Love trumps hate amidst many losses

2/19/2017

In too many ways 2016 was a year of loss. I was surprised but not shocked at losing David BowieGlenn Frey, and Alan Rickman, who were all in their late 60s. Years of substance abuse claimed Carrie Fisher at 60, Prince at 57, and George Michael at 53.

But what truly hurt me, to my surprise, was the loss of artists who were in their 80s. On the acting front, I mourned Gene Wilder, who was so wonderful in Mel Brooks’ The Producers, Blazing Saddles, and Young FrankensteinWendy and I celebrated his legacy by attending a Labor Day weekend revival of Blazing Saddles on the big screen in Oklahoma City.

My favorite Gene Wilder role was his spot-on portrayal of Willy Wonka. Johnny Depp’s Wonka was sick and creepy in comparison. I love the office scene at the end of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory:

So shines a good deed in a weary world.

On the political front, the ascendance of Donald Trump was the product of the woes of a weary world, with his own victory sorely lacking in good deeds. I mourn the lack of civility, truth, and morality in presidential politics.

And then we come to poet and songwriter Leonard Cohen. A couple of years ago I read a great biography about him. In October 2016, at age 82, he released You Want It Darkerhis fourteenth studio album. He knew it would be his last.

Betty Henderson, my long-time friend and fellow science teacher, and I were introduced to the Canadian singer/songwriter’s works by Professor Bill Reynolds when we took a couple of graduate curriculum courses via compressed video from OSU in the 1990s. Prof. Reynolds had assigned us to watch the movie Pump Up the Volume, which featured Cohen’s hauntingly cynical Everybody Knows. We were both fascinated by the shattering bass voice linked to such powerful lyrics. That led us to the I’m Your Man album and beyond. I realize many folks might only know him as the guy who wrote Hallelujah.

Marianne Ihlen and Leonard Cohen

Marianne Ihlen and Leonard Cohen

I was grateful when the New Yorker offered a wonderful long last look at Leonard. But that article shook me to the core when I read in it the last note he wrote to his long lost muse, Marianne Ihlen, having learned she was dying of cancer:

Well Marianne, it’s come to this time when we are really so old and our bodies are falling apart and I think I will follow you very soon. Know that I am so close behind you that if you stretch out your hand, I think you can reach mine. And you know that I’ve always loved you for your beauty and your wisdom, but I don’t need to say anything more about that because you know all about that. But now, I just want to wish you a very good journey. Goodbye old friend. Endless love, see you down the road.

When her family read that aloud to her, Marianne smiled. When she heard Leonard saying he was right behind, close enough to reach her, she lifted her hand. And two days later, Marianne slipped away. Leonard, true to his word, followed her four months later. Know that I am so close behind you that if you stretch out your hand, I think you can reach mine.

So 2016 was a year of love and loss. I will always delight in it as the year in which Wendy and I were married. But my emotions are quickly shredded if I listen to the reprises of Leonard Cohen’s Treaty or George Michael’s WaitingToo much loss. Too much pain.

Will 2017 be better? It hasn’t been much fun thus far. Our country is ripped apart by politics and partisanship. Anger, conflict, fear, and hatred pour out of Facebook every time I scan the newsfeed.

But love trumps hate. A few weeks ago I was tipped off by NPR Listeners’ Favorite 100 Albums of 2016 podcast to Sturgill Simpson’s album A Sailor’s Guide to EarthTaking his life as an object lesson, Simpson shares hard-won wisdom with his young son. I enjoy the boisterous Keep It Between The Lines, which has advice too many teenagers will ignore:

Keep your eyes on the prize
Everything will be fine
Long as you stay in school
Stay off the hard stuff
And keep between the lines

And I like how love “trumps” hate in his video for All Around You:

If you can’t make out the lyrics (Wendy says he sounds like a mush-mouthed Garth Brooks), here ya go:

There will be days
When the sun won’t shine
When it seems like the whole world is against you
Don’t be afraid
Life is unkind
You can let go of the pain if you choose to

‘Cause time slips away
Skies fall apart
It ain’t too hard
A universal heart
Glowing, flowing, all around you

There will be nights that go on forever
Like you’re long-lost at sea
Never to be found
Just know in your heart
That we’re always together
And long after I’m gone
I’ll still be around

‘Cause our bond is eternal
And so is love
God is inside you
All around you
And up above

Love me, show me you’re the way

‘Cause time slips away
Skies fall apart
It ain’t too hard
A universal heart
Glowing, flowing, all around you 

Now that’s more like it.

Posted in music, random, video | Leave a comment

Honeymoon, Days 14-16: Back to U.S.

TRIP DATE: July 15-17, 2016 | SLIDESHOW | PHOTO ALBUM | Other Honeymoon Posts

Meador PostFrankly, I never thought it would take me over six months to finish the posts about our honeymoon, but this school year has been a doozy for both Wendy and me. I’m juggling a lot of balls as I wrap up my final year of teaching and transition into running district communications and technology, and Wendy has had a challenging final year of teaching in special education. So it’s been nice to take a break from our endless work tasks to look at photos and share memories from our honeymoon adventure in the Pacific Northwest. Here’s the final honeymoon post:

We spent part of our last day in Victoria at the Laundrolounge a few blocks from hotel. Perhaps we were preparing for our return home to domesticity after our long adventure in the Pacific Northwest.

Royal British Columbia Museum Mammoth

Royal British Columbia Museum Mammoth

I wanted Wendy to see the fun natural history dioramas and spooky First Peoples Galleries at the Royal British Columbia Museum. The big mammoth I remembered was there, along with a huge model of the dreaded Pine Beetle that has devastated forests in Colorado and elsewhere. A special exhibit was Lyuba, a 40,000-year-old baby woolly mammoth, the best-preserved specimen in existence. Found by a reindeer herder in frozen Siberia in 2007, the animal was about 30 days old when she suffocated after being trapped in mud along a riverbank. It was amazing to gaze upon her flesh 40,000 years later, over seven times longer than written human history.

Lyuba is 40,000 years old

Lyuba is 40,000 years old

Granger and the Great Bear

Granger and the Great Bear

I posed by a very intimidating bear, while Wendy braved the silent roar of a sabre tooth tiger. I especially enjoyed revisiting the Old Town exhibit, which is much like Prosperity Junction in the old Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City.

We walked back to our lovely room at the Magnolia for our final night in Canada, knowing we would have to catch the ferry back to Washington state the next morning.

Wendy had done her research for this second crossing, doubling up on the Dramamine and staying up top where she could watch the passing scenery. The water was calm as we thrummed away from Victoria. The stark view of the strait through the windscreen on the sparsely populated top deck after we lost sight of land reminded me of an Edward Hopper painting. I deliberately framed it with part of a fellow traveler’s arm in the shot to give a touch of humanity to the scene.

If Hopper had painted a ferry ride...

If Hopper had painted a ferry ride…

The calm gave way to choppy swells. The ferry heaved and rolled, turning westward to dodge the worst of the waves. The detour lengthened our journey back to Port Angeles, making for a long and sometimes violent ride across the rough sea. I worried that the rollicking boat ride would make Wendy miserable, but her strategies paid off and she did swell despite the swells. That reassured us that she need not dread ferry rides in the Pacific Northwest in future years.

We were both thankful and hungry when we reached Port Angeles. I drove to the nearby Chestnut Cottage Restaurant for a late lunch. My Goldminer roast beef sandwich was quite good, and Wendy enjoyed her ciabatta club sandwich with turkey, bacon, tomato, Swiss cheese, and delicious Italian dressing. We waited awhile for our food, so I mapped our car journey to reach the Seattle-Tacoma airport for our flight home on the following day.

I did not want to make the loop around the Hood Canal (which is actually a natural fjord created by the Vashon Glacier 10,000 years ago). Neither of us wanted to ride another ferry at Bainbridge Island, so I decided we’d take the long bridge on highway 104 across the Hood Canal to Port Gamble and gambol our way south through Tacoma and back up to SeaTac.

But while devising our route, I noticed a topographic pimple about 20 miles south of the highway 104 fork, with a road winding its way to the top. A web search told me there were north and south viewpoints there from atop Mount Walker, about 2600 feet above the surrounding countryside and 2800 feet above the Canal. Mister Panorama could not resist that!

So we drove around the northeast corner of the Olympic Peninsula, did NOT take the fork in the road, and headed up Mount Walker. We passed a rockfall before the road turned to miles of gravel as we ground our way to the summit. There were fellow tourists at each viewpoint, with the one to the south affording a nice view of the Hood Canal. Through the haze we could barely see the skyscrapers of Seattle, one of the places I’ll share with Wendy on a future visit.

South view from Mount Walker

South view from Mount Walker

We passed under enormous trees on our way to the north end, where we could see Quilcene Bay, separated from Dabob Bay by the Bolton Peninsula.

The rest of our trip to SeaTac was uneventful, and we were tired and worn out as we pulled into the Coast Gateway Hotel for the night. I was too pooped to drive any more, so we were glad to find Sharps RoastHouse conveniently parked in the hotel lot. It wasn’t fast, and the meat was a bit dry, but we wolfed down our food and collapsed back at the hotel to rest before our late morning flight back to Oklahoma City.

The car rental return was as confusing and frustrating as ever at SeaTac, and I was quite annoyed by how the shysters at Hertz failed to honor some of the discounts I had arranged. I will look elsewhere for future rentals.

The flight home was a direct one back to Oklahoma City. We again flew first class, in larger and more comfortable seats but in a smaller plane than what I grew used to in the 1990s and 2000s. My folks picked us up at Will Rogers World Airport and by Monday, July 18 we were back in Bartlesville for the first time in 18 days.

Before we had left, Betty Henderson had arranged for the purchase of a new portable building, funded by her and other friends. Betty and I had picked it up from Costco in Tulsa back in June, leaving the huge boxes in the garage at Meador Manor. Wendy and I returned home to find the portable building assembled on a new platform in the yard, thanks to the skilled efforts of John, Betty’s husband, who has graciously helped us with several home improvement projects. After we got our bearings, Wendy and I would host an informal cookout at a shelter at Lake Copan for them and other dear friends. That’s as close to a wedding reception as we wanted to get.

John Henderson built this for us

John Henderson built this  building for us, which dear friends chipped in to purchase

Non-stop school work resumed as soon as we arrived home and continued on into 2017. But when we paused and reflected on our favorite experiences from the trip, Wendy recalled seeing all of the roses, collecting rocks, the Magnolia Hotel and spa, and the excellent salmon at several restaurants plus some great blueberry pie in Portland. She noted how the alcohol inks she picked up in Astoria, after seeing a Facebook video on making decorative tiles, started a long exploration of the craft.

Varied transportation was another highlight for Wendy. Even though the first ferry ride was miserable for her and the second one was violent, she found it a new and exciting experience. The plane rides were fun too; she said sleeping on the planes gave her some of the best sleep she ever got, and she marveled at seeing Mount Hood from the air during the golden hour as we landed in Portland. And she loved tracking the huge cargo vessels on her iPad and iPhone during our stay in Astoria.

Highlights for me included the windy but beautiful Loowit Viewpoint at Mt. St. Helens, Wendy giggling as she crafted a photo of me as Carmen Miranda, the forest pullout at La Poel, the orchards arranged before Mount Hood at Panorama Point, and Wendy joyfully scouring Ruby Beach for rocks.

We have many more shared adventures ahead of us, and look forward to sharing them with our gentle readers as well.

SLIDESHOW | PHOTO ALBUM | Other Honeymoon Posts

Honeymoon Day 13: Art & Butchart

Posted in photos, travel, video | Leave a comment

Honeymoon, Day 13: Art & Butchart

TRIP DATE: July 14, 2016 | SLIDESHOW | PHOTO ALBUM | Other Honeymoon Posts

Meador PostOur second full day in Victoria was devoted to visual and botanical art. We headed out in the afternoon to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. It occupies and extends the 1889 Spencer Mansion, which was designed by William Ridgeway Wilson and built by George Mesher as Gyppeswyk, the Old-English name for the Suffolk town of Ipswich, for original owner Alexander Green, a banker who made his fortune in the Australian and American gold rushes. David Spencer was the last owner, having made his money in dry goods, and his family occupied the mansion from 1903 to 1951. His daughter Sara gave it to the city as an art gallery. The only intact feature of the mansion is the beautiful foyer, featuring gorgeous paneling.

A room with art for sale caught much of our attention, as I did not care for the exhibit on Emily Carr. Wendy snapped Michael Munday’s Abstract #1 and giggled at Cheryl Martin Bakke’s It’s A Good Day to Dance and I See You as well as Hare Boy by Karina Kalvaitis. We both liked the colors of Sunset by Stephanie, but not enough to pay $340 Canadian for it. Wendy liked Leah Patterson’s  A Long Walk on the Beach and TofinoI was very impressed by Elspeth McLean‘s Orca’s Kiss, Solstice Sunsetand Over the Hills.

Orca's Kiss by Elspeth McLean

Orca’s Kiss by Elspeth McLean

We ate at John’s Place before driving half an hour north to Butchart Gardens at Brentwood Bay. The huge collection of roses was the primary focus, and Wendy has posted about those previously. She delightedly made the rounds, admiring and photographing different blooms.

Wendy at Butchart Gardens

Wendy at Butchart Gardens

What a hosta!

What a hosta!

The garden brims with beautiful beds with specimens of various sorts in a variety of colors. Most have big blooms, some of which are quite stunning. Wendy posed beside a huge hosta to give it scale. Creative topiary and a barrage of plantings adorn the sunken garden, which we could admire from above and closer in. From most vantage points you see layers of color.

Big Blooms at Butchart

Big Blooms at Butchart

We saw specimens with black petals, a profusion of petals, a stack of petals, a cup of petals, and much more. I would go in close for a macro shot of a flower with its many stamens or the varying color of some petals, including some that reminded me of an explosion.

A brief shower had us ducking under some plants for shelter near the Butchart house at one point, opting again to forego another Japanese Garden overrun with visitors. We viewed, but did not ride, the Rose Carousel.

By the time we ended our visit by shopping at the large gift store, it was dark for the drive back to Victoria.

We had one more day to spend in Victoria, and then two days of travel to return home. I’ll cover that in the next and final post about our honeymoon.

Beauty at Butchart

Beauty at Butchart

SLIDESHOW | PHOTO ALBUM

< Honeymoon, Day 12: A Walk in Victoria

Posted in art, gardening, photos, travel, video | Leave a comment

Honeymoon, Day 12: A Walk in Victoria

TRIP DATE: July 13, 2016 | SLIDESHOW | PHOTO ALBUM | Other Honeymoon Posts

Meador PostVictoria, the “Garden City”, is the capital of British Columbia and is situated on the southeastern tip of Vancouver Island, only twenty miles north of Washington State. It has a temperate, sub-Mediterranean climate with mild and rainy winters and relatively dry summers, and is one of the sunniest places in Canada. We Okies think of the Pacific Northwest as gloomy and rainy, but Victoria sits in the rain shadow of the nearby Olympic Mountains. It is the driest location on the British Columbia coast, averaging 24 inches of precipitation per year, with about 10 inches of snowfall.

That contrasts with Bartlesville’s humid sub-tropical climate. We get about 40 inches of precipitation annually, including 9 inches of snowfall. More significantly for our honeymoon, Bartlesville’s average temperature in July is 93 degrees, while Victoria’s is 68 degrees. But my use of Fahrenheit reflects my American upbringing; a Canadian would say Victoria reaches about 20 degrees Celsius in July while Bartlesville shoots up to 34 degrees!

Wendy and I spent four nights and three full days enjoying the mild and sunny weather in Victoria before heading back to the states. Our first day featured a walk of a couple of miles to and from Beacon Hill Park.

Our Walk in Victoria

Our Walk in Victoria

I discovered that 200 acre park on my first visit to Victoria in 1998. One day I ventured southeast from the Inner Harbour and spent a lovely afternoon strolling through the park. I stumbled onto a fun afternoon jazz concert by Chris Millington and his band, which I would later hear again in Butchart Gardens a decade later when his group was playing dance tunes.

For this visit, I knew Wendy would love to see some roses, and a small rose bed was promised in the middle of the park’s 3/4-mile long western edge. So that became our target after we enjoyed breakfast at the Magnolia Hotel’s Catalano Restaurant, paid for by the hotel credit our neighbors had arranged.

Empress Roses

We walked a couple of blocks to the Inner Harbour Causeway just west of the Empress Hotel. A mosaic orca statue near one entrance caught our eye. The causeway always features artists and buskers, and during this trip we were entertained by Dave Lang & The Insolent Rabble.

Leaving the causeway, we turned east across the hotel’s south lawn, and Wendy stopped to smell the roses. There were roses all along the south side of the hotel, including a large plot of beautiful specimens. She mentioned these in her earlier blog post about honeymoon roses. That was our favorite rose garden from the entire trip, although the famous Butchart Gardens certainly had magnificent, if crowded, rose gardens which we would tour the next day.

Roses at the Empress Hotel

Roses at the Empress Hotel

Totem Poles

Gwiskunas' Haida Totem Pole

Gwiskunas’ Haida Totem Pole

We walked south on Douglas Street past the totem poles outside the Royal British Columbia Museum. In 1941 six vacant lots were transformed into Thunderbird Park, and the museum displayed its collection of totem poles. The ones now on display are replicas of the originals, which have been moved inside to be preserved. Mungo Martin, a Kwakwaka‘wakw master carver, Henry Hunt, and Hunt’s sons Tony and Richard created most of the replicas. The chief carver is now Nuu-chah-nulth artist Tim Paul.

Wendy got a kick out of the totem pole figures. I found a map online to help me figure out where the originating First Nations were located who carved the poles.

Two Haida mortuary poles are on the south end of the park. They were erected at t’anuu ‘llnagaay (eelgrass town). One was built for a high-ranking woman who was shot while traveling through the San Juan islands. Her cremated remains were placed in the cavity behind the frontal board. The other was in front of the House That Makes a Noise, a large six-beamed house owned by Gwiskunas, a member of the Qadasgo Creek lineage of the Raven clan of the Haida.

Kwawaka'wakw Honouring Pole

Kwawaka’wakw Honouring Pole

A Kwakwaka‘wakw Heraldic Honouring Pole was built to recognize the Hunt and Whonnock families of the carvers. It was carved by Sean Whonnock and Johnathan Henderson in 1999 from a log that was 553 years old.

Nearby is a Gitxsan Pole, raised by chiefs Tu’pesu and Wawralaw in the second half of the nineteenth century at Gitsegukla (Skeena Crossing). Its name translates to Great Protruding (Being) from the Lake and includes a section of figures representing a legend of a woman crossing the lake who saw the faces of children in the water, leading to a song about that vision becoming a crest for her family.

Another Gitxsan Pole named Skim-sim and Will-a-daugh belonged to Chief Wiha (Wee-kha, Ernest Smith) of the Wolf (Gilt-Winth) clan. Topped by a giant woodpecker, it has a prominent beak of the mountain eagle Skim-sim, who kidnapped and mated with a young woman and devoured their offspring. At the base is Will-a-daugh, a chief’s niece at Ke-an (Prince Rupert), who carries with her a child she conceived from a wood grub. Seems like a rather gruesome pole from my perspective, but we’re just getting started.

Wawadit'la House

Wawadit’la House

The Wawadit’la House was built by Mungo Martin as an authentic Kwakiutl house with the hereditary crests of his family on the house-posts. The Kwakwaka‘wakw Heraldic Pole out front features crests from the various nations of the tribe. At the base is Dzunukwa, the Wild Woman of the Woods. The story goes that a man chased her for stealing dried fish and eventually married her, and her half-human son became the founder of the Namgis family at ‘Yalis (Alert Bay).

Kwakwaka'wakw House Post

Kwakwaka’wakw House Post

Wendy particularly liked the Huxwhikw, or Cannibal Bird, that graced the top of a Kwakwaka‘wakw House Post. The story is that this servant of Baxwbakwalanuksiwé, the Cannibal-at-the-North-end-of-the-World, uses its long snapping beak to crack open the skulls of men to eat their brains or pluck out their eyeballs. Ewww!

I’m glad that the bird now has a disc in its beak to change the reference to the Raven stealing the sun, a story of how the Raven was once a snow-white bird who fell in love with the daughter of Gray Eagle, the guardian of the sun, moon and stars, and fresh water. Gray Eagle hated people and kept these treasures hidden. Raven stole the sun, moon and stars, and water hanging on the side of Gray Eagle’s lodge, along with a brand of fire. Raven flew with them up through the lodge’s smoke hole. He then hung the sun up in the sky along with the moon and stars, and dropped the water on the land. The fire brand’s smoke turned the Raven black and eventually burned his bill, so he dropped it into rocks, which is why if you strike two stones together sparks of fire fly out. I’m not sure of the physics in that tale, but I sure like it better than skull-cracking cannibal birds!

Beacon Hill Park

Flowers at Beacon Hill Park

Flowers at Beacon Hill Park

We eventually reached the tiny plot of roses at Beacon Hill Park. They paled in comparison to the roses at the Empress, but the park did feature many beautiful plants, including Tibouchinas, pink stunners, and a fascinating Red Tiger flowering maple. It isn’t actually a maple, but this Abutilon’s leaves resemble that of a maple. It has yellow flowers with deep red veining that remind me of Chinese lanterns, complete with pull cord.

Red Tiger Abutilon flower

Red Tiger Abutilon flower

Walking back towards our hotel, we passed through the park’s open grassy hilltop, lovely ponds, and majestic trees. It is truly a wonderful urban park.

We were hungry by the time we returned to the hotel area, so we had a tasty lunch at The Old Spaghetti Factory.

As we passed the Inner Harbour Causeway on our way back to the hotel, we could see the Coho ferry we would be riding back to Washington in a few days. I got a shot of boats with the British Columbia Parliament Buildings in the background.  Each night from our hotel room we could see them outlined in lights. We had started our walk with a mosaic orca, and ended with a horicultural one: the Surfacing orca made of plants at one street corner.

Inner Harbour

Later that afternoon, Wendy relaxed at the hotel while I walked over to the Old Victoria Custom House. This striking three-story building was completed in 1875. I like its bright red brick walls with stone corner quoins. One of the houses on our cul-de-sac acquired some weird fake stone corner quoins a few years back, and let’s just say that the Custom House pulls off the look much better.

Old Victoria Customs House

Old Victoria Customs House

Kayaks in the Inner Harbour

Kayaks in the Inner Harbour

I didn’t just walk over there to see the Custom House, however. I walked out on a nearby float to view the seaplanes, boats, and kayakers. I watched with some amusement as tourists made their way across the harbour, some struggling to dock their kayak at a rental shop.

Back in July 1998 my friend Wendy Robinson, who at that time taught science at Bartlesville High and was known as Miss R., treated me to a birthday ride on an old de Havilland seaplane out of Victoria’s Inner Harbour. It was great fun to take off and land on the water. I’d always wanted to fly in a seaplane since reading The Viking Symbol Mystery as a young boy. In that tale the Hardy Boys visited the Canadian Northwest Territories and learned to fly a seaplane. I’m not sure if it was a DHC-2 Beaver or a DHC-3 Otter that Miss R. and I rode in, but I do know one thing: it sure was noisy! I don’t plan to ever fly in one again, but it was a worthwhile experience.

Seaplanes

Seaplanes

My bride and I had a fun first day in Victoria, to be followed the next day with a trip to the Victoria Art Gallery and Butchart Gardens.

SLIDESHOW | PHOTO ALBUM

Honeymoon Day 13: Art & Butchart

< Honeymoon Day 11: To Canada from the Port of the Angels 

Posted in art, photos, roses, travel, video | Leave a comment

Honeymoon, Day 11: To Canada from the Port of the Angels

TRIP DATE: July 12, 2016 | SLIDESHOW | PHOTO ALBUM | Other Honeymoon Posts

Meador PostIt was time for us to leave the country. In 1998 I first visited Victoria, the capital of British Columbia, Canada. I enjoyed it so much that I revisited Victoria in both 2005 and 2008. It was time to share that beautiful city with my bride, who had never before ventured outside of the United States of America.

Passport Cards are MUCH cheaper than full-fledged passports

Passport Cards are MUCH cheaper than full-fledged Passport Books

Visiting Canada used to only require a driver’s license, but now requires a full-fledged Passport Book or the cheaper Passport Card. I’ve previously had Passport Books, but haven’t had a valid passport since 2008. One of those books now costs $110. Yikes! Happily, it is only $30 for a Passport Card which works for sea and land travel to and from Canada and Mexico.

We would be returning home at the end of our Canadian visit, so I researched the cost of flying home from the airport in Victoria, BC, which would require Passport Books, versus taking the car ferry back to the U.S. and flying home from the big Sea-Tac airport. Even with the added cost of a ferry ride, gasoline, and a night in a Sea-Tac hotel room, it was still cheaper to go the ferry route with Passport Cards than to fly out of Victoria using a Passport Book.

So, several months before our wedding, Wendy and I dutifully appeared at the post office in Bartlesville with our Passport Card applications, birth certificates, and other documents. We sat for photos, and the helpful clerk verified everything was in order and took our money. We were thrilled when our cards arrived in the mail a few weeks later. Wendy’s card is in her maiden name and worked fine for the honeymoon; she can get an updated card with her married name on it for free if she applies within a year of the issuance of the card, sending in one of our certified copies of our marriage license. One thing Wendy will tell you is that it is a “major pain in the rear” to change your name with the many and varied services we use in the modern world.

Forks

We had breakfast at the Kalaloch Lodge and checked out, heading north up US 101 past Ruby Beach for the two-hour ninety-mile drive around the peninsula to Port Angeles, where we had booked passage on the car ferry M.V. Coho for a late afternoon passage to Victoria.

Our journey to Canada

Our journey to Canada

Wendy loved Chili Nut M&Ms

Wendy loved Chili Nut M&Ms

We made a pit stop at Forks, and Wendy was thrilled to find some Chili Nut M&Ms at the service station. She’d been looking for them in vain in Oklahoma after Mars Candies asked consumers to try out and vote on Honey Nut, Coffee Nut, and Chili Nut flavors between March and June 2016. Wendy loved Chili Nut, but in the end Coffee Nut won a spot on retail shelves over its competitors. After the honeymoon, she found at a Walgreens an intact display with 40 bags of the Chili Nut M&Ms, and she bought them all! Wendy keeps them hermetically sealed in a jar in our pantry, rationing them out for special occasions.

La Poel

Another happy find along our journey to Port Angeles came after we drove eastward along the Sol Duc river valley (Sol Duc means “sparkling waters” in Quileute). Highway 101 left the Sol Duc behind to run along the southern shore of Lake Crescent, which was formed by glaciers in the last Ice Age and a landslide 8,000 years ago which dammed Indian Creek. The lake has brilliant blue waters with very little nitrogen.

Lake Crescent & La Poel

Lake Crescent & La Poel

The road twisted and rippled along the lake shore. A delivery truck was riding our tail on the curves of the narrow highway, so I decided to escape from that rude driver by taking a turn-off. Our rental Camry stumbled into the La Poel day use area, which turned out to be a delightful and much-needed respite. We followed a narrow drive past picnic tables through towering trees and pulled into a spot with a view of the lake to take a break.

Pullout at La Poel

Pullout at La Poel

Wendy at La Poel

Wendy at La Poel

La Poel was operated in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps as a forest campground, taking its name from la poêle, French for “frying pan”. There was an auto camp here which operated from the 1920s until it was bought out by 1950 by Olympic National Park and eventually demolished.

The area was simply lovely, with trees shrouded in moss. Ferns and mushrooms grew in the shade. Wendy looked for rocks and photographed tiny flowers. She made a neat find: a rock with a large golden fleck. This short time spent in the woods by the lake on an overcast day is one of those little moments from our honeymoon that has stuck with me. I go back there in my mind and remember how peaceful and calming that pull-off was after a long drive on the two-lane highway around the peninsula. Some day I want to return to stay and hike at Crescent Lake.

Port Angeles

First Street Haven

First Street Haven

In 1791 the Spanish explorer Francisco de Eliza came across a natural harbor on the south shore of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. He named the harbor Puerto de Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles (Port of Our Lady of the Angels). It was protected by a three-mile-long sand spit, now called Ediz Hook, from the ocean swells coming down the strait. That harbor is now home to the M.V. Coho ferry run by the Black Ball Ferry Line. It can carry up to 1,000 passengers and 115 vehicles. I had booked us round-trip tickets to and from Victoria for $162.

Reaching Port Angeles, I drove us down to the ferry dock to scout out how best to access it a few hours later. Then we drove a couple of blocks inland to park downtown near the First Street Haven Restaurant. TripAdvisor had once again come through, this time with a little shop that is renowned for its cinnamon rolls, which of course were sold out by the time we arrived for a late lunch. Wendy had a great turkey sandwich with yummy cranberry cream cheese.

Conrad Dyer Fountain and Olympic Visions Mural

Conrad Dyer Fountain and Olympic Visions Mural

Sonora Gloriosa Daisy

Sonora Gloriosa Daisy

We walked over to the spraying water of the Conrad Dyer Memorial Fountain, which was surrounded by flowerbeds and walls with a painted mural. I couldn’t find anything online to figure out who Conrad Dyer was, but I did find out that the Olympic Visions mural of Olympic National Park was originally painted on wood by Tim Quinn, a cartoonist for the Sequim Gazette. That mural was completed in 1999, but volunteers applied improper sealant and it deteriorated. In 2010 Quinn had repainted half of the mural directly onto the concrete walls around the fountain when he passed away, so the renewal was completed by Jackson Smart, a friend of Quinn, with help from Dani LaBlond. Like Quinn, Smart put names of people he met while working on the mural into the painting. Wendy had fun spotting various animals in the mural: a raccoon, mountain lion, wolf, elk, and more. I noticed Teddy Roosevelt, the Conservation President, blended into one of the clouds.

Seahorse sculpture made of scrap iron

Seahorse sculpture made of scrap iron

Wendy had fun photographing many of the different and varied flowers in the beds between the mural and the fountain and in the large planters out front. Some Sonora Gloriosa daisies were particularly striking. On a street corner near the fountain was a nifty seahorse built from horseshoes and other scrap iron by Dan Klennert. Whenever I finally get to take Wendy to Mt. Rainier, I hope we can stop in at Dan’s Ex-Nihilo Sculpture Park.

We both admired the classic look of the Clallam County Courthouse, built in 1914-15. It interested me to learn that the enormous clock was not originally meant for that building. The clock was manufactured in Boston in 1880 and shipped around Cape Horn to Seattle, where it languished for almost 30 years before the Clallam County Courthouse architect incorporated it into the new building.

Nearby was a Blue Star Memorial with pretty planters and plantings of flowers, an imposing Art Deco-style eagle sculpture named Guardians, and various plaques.

Fishing boats in Port Angeles

Fishing boats in Port Angeles

We still had some time to kill before our ferry crossing, so we drove to Francis Street Park as well as the City Pier to see geese, the Wild Thing sailboat, and three fishing boats docked side-by-side: the Sunnfjord, the 1972 Golden Dolphin eel fishing boat, and the 1927 Eclipse. I like Barbara Snyder’s painting of the Golden Dolphin and the Sunnfjord. The city pier had some nice murals of the six long houses and palisade which archaeologists confirmed were in the Klallam Indian village of Tse-whit-zen at that location, and of the later European settlement. At the entrance of the city pier was a nifty mosaic sculpture Rocktapus, designed by Oliver Strong and executed by Maureen Wall.

Rocktapus

Rocktapus

Braving the Swells

Finally it was time for our ferry ride. We got in line, presented our documentation, and I drove our Camry onto the cramped vehicle deck. We squeezed out to climb the stairs to the passenger decks.

At first we were up top. The ferry lumbered past the USCGC Active docked along Ediz Hook, and soon we felt the ferry rock and sway with the ocean swells rolling eastward down the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The strait is twenty miles wide, so it looked like we were heading out into the ocean.

Crossing the Strait of Juan de Fuca

Crossing the Strait of Juan de Fuca

Wendy had been dreading the ferry ride. She took some Dramamine beforehand, but still found the initial crossing made her uncomfortable as the huge ferry tilted back and forth. We had opted to sit in the middle of the boat to minimize the rocking, but from there we could not see the waters of the strait through the windows.

Wendy later read that seeing the horizon would make the trip more comfortable, so on the return trip she doubled up on the Dramamine and we sat in the solarium up top where she could see the water. That trip turned out to be much longer, with the boat diverting to dodge rough water, and the ferry rocked and rolled much more than it had on the first trip. Thankfully the strategy of using more Dramamine and sitting where she could see the water, looking out from the side of the boat perpendicular to its forward motion, worked like a charm. Wendy had no trouble on the rougher and longer return trip.

The Magnolia

We docked in Victoria and drove a few blocks to a parking garage that was less than 1/5 mile from our hotel, unloaded our luggage and hoofed it over to The Magnolia Hotel & Spa.

Where to stay in Victoria had been the most important lodging decision for the honeymoon. I knew we’d be staying there for four nights, it would be the last big stay on our honeymoon, and ideally should be within walking distance of the Inner Harbour and all of its attractions. None of the hotels I’d stayed in previously would be appropriate, so I spent a lot of time researching possibilities. I knew to stay away from the Fairmont Empress Hotel, which is the largest and most prestigious hotel of the Inner Harbour; the premium on its rooms was outrageous, and parts of that venerable edifice actually look rather worn. I also hoped to avoid the expense and bother of valet parking.

I finally hit upon the Magnolia Hotel & Spa, which was a short block from The Empress, and arranged to book one of their best rooms: a Signature Diamond Room on the top floor with views of both the Harbour Causeway and the Parliament building.

Our room at the Magnolia

Our room at the Magnolia

The room was everything I’d hoped for. It was the one of nicest hotel rooms Wendy and I have ever stayed in. We were surprised to find waiting for us a bottle of champagne chilling in an ice bucket, along with chocolates and a card. A group of our neighbors back in Bartlesville had teamed up and arranged that for us along with a very generous hotel credit. It literally pays to be a good neighbor. Or perhaps I mean neighbour, since we were then in British Columbia.

We pulled back the curtains to see the Empress Hotel and the copper dome on the Parliament building bathed in the light of the Golden Hour. Wendy, in awe, stared out at the Canadian flag flying from the roof of the Union Club next door, which drove home that we were in a foreign land.

The view from our room

The view from our room

The next day we’d begin exploring that beautiful country, visiting the Inner Harbour Causeway and Beacon Hill Park.

SLIDESHOW | PHOTO ALBUM

Honeymoon, Day 12: A Walk in Victoria >

< Honeymoon, Day 10: Ruby Beach

Posted in photos, travel | Leave a comment

Honeymoon, Day 10: Ruby Beach

TRIP DATE: July 11, 2016 | SLIDESHOW | PHOTO ALBUM | Other Honeymoon Posts

Meador PostWe spent two nights at the Kalaloch Lodge on the shore of the Pacific Ocean in Olympic National Park. I’d been out on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State before, but only to visit Hurricane Ridge and take the ferry across the Strait of Juan de Fuca from Port Angeles to Victoria, British Columbia. This time I opted for us to drive over to the Pacific shore because our friend and colleague Gary Layman had recommended that we visit Ruby Beach.

Kalaloch Lodge

In planning the honeymoon trip, I had been looking for fancy accommodations and hit upon Kalaloch Lodge. I booked its largest room, the Kalaloch Room, which was originally a bar and is now a very spacious room with a panoramic view of Kalaloch Creek winding its way to join with the Pacific.

Kalaloch Lodge View

Kalaloch Lodge View

One thing we learned when we reached the lodge was how to pronounce the name: CLAY-lock. The Quinault native Americans named the area, which translates to “good place to land” as it was a safe place to land between the Quinault and Hoh Rivers.

Another thing we learned is that the fanciest rooms can have their shortcomings. The room was indeed very large with a great view. I loved gazing out at three windblown cedars near the Pacific. The room had its own wrap-around balcony and dedicated interior and exterior stairs. But the bathroom was another matter.

An elevated area that was once a stage now had a whirlpool tub, shower, sink, and cramped toilet room. The toilet room was the problem…it stank! The longer you were in there with the door shut, the more your nose itched with the unwelcome smell of old urine. Our attempts to clean the area did not help. I should have raised more of a stink about it, haha, but we just held our noses. First the smelly carpet in Astoria and now this. Thankfully that was the last issue we encountered with our honeymoon accommodations, and things would improve a lot when we arrived in Canada a couple of days later.

Coffee Time

One thing Wendy is adamant about is having coffee to start and end her day. Travel complicates that, and here is her take on the struggle for a good cup of coffee moving from one hotel to another.


Wendy's Post

Wendy on Hotel Coffee

The types of coffee machines varied as we hopped from hotel to hotel on this trip. Many hotels like Best Western have the one or two cup drip machines. You get a tea-bag-like packet with coffee in it and pop it into the tray, add water, and let it drip. That’s the norm. At home I use a drip coffee maker, so that is fine by me.

Best Western coffee maker

Best Western coffee maker

At some of the hotels, they have those Keurig coffee makers. They make good coffee, a little strong, but still good. Instead of a filter or tea-bag-like packet, you get a plastic cup full of ground coffee with foil covering the top. Pop it into the Keurig (which punctures the plastic cup), and add water. Then wait. Forever.

keurig

Keurig Coffee Maker

At Kalaloch Lodge, we had a regular drip coffee maker. Relieved, I got out my filters and little sandwich bags full of the “good stuff” (½ Walmart decaf and ½ Dunkin Donuts regular). When I opened up the coffee maker to put in a filter, the filter basket was CAKED in brown coffee gunk. It appeared it had never been cleaned. So I worked with my Q-Tips to clean out every single crevice. When that was all clean, I pondered what kind of microorganisms might be growing in the water reservoir, which I could not readily get to. Completely disgusted, I decided not to use the coffee maker.

Usually I am prepared for a situation like that. Granger’s father gave me a portable coffee kit with an electric percolator and all of the accoutrements. That kit is usually my backup on every trip. Unfortunately, due to airplane weight restrictions, I wasn’t able to bring it on the honeymoon. But I couldn’t just go without my coffee!

The Backup Coffee Kit

The Backup Coffee Kit

Since I was raised to “rig” things up when they don’t work, I came up with a solution. I took a filter, filled it with coffee, and then tied it up tea-bag fashion with the tie from a trash bag. I boiled a cup of water in the microwave and then dipped the bag into the boiling water. Voilà! Coffee time!

Later, once we got to Canada, I would discover yet another coffee making device – Nespresso. It’s pretty fancy and high-tech.  Coffee delivery systems are evolving, but just give me a drip coffee maker any day. Keep it simple.


Meador PostThe room certainly had its shortcomings on cleanliness, but the lodge’s Creekside Restaurant was splendid. We ate there for all of our meals. It had an attractive seating area indoors (we avoided the patio, although it looked pleasant), and the food was great. All of our servers were interesting, helpful, and friendly.

Ruby Beach

The whole point of our stay at Kalaloch, however, was to visit Ruby Beach. Named after the ruby-like crystals in its sand, the beach was a 7.5 mile drive north on 101 to a lot filled with cars and a trail winding its way down to the ocean. A panoramic view through the last stand of trees revealed an initial beach area covered in driftwood, with a group of sea stacks.

Ruby Beach

Ruby Beach

A closer look revealed people roaming amidst sea stacks three or four times their height, with Abbey Island looming in the background with its steep rocky cliffs. We would eventually roam over to it during our exploration of the beach.

Initial view of Ruby Beach

Initial view of Ruby Beach

Upon reaching the shore, we had to clamber over driftwood and made our way northward toward Cedar Creek, which was flowing strongly across the rocky beach and into the ocean. I led us away from land to what seemed the easiest place to ford the creek, where we rolled up our jeans and carefully made our way across. Wendy delighted in scouring the rocky beach for finds while I headed toward a large sea stack to explore its nooks and crannies.

Sea Stacks

Some of the sea stacks were quite striking, and Wendy posed in an archway of one to provide scale.

An Okie visits the Pacific Shore

An Okie visits the Pacific shore

Finding me out in the sea stack, Wendy took a shot of me below a rock archway and in a narrow channel between walls of volcanic breccia covered in mussels embedded in barnacles. I held my thumb up to some gooseneck barnacles for scale. A dead tree leaned up against the same volcanic rock underlying the shore forest.

Happy little rock hound

Happy little rock hound

While I took photographs and shot a video through the rocks of the ocean waves, Wendy posed for me briefly before returning to scouring for agates. Hearing her speak of green stones, I collected as many as I could find in the area for her to sort through.

Happy Rock Hound

One of my green stones made it into the collection of rocks Wendy later photographed, delighting in the many different and beautiful ones she collected at the beach.  The first stone she collected at the beach was a large red one which resembled an actual human heart.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Abbey Island

We left the sea stacks behind and made our way over to Abbey Island. Early settlers to the area thought that the imposing block of an island resembled a cathedral. Tidewater pools around its base had sea anemones, both submerged and rising up out of the tide.

Sea anemone

Sea anemone

Acorn barnacles and a necklace of anemones

Acorn barnacles and a necklace of anemones

There were a couple of seaside organisms this boy, raised in the cross timbers in the middle of the continent, simply could not identify. I did figure out that white scales covering one rock were the calcareous bases of dead acorn barnacles. A large stone featured both acorn barnacles and a necklace of submerged anemones.

Destruction Island

Destruction Island

Destruction Island

Some enterprising visitors had built different driftwood structures on the rocky beach. Destruction Island was visible four miles southwest of Ruby Beach, with its lighthouse made clearer by the superzoom camera. You might expect the name refers to shipwrecks, but I had read about how a group of Spanish sailors was massacred there in 1775 by the local Quinault Indians, lending it the name Isla de Dolores (Island of Sorrows), and twelve years later an English fur trading ship had a party leaving this island meet a similar fate on the Hoh River, leading its captain to name it the Destruction River and for that name to then attach itself to the island. The lighthouse was completed there in 1891 and automated in 1968, but is no longer in operation, and its light is now in the Westport Maritime Museum.

Last Night in the States

Hydrangeas at Kalaloch Lodge

Hydrangeas at Kalaloch Lodge

We drove back south to Kalaloch Lodge. On a walk around the property, I admired a large bush of blue and purple hydrangeas. During dinner in the lodge restaurant the sun was sparkling off the ocean outside. This would be our last night in the United States for five days. The next day we would make our way to the north shore of the Olympic Peninsula to catch a ferry to Victoria Island in British Columbia, Canada.

Dusk at Kalaloch

Dusk at Kalaloch

SLIDESHOW | PHOTO ALBUM

Honeymoon, Day 11: To Canada from the Port of the Angels >

< Honeymoon Day 9: Tacoma Glass

Posted in photos, travel, video | Leave a comment

Honeymoon, Day 9: Tacoma Glass

TRIP DATE: July 10, 2016 | SLIDESHOW | PHOTO ALBUM | Other Honeymoon Posts

Meador PostWhen planning our honeymoon, I’d hoped to take Wendy up onto Mount Rainier for some hiking in the snow in July. Hence we stayed in Packwood, Washington to the south of the volcano, hoping to swing around southeast of Rainier National Park and visit its prime locations on our way to our next hotel, the Kalaloch Lodge on the Olympic Peninsula.

But the Paradise area of Rainier I like to visit averages 126 inches of rain each year, compared to Bartlesville’s average of 43 inches. So I knew that our itinerary, with only one open day to visit Rainier, was at risk of being rained out. Sure enough, it was cool and rainy when we awoke, and the Paradise area was forecast for rain all day. So it was time for Plan B: we’d visit Tacoma’s Museum of Glass to break up a 4.5 hour 240 mile drive to our next lodge, which was situated along the middle of the western shore of the Olympic Peninsula.

Day 9 Map

Day 9 Map

Small low clouds hugged the treetops as we drove west from Packwood to Morton and then north to Tacoma. We had to circle the Museum of Glass to search out a parking spot, landing on Pacific Avenue near the University of Washington, Tacoma. From there we used the marvelous Chihuly Bridge of Glass to walk across to the museum. That 500-foot-long pedestrian bridge has a 50-by-20-foot glass ceiling topped by 2,364 pieces from Dale Chihuly’s Seaform and Persian series.

Venetian Wall

Venetian Wall

My favorite part of the bridge is the Venetian Wall, eighty feet of glass boxes housing 109 sculptures from Chihuly’s Venetians, Ikebana, and Putti series. Wendy and I each composed our own shots of parts of the display. I actually made a little money off that wall some years back, when an angled shot of the wall I took in 2005 was purchased for use as the cover photo for a CD of Vivaldi cello sonatas.

Carmen Miranda has nothing on me

Carmen Miranda has nothing on me

Wendy had fun with the Crystal Towers, which rise 40 feet above the bridge and bear huge Polyvitro crystals. She had me pose in front of one tower to give me the appearance of wearing an immense Carmen Miranda-style hat, adorned with glass instead of fruit.

Just west of the Museum of Glass, straddled by a railroad and the Thea Foss Waterway, is Thea’s Landing. Wendy and I admired that apartment block, which offers scenic living along the waterway, both named after the lady who founded the largest tugboat company in the western U.S. She was the inspiration for the Tugboat Annie character in a 1933 film and a 1957 Canadian television series. After thriving in the early 1900s, by 1980 this waterway on one edge of the Port of Tacoma had become a vacant industrial zone and part of the Commencement Bay Superfund site. It was cleaned up by 2006 and has been thoroughly redeveloped, now featuring the Museum of Glass and picturesque Foss Harbor Marina.

Below us a flag display included a rainbow flag, reminding us that we were in the liberal coastal area of the Pacific Northwest. We entered the museum by climbing the steps around the metal cone which exhausts heat from the hot shop, where artists create new glass pieces.

During our visit Benjamin Cobb was forming a red head. It was repeatedly returned to the furnace, with him sometimes heating it with a blowtorch, to soften the glass so he could push and tug it to form the facial features.

Still Life with Two Plums

Still Life with Two Plums

Museum pieces that caught our attention included Killer Whale by Preston SingletarySilver Side by Raven Skyriver, the immense Still Life with Two Plums and creative Making Before Meaning by Joey KirkpatrickFlaming Electric Guitar by Jasen Johnsen, and Canadiana Amulet Basket by Laura DoneferTriad by David Huchthausen had three spheres which created interesting distortions, and Let It Swirl by Martin Demaine and his son Erik, was impressive in the round.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We exited the museum around 4:30 p.m. and drove an hour west to the state capital of Olympia, where we found a delicious dinner downtown at Ramblin’ Jacks, one of the best meals on our honeymoon. Wendy’s chicken fried chicken was fluffy, crunchy, and juicy, with mashed potatoes as good as a mother could make. My French Dip was also juicy and delicious.

After a pit stop at a Fred Meyer in Tumwater, we headed west on highway 8 to Montesano, where we headed northwest on the scenic Wynoochee Valley, Wishkah, Hoquaim Roads to intersect coastal highway 101 for the drive north to Kalaloch Lodge. We made another pit stop at the tiny grocery in Humptulips, and I just had to know the etymology of that peculiar name. Humptulips is a word from the Salish native Americans and means “hard to pole” (no, I’m not kidding) because of the difficulty in poling canoes along the nearby eponymous river.

We were grateful to arrive at Kalaloch Lodge that night, although even its largest and nicest room had some shortcomings. More on that in the next post, but thankfully a visit the next day to Ruby Beach would more than compensate.

SLIDESHOW | PHOTO ALBUM

Honeymoon Day 10: Ruby Beach >

< Honeymoon Day 8: Mt. Saint Helens | Other Honeymoon Posts

Posted in art, photos, travel, video | Leave a comment