Goodbye November, 2016

spainportugal3-816-editIt’s winter in Oregon now.  Not officially – the calendar has its own rules and the official start of winter is still 21 days away.  But storms are rolling into the Pacific Northwest.  Last week we had 3-4 inches of rain.  The mountain passes require traction devices.  Our local outdoor store, REI, is sending me emails reminding me to buy snowshoes and winter parka’s.

Instead I nourish my winter soul with a walk down this lane in Obidos, Portugal.  This is what morning looks like in Obidos.  In a few hours this quiet lane will be filled with hundreds of tourists.  Obidos is a beautiful walled town – wonderfully preserved with gorgeous light and color.  A photographer’s dream.

I love early mornings when I travel.  I love to see foreign places wake up… delivery trucks and street cleaners are so much more romantic away from home.  On a rainy Portland day – dark and dreary – I am going to pause and step into this picture.  Remember the hours I wandered the blissfully quiet streets of Obidos.

 

Thanksgiving means never having to say calories

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Betty makes her annual appearance at our Thanksgiving.  She always provides sage advice on all things pie, turkey and gravy related.

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A small turkey makes all the difference and it was good!

 

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Its not Thanksgiving without the Brown n’ Serve rolls.  The rolls were the object of our only mishap… thanks to yours truly.  I took out the rolls without proper hand protection and as the pan was burning my hand – I yelped in pain and the hot tray and rolls went flying!

But Mom made the day with her smile….

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That’s called burying the best part of the day at the bottom of this blog post.  Thanks for scrolling down and celebrating my mom!

 

Happy Thanksgiving

We should do this holiday more often!  A day dedicated to gratitude and eating food with family and friends deserves to be celebrated more than once a year!

On Instagram (@thistleamy) I have devoted this month’s pictures and my picture taking to gratitude.  Here is what I am celebrating in November, 2016 (always subject to change) – this could also be put to song by Julie Andrews…

Fall colors…

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Winter storms at the Oregon Coast

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My running shoes – they keep my feet happy!

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Coffee (cheesy but so true)

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Great bookstores like Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon and City Lights in San Francisco

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Birds and bird watching

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Beautiful bridges (we have many in Oregon)

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And I do love German beer…

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So much to be thankful for… most important of all.. my family and friends and all the wonderful people in my life.

And thank you! For reading, for contributing to our creative community that spans the world!

 

 

 

Sense of Place Series – Introduction

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What is the essence of a place? What makes your town, your state, your country unique to you and those who live or visit?  This sense of place fascinates me and I find myself exploring this idea in the way I look at the world. You could say capturing place is my creative muse.

As I write this I sit in a Stumptown Coffee House in Portland, Oregon, USA, in the early morning hour before the work day.  Perhaps this time and place is routine for some, but I cherish this moment to explore the sense of place right here.

At this hour it is delivery trucks, runners, and the early shift change at the hospital two blocks away.  Overalls and scrubs, running tights and the occasional dog, all line up for their morning coffee. The baristas all have a story that speaks to this place – most hold two jobs – one that pays the bills, the other that feeds their passion.

Like many of us who love travel, I love the idea of exploring a new place and discovering and learning something new and exciting.  But we don’t need to travel far or even travel at all to explore sense of place.

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This is the first post of what I hope is a long exploration of sense of place – here in Portland – my home town, in the great state of Oregon, in the Pacific Northwest, the western United States and if I am lucky – farther afield.

I invite you to explore your home town with the same curiosity.  I would love to hear what makes your town unique and what is the “sense of place” where you are right now.

Thank you for reading and for joining me on this journey.

The Fence

Today’s blog I am going to talk about The Fence!  Not that fence.  Today’s fence is the one protecting us from ourselves.

Let me confess right now that I am an Instagram fan.  I love sharing my photographs and learning from other photographers.  It is one of my favorite pastimes while riding the bus, waiting in line, sitting alone in a restaurant or coffee shop.  I really like when my photographs are “liked”. So I recognize that I am part of the problem.

Transparency moment – I really like to follow rules.  And I get unhappy when others do not do so. Second transparency moment – I too have broken a rule or two trying to capture that perfect photograph.

But the ocean is different.  Too often I see photographers taking reckless chances.  I grew up in Hawaii where you learn to have a very healthy respect for the water.  I have learned not to venture too close – especially with something as unpredictable as the ocean.

The picture below demonstrates how dangerous and thoughtless we can be when trying to get that perfect shot.  This was taken at Cape Kiwanda – one of the most photographed and beautiful spots in Oregon.  But every year someone dies on these cliffs.  They call them “sneaker waves” and they can come capekiwandadangewr-1and rip someone off a cliff without warning.  (Note: thankfully the photographer above ended up being ok.)

Over the past 8 months, locals, concerned Oregonians and the Oregon State Parks are contemplating a bigger and more forceful fence at Cape Kiwanda.  I have mixed feelings about this – as my good friend Ray always says (when referring to that “other” fence) – build a bigger fence, they build a bigger ladder.

My last words… be careful out there.  No amazing photographic moment is worth your life.  Sometimes it is ok to admire the ocean and not take a picture.

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Above is another moment and shot taken at Thor’s Well in Oregon – a very popular Instagram and photography spot.  Again everyone was ok but I am sad to tell you that I later learned that the gentleman on the right was the tour leader for a group of amateur photographers.  Certainly not teaching his group the first rule of photography – be careful! Respect nature!

Favorite Roads

Do you have a favorite highway or road?  One of my favorites (and conveniently close to home) is Highway 6, also known as the Wilson River Highway, that traverses the Oregon Coast Range from the Portland metro area out to Tillamook and the beautiful central Oregon Coast.  A gorgeous section of the Pacific Northwest that includes Cape Kiwanda and Pacific City, the Three Capes scenic bike route, Rockaway to the north and Neskowin to the south.

I love how the road twists and turns around huge Douglas Firs dripping with rain.  And to my right a river runs.  Trucks are parked at every wide spot in the road – it’s fishing season in the Oregon Coast Range.  I briefly think of one of my favorite books, “The River Why” by David James Duncan – the title river is based on this exact area.

The rainforest here is lush and green but fall colors still shine now and then where a vine maple or alder has found its ground among the evergreens. If you want to experience western Oregon – logging, history, fishing, homesteading, and our famous rain – Highway 6 from Banks to Tillamook is a great way to experience our state.  Pull over at the Smith Homestead park where history and hiking come together, learn about the history of highway building at the Charles Straub Wayside.

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I am startled out of my fly fishing day dream – coming around a curve in the road to enter the vast expanse of the huge Wilson River and Trask River flood plains.  Mountain river dreams are replaced with the visions of baby loafs of Tillamook cheddar cheese. Pastures spread out far and wide – in Oregon we are very proud of our cheese making legacy.  Born from these farms that lie before me.

One other note about Tillamook – it is home to one of the largest wooden structures in the world – a former WW II blimp hangar.  There were once two of these beauties that you could see from miles away – sadly a fire destroyed one of the hangar twins and only one remains.  The remaining structure is now an Air Museum.   The hangar encompasses an area of 7 acres!

And no road trip in Oregon is complete without beer.

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Time for a Road Trip

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Two days and counting… and I just can’t stay in a bad mood about this election.  I am concerned, I am worried, I am thinking about ways I can make a difference – and make this country better in the face of our challenges and our divisiveness.

My favorite quote of all time… “If you don’t think one person can make a difference, you have never been in a tent with one mosquito.”

But before I make like a mosquito – time to hit the road and head to the Oregon Coast.  What a beautiful part of the world this is and each part of the coast, north, middle and south has its own personality.

More on the northern and southern coastal areas to come – but this weekend I will be visiting the middle coast.  There is no geographic definition of where Oregon’s middle coast lies – but my definition (and I am an amateur geographer) would be from Tillamook south to Florence.

Areas we will be visiting on this trip – Pacific City and Newport and all parts in between.  Depoe Bay, Cape Foulweather, Devil’s Punchbowl and maybe as far south as Cape Perpetua and Heceta Head.  Those geographic names are enough to incite adventure and excitement.

No better way to overcome this election than with a bowl of chowder and some Dungeness Crab, a little adventure and a beer from Pelican Pub!