Monday, November 29, 2010

The Wise Guys are Back!

We three kings of Orient are
Bearing gifts we traverse afar
Field and fountain, moor and mountain
Following yonder star

O Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to thy Perfect Light

Today we finished hanging the rest of the decorations for our 8th year of Christmas Ships Parade participation.  We still need to do some fine tuning--raise the star a foot or so, and replace some twinkle light bulbs on half the star, but we are good to go otherwise.

(Mike Shappert of Tide Change gave us the nickname 'The Wise Guys' in past years.  He has a nativity display, and we always try to run together in the parades.)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Its nice not to get Blown Up!

At times you will hear about how dangerous it is out there cruising, Pirates, Murders, Robberies, etc.  Well last night we were here:

"A Somali-born teenager attempting to detonate what he believed was a car bomb at a packed Christmas tree-lighting ceremony in downtown Portland, Ore., was arrested by the authorities on Friday night. They had spent nearly six months tracking him and setting up a sting operation, officials in Oregon said."

Yup, nice to not get Blown Up last night.  Thank you to all those who help assure a less dramatic outcome.   And yes, this does go to show that there is Danger everywhere, not just in Cruising Land.  Maybe it would be safer to move on to Mexico??? 

Friday, November 26, 2010

Feeling Christmas-y

Last weekend, we bought a new battery for daughter Christine's pick-up, then Al borrowed the truck to borrow back the Christmas Ship display we gave away after last season's end.  Remember, we had planned to be 'up North' by now...

Ready for assembly

The star is taking shape

Hoist it up, and lash it to the mast!

We got cooled off, good and plenty, since the stove went out just after Al said 'We have to pump more fuel for the stove.'  The star was enough work for today, so we layered up and rode MAX downtown for the tree lighting ceremony.  The line at Starbucks was unbelievable, so we found the best viewing spot we could.  All the 'seats' were taken even 45 minutes before it was due to begin.  

Our view, early on

Pioneer Courthouse, a little later

The sponsors for the evening

Pink Martini, Pacific Youth Chorus, Oregon Symphony,  KGW, KINK, Mayor Sam Adams, and SANTA made appearances.

Ta Da!  We were all told to go to to find more events at Pioneer Square and downtown this holiday season.  I just checked!  Christmas Ships are mentioned on Page 5!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Coffee Shop Review

Al and I love our coffee!  We have a really good grinder, and really enjoy the scent of freshly ground beans.  We have a drip brewer, a French press, an old-fashioned percolator, and a 'mocha pot' to make espresso on the stovetop 'the way an Italian nonna would'.  Al often laments my decision that we didn't have enough room to keep the espresso maching on the boat, or to carry the amount of milk we would go through to have a daily latte.  Michael appreciated that decision though.

Coffee has long been a part of our relationship, from our 'first date, that wasn't a date' at Starbucks.  And now that we are 'retired', one of our favorite things to do is go to a coffee shop, sip our favorite drink, read the paper or a book, surf the web.  

It's not the jolt of caffeine that we are neccesarily after, in fact, we notice more and more that our bodies really don't appreciate caffeine.  It's more the atmosphere of relaxation.  Hopefully a comfy chair, and an hour to be together, but separate in our quiet pursuits.

We have tried lots of coffee shops in the Portland/Vancouver metropolitan area, and here are MY views of many of them.

Starbucks.  Okay, let's just get the giant out of the way.  What I appreciate most about Starbucks is the consistancy of their product.  You can visit any Starbucks in the WORLD and your mocha will taste the same from location to location.  They produce a huge volume, so they have got the system down, which generally results in speedy service.  When I was working at Pacific University in Forest Grove, I became an almost daily customer at the Cornelius OR location.  Most of the staff knew my name, and knew my usual drink.  In fact, if I planned to have something different, I would have to announce it quickly and loudly, or my usual would be prepared before I got up to the register!  Michele was a shift supervisor there, moved to the Streets of Tanasbourne, then to the 185th connected to Barnes and Noble, where she is the manager--Yay Michele!  Step-son Michael works at the Washington Square location in the new addition.  We also frequent the Janzen Beach, 8th St Vancouver, and 25th & Main in Vancouver locations.

But our favorites are the 'little guys', the small independent shops, many with funky decor and mis-match chairs.  

Maggie's Buns, Forest Grove OR.  Named for the famous cinnamon rolls baked on site, I think this shop's emphasis is the food, but they do make a good mocha.  Very eclectic, and quite busy due to Pacific University being across the street.

Insomnia now with TWO locations in Hillsboro OR.  I like the original store on Baseline with it's funky decor and variety of seating options.  There is live music on the weekend evenings.  I have visited the new location once at the Streets of Tanasbourne, off Cornell.  It seems smaller, with a more 'orderly' feel, but some great artwork on the walls.  They craft fabulous drinks from  Sleepy Monk coffees roasted in Cannon Beach.  Try the coconut latte or mocha, or Pumpkin Spice Chai.

Longbottom Coffeehouse and Roasting Factory off Shute Rd on NW 235th Ave in Hillsboro serves breakfast and lunch (try Ginger's Farmers Strata!) and makes a great caramel macchiato.  There is a large window from the cafe to the warehouse where you can observe the roasting operation.

Bean and Tree at Riverplace in Portland.  Owner Tracey makes the best lattes, steaming her milk with a fabulous thick mouth feel and using Stumptown coffee.  They have vegan pastry options

Seize the Bagel on Mill Plain Blvd in Vancouver WA.  The site of choice for Tea with the ladies on Sunday mornings.  Certainly more of a bagel shop (could you guess?) but they do an okay mocha, and have a bottomless cup of brewed coffee (in addition to Tea, if you wish).

River Maiden Coffee House on Devine in Vancouver WA.  Specialty is any of about 8-10 varieties of Stumptown coffees done on the Clover Vacuum Press.  If you love french press coffee, this is the ultimate!  They call it 'coffee in HD'.  We had 'the best coffee in the world' at this location.  There is a River Maiden Coffee Bar on Main in Vancouver, very small location, more for to-go orders.

Paper Tiger on Grand in Vancouver WA.  Makes a VERY yummy latte.  This makes up for the rather poor selection and quality of the pastries we have tried.  They micro-roast their own beans.

Mon Ami on Main in Vancouver.  Also uses Stumptown coffee.  They serve great crepes with varieties good for both breakfast and lunch.  

Compass Coffee on Main in Vancouver.  Just had our first visit here today.  Even though we have used the credit union across the street, we really had no idea it was there.  We tried it today, on recommendation of neighbor Bob in the marina.  We were looking for lunch too, and had bowls of scratch-made Navy bean soup.  Tomorrow's is a Potato Lentil with Curry.  There were sandwiches, and shop-made pastries.  The coffee was fabulous!  Al had a pour-over brew in a Kenya variety, and I had a hazelnut latte.  They roast their own. We shall return!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Alone Again....


Has it really been two weeks since we have made it back into a slip for the winter?  Guess so - and have we been BUSY.   Well, busy in a relative kind of way.

Today I am alone on the boat - again.  Kristi has been out and about doing the Social Thing almost every day (between taking stuff we do not use off the boat, Laundry, etc).  And as we have only one car now, that leaves me stranded somewhere.   Today it is the Boat with her parting words (in effect) WORK ON SOMETHING!

 So today I mixed up a batch of Sour Dough starter to share with Michael (my Son) tomorrow, and am getting ready to work on the aft hatches some - they need to have new caulking placed between the deck boards.  Today need to reef out the old caulking, then tape and re-caulk.   Instructions say caulk is good to 40 degrees, weather says will be around 50 for a few more days.  So - best get on it.

OK, For those who do not know about teak decking, picture this:  At some time in the past someone said "Hey, I have an idea on how to make a roof on a boat!  Let's take some strips of wood, and then put caulking in between them to make it 'water proof'.  That should work!"  Ya, works great.  Just great.  (read:  sarcasm)  But it's traditional, and is how Viking Star was built - so will keep working at it. . . .

Well, guess I had better get on it.  Hatch covers, move alternators around, prop up the steering tubes some more.  Hmm . .  Can not get to the garage, so door and making of a crow-foot for the rudder post will have to wait - guess I could cut some Bung Plugs.

Wow, am tired already.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Another Home

Vancouver.  We love Vancouver, and it has been easy to make ourselves at home here.  It has a small-town feel, and we find it easy to get around.

We were here one sunny day last week to do a quick run through some 'stuff' in the garage, pick up things needed for projects on the boat, and fill a box to drop off at the local Goodwill.

We stopped at one of the many 'favorite' coffee shops, Mon Ami, for crepes and lattes, then walked to the credit union to deposit the TWO paychecks that arrived while we were gone on our trip (Al is a 'business' and cannot have direct deposit into an individual account).

We noticed several changes in the few months we have been travelling.  A couple of stores are gone, a couple are temporarily closed due to fire damage, and there were a couple of new stores.  We are excited about the new one we checked out, Neighbors Market.  It is on Main at McLoughlin in downtown Vancouver.  It is following the 'Buy Local' movement, and sells produce and products grown or made in the Pacific Northwest.  On that trip we bought soup from a Tualatin OR company, bread from the Je' Taime bakery (also on Main St. in Vancouver) and a chocolate bar from Seattle WA.

At today's visit  I see some new products on the shelves.  Personal care items, pet food and cat litter, 'green' cleaning products.  I bought another loaf of bread and told her I was looking for leek soup, so she made a note and said she would see if the company made that kind.  She expects another big shipment on Wednesday, so their product list is growing!

Today, I dropped Al off at the garage.  He put another coat of paint on projects at the boat, which makes the boat a not-very-pleasant place to be for awhile.  So he is at the garage beginning 'The Door'.  Presently 'The Door' is his bathrobe, hung every evening between the main and aft cabins.  I am visiting Starbucks, sipping a chai tea latte, working on this blog post, and checking the news and Facebook.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Coming Home

I have spent the past week visiting the grandkids, having coffee with my daughters, and wondering when I will see my college student son.  Three of our five kids had birthdays while we were gone, so we have celebrated a couple of those.  (Still waiting for Micah...)

Home is where the heart is.

But I could never truly be HOME until I visited my church family.  Today was our first time to Forest Grove United Methodist Church since April, when we moved full-time onto the boat.

And 'My People' didn't fail me.  The 'Welcome Back!'s started in the parking lot.  Hugs were given and received.  Two of my 'moms' from my trip to the Holy Land in 1996 were in attendance.  During 'joys and concerns' Al and I were going to stand and say we were glad to be back, but Maryjane beat us to it!

The congregation spent last Sunday in service in the community, so this Sunday was the All Saints celebration, where we remember those who have died in the past year.  One of the eldest members, Vic Albro, died while we were away.  Vic had seen me grown from a newlywed to new mother, go through divorce, fall in love again and remarry, and become a grandmother.  Vic and I shared a pew often, and I will miss greeting him on Sundays.

It was also Communion Sunday.  Sometimes communion events can make me cry, and it happened again today.  Sam is a World War II veteran.  And with age he has come to rely on a walker to help him get around.  But today he received the communion elements, and then left his walker to kneel at the rail.  Sam's wife is a member of the choir, so two other women waited with Sam while he prayed, and then made sure he got back to his seat.

And all I could think of were the song lyrics based on 2 Chronicles 7:14.  If My People, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray....

It sure humbled ME.

Kristi's Trip Summary

Just the Facts, Ma'am:
We began our adventure on Thursday Sept 16, in the rain, and ended on Monday Nov 1, in the rain.  Six and a half weeks. In between, we had great weather, one day of RAIN in Hood River, and a few sprinkles a few other days. 
We travelled approximately 750 river miles, were locked up to 736 feet in elevation and back down to sea level.
We went 'as far as we can go' on FOUR rivers, the Columbia, the Snake, the Clearwater, and the Palouse.  We were limited by any of the following:  depth, bridges, or charts.
We took 1234 photos.  That is not a made-up number.  That is the last image number in Picasa, less the first image number from Sept 16, PLUS the 10 more shots left in the camera after the 'log boom' post.  There was lots of great scenery, so it was easy to get great photos. 
Those facts covered, it's now time for my somewhat random thoughts on the trip.  Warning:  the views expressed may or may not be shared by my travelling companion.
Al wanted to take 5-6 weeks for this trip, and we didn't go much over that, even with a week longer than expected in the Tri-Cities area.  It is important to remain flexible in the schedule to allow for weather delays and for personal inclemence.  However, I believe for this trip to be MORE ideal, it should be begun the day after Labor Day.  That would be nearly two weeks earlier than we travelled.  And six weeks would get you back around October 15, which is when many of the parks and marinas begin closing down for the season, or at least turning off the water and pumpouts.
I really LOVE taking my bed with me!  It is so comfy and cozy, and it's OURS. 
On the trip upriver, it seemed easy and natural to call the boat 'home'.  But I think once we turned and began the return downriver, the closer we got to Portland/Vancouver the more I slipped into calling IT home.  Al called me on it once.  He asked 'What are you going to do next Spring?' referring to our plans to head north, with no return (with the boat) scheduled for 3-5 years.  I said 'I think you will be buying a few train tickets.' 
I really missed my kids and grandkids. Cell phones and Facebook just don't take the place of hugs and kisses.  I look at the relationship my kids have with their grandparents, which just isn't as close as the one I had with my own granparents.  We lived half way across the country, and even though we made a point to visit once a year as the kids grew up, and Mom and Dad came out once a year,  that really isn't enough.
I think Al and I got along quite well.  Our biggest days of aggravation are due to PMS, which seems, anyway, to be exacerbated by the close quarters of the boat.  We are both learning to watch the calendar carefully.
Al has jokingly called me his memory.  At introductions he says openly 'I won't remember your name unless my wife is here!'  This is VERY true.  Often the words coming from his mouth do NOT match what I KNOW he means to say.  This does concern me more than a little.  I don't know if this has truly increased, or if I just notice it more because we are spending so much more time together.  He does not appear to have any trouble work-wise at all.
The actual adapting to living on the boat has gone very well, I think.  There are plusses and minuses, of course.  I am really sick of the same old clothes, but we are in a change of season, so that may feel better for awhile.  There is no room to be making any additions to the wardrobe. 
We still have a garage full of 'stuff for the boat'.  So I am presently trying to go through some nooks and crannies to remove things that have not been used in the last six months.  

Monday, November 1, 2010

A Rare Sight!

Wow, are we excited!  Not only did we begin the last leg of our trip just about an hour ago, but in over 10 years of boating on the Columbia we have never before seen a log boom in tow!  And in such a beautiful surrounding--the fall colors and the mist around the gorge cliffs...


front of the boom

Klickitat at work.  See the tow line?

Captain Al says to note the three vertical lights, signifying a tow astern with a total length of over 200 meters.