bend, Oregon


We chose to head inland on Tuesday morning, to the Painted Hills section of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument in central Oregon.  You won't find many fossils there, as the rocks revealed are less than 30 million years old.  The beauty which can be seen resulted from volcanic ash from the Cascade mountains along the western edges of Washington and Oregon erupting and sending clouds east.

The rapid deposits of ash preserved the remains of plants and animals living in the region. Because ash and other debris fell during varied climatic and volcanic conditions, the sediment layers in the fossil beds vary in their chemical composition and color.   Fossils found in the area include a wide variety of plants and more than 100 species of mammals, including dogs, cats, saber-toothed tigers, horses, camels, and rodents.  

To see the photos we took on Tuesday, click on Tuesday, Sep 3rd. Our journey ended on Tuesday in Bend, Oregon at the CrownVilla RV Resort.    

On Wednesday, we drove northeast from Bend up into the mountains around the Sisters and Brothers, local pair of mountains which have also been volcanically active in the past 60 million years.  Lava flows interrupt the highway, and recent fires and re-growth of trees amidst them create an eerie environment.

To see the photos we took today, click on Wednesday, Sep 4th.

Tomorrow, we've chosen to end the day somewhere around Weed, in northern California.  It's supposed to rain, so we aren't planning on many outings during the day.  We'll have an easy trip home from there on Friday or Saturday.


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Monday, Sep 2nd, Kelso, Washington


Another two-night stand comes to an end, and we're going to drive eastward a bit to see if we can find some fossils and see some off-highway five sights.  Today, we drove another windy road out to the Oregon coast (see the only good photo we took above), and had lunch at the Pacific Beach Naval Station.  It's now being used as a kind of military-only vacation rental, and has rv sites right behind the dunes.  I very much appreciated California's access to the coast, and it's highway views, after taking this drive.  The base was the only place you could see the beach for 50 miles of driving along it.

At this point in most of our trips, we're anxious to get home, an this one is no exception.  But we're going to re-check our memories of the the Columbia River Gorge, head down the middle of Oregon, and end up in Bend.  We like that town, and will stay at least one night.  Redding will be our last stop, and then home probably earlier than expected.

Been a great trip, and the next few months will be an interesting period due to Pat's knee surgery.  I'm training to be more of a helper with things she'll be unable to do.

See everyone soon.


Sunday, September 1, 2013

Sunday, Sep 1st, Kelso, Washington


I'm starting off today's blog post with a photo from a drive we took after checking into our campsite this afternoon.  It's Point Deception, which is I think the most southwestern tip of Washington state.  The weather was great, not a whiff of wind, and we were so relieved to have found a place to park with full hookup.  Finally, a shower is in the plan.

This morning, it seemed like the chances of finding one were about like winning the lottery.  The day before a Labor Day Holiday, come on, get real.  These rv parks are filled to capacity this weekend.  And no one was answering their phones this morning.  They probably just told all of their staff to turn them all to the answering machines with the message "we're full".  Having to leave before they even opened the offices, we took our chances that we'd have a better outcome than last night, when we didn't find anywhere, and parked in the overflow lot of a casino.

Three hundred miles down the road, the only good thing we had experienced was an excellent BLT lunch at a Subway where we fund a cheap gas station.  Finally, in Kelso, we found a back-in with full service.  With the help of three onlooker guests, who just couldn't help but want to offer advice, Pat backed up and turned our Airstream into a small space within wifi range.  I was very proud of her patience and resolve, as I've only done it once this whole trip, and I had more space to work with.

To see the few more photos we took today, click on Sunday, Sep 1st.  Oh yea, and check out the historic covered bridge we came across.  And I have no idea what that beam of light from above is on the last shot at the coast.


Saturday, August 31st, Swinomish Casino, near Anacortes, Washington


This is one of the first times we really are depending on a casino parking lot for our nightly resting place.  The Swinomish Band of Washington Native Americans operate a huge casino just over the bridge between the mainland and Anacortes Island in northern Washington State.  Their restaurant serves excellent Crab Louie and Crab Cakes, and they have several Sonoma County wines on their list.  We've driven from Clearwater in British Columbia to here, and found that the worst time to try to find space in an RV park is the Saturday of Labor Day weekend.  The parks are absolutely full, to overflowing, and we were happy to be able to pay the Swinomish $10 for a place in their parking lot.

Tomorrow, another southern bee-line to as far as we can toward home.  Maybe Ashland, but certainly Oregon.  At this point in our trip, we're trying not to miss opportunities to visit spots in the Northwest.  On the other hand, getting home a little early is not looking so bad.


To see the photos taken today (how many can you take when you're trying to go long distance?), click on Saturday, August 31st.  I like the one I took out the window of the train with the camera view reversed.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Friday, August 30th, Clearwater, BC


Driving from Jasper, over Yellowhead Pass to Tet JeJune, and south to Clearwater, I could just hear John Denver signing Rocky Mountain High.  Fortunately, he was drowned out by Old Blind Dogs, Paul Simon, Tracy Chapman, and Three Dog Night as we bid farewell to the beauty of the Canadian Rockies.   

Thoroughly immersed in the geology of the Rockies, we plunged even deeper by purchasing a huge tome at the Mount Robson Provincial Park Information Center.  I hope you'll all forgive us for gushing over with fresh knowledge of the wonders of the earth's plates and glaciers.  (Pat says "This is Gregory speaking").    It's just so fascinating to see the results up close of millions of years worth of Super Bowl mega-battles between the ground, water, and temperature.
After a night here on Dutch Lake, surrounded by Labor Day Weekend campers with oversize rigs, we'll head on a beeline to a Kamloops, and on to a Casino RV Resort in Washington.  Then another in northern Oregon, thence to Ashlund (nod to Shakespeare) for a couple of days, and then home.  

Here's the link to Friday's photos.


Thursday, August 29, 2013

Thursday, August 29th, Jasper, Alberta


We're sitting in a booth in a Tim Horton's in Jasper on Thursday afternoon, both of us making frozen lemonades last as long as possible to get in on their customer wifi policy.  Pat's answering emails, and I'm trying to upload two days worth of photos, and three videos produced by the new app produced by two of the founders of YouTube (Chad Hurley and Steve Chen).

At the end of this blog, I'll hopefully be able to include links to Tuesday and Wednesday's photos.  Today's photos were also great, but those will have to wait until we get to an RV Park with wifi tomorrow.

The video link is just an beginning try at an app which turns your IPod Touch, or better yet IPhone, into a video capture, editing, and online publishing system for free.  Check it out at

It appears that I just can't catch up as quickly as I want to, wifi bandwidth being so slow so far north.  We are about at the edge of reasonable access, but it's because the views are so beautiful, that I just ache not being able to show them.

We're having so much fun, and you'll here about it when we get back.  And I'll keep trying to send photos to the web.

Here's Tuesday's photos photos, Wednesday's Photos, and Thursday's photos.


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Monday, August 26th, Canmore, BC


We drove east of the Columbia Mountains on Monday, down the Rocky Mountain Trench, and up into the Rockies to Banff and south to Canmore.  We visited Lake Louise yesterday and Lake Morraine, and I have been having fun with a new App ( that the founders of YouTube have produced.  It turns your iPhone/Touch into a video studio, and is capable of producing short videos using either your stuff or in combination with everyone else's on the net.

I think it's going to be a lot of fun watching it roll out to young people with a story to tell.

We'll be visiting Banff today, and then heading on to Jasper tomorrow.  Here are the photos we took yesterday (Monday, August 26th, Canmore), and stay tuned for a video if I can find enough strong wifi.  We're now having breakfast at the Rocky Mountain Bagel Company in order to use their wifi.



Sunday, August 25, 2013

Sunday, August 25th, Whispering Spruce RV Park, BC


About 80 million years ago, when the Pacific plate (led by the Farallon plate) headed down under the North American plate, all of western North America east of Nevada was lifted up about 20,000 feet.  What was to become the Canadian and American Rockies started out as the western edge of the bottom of an inland ocean reaching from near the Arctic to the Gulf of Mexico.  Sedimentary rock layers containing fossils from before the extinction of the dinosaurs headed for the sky with a fury.  We’re talking Tibet high mountains, which erosion has used the time since to beat down.

The western edge of the Canadian stretch bent the existing 100 million year-old  mountain range sideways, creating a deep rift valley between it and the new higher peaks.  And it took the source of the Columbia River 40 miles north. 

It’s so much fun to poke around looking at history that dramatic. 

To see all of the photos we took today on the way from Revelstoke to Golden, click on Sunday, August 25th.


Friday, August 23, 2013

Thursday, August 22rd, Pierres Point, Salmon Arm, BC


Yes, the wifi reaches all the way to the beach.  The upper portion of the Okanagan Valley is like a long skinny (warm-watered) Lake Tahoe surrounded by the Central Valley.  We're headed next to Revelstoke to make it our base for some adventures into three national parks in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies.  Expect to be out of wifi soon, and back again in a week or so.

And just to assure my golfing friends that I'm staying in shape, I thought I'd show the tough putting challenge I face.

  To see the other photos click on Thursday, August 22nd, Pierres Point. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Wednesday, August 21st, Osoyoos, BC


Canada, between Vancouver and Lake Louise, was a mystery until today.  Who could have guessed that the western half would contain high craggy peaks with Ponderosa pines, alpine meadows, and marmots - while the eastern half has sage-brushed deserts surrounding lakes filled with jet-skis and vacationers? It feels a little like the Western U.S. has been turned around.  Colorado is where California is, and vice versa.  We can't wait to see what northern British Columbia looks like.

To see all of the photos we took in the past two days, click on Wednesday, August 21st 


Monday, August 19, 2013

Sunday, August 18th, Bellingham, Washington


Whenever we wonder where we'd live if we didn't live in Sonoma County, northern Washington State alway comes up among the top five.  Hanging out until our passports arrive via UPS, we drove around this weekend on the islands just west of Bellingham.  Checking out the seafront homes on Fidalgo, Whidbey, and Camano Islands, we enjoyed some beautiful scenery.

To see all of the photos taken today, click on Sunday, August 18th, Bellingham

Friday, August 16, 2013

August 16th, Portland Fairview RV Park


Breakfast at Wolf Creek Inn was terrific.  Thanks to Steve Diverde for suggesting it.  We even got to see a photo of his old gang from the commune there in 1973.  The Veggie and Western Omlettes were scrumptious.

Two hours ago, headed north on Highway 5 in Oregon and listening to CBC (Canada) on the radio, I asked Pat "Did we bring the passports?"

Moderate panic and consternation followed.

Deciding whether to continue driving north or turn around - was not easy.  Twelve hundred miles of extra driving is not something you want to do if you can avoid it.  Could we get across the border without our passports?  Do they let you across with just a California DMV license?  Could we get ahold of Steve Diverde at our house, and get him to send us our passports to a location two days north of us at the border?

We decided to stop and find a place for the night where we could explore our options.  Clear, powerful wifi, and the possibility of multiple nights were the priority.  We found a big, established RV park outside of Portland.  Once there, we researched UPS Next day air service.  We called (on Google Hangout) Steve, and organized a longer discussion for tomorrow morning.

Now relaxed, with a decent plan, we're heading north tomorrow for Bellingham, Washington, where we'll explore the Puget Sound and wait for the UPS package.

A little bit of chaos can be fun if it gets resolved well.


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Thursday, August 20th, Ashland, Oregon


Three hundred plus miles north on Highway 5, we’ve stopped in Ashland, Oregon.  With barely enough wifi in the RV Park to maintain a steady connection, we’ve settled in, and are snacking on organic corn tortilla chips, mediterranean hummus dip, and iced tea while we answer emails and play computer games.  The warm mountain sun is bathing the smoke-filled sky (a local fire we drove through on the highway) while the neighbors swim in a small pool near our space. 

We love the views of Lassen and Shasta on the stretch of California we just drove through.  The Cascade Mountain range so powerfully displays the might of the collision of the Pacific and American plates, and the eruption of magma from deep within the Earth’s crust so many millions of years ago.   Let’s  hope we don’t live to see it come to life again. 


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Thursday, August 15th, Canadian Rockies Airstream Trip


Today, we're leaving on an Airstream drive up into British Columbia, to explore the eastern section of the province.  We'll head north on Highway 5 to Bellingham Washington, which should take us about three days to get there.

Hope is our first destination, beyond Abbotsford, south of the Frazer River.  The Trans-Canadian Highway passes through Chilliwack and Laidlaw, between the Coast and the Cascade Mountain Ranges. (three days)

From Hope, we'll drive to Nicolum Creek Provincial Park and the Sunshine Valley.  The scenic Highway 3 takes us through Skagit Valley Provincial Park, Cascade Recreation Area, and the Manning Provincial Park.  Then we'll head north to Princeton, along the Similkameen River. (five days)

Turning south into the Bromley Rock and Stemwinder Provincial Parks, we follow the southern stretch of the Similkameen River to Keremeos and Crater Mountain.  Our southern most destination in this part of Canada is Osoyoos, near the Pocket Desert. (three days)

We then head north up Highway 97 to Penticton, and along the Okanagan Lake to Kelowna, Vernon, and Salmon Arm.  Kekuli Bay, Ellison, and Kalamalka Provincial Parks populate this stretch. (three days)

Our trip heads east to Revelstoke, where Mt Revelstoke and Glacier National Parks await on Canadian Highway 1.  Golden lies just across the time zone, near the entrance to Yono National Park.  Crossing up into the Rockies, we'll stop at Lake Louise before we may head south to see Banff. (three days)

The road north out of Banff skirts the Alberta/British Columbia border through the heart of the Canadian Rockies.  We cross back into British Columbia at Jasper, and decide whether to drive further north to Prince George or go south on Highway 5 to Kamloops.  Arriving back at Hope, we'll retrace our route home from there.  We need to be home by September 9th for a series of important meetings.  (nine days)

The drive can be made in 10 days, and we've got 26.  That's plenty of time to spend seeing some of the most beautiful mountains, rivers, and forests Canada has to offer.


Saturday, July 13, 2013

Saturday, July 13th, 2013 WorldFest Music Festival


We're up at the Grass Valley (Nevada County) Fairgrounds for the 4-day 2013 WorldFest Music Festival, and having lots of fun.  Our friends, Richard and Brenda Nichols, are here too, and we're comparing notes and having wine and chips together.

Here are the photos from Thursday night and Friday:  2013 WorldFest


Monday, March 4, 2013

Monday, March 4th, Santa Rosa, California


Few experiences are more satisfying time and again then coming home from a long trip away.   Sleeping in your own bed after 20 hours of buses and airports and planes is so good.  Especially if your bed is he kind that no hotel used by tours would ever afford.   Supporting every one of the shifting curves in each of our bodies without disturbing the other, long deep sleep just came not a moment too soon. 

Awakening to a neighborhood of friend’s morning walks, and driving off to work, our welcome greetings signal a return to normalcy in a community we love.  The box of mail our postperson brought to our doorstep bore invitations to re-emerge from controlled privacy.  Slowly, we walk back into a familiar routine which better supports our bodies, and eases our pace of change. 

Unpacking to either the washer/dryer or the pile of latest art acquisitions in search of locations, we take an inventory of the trip’s experiences and decisions.  Which clothes to replace, purchases to store, and memories to set into the back locations?  Comparing now available research, did we really visit the right places, have the best experiences, and learn the most we could?  And are really that much tanner and slimmer than we left?  Do our Panama (actually they’re usually made in Ecuador) hats make us look as cool as we think, and how much will we wear them?   When will we stop greeting and thanking people in Spanish? 

Refilling the hummingbird feeder, and sprinkling the pond with fish food, we’re welcomed back by those friends.  I notice that hungry blue jays are busy sorting through rain-gutter snared oak tree twigs, and helping reduce my often-postponed, precariously-perched, roof cleaning days.   My shout-out to them is only tempered by a wish they wouldn’t also drop twig-bomblets from the oak trees over the hot-tub while I’m in it.   But I guess my dodging is a small price to pay.

Catching up on the radio news, reversing vacation holds, and contemplating watching the many hundreds of hours of taped favorite series episodes our digital video recorder captured, we decide we’re back.  It was a wonderful 38 days which greatly expanded our sense of many different peoples, and brought us lots of new friends.  Now, we begin to integrate it all into what the rest of 2013 brings us.

Gregory and Pat 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Sunday Morning, March 3rd, Quito Airport, Ecuador


Well, this morning we're at the Quito Airport.  Only 18 more hours of flying, riding airporter buses,  and sitting at airports, and we'll be home.  By the way, for those of you who couldn't get to the YouTube video of the butterflies last night, I apologize.  In addition to failing to make it's access public, Google's YouTube staff spent some time fixing some jerkiness in it, and reposted it at another location.  It looks better now, and I fixed the problems so you should be able to get there from the original link.  Thanks very much to the Google staff.  They're following our blog too, and it's appreciated.

See you all soon.


Saturday, March 2, 2013

Saturday, March 2nd, Quito, Ecuador


The last day on any adventure (excluding the long flight home day) usually contains some wondering about if we missed anything.  And whether we'd do the trip differently now that we know what we do. Our answers on this trip are that we would put the destination for today (Mindo Protected Cloud Forest) earlier.  And we would encourage Adventures Abroad to include the National Museum officially on the tour.  But other than that, we'd not change a thing.

Alejandra, our guide for today, is terrific.  Very much like Diego and Wilson, she loves being a tour guide.  They all embody the reason why tour guides should be supported in their work.  Nation-building requires ongoing efforts by passionate individuals who know their country and want to help in mature.   Locally-raised, and well-trained tour guides, employed by a network of cooperating entities (foreign and domestic) are essential to enable travelers to understand a country.  They should be better organized to protect their rights and to expand their capabilities.  One of the lessons I've learned here is how valuable these unrecognized ambassadors are.

We began the day with a visit to Puluhua Caldera, a viewpoint overlooking a large valley containing a small village.  In a recently-contructed entrance area, we talked about the impact of the government offering free and unsupervised access to parks subsidized by advance payments from the Chinese for long-term oil exploration rights.  We all agreed that nothing is forever in governmental budgets.    

Mindo Protected Cloud Forest lies on one of the roads from Quito to the coast, and a spectacular road it is.  Alejandra's ability to navigate the landslide-prone route, while alerting us to every nuance of climate zone changes to plants and trees, amazed us.  The destinations she chose for us to visit, and the people she chose for us to support, again demonstrated tour guiding at its best.

What I like most about the Hosteria Mariposa de Mindo is their comprehensive approach to displaying the life-cycle of the butterfly.  Their facility is designed to let you get as close as possible to the entire process.

And the hummingbirds everywhere are nothing to sneeze at.

Later, we visited the owner of an orchid farm who cares for over 200 species, many of which were brought to her by the police as a result of raids on illegal orchid operations.  Her knowledge of each was extensive, and she seemed pleased to hear I would send her a link to the photos I took to add to her records.

Tonight, we had a nice dinner at the hotel, and packed up our bags.  Tomorrow, we fly home.

To see the photos we took today, click on Saturday, March 2nd, Quito, Ecuador.

To see a short video we made of the butterfly enclosure, click on Hosteria Mariosa de Mindo.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Friday, Mar 1st, Quito, Ecuador


We flew from Cuenca to Quito this morning, and were met at the New Quito International Airport by Alejandra, our tour guide until Sunday.  There are still some kinks to work out at the airport, but we sailed through quickly, and she drove us to our old familiar Quito hotel - the Mercure.   Circling the block a few times to overcome a broken down bus on our street, we finally got inside and were given a room right underneath the one we left before going to the Galapagos.

We've decided to rest today, but may go out to the National Museum later.  The Central Bank operates the museum, as the banks have a huge role in supporting the artistic community in Ecuador.  Americans might have felt better about bailing out the financial institutions if their banks did as much for the community as these do.

Tomorrow, we're headed to the Mindo-Nambillo Protected Forest, a 35, 000 acre reserve where 400 species of birds, and lots of orchids, waterfalls, and butterfly gardens await.  On Sunday, our flight through Miami to San Francisco begins at 10:15am and ends and ends late that night.  I'll try to post the shots taken tomorrow on Saturday night, and load up the MacAir and IPad with videos and games for the long flight home.

We made it to the National Museum.  Wow!  Their archeological wing is full of ceramic pots, and gold and silver pieces from the more than a dozen of their Pre-Inca civilizations (mostly coastal groups) dating from 4000 BC to 1000 AD.

To see the photos taken at the National Museum, Click on Friday, March 1st, Quito, Ecuador

See you all soon.


Thursday, February 28, 2013

Thursday, Feb 28th, Cuenca, Ecuador


First, thanks for all of your birthday wishes.  Celebrating my 65th by going to see Ingapirca was the perfect present.  On the way, we stopped by El Rocio, a church built on the site of yet another miracle and vaguely reminding us of a small European castle.  The views of the town of Biblian from the walkway around the base made you understand why so many early empires cherished these valleys.

Ingapirca has been called the largest Inca ruin in Ecuador.  To call it Incan is not the whole truth, however.  Though the stones which finished the Temple of the Sun are mostly of Incan design, the site was made by an earlier civilization known as the Canaris.

For almost a thousand years before the Inca, these stone temples served as the home of the Canaris leadership, and were used to chart astronomical movements and guide agricultural decisions.

But the Incans were good at incorporating their foes cultures into theirs, and it didn't hurt their PR to be defeated by the Spanish in so grand a style.  So we branded everything found as Incan.  But if you ask any local who built most of what is in Ecuador and Peru, you'll get very proud responses which reveal the complexity of these early advanced building communities.

To see all of the photos taken today, click on: Thursday, Feb 28th, Cuenca, Ecuador

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Wednesday, Feb 27th, Cuenca, Ecuador


That wonderful dinner we had last night was not well received by Diego's stomach, and he sent Wilson Galarza to fill in for him today.  As Wilson explained, "We're the two best tour guides in Ecuador", so there were some high standards for him to meet.

He didn't disappoint us.  Today, we enjoyed another great day in what is a truly great South American city.  Cuenca has grown in the last 40 years into one of the best combinations of pre-Inca, Inca, colonial Spanish, Republican Ecuador, and modern 21st century experiences we've seen.  Its cosmopolitan population brings a rich blend of sounds, smells, colors, and experiences.

Walking around the city's center, on pedestrian and bicycle-freindly streets, illustrates why almost 4,000 Americans have established homes here.  The river walks alone are worth the trip, and the climate just adds the desert to this beautiful menu.

To see the few photos we took today, click on Wednesday, Feb 27th, Cuenca, Ecuador.