30 December 2009

By the river

I always feel a bit more at home along the river. I grew up by it. I saw it every day. Crossed it to work, to play, and to worship. And now, when I have the chance to return, it continues to impart a sense of continuity and calm.


I've struggled to define a Thanksgiving tradition since returning to Oregon five years ago. I have childhood memories of watching stormy seas and walking deserted beaches. This year, I decided to spend some time in Astoria, a small town not too far from where I grew up.

beach and bird

I decided to try out a small cabin in a newly renovated hotel, and to explore downtown on foot with my camera.

Commodore Hotel

My trip coincided with the beginning of the St. Lucia Festival of Lights, where the opening ceremony was being held at the local high school.

Lucia Festival Court

Naturally, I visited some old favorites, too: the Astor Column, the Astoria-Megler bridge, the Home Bakery.


I think, perhaps, I've found my new Thanksgiving tradition.

21 November 2009

Oregon Outback: Where the... goats roam


I took a little trip the other day for work and got to see the vastness of Lake County in a new way. We stayed overnight at the Lodge at Summer Lake, a simple bank of rooms popular with hunters and other travelers passing through.

In the morning we continued on to Paisley, where our meeting was being held. Paisley is apparently know for their annual mosquito festival, but I think they should be better known for the superb made-from-scratch cinnamon rolls that the Homestead Restaurant rolls out.

Before we left, I couldn't resist snapping a photo of the psychedelic butterfly wallpaper in the women's restroom at the restaurant. Where can I get some?


16 October 2009

It's Harvest Time

There are certain activities that just seem to evoke the right mood for the season. Today, that meant a drive through the autumn foliage in the Columbia River Gorge and a pit stop at the Hood River Harvest Fest.

My first stop was Vista House, which sits atop a windy bluff overlooking the Columbia River.

They've been busy renovating the exterior of the building, but it's the view of the windows from the interior that I like:

After a windy walk around the point, I meandered east along Highway 30 enjoying the easy pace and the brightly-hued leaves. At the bottom of the hill, I made a quick trip to the base of Multnomah Falls. It's a beautiful sight any time of year.

Further east along the old highway, I came across another destination point that I've been wanting to check out: the newly reopened Oneonta tunnel.

Originally opened in 1914, the tunnel was filled in with rock in 1948. In 2006, the excavation work began, and daylight was once again seen through the tunnel for the first time in 58 years. The tunnel officially reopened to pedestrian traffic in March 2009.

My final stop for the day was the Hood River Harvest Fest. Want to taste a Tokyo Rose apple or Shinseiki pear? This is the place to do it.

There's a nice array of food booths and northwest artisans showcasing their talents. I even managed to complete a fair amount of my holiday shopping as I browsed (and bought).

There's no question that I live in a beautiful state, and autumn is one of the best times of the year to enjoy it.

04 October 2009

An Oregon Scenic Byway

Earlier this week I drove a 52-mile stretch of road along Highway 7 between Baker City and Bates that I had never travelled before. That opportunity doesn't happen very often, so I had to take a photo to document it. East of the Cascade Mountains we had enjoyed blue skies and warm temps all weekend. It was perfect bicycling and rock climbing weather. As I descended from the summit of Santiam Pass, I was once again greeted by the wind and grey skies of the Willamette Valley below.

10 September 2009

End of Summer

Ah, summer. Did you really come and go so quickly? I don't want to let you go yet. I want to take another early morning walk through Sugar House and reminisce about when you could slide into a vinyl booth at Snelgroves and spoon up a delicious ice cream treat.

I want to be ferried across False Creek in a tiny boat to enjoy the bounty of fresh produce and local art on Granville Island.

Then I want to return to that little shack tucked into a corner of the dock where they prepare fresh fish purchased just moments ago. Waiting 45 minutes in the blistering sun? Completely worth it.

And finally, I want to retreat to the 3rd-floor suite in a renovated Victorian house and leave the door ajar as I listen to the pitter-patter of rain drops and feel the static in the air as an elctrifying summer storm sweeps across the sky.

Can we do it again next year?

03 September 2009

Summer Retrospective: Part II

In a recent article, Pico Ayer wrote that "visiting a new town is like having a conversation." If you leave your assumptions at home, you can hear whatever your destination is trying to say to you.

In June, I had the opportunity to continue a conversation that I first started four years ago in Sicily. And two years ago I revived that conversation in New York City as I retraced my great-grandparents journey through Ellis Island. This time the city lead me to the Tenement Museum:

In a partially renovated 6-story walk-up, you can participate in a small group tour that will introduce you to some of the families that lived at 97 Orchard Street. It was built in 1863, and almost 7,000 working class immigrants called it home before moving on to other enclaves in the city and around the country.

Tenement Museum

I think the next time I rejoin this conversation, it will be in the small coal mining towns of western Pennsylvania.

30 August 2009

Summer Retrospective: Part I

For me, summer began at the end of April when I was able to spend an extended weekend in southern California. My sister and I happened upon a great viewing spot for the race from Newport to Ensenada.

I also took a little detour to experience an event known as the "The 1st 7th Grilled Cheese Invitational." I've always been a fan of cheese in just about any form, so it's hard to resist an event dedicated entirely to celebrating its yumminess in a gooey, grilled format.

Summer 2009 is also when my love of tart frozen yogurt started. I tried a few places...maybe 6 to be exact.

In May, I hiked 7.7 miles along the Clackamas River Trail. I'm still sporting a bruised toenail as a result of that trek. It was worth it.

At the end of June, I took advantage of a sunny weekend and made a jaunt to the Summer Kite Festival in Lincoln City. I made it in time to watch the Running of the Bols, which is a fun event -- if you like to run in sand with a giant kite strapped to your back.

09 August 2009

Oh, the places you'll go!

July saw me running across the continent from Maine to British Columbia, with stops in Oregon, Washington, and Utah sandwiched somewhere in between.

It was a month of inspiring views and conversations--with a dash of personal contemplation--and a healthy renewal of perspective as I look to what the next stage in my life will bring.

In the meantime, I hope to find a few moments to share some photos and recommendations with you should you find yourself meandering the streets of Vancouver or soaking in the vistas of Casco Bay.

11 July 2009

Six Pic Saturday: Mississippi Street Fair

How do you know you've arrived at a Portland street festival?

Mass bike parking.

Also, the requisite hula hoop dancer:

In case you were in doubt, this van is green:

And this one is orange:

A Radio Flyer shrine-to-go:

And for all those hot hoopers and pavement pounders, a little icicle tricycle to whet your palate:

07 July 2009

When the sun shines

When the sun shines in Portland, Maine, you get out and take advantage of it! I stopped by this pocket deli just down the street from my hotel to pick up a sandwich for an impromptu picnic.

And then I took it to this stunning location at Fort Williams State Park in Cape Elizabeth:

Cars, Commerce, and a Quick Commercial Flight

My fourth of July began with a lunch date in Longview, Washington, with friends from my graduating class at Rainier High School. We somehow forgot that Commerce Avenue turns into car show as part of the holiday celebrations. We had fun catching up and admiring the classic car restorations.

Later that evening I drove to PDX and a few hours later found myself across the country visiting that other Portland:

17 June 2009

Up on the High Line

NYC street

From 1930 to 1980, elevated freight trains rumbled through the Meatpacking District along a 1.45 mile stretch of track up into West Chelsea. A symbol of the area's industrial roots, it probably seemed like a good idea at first. By moving noisy trains above street level, pedestrians were able to reclaim the sidewalks. However, it also blocked out sunlight and turned the area into an unwelcoming venue after dark. In the 1990s an advocacy group formed that was dedicated to the preservation and reuse of the High Line.

High Line sign

In time, and in partnership with the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, a plan for an innovative public space was born.

High Line staircase

Designed to mimic the more contemplative nature of the rails after the trains stopped running, the new park is a space set apart from the street below that offers stunning views and a new perspective of the city.

rails in bloom

Last week the opening of the first section of the new High Line Park coincided with my own trip to the city. And happily I also had friends who wanted to explore it along with me.

piano keys

I could easily envision a dinner out, a stop by a gallery show, and then a pleasant evening stroll along the High Line.

lounging duo

14 June 2009

A Study in Green

As some of you guessed, my trip last week took me to:

The first day in New York City, I got off the subway at W 72nd Street and meandered my way toward Central Park. If you ever want to know how watermelons make it to the city, this is how:

I love how you can wander along any path in Central Park and discover new things and interesting people to watch. These ladies were playing an intense game of croquet:

The overarching canopy of trees along the Mall area of the park is easily recognizable from the many films and tv series that have used it as a backdrop:

Just beyond Bethesda Fountain you'll find many people haphazardly rowing around the lake in small aluminum boats:

I entertained my self for quite a while just watching dog walkers and school children and tourists. Oops, I guess that includes me.

07 June 2009

It's that time of year...

It's that time of year again when I hop on a plane and push everything that has to do with training and databases and year-end summaries to the back of my mind. So this Tuesday, I am going to visit a friend who lives next to this building:

In a city where you might see this convenience:

And where you can definitely find a lot of nummies (as my mom calls them) like these:

Do you know where I'm going?