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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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.

Being Creative

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I am hearing a lot (and reading about it too) – about how important creativity is to our mental well being and how it nourishes the soul.  I had not thought about creativity much because I kind of suck at being artistic. I have wickedly talented people in my family – my oldest brother is an amazing boat designer and builder (check out Brooks Boats), my mom is this renaissance woman – cellist, painter, creative gardener… (and that’s just the stuff I know about…if you know my mom this will make you smile) and my brother Phil is a super talented guitarist – he blows my mind with how he can make his 10 fingers all do something different yet together they create beautiful music.

I can shoot free throws with my eyes closed (yes they usually go in).  But I do love taking pictures.  All the pictures I have shared on this blog to date are mine.  Sometimes you are fortunate with location – Paris looks good no matter what.  But the picture above was taken on my porch.  With an iPhone.

I love that iPhones have allowed us to carry the possibility of creativeness with us every day.  I love Instagram and being inspired by the thousands of photographers out there and how we all see the world a little differently.

This Thursday I am attending Newspace Center for Photography’s inaugural Photo Jam – a combination of instagram, art gallery photo show and Top Chef like photo contest.  I can’t wait.  Let the creative in you shine!

Travel by book – even better travel by beer!

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Augustiner Bier Hall, Munich, Germany (photo taken during World Cup, 2006)

That whole book thing just opened up a Pandora’s box of opportunity.  And I don’t need any excuses to drink beer (they tried to make me go to rehab but I said no no no) – and only yesterday I was biking through beautiful hop fields in the Willamette Valley.    Beer is always on my mind.

I love books, food, beer, anything that captures a sense of place.

In Portland, there are two places that nail that sense of place beer-wise and German-wise – Stammtisch on SE 28th and their partner spot – Prost on NE Mississippi.  Prost is great and the concept of marrying German beer garden atmosphere with a cart food court is brilliant.  But Stammtisch just takes it one step further with the German food and dark wood paneling to match.

Stammtisch has rotating options for about 18 German beers and they always have one of my favorites – kolsch.  (Drinking kolsch in Cologne, Germany is a whole other post of true beer love) What makes these two places great and authentic is how they pour the beer.  Rinse appropriate glass with water – make initial pour – set beer aside for a few minutes to settle – then top it off and serve.

And with an order of sausage… teutonic heaven.

Sure you can drive over to John’s Market in Multnomah Village, and take a six pack home of any world beer imaginable, but I want to close my eyes and imagine I am back at the Augustiner waiting for a soccer game.