31 December 2010

2010: One Long Road Trip

I went a few places this past year that you may not know about. Like the 2,045 mile road trip from Salem, Oregon, to southern California and back.

I discovered my favorite mission so far: Mission Nuestra Senora de Soledad. Tiny and inconspicuous, it was off the beaten path among farmland outside the community of Soledad.

I stopped in San Luis Obispo for three nights, and promptly fell in love with the area. I visited Cambria, Morro Bay, and drove past those famous, happy California cows grazing the hillsides below Hearst Castle.

From there, I enjoyed a brief stop in Santa Barbara. Of course, it meant another mission tour.

A walk on the beach. Some decent Indian food. And the admiring of a lot of tile in the city courthouse. Make sure you climb to the top of the bell tower for a fantastic panoramic view.

A few months later I found myself on a boat cruising around the Hawaiian islands with my parents. It was my first time to any of the islands, and a great way to get an overview of where I might want to return to.

In July, I was introduced to the Basque culture that surrounds Boise during Jaialdi.

In September, my sister met me in Hermosa Beach for a weekend of tart frozen yogurt, letterpress art, and bicycling along the beach.

There were also half a dozen road trips to eastern Idaho, two weekends in Salt Lake City, and a return visit to Portland after eight months away. A visit during which I never took a single picture. Hard to believe.

It's been a year of tremendous change for me personally and professionally. And I'm looking forward to what 2011 will bring!

17 July 2010

Summer is the Season of Handmade

Mention the words "local" and "handmade" in the same sentence, and I'm likely to show up to whatever is happening. That was the case today when I learned earlier in the week about the supa summa craft market at the Flying M Coffeegarage in downtown Nampa.

Nampa, you say? Yes, let's go for a walk around downtown Nampa and see what we find. Did anyone else grow up with an 88 cent store in their town?

I saw this sign and immediately recalled the worn hardwood floors and the tinkling bell of the store that graced a corner of the small Oregon town I grew up in. Of course, the store longer exists, but it's still fun to see a vestige of days gone by.

Around the block, I stopped in to check out the wares on display at Urban Shed, a large consignment shop with contemporary and antique finds.

It's the building as much as the contents that will draw you in. Far in the back, I found a small glass dish to catch my keys and sunglasses when I step in the door at home.

Across the street, it was the handmade jewelry that attracted my attention at the Brass Razoo Boutique.

And once I was there, I was drawn in by the artful and clever displays of both furniture and clothing. By the time you reach the back of the store, you won't feel like you're in Nampa anymore, but a chic boutique that has recently garnered national attention.

I like the eclectic heartbeat that downtown Nampa has. I've seen traditional downtowns struggle in every area I've lived in, and it's encouraging to see this growing revival of boutiques. Sure, you can find both the hip and the ordinary, but more importantly, you can support local and handmade.

Some places to check out on your own walk around downtown Nampa:

Brass Razoo Boutique
115 13th Avenue South

Flying M Coffeegarage
1314 2nd Street South

Retro Connection
1305 2nd Street South

Urban Shed
120 13th Avenue South

The White Pine Boutique
1306 2nd Street South

06 July 2010

So...I moved to Idaho

So, last month I moved to Idaho. Boise, to be exact. And I've been giving myself some time to adjust and do all the little things one must do when relocating and starting a new job.

A couple weeks ago, I finally went out to start exploring my new environs. I had seen the Boise Depot poised along the edge of the bench plateau on earlier trips to the area, and I wanted to get a closer look. I thought it might be an appropriate way to introduce you to my new city.

Completed in 1925, the Union Pacific Railroad Depot was a key element in the design of a grand boulevard into Boise. It anchors one end of the boulevard, while the state capitol building marks the opposite end.

I was particularly attracted to the Spanish Colonial architecture and red tile roof. It's not a style you see often in the Pacific Northwest. The surrounding grounds are beautifully landscaped, and the pond below the waterfall and rock grotto has the largest koi fish I have ever seen!

In some ways, the interior reminded me of being in the main hall on Ellis Island, although on a much smaller scale.

I've already been scouting out local events and nearby places to visit. And though I've spent a fair amount of time travelling through Idaho on my way to other places, the state itself is going to be full of new adventures for me.

21 April 2010

One more time

Before the craziness of moving is upon me...

One more walk around the neighborhood.

One more head pat for Zelda the bassett hound.

One more slice of chocolate buttermilk cake.

One more afternoon at Powell's.

One more drive to the coast.

I feel like this move is halfway between where I've been and where I'm going.

22 February 2010

A Pit Stop

I remember on family car trips we would stop at the Olive Pit when we were passing Corning, California. I haven't been on this stretch of road for (gulp) over 20 years. So when I started seeing the signs along the side of the road, I knew I had to pull over and see what they had to offer.

They've completely remodeled their shop, and now have a small cafe adjacent to their tasting bar and open shelves. You can peruse row after tidy row of glass jars with tantalizing and tasty offerings such as Blue Cheese Stuffed Spicy Olives and Cuban Pitted Olives.

Of course, I couldn't resist picking up a jar or two for myself. I settled on Deep South Cajun Pitted Olives and Lemon Citrus Olives. Mmm!

25 January 2010

Poetry in Motion

Every winter the Oregon coast is host to a unique event: Fisher Poets on the Edge. In the past, my work schedule hasn't allowed me to attend. But this year? I made a plan and escaped to Newport to see and hear what the fuss was about.

I had a little time before the main even on Saturday night, so I grabbed my camera and walked along the docks on Yaquina Bay.

This guy wanted his own space apart from the clan on the neighboring rocks:

That night it was standing room only at the Oregon Coast Aquarium as a lineup of fishermen (and one woman) recited tales and songs of their lives on the sea.

In measured meter and rhyming couplets, they had the crowd spellbound with their words. And in between sets, we were welcome to stroll through the exhibits.

I don't think one could ever tire of watching jellyfish.