Ode to winter road tripping

img_0960It’s Friday in the Pacific NW and time to hit the road before the holiday rush gets too crazy. Winter travel is the perfect time to enjoy Oregon and Washington.  Less people, big waves at the coast, inland the wind swept trees create a moody landscape,  and everything has the watery glow that reflects our rainy disposition.

Don’t let winter weather keep you home bound.  Grab the coat, bundle up and put your face into the wind and enjoy the precious hours.  Is there any time better than now?

 

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What is Eugene Levy doing in Portugal?

After three days in Lisbon it was time to explore the Portugal countryside.  Our plan was to hike as much as possible and get to know the country.  I usually like to settle in one place for a few days – but sometimes that first time visit to a country requires a bit more movement and exploration.  And with the promise to come back.

We headed to the coast and hiked from Praia de Maças south.  Our hope was to see if we could find the dinosaur tracks on the wall near Praia Grande as recommended by our friend and co-worker Andy Mason and his wife Kelly.

Praia de Maças is really cute and I only wish we had stayed long enough to have a cold beer in a chair on the beach.  On our way out of town we passed the little tram that goes from Sintra (inland about 10 miles) to the beach.  Next time.  Odd side note – in Praia de Macas – the main street through town is called Avenida Eugene Levy.  If anyone can explain this to me – I would love to know. (Yes yes I know a simple Google search would explain this but what fun is that?)

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We hiked south up and over the cliffs that separate the beaches here – in Praia Grande – the biggest hotel pool I have ever seen and a lot of surfers.

At the end of the beach was a lengthy (and new) staircase right next to a cliff face.  Thankfully Andy and Kel had informed us otherwise we might have missed the fact that the dinosaur tracks are on this vertical cliff face.  It seems that millions of years ago this cliff was a flat muddy plain.

At the bottom of the staircase was a warning – only 6 people are allowed to lean on the railing at a time.  Hmmm – sure enough as we discovered – to get a good view of the footprints – you do find yourself leaning out as far as possible on this railing.   The three of us were alone so no fear of breaking a railing – we hope.

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Impressive sight and so glad Andy and Kel had tipped us on this once in a lifetime experience.  We hiked a bit further down the coast – discovering one secluded beach after another.  Portugal is a great place to hide!

And looking out at the Atlantic – imagining Magellan or Vasco de Gama heading into the expanse of water – not knowing where they were going or what they would discover – sea monsters, mysterious islands, the edge?

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Winter Storms

Juvenile Seagulls

The advantage of living in Oregon is the variety of geography we have within a day’s drive. And the fact that every season features some part of our state in a unique way.  Since I am limited in my time off and ability to travel far – I am currently enjoying my own Oregon re-exploration.  Although most think of the Oregon coast as a place to visit in the summer- winter is my favorite time of year – less people and fantastic storm watching.  What a rush to see huge swells approach the headlands.  To watch a squall approach from the sea and have it slam you head on.  Last Sunday morning I remarked to someone – when those winter storms it is a perfect time to either sit inside and cozy up with a book or its a perfect time to be IN IT!  To face the wind and let the Gert Boyle in you come out!  (Oregonians will get that reference).

3 Places (out of many) I want to visit and why

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Many people I know have a version of what I have just decided to call “the list”.  The Bucket List, the List of 100, 1,000 places to go before you die (ugh that is singed with a reality I don’t really want to think about).  Inspired by A Wandering Memory – and his musings on the magical travel list – I thought I would share some places I want to go from my list.

  1. Camino – I have been dreaming about the Camino since 1995 (see my first blog post) – and I have been (for lack of a better word) totally lame for not yet going.  The providential rib-sharing moment this past Saturday with the director/producer of the Camino documentary – plus tales from my friend Sue’s recent trip – this trip for me is long overdue.  As part of my week away to review and plan for the coming year (back in June, more on that later) – I have put some baby steps in place to make this happen. Stay tuned.
  2. Visit a bakery in Malta.  Hmm.. that must seem completely random.  But back in 1976 – when I was a wee lass, I sailed around the Mediterranean for 6 months with my grandparents, aunt and two cousins.  We spent a few weeks in Malta and every day my grandmother would send my cousin Ian and I to the local bakery at the very moment that the bread would come out of the oven.  We would buy a loaf and run back to the boat for afternoon tea and delicious warm bread. It is one of the most wonderful memories I have of my grandma. I want to return to Malta for other reasons – but I am going for that afternoon bread moment.
  3. Myanmar – for obvious reasons (see my friend Steve’s blog stevievolz.wordpress.com).  Architecture, culture, lovely people – and a chance to see this relatively untrammeled country before it becomes overrun Thailand-style.

What’s on your list? Where are you going next?

Ribs, Camino and My Mom

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This is a story I have never told – and I thought of it today while I was eating ribs… and meeting Lydia Smith (she doesn’t know she met me) who is the director/producer of the documentary  “Walking the Camino”.

She may or may not live in my neighborhood.  But she definitely loves BBQ.  So although we have only met – ok we sat at a table together – we share these two things in common: Camino & BBQ.

Back to my story.  Several years ago I travelled to London with my mom.  And we had a great time exploring the British Museum, the art galleries, listening to chamber music at St. Martins in the Field.  We visited many pubs and it was all delightful.

One night we were returning home late on the Tube.  And as much as I tried to ease the way for my mom during our travels, there are some things you can’t avoid.

Two London drunks sat on either side of my mom on the Tube – even though there were empty seats everywhere.  I was sitting across from her and immediately got nervous, waiting anxiously to see what would enfold.  Sure enough the two drunks thought they would have a little fun with this American old lady.

They were speaking in accents too strong for me to understand but body language and lewdness communicated enough and I waited for an embarrassing moment to occur.

One of the drunks leaned his head into my mom and rested it on her shoulder while his buddy on the other side of my mom laughed in jest at my mom.  Without missing a beat, my mom returned the head lean-in by leaning her head on the young man… and patted the young man on the shoulder.

Two drunk London thugs… their eyes couldn’t have been bigger.  And they both sobered enough to hug my mom and say “that would never happen if you were a Londoner.”

I sometimes forget how amazing my mom is – she takes situations like that and breaks down barriers and assumptions and welcomes the young and sometimes foolish into her life.