Saturday, January 24, 2009

Princess... and AKCs top 9 K-9s

Princess poses on the beach... wondering "Why didn't I make the list?"
Top Nine K-9s according to the American Kennel Club: Labs (Go Cedar!, Go Tucker!), Yorkie, German Shepard, Golden Retriever, Beagle, Boxer, Dachshund (Yeah, Nimitz!), Bulldog, Poodle

If you're wondering why I know this... well I heard it on The Today Show this week... (which is followed by the Martha Stewart Show, then local news, and then Days of Our Lives, followed by...) I'm watching way tooooo much TV. Lisa does makes me get on the elliptical exerciser once a day, but I think I need to get back on the road... :-) Posted by Picasa

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Australia in the works... :-)

The first few nights in Australia have been booked... I chose to stay at a smaller hostel in the center of Cairns. It's located just across the street from the train station, or, as my host John says... "We're just 30 paces from the station, mate!" (More about my plans for train travel to come.) Considering the currency exchange is in my favour, it's about $27.50 a nite for a single room. Sounds reasonable.

BUG (Backpackers Ultimate Guide) lists over 30 low-cost hostels in Cairns, (Population: 122,000). Most are located closer to the waterfront and attract a younger (ie: roudy) crowd. Travellers Oasis received good reviews and has a quieter, more conservative feel.... We'll see?

Things to see and do? The Great Barrier Reef, snorkeling, diving; Rain Forest exploring, mountain biking, Sky Diving, Bungee Jumping... and other similairly ho-hum, prosaic tourist activities.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Cuties from Fairfield...

I'm back in Fairfield... Yeah! I'll be here for the next two weeks. (Unless my little sister, Lise gets tired of me.... cross your fingers :-))

On Wednesday, February 4, I take off to Australia for a couple of months.
I'll fly from San Francisco to Sydney and then to Cairns on the northeast coast of the continent.
I will travel and explore the east coast from Cairns to Melbourne and if I'm not too tired after that, I'll venture into the outback.

Follow me on the blog...

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Location, location, location....

I’m convinced; because I’ve experienced it first-hand; that you can actually lose time on the road. I don’t mean lose track of time, I mean lose time itself!

I stopped at the US Post Office after lunch yesterday, and was surprised to find it locked. The sign taped to the glass door said, 'Closed in Observance of Martin Luther King Day.' I thought, "Since when do we celebrate MLK Day at the beginning of January? Hmmmm?"

* * * * *

I enjoyed a long weekend of warm, bright, cloudless days. After my stop in Bandon (Or.), I continued south on coastal route 101 to Cresent City, (Ca.).

The morning was spent in the 'office,' printing 1099-MISC forms for Trems and compiling reports for my tax preparer. What made this otherwise dire duty tolerable, in fact quite pleasurable, was the view. My ‘mobile office,’ sat perched on a narrow point of land overlooking the beautiful Pacific Ocean, where, carried by a cool, on-shore breeze, the sound of waves crashing rhythmically onto the rocky shore, was enough to make me forget I was doing tax work!

Opting for less traveled, scenic highways, I headed south on the coastal route. Not wanting my leisurely pace to delay local traffic on the narrow roads, I kept an eye on the rear view mirror. When a motorist appeared too close in my mirror, I looked for a spot to stop and let them pass. On one occasion, as I pulled over at what I though was an abandoned gas station, I noticed a crude, hand-painted sign in the store window that read "Smoked Salmon." I turned off the van, and stepped down to check it out.

I entered through the make-shift front door into an interior that had indeed been a gas station in it's glory day. Several counters, an empty oil can display and long wooden shelves along one wall were poorly lit by what appeared to be the original 1950s, single-bulb, ceiling fixtures. A dark-haired, middle-aged women seated behind one of the counters greeted me with a broad, bright smile. "How can I help you, Sir?"

An hour later; after learning the story of how native salmon, caught in the local river, are seasoned and slow-smoked with alder wood; and after sampling cold-smoked salmon, brown sugar salmon, teriyaki salmon, salmon jerky, and one-day, three-day and five-day smoked salmon; I walked out of that 'filling' station with a half-pound of garlic-seasoned, three-day, dry-smoked, savory sapid salmon that was sooooo scrumptious! :-)

The road today brings me to Napa Valley and back to Fairfield...

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Bandon Pier revisited...

Dungeness holding fast to the remains of a turkey drumstick

Fifteen years ago, during our cross-country adventure with the kids, we crabbed from the town pier in historic downtown Bandon, (Or.) I was glad to see the old tackle shop, Bandon Bait, where we bought a crab ring and several frozen fish heads years ago, was still in operation. By mid-morning it was a hubbub of activity; despite January being the off-season for sightseers. Perfect weather (and hopes of crab cakes for dinner) brought a dozen people to the docks to toss in their traps. The tide was changing and I decided to see how my 'mates' were doing before tossing in a chicken wing myself. After a few hours, no one had any keepers! (The shell of the dungeness crab must measure 5-3/4 inches from point to point to be legal size and despite bringing up many crabs with every pull, all were too small.) Nevertheless, I was content to walk the length of the pier, soak up the sun and exchange stories for the afternoon.

Sunset from Cape Blanco shoreline

A word of advice

A fellow crab enthusiast is telling me how she has to be very careful when handling even the smallest crabs. Her job on the 'crew' (along with her brother and sister) is to toss back the crabs that are too short. She assures me that, "Getting pinched... really hurts!"

It was a busy day in the 'too-short' department which made for wet gloves, cold little fingers and a disgruntled crew! Her Dad told me he promised to buy them crabs in reparation for 'sticking it out!'

Bandon has a small, two-tier, outdoor performance area along the waterfront. The octagonal stage area of the concrete structure is decorated with a mosaic spiral design created from polished stones, glass beads, marbles, brass sea life and other durable curios.

If you guessed "macaroons the size of snowballs" you'd be correct... But it gets even better. After baking for 20 minutes, they are cooled and dipped in chocolate!! (To make them 'healthy,' the recipe calls for a pinch of all-natural sea salt.)

Friday, January 16, 2009

Another day at the beach...

"Lord of the Flies"-esque images... I picture Ralph or Jack instructing the boys to gather wood and keep the fire going...

(Click on an image to view it larger.)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Bastendorff Beach, Oregon images...

(Click on photos to view a larger image.)

Two sisters were having an impossible time getting their flimsy plastic kites to fly. Riley, (pictured below) would tear off down the beach with her "Strawberry Shortcake" kite dragging on the sand behind her and her younger sister's "Dora" kite was not doing any better. Despite the fact that nothing was actually 'flying', (and because no one told these girls that dragging a kite along the sand was not fun,) they were having a ball with the activity!

* * * * *
Their Auntie had her hands full with the girls' 4-month-old brother, so I volunteered to help get the kites aloft. I was reminded of the fun I had flying (or, should I say, not flying) a kite that I had assiduously built and decorated for a Cub Scout activity when I was eight years old. I even went so far as to color the white cotton twine by drawing it through a wax crayon - a different color every foot or so! I don't remember if it was the especially strong wind that Saturday, (or my especially poor design,) but the kite was barely airborne when the wooden cross support snapped in two. I spent the rest of the afternoon running around the field waving the broken kite high in my outstretched arm, while my brother Greg's kite sailed high and mighty all day (damn). (Knowing myself, I'm sure I 'volunteered' kite-building advice to Greg at every opportunity. It's a good thing he didn't listen!) I digress...

* * * * *
I decide the problem with the girls kites was one of balance. With my own kite, the tail had to be just the right length to counterbalance the kite's aerodynamic tendency to loop uncontrollably in flight. (I adjusted the weight of the tail by adding or removing strips of rags I had tied together to fashion a stabilizing 'rudder' for the kite. In hind sight, it's likely I was carrying too much weight that fated day and the additional strain on the fragile wooden frame was too much. But, really, I'm over it... I'm not at all bitter about being the only Cub Scout on the field with a busted kite.) Once again, I digress...

* * * * *
So the fix was simple... I tied a small, four-inch stick to the bottom of the plastic tail. After a couple of adjustments to the length of the stick, the kites were flying high. And the kids were energized. (For a minute or so that is... then they were off chasing each other with sticks! Hmmmm.)

(Click on photos to view a larger image.)

Coos Bay, Oregon

After an all-too-long spell of cold, rainy weather (and an inch or two of snow in Portland!,) it was a reprieve to feel the sun again. I arrived in Coos Bay, after spending a week with Emily in Portland, and made my way to Bastendorff Beach in Charleston just a few miles west of Coos Bay. The air was crisp, the water was cold, and it felt good to walk along the beach barefoot. The beach was quiet, save for a few hardy 'beach bugs' drawn to the waves and sand by the warm sun. I stayed until sunset - soaking in the Oregon coastline.

Coastal Highway 101 South

Miles of public beaches...

Bastendorff Beach...

Die-hard enjoying the 'chop'...