Steve and I are on vacation. From just about everything. It’s been nice to get away from the daily hustle of our lives. We started out driving to Kalamazoo, Michigan. There we stayed with friends Pat and Dave Diget overnight. They are an amazing couple who devote much of their time and lives to a group of kids ranging in age from 5 – high school (and they may have a few who have gone on to college) in the form of the Kalamazoo Kayak and Canoe Club. They live on a small lake and have dozens of boats. The kids come 3 times a week for practice. And then the Digets take them all over to races. They took 28 kids to the USCA Canoe Nationals this year. Impressive! We left our kayak and two bicycles with them and flew out the next morning to Portland, OR.
We purposely arrived in Portland a couple of days early so we could do some sightseeing. We really wanted to see Mt St Helens and found it to be a highlight.
We spent the entire day at Mt St Helens and got to hear 2 ranger talks about how the day unfolded in May 1980. We also got to take a ranger hike and hear about how the eruption affected the land, animals, and vegetation. Did you know it’s had 3 more smaller eruptions since the big one in 1980?
We then wanted to drive along the Columbia River Gorge. We did this a few years ago but it was in April and the snow was higher than our car (I blogged about it). It was interesting to see the area in the summer.
This is Multnomah Falls:
And Mt Hood:
Yes, that’s snow. And if you look REALLY carefully, there are small black dots on the snow — that’s people skiing and snowboarding — in AUGUST!
We drove back into Portland to spend 3 days. I did a lot of walking and went to Powells Books. I was told how big it was, but I was still shocked by the size when I actually walked in. Powells books is in a 4 story building that is literally one block square. You can enter from all four roads that surround the building.
I thought for those of you still sweltering in the heat of summer, I’d show you a display at 5 o’clock in the evening:
I took the pink trolley tour on my last day in Portland. The trolleys are painted Pepto Bismol pink! $1 from every ticket is given to Breast Cancer initiatives. We rode through town and saw parts I hadn’t seen before and heard a lot of interesting stories that I can no longer remember! I got off at the Rose Test Garden. That was amazing — something like 64 acres of Roses!
Now, I’ll tell you. I took a couple of fiber art pieces along thinking I’d sit in the hotel room and do some work. WRONG! Between the jet lag, the LATE nights (Steve was there on business and we were treated like royalty — late night dinners included) and really wanting to take advantage of being in Portland and see the sights….. I only got a couple hours work done on the pieces I took with me.
We flew back to Kalamazoo on the 11th and drove 2 hours north to the town of Newaygo.
We set up camp and spent Friday watching the first day of the Marathon races. Friday night, it started raining – I mean a deluge! Thunder and Lightning…. I had put our food and my fiber art stuff (in ziplocks and/or plastic bins) under our screen tent. This is what I woke up to in the morning:
Everything was soaked. The rain had blown sideways with great gusto. There was water inside the bins and ziplocks! I’ve never seen anything like it in my life! Races were delayed two hours that day due to the storms. 150 paddlers got on the water and began the races; the storms returned with fury about 10 minutes after Steve got off the water. We were near the river, the ground was wet with standing water and there we were standing in all that water with lightning all around us. A friend had his pickup truck at the finish line and he shoved stuff further into the truck to make room for those of us wanting some shelter from the storm. 8 of us ended up sitting in the back of the truck for 80 minutes while the worst of the storm passed over us.
When the storm abated enough for us to get out of the truck, we headed to the campground (just a short walk up the hill from the river) so Steve could get dry. He was still wet from his race (as were 6 of the people in the back of that truck!) We only had a 20 minute break in the storm and here is a picture of our tents taken from the bathhouse in the campground:
We spent the afternoon and evening in Wendy’s, the Laundramat, and the Chinese Buffet restaurant. The town had several buildings hit by lightning and they opened a Red Cross Shelter for those camping who got washed out. We were fortunate that our tent was dry, we were safe and well, and only our “stuff” was “wet”.
Steve did well in his races coming in 2nd in one race and taking the Championship in the other:
From Newaygo, we drove to Toronto, Ontario. We’ve spent the past 2 days seeing the sights here. Toronto is a BIG city!!! Oh my goodness! What a difference from the small, intimate countryside of northern Michigan!
We walked to the Art Gallery of Ontario on Tuesday (no photography allowed inside)
On Wednesday, we rode our bikes through downtown and over to the shoreline of Lake Ontario:
We took the subway and then the trolley to the area of Toronto known as Kensington Market. We ate ate a small sidewalk cafe:
And walked the streets of Kensington market before heading back to the hotel calling it a night. Here is a car that someone filled with dirt and planted:
We’re off to Niagara Falls today.
All my art and fiber work is finally dry. It takes a long time for a spool of thread to dry out!!!!
Remember that saying “life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”? That’s what this vacation has been so far. I planned to work on my art. Instead, I have focused on Steve, the sights, the joy of being in a place that is not home. I am refreshed. I am encouraged. I am inspired by what I have seen over the past 2 weeks. I am looking forward to one more week of this. I may not go home with finished artwork, but I will arrive home with a full heart and a refreshed spirit.
Onward to Niagara Falls and Portsmouth, NH.