Off the Grid and Back Again

We’ve had a bit of a disappearing act. I was going along nicely, posting something every day as we travelled across the country and them BAM! no posts. Don’t you hate it when someone uses punctuation in the middle of a sentence. Anyway….

We arrived in Oregon a few days ago, picked up our new trailer the next day, outfitted it and learned how to use it as best we could in one day, then headed out on a dry camping adventure in Central Oregon. Woods, lake, stream, tubing said stream multiple times, and some much needed relaxation. We slowed down. We looked at the water. We stopped moving. We stopped using electronic devices. It was wonderful!

I highly recommend it. Slowing down I mean. It’s amazing.

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Full of Hot Air

Several years ago K and I drove from Portland down to Las Vegas.  You can do that drive in a day, a long one, which I’ve done before (Linda, remember the time we drove into that camp ground in the middle of the night, in the middle of nowhere, looking for a bathroom?), but it’s much nicer to stop for a night along the way.  The most obvious place to stop is Reno, which makes a nice midway point.

K and I pulled into Reno, after driving 10 hours or whatever it was, found a cheap hotel, found some cheap dinner, put our usual $20 into a slot, and were ready to hit the mattress and get a good night’s sleep before our 10 hour or so drive the next day.  Until….

In our hotel room, looking out at the city, we saw a sign for The Great Reno Balloon Race, starting the next morning at like 5:00.  By this point it was one in the morning and we were tired, but as we’re both always up for spontaneous adventure we decided to forgo sleep and see what we could see at the balloon fest the next morning.  We are so glad we did.  It was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen and experienced in my life.  We got up at 4:30, got directions from the front desk person, and headed over.  There was a “glow” at 5:00 which was amazing in an of itself.  Several balloons lit up in the dark, anchored, taking turns burning.  Cool.  Later, when the sun just started to come up 75 or so balloons took flight.  It was beautiful, and hilarious, and strangely emotional.  Some of the balloons were different shapes which made it fun spotting them and pointing them out to each other.  We both absolutely loved it.

Since that day we’ve wanted to go to another festival, though we’ve decided it must be a big festival or we’d be sort of disappointed.  The sight of five balloons taking off compared to 75 would be slightly – inadequate.  Then, today, I saw a thing come across my Facebook feed from Roadtrippers.  It’s a road trip website I love.  They have great info about places to see, history, cool stuff wherever you happen to be driving.  I use it sometimes when we travel.  They have an app.

So I was perusing my feed and there it was, a time-lapse video of the recently held International Albuquerque Balloon Festival.  It’s the largest in the world.  500 balloons.  That’s all kinds of awesome if you ask me.  I had to show it to K.  We just, on the spot, decided we must go next year.  I’m excited.

Here’s the video.  I dare you not want to head to Albuquerque for the festival after you see it.  Maybe you shouldn’t watch, it might be too tempting.

Keyser Soze Has Nothing On Us

Wow.  And wow again.  I think I may have started more than one blog entry with that word and here I am using it once again.  Oh well, I’m getting older and that means repeating myself repeatedly.  I’m OK with that.

I digress…

Wow.  It’s been a whirlwind of activity and adventure since we left our little hovel in Urbana, Illinois for places west on July 5.  Here we are on August 14 and I have no idea where the time has gone.  Day after tomorrow we pack up Thor, our tried and true Volvo, our two pupinos, a bunch of crap, and ourselves for the trek back home.  Six days later, and some 2500 miles we will once again be back in the Midwest.  Where has the time gone?

When we were planning this sojourn we thought, OK, six weeks (including two weeks driving) would be plenty of time, but  then again how can there ever be enough time spent with the people you love.  There are so many people here who are in our lives it’s been tough to see everyone.  We haven’t seen everyone.  That’s a hard one.  To leave without seeing everyone.  Seriously though, how could we?  We’ve been so busy.  Let’s recap…

Six days driving here, get here and have appointment with Oregon oncologist, start treatment in Oregon, see Stan and Connie who drove to Salem just to see us (you guys rock), drive up to Portland to meet my cousin and his family after he finished the STP bike ride, eat pizza, have yogurt, drive up to Burlington, WA (and Marblemount, WA) to participate in the spreading of my grandparents ashes and next day check out the estate sale put on by my Mom and Aunts and Uncles at my grandparents house, from there take off for three days in Long Beach, WA (after a 5 hour drive to get there), enjoy the beach, drive back to Salem, drive back up to Scappoose, dinner with friends who invited us over (thanks SJ and Angela, your house is awesome), trips back and forth between Salem and Scappoose every week so I could get my shot in Salem, helping Mom sprinkle some of grandpa and grandmas ashes at Willamette University, work on the yard in Scappoose, and more work on the yard in Scappoose (thanks to Mom and Kev for helping us out with that one of the days… you two are amazing), dinner out with friends (thanks Maggie for taking us to dinner for our birthdays), dinner with friends from Urbana who happened to come to Portland for a wedding while we were here (great dining with you Evelyne and Natalie), showing our friend Jen (who also hails from Urbana) around Portland, and the farm, for three and a half days,  the treat of breakfast out at the Screen Door courtesy of Vicki (thanks girl, the chicken and waffles there can’t be beat!), a few walks in parks both in Portland and Salem with the pupinos, one of which included a piano solo by Karen, a trip on the river with Stan, dinner at Stan and Connie’s place for us with some of our good friends (so great to see you guys), a walk at Cathedral Park with Liz and Jake and Ilsa and Indy followed by a tour of their new house (love it you guys!), a stop by my old office for some chat (Stacia, I love ya girl) and lunch with some of my old work mates (I miss you Josh, Linda, Chris, Liz and Stacia!), packing up the car and driving back and forth between Salem and Scappoose every week (oh, I think I said that already), our annual walk through of one of our rentals with the renters and a drive by of the other, a couple of barbecues thrown for us by POD members, one including splashes in a pool and the other including a tasty salad made with home grown veggies, a couple of trips to the Portland Saturday Market (Sundays too!), a zoo concert (Melissa Etheridge) with some of the POD, dinners out at various places we didn’t want to miss while we were here (Piazza Italia, Little Big Burger, tacos at The Varsity, The Stepping Stone, Ruby Jewel for ice cream, chicken and waffles at The Screen Door, Mississippi Pizza, a food cart or two, Pok Pok, E-San for thai, burritos at Muchas, etc.) all of which made us each gain about 10 pounds, breakfast with my sister Kay, time spent at the farm with Mom and Don, time spent in Scappoose with Kev, packing up the car and driving back and forth between Salem and Scappoose every week like gypsies, sun, fun, and loads of love.

It’s been an amazing time.  We’ve had so much fun.  Though, seriously, I think we’re ready to be home again.  Not that we don’t love it here, and love everyone here, but we’re ready to be home.  Sleep in our own beds, be in our own house, see and spend time with the kids and our little man, who we have missed very much.  I guess that’s what happens when you live in two places.  Live in two places in your heart I mean.  You are always missing something, someone.  That’s the nature of how life works sometimes.  We moved to Illinois to be a part of of the kid’s lives, to be in Sebastian’s life, and we are glad we did.  We wouldn’t change that at all.  It’s just that this is home, and always will be.  The people here and this place make it so.  We are torn, but that doesn’t make us any less happy to be there when we are there, or here when we are here.

That bit there being a few moments of reflection.

So we are heading home on Thursday morning.  Leaving early to get a jump on our longest driving day of the lot.  10 hours the first day.  We’re going to Boise, Idaho by way of Bend and Hwy 20, then Driggs, ID near the Tetons, and from there a drive through the Tetons and Yellowstone and then stays in Sheridan, WY, Chamberlain, SD, La Crosse, Wisconsin, and home.  We’ll get there just in time for the Urbana Sweetcorn Festival.  Yum!

We’ll miss you Oregon, and everyone in it.  It’s been a flash, and now we’re almost out of here.  A month, poof, just like that and it’s gone.  Keyser Soze has nothing on us.  We love it here, and we love the people here.  This wonderful adventure has flown by, and been fantastic.  But be rest assured… we will be back.  It’s time for us to go back home, to more people we love, but we will be back.  We will miss you while we’re gone.  But be rest assured… we will be back.

Pronunciamento

I love words and this is a great one. Pronunciamento. Meaning… pro·nun·ci·a·men·to   [pruh-nuhn-see-uh-men-toh, -shee-uh-] noun, plural pro·nun·ci·a·men·tos. a proclamation; manifesto; edict.

I came across this one today as I was looking around the dictionary.  Or more precisely, in this new age, dictionary.com. It’s a wonderful word found in a wonderful place.  Dictionaries are exciting, to me anyway.  I’ve been reading them since I knew what one was and found one in our house.  Words.  Wonderful.

I used to play word games with some of my work mates.  Emails going around with sentences made up of words with the same letter.  Peter picked pickled peppers.  Like that.  We’d start with A and work our way to Z and back again, or we’d rhyme, or be cute some other way with wonderful wacky words.  Fun, to us anyway.  We’d stretch our minds, our vocabularies, and we’d laugh and laugh.  Words are good like that.

Today as I looked around I came across this great word.  Had never heard of it.  And now I love it.  I am also, I think, going to use it here.  Make a pronunciamento about things I’d like to do this summer… a proclamation of sorts.  Here, publicly, live and “in person”.  Maybe if I put some things down here I will do some of them… maybe I already have.  Maybe I would anyway.  No matter… it’s a fun exercise.

(Riley is playing with her Uncle Kevin right now… he’s rubbing her belly, she’s growling, barking, and jumping up to wiggle around and play bite at him.  She’s like popcorn. It’s cute.  They missed each other.)

Anyway… back to the pronunciamento.

100 things to do this summer… and in life.

  1. Be present.
  2. Act with grace.
  3. Ride my bike around town.
  4. Use the frisbee golf set I purchased.
  5. Play with Sebastian.
  6. Eat grapes.
  7. Get my photos better organized.
  8. See an opera again.
  9. Hold hands.
  10. Be patient with people.
  11. Listen.
  12. Walk.
  13. Sing loudly in moving vehicles.
  14. Eat more whole food, less processed food.
  15. Play guitar again.
  16. Travel to foreign places.
  17. Write.
  18. Be silly.
  19. Dance suddenly and randomly at home, and sometimes in public.
  20. Be child like.
  21. Hug my honey more than I already do.
  22. Use the library more than I do.
  23. Make pudding.
  24. Sleep outside.
  25. Be less afraid.
  26. Live more sustainably.
  27. Don’t buy anything for myself, including music, clothes, videos, etc. unless it’s second hand. (related to previous point)
  28. See a few movies in the park.
  29. Stop and listen to live music (street corners, festival bands, etc.)
  30. Paint something.
  31. Go to the drive in.
  32. Take photographs that inspire me.
  33. Continue to evolve.
  34. Give more than I get.
  35. Show respect to strangers.
  36. Buy meat from a farmer.
  37. Write and send actual letters.
  38. Study other cultures and ideas.
  39. Honor my ancestors.
  40. Swim in wild waters.
  41. Walk in Central Park in New York, eat lobster in Maine, watch hot air balloons in New Mexico.
  42. Use the crockpot to make dessert.
  43. Put my feet in lakes, oceans, rivers, puddles, tiny wading pools.
  44. Do another paring down of my clothes and shoes.
  45. Eat tomatoes from our tomato plant.
  46. Sit quietly outside in the wind and sunshine listening to the trees and not talk or play on the computer or phone or any other man made thing.
  47. Live responsibly.
  48. Worry less.
  49. Try new foods that scare me a little.
  50. Use hairbrushes and wooden spoons as microphones.
  51. Give the pups even more attention than they already get.
  52. Go snorkeling.
  53. Take random day long road trips with my honey to nowhere in particular with good music playing and great conversations.
  54. Embrace my dorky nature.
  55. Go to museums.
  56. Dinners with friends.
  57. Be in awe.
  58. Make people laugh on purpose.
  59. Learn.
  60. Make and eat pudgy pies.
  61. Talk to strangers.
  62. Laugh at myself and things that might irk me, but shouldn’t.
  63. Be the nicer version of me in taxing situations.
  64. Do things I love more than things I should do.
  65. Make and drink naturally flavored sun tea.
  66. Make a fort out of blankets.
  67. Smile often and only from the eyes.
  68. Camp in wild beautiful places.
  69. Put my toes in the sand.
  70. Color.
  71. Eat more fruit and less bread.
  72. Read at least two books a month.
  73. Make stuff.
  74. Take care of my honey like she deserves.
  75. Skip, hop, and jump.
  76. See the AFI top 100 films.
  77. Know what’s going on in the world.
  78. Read poetry again.
  79. Play games and cards.
  80. Volunteer my time.
  81. Be passionate in life.
  82. Always look people in the eye.
  83. Wear funky hats.
  84. Write random and unexpected emails to friends and family more often.
  85. Love.
  86. Get paid for being creative.
  87. Take the dogs to parks and on walks.
  88. Be an agent of positive change.
  89. Travel to new places.
  90. Take the train more often.
  91. Ride a bus to Chicago or maybe some other random place.
  92. Sit around our chiminea with good company.
  93. Make a s’more or two.
  94. Say what I mean and only that.
  95. Smell flowers.
  96. Live free.
  97. Eat handcrafted ice cream.
  98. Help out friends and family.
  99. Be kind to myself.
  100. And lastly, though I could go on, laugh laugh laugh at why WordPress has famous nuns and Saint Peter as recommended highlighted links down below this as I type.  Hmmmm….

Candlestick Lane

We went out a couple of nights ago in search of Candlestick Lane in Urbana. A friend, thanks Ann!, told us about it. We were trying to conjure up some Christmas spirit. Ann had an idea where it was in past years so we went out..  pups in the car, homemade hot chocolate in our to go mugs, and a keen eye all led us in the right direction. Yes, we found it. It’s not huge, but it’s cool. Apparently, after a little research on it, it’s been there since the 1960’s. Every year they do a lighting ceremony… a processional where they light one house at a time until it’s all glowing beautifully. We missed that, but we didn’t miss the lane. We drove through like three or four times. We tried to get a shot on my phone, which I’ll include here, but it didn’t do it justice. We thought we should go back over, park the car, take one of the good cameras, and walk down to try and get some shots. We’ll see. So busy right now, with Christmas coming up this weekend, so we might not make it back over. But, we found it, and it was kinda cool. Yay for Christmas lights. We are so funny, we don’t like putting them up at our house, but we love love love looking at them.  Ho ho ho!

A Day in Chicago

Karen and I decided the other day that she would take a day off during the week and we would go somewhere.  Our original plan was to head to Indianapolis for a couple of days, spend the night, that sort of thing.  The dilemma… the pups.  We wanted to take them, and could have, but then what would we do with them when we wanted to go in somewhere or have dinner out or any myriad of other things that don’t allow dogs.  We couldn’t leave them in a hotel room and we wouldn’t leave them in the car, so there you go.  Dilemma.  And subsequent change of plan… day trips.  Ah ha!

So Sunday we just sort of drove around locally.  Didn’t really go anywhere overly cool, just sort of checking some places out.  We did this with the dogs.  They like to ride along.

Monday we got up, got a tad bit of coffee, waited for the radon guys to fix our leaky boot, and then headed to the train.  Ah the train.  I love it.  We were lame to wait until the last minute so our tickets were more.  Yes, they have so many at different price ranges just like the airline and if you wait too long the cheaper tickets sell out and you are left paying more.  Though really, c’mon… $52 for two one way to Chicago wasn’t terrible.  We have paid half that, but we weren’t too flummoxed by it.  Flummoxed… I love that word.

Drive to the train station, park in the 10 hour parking, hop on the train, get off in two and half hours after reading and listening to music and looking at the passing scenery and there you are… Union Station in the Second City.  Chicago.  I do love it there.

We have been to Chicago a few times now… before we moved to the midwest once, for two weeks over Christmas and New Years when the kids got married there.  That was our first time… we loved it then, and still.  We have only ever been downtown.  And this time was no exception.

One glitch… we didn’t have a plan.  We didn’t really decide until Monday morning that we were going for sure, hence the last minute ticket buying and such.  And we didn’t really talk about what we wanted to do or where we wanted to go beforehand or on the train ride there.  So there we were, Union Station, smack in the middle of the city, and had no idea what we were doing.  Pretty funny… and, kind of fun.  No agenda.

So we walked… and walked… and walked some more.  We originally headed toward a restaurant some friends recommended, The Artists Cafe, on Michigan Avenue down across from Millennium Park and the Art Museum.  We were starving so that seemed like a great place to begin.  It would have been, only before we got there we passed another place.  There were people sitting in the window who had enormous burgers that happened to catch my honey’s eye.  Needless to say all thought of the Artists Cafe was out the window and in we went for burgers.  They were good.  Aside from the rather vocal and potty mouthed man sitting next to us, it was all good.  And to be honest, we didn’t really care about the vocal potty mouthed man either.  He wasn’t loud, so we could tune him out as he lit into his lady companion for… who knows what.  Just a little extra flavor in the big city.

From there we walked to Macy’s to check out the window displays.  They were pretty cool this year.  I liked them.  A sort of magical fantasy theme thing.  Then we ran across the Christkindlmarket  and wandered there for a bit.  Every ornament you could possible think of, strudel, schnitzel, some strange drink served in a tiny boot… and crowded.  Cool.  We bought nothing, but we experienced it.

After that we decided we’d wander over toward the river and see if we could find some hot chocolate and chai.  We did.  A nice way to warm up and charge the phone (another word for map nowadays).  We sat in there for awhile, got warm again, purchased our return train tickets from the Amtrak app on my phone, and then wandered along the river back toward the park.  Millennium Park at night is gorgeous.  Especially this time of year.  Skating in the city rink, reflections of christmas lights along with city lights in The Bean, the faces all lit up, trees with lights in them, people everywhere, music playing, the Pritzker all gorgeous.  Beautiful.  We spent a bit of time down there just hanging out and looking at the sights before walking back toward Union Station.

Most of the day we walked, I took photographs, we talked, we hung out together.  Nothing major.  We figure we walked somewhere in the neighborhood of 6 or 7 miles.  We had some good food.  We looked at some cool stuff.  We enjoyed both the train ride going and coming home.  But mostly, honestly, we just enjoyed spending the day alone together.  It’s truly our favorite thing.  Being together and having an adventure.  There is nothing better than that.  Than days like our day in Chicago.

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What a Weekend… I’m Exhausted!

We had such a fantastic weekend.  So great that I’m tired today.  OK, maybe to be more accurate I should say that I’m partially tired from having to get up in the middle of the night to the let the dogs out.  For some reason, and this is a rare event, they both had to go out.  There’s the little girlie getting up for water and then not jumping back in the bed.  Bad sign.  I got up to find her and she was waiting in the hallway for me.  She ran over to the doggie door and then I heard Weston coming along as well.  I opened the door, they go out, and there I am peeking through the curtains over the sliders trying to see them out in the backyard at four in the morning.  Too funny.  So I could be tired from that.  But, the weekend was so busy, so much fun, and tiring in a totally good way as well.

It started Friday night with a Gal Up (a group we’ve found and joined) event at a local bar, the Esquire Lounge in downtown Champaign.  Drink, food, talk, pool playing, and good times had by all.  A great night with cool women.  Saturday we got up early to go watch Sebastian’s first swimming lesson here in the U.S.  He’s somewhat of a swimming lesson expert as he’s been in them since he was like three months old or something in the U.K.  But it’s been a little while since he’s been in the pool, so he was a tad cautious.  He had a big hold on Mary most of the time.  He didn’t cry, but he was unsure.  By the end though he was a champ, showing that now famous smile all over the place.  He’s going to be great and it was such a blast watching him, and watching Mary be such a fantastic Mom with him when he was unsure and scared and such.  Makes a person tear up watching the kid be so good with her kid.  Impressive.  After the swim lesson we took a jaunt over to Einstein Bagels with the kids to have a little bagel breakfast and then went over to their house for a bit to visit with Ashley, one of Mary’s friends and bridesmaids, who was visiting for the weekend from Indianapolis, where she’s living now.  It was really nice to see her.  Ashley recently got married, the wedding the kids went to over the weekend we did our overnight babysitting for the first time.   After we left the kid’s place we came home, picked up the pups, and headed out to Mahomet and a lovely new to us walking trail out there.  A great spot to walk them.  There are numerous trails to hit so it will be fun to go back out there and see what’s what with those.  On Saturday we only walked for about a mile, one way, because it was really sunny, with no shade, and Weston doesn’t much like the heat.  He was panting and kept trying to lay down in close to the tall grass.  We couldn’t keep going so we turned around, but they got a nice walk in anyway.  Afterward we came home and just enjoyed being here.  Watched some of the World Series, ate dinner followed by caramel corn, relaxed.  Nice.

Yesterday we had a nice mellow morning at home.  Brewed and drank some coffee, we each looked at our fantasy football teams and adjusted (we played each other this week), drank more coffee, pet on the pups a lot, and lounged in our living room.  Later we’d finally had enough of that lounging stuff and took the pups for a long walk.  We discovered a great area on campus only about a 15 minute walk from our house.  Fantastic.  It’s near the Arboretum, which includes the Idea Garden, and Japan House.  So great.  There’s an actual hill over there.  You can see out a ways.  We plan on going back to the garden with a camera to get some ideas.  It is the idea garden after all.  We also plan on taking the pups back over there again.  It’s so close to our house.  It’s so cool that we keep finding all these great places to take the dogs for walks.  We’re loving that.  After the walk we met up with Ann, one of our new friends here in Illinois, and drove out to Hardy’s Reindeer Ranch where we met other peeps and then all did the corn maze.  We ended up splitting into two groups and raced each other.  Texting the other group with things like… Number 5!  There were eight punch stations to get in the maze and we were racing to see which group could get them all first.  We were ahead most of the time, until the end, when they managed to squeak by us for the win.  Damn Dracula! Where were you?!?!  We also looked at the reindeer, the pumpkins, and watched the pumpkin cannon shoot a pumpkin out into a field.  The cannon was pretty impressive.  A fun time with great ladies.  After the Reindeer Ranch we headed home again, hung with the pups for a little bit, and then went over to the kid’s place for dinner.  We played with the grandson, ate some food, and watched the beginning of World Series game four with the kids before heading home where we loved on the pups and finished watching the game.

Whew.

A lot of stuff…. a busy weekend.  Fun.  Illinois is growing on us.  We love the adventure of discovering things in a new place.  We are loving… and let me say… L-O-V-I-N-G… the fall weather here.  Beautiful blue skies, gorgeous fall colors, and warmish (enough to be in t-shirts yesterday).  We are loving being close to the kids and getting to see Sebastian all the time, go to his little classes, hang out and play.  And we are finding some friends, getting to know some people, starting to make a life here.  We still miss everyone in Oregon tremendously, but we are starting to really settle in, and excited about all the new things we’ve yet to discover and do.  Everything is an adventure when you live in a new place.  It’s kinda cool….

A Few photos from the ol’ iPhone

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