Photo A Week: Water

Water, I confess, holds me in its spell –
I would follow it across the land
from the Oregon coast, and ocean swell
to the Arizona rivers, oh so grand:


Set me by a waterfall and I will swoon,
mesmerized by such awesome power,
even deafened by its thunderous boom,
I could watch the motion hour upon hour.


When travel is done, and I’ve come home to roost,
I hope that the scenery will be tranquil and calm,
for there is not a mood that water can’t boost –
undeniably, it is Nature’s medicinal balm.

calm before

(For Nancy Merrill’s Photo a Week Challenge: water.  Featured image is Oregon coast; Arizona shot is Salt River at Coon’s Bluff;  the waterfall is Englishman’s River, Vancouver Island; and the tranquil scene was taken recently at the Watson Mill along the Rideau river, Manotick, Ontario. All photos are my personal collection.)

Highway 82 Through Oregon

We both slept in, so our getaway this time was rushed and I am trying to write from the road, catching up on both blogs and sorting through photographs, with a wi-fi that keeps kicking me out.  So bear with me.

We are driving through Oregon today, and like Washington State, I am impressed by its beauty.  I pen this quick poem, trying to capture what I see:

OregonmtnsHighway 82, Headed East

Horses graze lazily
in the Oregon sun
beside the Umatilla River
whose waters flow
in a merry dance
over rocky bottom.

Trees don their full green
and mustard yellow fields
add contrast to the landscape
as oversized rigs barrel by
and machines irrigate
new growth – promise
of a hearty crop.

A haze lingers over
distant hills, the sky
a blue canvas upon which
wisps of cloud hover
sleepily – industry
abutting pastoral charm.


Portland, Oregon

PortlandbridgesHe wants to visit Nob Hill, I am drawn to the Pearl District.  Trouble is, my energy is limited, so we decided to drive through Nob Hill and limit our visit to Lowell’s bookstore and a seafood restaurant.

“Would you rather I just take you to a dentist?” Ric asks.

“No.  You can’t drop in without an appointment, and besides, I’m sure it’s infected – they won’t be able to do anything without clearing that up first.  I’ll call a dentist when we get back.”

So, we carry on.  Me with my mouth pain and Frankenstein legs, as the ME has flared up again.

NobHillGrill.pngIt is one of those days where the clouds are piling up in a threatening way, and the greyness of the day does not shine a favourable first light on the city as we approach.  The overpasses look old, and there is a lot of industry, and I wonder from this viewpoint how Portland can be considered such a hip place.

All our kids raved about this city, and we have promised to bring back fridge magnets for each of them, but from this vantage point, I’m not seeing it.

The GPS takes us to the corner of 23rd and Lovejoy Street when I ask for Nob Hill.  There is a cafe on the corner that bears the name, but no other indicator of where to go.  Ric turns right and we are on a narrow street lined with grand old houses.

NobHillhouse.png“I think we’re going the wrong way.”

He pulls over and checks the map, and we drive through the neighbourhood to come out in the other direction.  The streets are even narrower and steep, and I am beginning to understand the charm of this city.  It reminds us of the Beaches in Toronto, only on steroids.

We pass some shops and quaint looking restaurants, and then enter the city, which is equally as charming.  Powell’s bookstore is easily spotted on a corner, and I notice a parking lot right next door.  We pull in and the attendant barks orders at us before we have a chance to see the sign that says:  No elevator.

Powells.pngThe antiquated parking lot has a single lane entrance and exit, with steep ramps and no visibility.  A horn honk is the only insurance that metal doesn’t meet metal.  We are assigned to a space on the top floor.  I don’t count the steps on the way down the endless staircases, but my legs sure do.  I’m determined to ignore their protests.

Powell’s City of Books, is just that – an endless book lovers dream.  It covers three floors, with various rooms per story, all colour-coded:  kids are in the Rose Room, restrooms in the Purple Room, and so on.  We find fridge magnets and so much more.  On our way out we ask for recommendations to a good seafood spot for lunch.

DoorinJakes.png“There’s Jake’s Famous Crawfish around the corner,” a helpful assistant suggests, pointing the way.

It’s a few blocks to Jake’s, and after the stairs and the bookstore, I have to hang on to Ric to walk.  Jake’s is the second oldest restaurant in Portland, and my dad would approve:  there are white linen tablecloths and the wait staff wear white and black with towels over the forearm.  The artwork is all my parents’ era also, but it is quaint.  I didn’t get a snapshot of the outside – it was too rainy to stop – but I did photograph this door which represents the decor.

Ric has a the clam chowder – claims he is on a quest to find the best chowder on the coast – and a crab stuffed salmon dish.  I have the trout, and it’s superb.

LovejoySt.pngFilled up with our shopping list checked off, I am ready to go home.  We stop at a Whole Foods along the way back to the car to stock up on mushy foods for me.  Ric climbs the mountain of stairs to retrieve the pickup, while I wait on the street.

Like every other big city, the traffic is already congested as we head out of the city.

Tomorrow we head further north, for our last portion of the stay in U.S.A… for now.

Portland, On Hold

From Eugene, we are moving on to Portland, and as it’s only a two-hour drive, Ric leaves me to sleep in as long as I need.  When I stir, around 11:00, he tells me that we are headed back to a repair shop at 2:00.

3crowscartoonThe engine warning is still showing up: ” Water in Fuel”.

So Portland may not be a go.  Instead, I am packing a bag for an overnight in a hotel.

At noon, the camp manager drops by to see why we haven’t checked out.  We forgot!  Luckily no one is coming in behind us, so there’s no rush, but we hurry to get things underway.

At the Cummins shop, I wait in the customer’s lounge while Ric talks to the mechanic.  Today should be a bed day for me.  My legs don’t want to work, and I am so tired and sick.  When Ric shows up again, he advises me that it should only be another hour and then we can get on our way.  It’s now 3:30.  We had cancelled the Portland stay.

Shari'sCafePies.png“Can we go get a tea or something?”

I order an omelette as well, hoping it will slide down easy.  When I awoke this morning, my tongue was on fire – not literally, but it sure felt like it.  I need to get my mouth looked at.

“We can go on to Portland, as originally planned,” Ric suggests, ” or we can drive a bit further and cut down the time for the day after.”

“It’s already late in the day.  Let’s just see if they still have room for us in Portland.”

superrigSo at 5:00 we are headed to Portland.  The problem with the engine was a hose connector improperly installed.  They also replaced all our hose clamps for us and topped us up with coolant.  Apparently Cummins engines are highly sensitive and tell on themselves if something isn’t right.  In a way, it’s very reassuring.

I sleep all the way to Wilsonville, which is where the RV park is located.  We arrive in just enough time to hook up before the sun goes down.  I head to bed and pray for restorative sleep.

Tomorrow, all going well, we’ll head into the city.

(Since I didn’t take any photos today, I’d thought I’d share some of the images from the road that I have enhanced on

The Oregon Coast

sailboats.png“Let’s go for a seafood lunch on the ocean.”

So, I bundle up – the temperature is cooler here than we’ve used to – and we head along highway 126, out of Eugene.  The two-lane road winds through trees, passes through a tunnel and leads us out to the amazing Oregon coast.

We stop in Florence, following the signs to the Old Town, and get a seat at the C-International Seafood restaurant overlooking the water.  I have the salmon with rice and green beans and Ric has clam chowder and halibut – the catch of the day.  So good.

Little shops across the street catch my eye, and as there is no tax in Oregon, I’m tempted to stop, but my legs are useless today.  We decide just to drive instead, further north and then back across to Eugene.

sealion&comorants.pngThe roads snakes along the coast, winding through tree-lined passages and then opening to the bright blue of the ocean.  We pull in at the scenic views and rave over the landscape, cameras snapping.

We stop at the Sea Lion Caves and park in the lot, but when we look down and see how many stairs we’d have to climb, we decide to just stay on the platform.  Ric was able to snap this pic of the sea lion in the water with an array of cormorants perched just above him.

lighthouseOregoncoast.png“Lunch buffet?”  I wonder.

From the platform we have an ideal view of this lighthouse.  Can it get any more idyllic?

A little further along, I catch another sea lion playing in the surf.  There is so much I want to photograph: the waves crashing on the rocks and exploding in a spray of white, the gulls soaring in clear blue skies, and the perfection of cottage-like houses set high above the ocean, nestled in the greenery of the cliffs.

oceanspray.pngI am fading fast, and certain now that part of my illness is infection in my mouth.  I just want to get back to bed.  When Ric spots whale spouts from the shore at one stop, I can’t even bring myself to get out and look.

“We’ll turn at highway 20 and head back,” Ric offers.  “Best I can do is get you home in 2 hours.”

“Maybe a drink and a snack might help.”

We find a water front restaurant but nothing they have to offer fits with my dietary needs, so we decide to take the first road we see headed east.

The road seems to go on forever, snaking through the mountains, with no reprieve in sight.  On impulse, I google “Eugene” and we are directed onto another roadway which is actually worse than the first.  Here, the road is narrow with no lines to indicate lanes, and no signs of civilization.  According to GPS, we are over an hour from our camp.

Then we lose all signals.

“What happens if we break down here?”

We haven’t seen one other car.


Elton John comes on the radio singing about seeing the light and Ric says:  “I hope we can still see the light a little longer.”

It is coming up to sun down, and the thought of driving these roads in darkness silences both of us.

And then our signal returns and the GPS indicates a major roadway up ahead and we are back on track just as the sun begins to set.  We drive through and pick up our first fast food meal of the journey.  Some days just call for junk food.



Oregon: We Made It!

DrivingtoOregon“Could you please turn off the scenery so I can get some sleep?”

We’re leaving California and driving along highway #5 into Oregon.  Tall firs and pines line the road and a soft velvet green covers the hills.  Peaks in the distance are snow-capped offering a shocking contrast to the deep green tips.

The route takes us through several mountain passes, each requiring a reduced speed, which is adding extra time to our journey.  Normally, we only drive three to four hours a day, but it is clear today’s journey will be closer to eight.

pinesandsnowNeither of us slept well last night, and at one point we pull over so that Ric can have a half hour nap.  I am sick.  The problem with my teeth and jaw has worsened, and I’m unable to eat.  I don’t know if it’s just that or if the M.E. is flaring up, or a combination of both, but I just want to bury my head in a pillow and shut out the world.

Except I can’t take my eyes off the view.

matadorn.pngIt is six o’clock when we finally pull off the highway and follow the GPS instructions to the Armitage Lane County RV Park in Eugene.  We see what looks like an entrance, but GPS indicates it is further up the road, so we pass it by, realizing too late our mistake.

Now we are heading out of the city, on a rural road with no signs of a place to turn around.  Ric pulls over and checks maps.

“There should be a street up ahead that will connect us to that road over there, and then we can circle back around,” he says, pointing to a parallel road in the distance.

We see a large truck pull out of what looks like a side road ahead.  Ric makes the turn and we realize too late that it is a gravel drive of some sort.  With nowhere to go but forward, we continue until we come to an old farm house that appears to be occupied, but is in an obvious state of disrepair.  The yard around it is full of scrap vehicles and posted in several places are signs warning: “No trespassing.  Stay out!”

“Um, Ric…”

“I have no choice.  There’s nowhere to turn around.”

The gravel drive turns a corner and we follow it to a compound of some kind, fenced all around with barbed wire accenting further signs to keep out.  We can go no further.

“We’ll have to unhook the truck and try to turn around.”

There is a bit of a shoulder on one side, but the other drops into a ditch.

“It will be tight.”

Ric sees a guy behind the fence and waves him over.

“Can’t do anything for you,”  he says.  “Nothing for it but to turn around.”

“You’ll have to drive,”  Ric turns to me.

I haven’t driven for over four years, since the illness struck.  My mind doesn’t work well at the best of times, let alone when I’m this tired.

“I know.”

Then just as I’m backing the truck out of the way, another vehicle approaches and a voice says:

“I’ll open the gate for you.  You can just drive straight through and meet up with the road on the other side.”

ArmitagePkI follow the RV, not wanting to make Ric hook it up again.

“Those crazy Canadians!”  I joke to our saviours as we pass by.

They laugh.

We make it to the RV park on the second try.

This looks like an amazing place, but for now, I’m going to crash.  Some days are just like that.