Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Italy:Been there, Done that

Sorry about not blogging - couldn't remember my password. Sigh. Anyway the 2 week sin Italy went pretty fast in a very hot, physically miserable sort of way. What I learned: when everything you read says don't go there in ... believe them and don't go! The general consensus of our group ages 20 -59 was the heat really took away from our ability to enjoy the experience. That said, Rome is great for the millenniums of history piled on and ongoing. Most major sights are within walking distance of the central area but using the subway and bus systems makes it way easier on your feet. If you want to see a major sight such as the Coliseum or St. Peter's Basilica try to do it as early as possible and schedule at least a half day. I 'did' the Coliseum in about 2 hours in the blazing afternoon heat (had to catch the train out of town that afternoon) and barely touched the surface. Florence is fab with all the churches, museums, art and leather, leather, leather. The tent markets are best for bags, many of the coat merchants also have stores that they'll happily drag you into. I was saved from the evil buying frenzy by 2 factors, one I'm only starting my little trip, and it's hard to get enthused about leather jackets/coats when you're sweating in 99 degree weather, and (3) my budget. Milan was a disappointment but has the world's 3rd largest Duomo (big church); we were able to climb up to the top. The architecture is just amazing. Venice was actually nicer than I'd anticipated. The heat let up a little and a good time was had by all in the brief 1 1/2 day stay. Mostly wandered looking, used the vaporetto to get around town (not hard but can be slow); targhetti (? spelling) small gondola type boats used just to cross canals. Yes, we (6 of us) threw in for the requisite gondola ride - very cool, gondolier a little strange. San Marco Square with the cathedral, doge's palace and other huge monuments is just amazing. Also took vaporetto to Murano to see the glass. Shop, after shop after shop of glass jewelry and ornaments. Spent entire afternoon there and didn't see a 10th; also it was a Sunday so the factories weren't open and giving demos. Ciao Italy!

On Monday had to leave - boy what a fun day. Vaporetto to Marco Polo Airport, plane to Rome then about a 3 hr layover, plane to Dubai. Holy Cow Batman! The airport is amazing, 24-7 activity and shopping with a hotel onsite. I had a 4.5 hour layover from 11:30 pm to 4:30 am. Then flight to New Delhi. A truly vile spot; airport is awful and the pollution unbelieveable; 3 miserable hours there and then escape to Kathmandu. And here I am.

On my own til Saturday when the Nepal/India tour starts. So far I've gotten lost and had to use a pedicab to get back to the hotel. Took awhile because he went in the wrong directions a little bonus tour for me. Then pretty much ripped me off over the price because I'm not real clear with the money yet. Today I'm mostly resting (2 naps so far) and trying to find acceptable places to eat (2 strikes on that so far). May hire a guide tomorrow. Don't know. Stay tuned.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Outta' Here

Tomorrow morning "I'm leavin' on a jet plane" but will be back again just before Thanksgiving (Inshallah). Drew (#2 son) and his lady have just left for a 3 week roadtrip through Colorado and then back to San Diego. Joe (#3 son) is driving me up to Los Angeles today, we'll see "Julie and Julia", I'll tuck in to a hotel near the airport and tomorrow morning begin the journey to Italy.

I have my luggage down to a wheeled backpack and my bag/purse thingie. What that really means is that after Italy most of my good clothes will be shipped home and I'll reload by buying appropriate gear when I get to India.

The first thing I need to do when I get there is book a flight from Venice to Rome on the morning of August 24 so that I get to Rome in time to catch my flight to Dubia. For some reason Kathmandu will be via Dubai. And then the real fun begins because I'll need to find the train to take me to the station near the hotel in Rome . I have directions that seem reasonable but you never know.

From here on in posts to the blog will be conditional on finding internet cafes.
Stay tuned, pray that the gods of 'sense of direction' find me and take pity.
I'm off to Italy to eat! You guys pray for me ( need all the help I can get) and we'll see how 'love' turns out.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Big Stay

Well I'm stilll in San Diego, seeing a travel doctor on Friday for anti-malerial meds and some take with antibiotics and whatnot, THEN I'm hitting the road again for a few days. Or not.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Big Trouble

Haystack Rock - where the puffins nest.
And cormorants, and murres, and other
birdy creatures (saw them all through binoculars and got close up viewing and photos later on at the Oregon Aquarium where they have an aviary with local birds). It was windy and cold
really fascinating to see all the tidal
pool critters in addition to the birds.

July 8. San Diego. My long anticipated visit with old friend went somewhat awry. So on Saturday July 4 I was looking for available camp sites in gray, cloudy, not exactly warm (average temp 64) central Oregon coast but, alas, they were apparently all spoken for. So I gave up and decided to retreat to San Diego asap. I found that the wide open, drive like bats out of hell, travel from Sacramento to San Diego was less irritating than the long, slow, traverse of endless mountain roads. But I must say, if you've not yet had the opportunity to tackle California highways you are missing the biggest thrill ride(s) ever! They squeezed a few "sweet jesus's" out of me. And then I hit Los Angeles at 4:30 p.m. (I'm really good at arriving in cities during rush hours) but I needed the break, so the hour and a half crawl through wasn't so bad. Did get my brakes tested a few times but we all managed to miss each other somehow.
Since then I have been hanging out with my sons, getting my car serviced (I've driven about 7000 miles since leaving Colorado), walking on the WARM beaches,washing clothes, cooking on a stove, and getting lost in the warren of roads and highways in San Diego.

My middle son, Drew, is a photographer and last night (Friday) he had his first solo show. So my turning up out of the blue was sort of serendipitous. Things went well and everyone is a little calmer now. But I looked around at one point and noticed that none of us (even Mr. Photographer) had managed to bring a camera...what a sorry bunch.

July 14
Finally. I think all my travel arrangements, flight reservations, visa requests and so on are taken care of. Later this week I'm off to San Fransisco for a few days; I will probably take the train up there from San Diego so I won't have to worry about (and pay for) parking in the big city.
Weather here has been fabulous and I've been having such a nice time hanging out with Joe, Drew and friends. This afternoon after hitting the Fedex office to ship my passport off for visas I went to the local library. Sigh. Withdrawal from PPLD standards and expectations is really challenging. Time sure goes fast when you're doing nothing of consequence :) Take care dudes.

While here I'm taking care of ticketing, visas, insurance and so on for the next phase of this little jaunt. Next few week will get around to checking out other parts of California.

So, I'm regrouping in San Diego, taking care of my airline reservations, visa business and such, and will be using this as the base for exploring the rest of California until August 8.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


Camp #9, Dunes Recreational Area, coast or Oregon.

Somewhere along the way I decided that being in the general area I ought to visit Mt. St. Helens. So I took a deep breath and backtracked through Portland and north;on the southward run from Seattle I didn't notice the mountain at all. Going north it's kind of difficult to figure out how that was possible. Both Mt. St. Helens and Rainier are very prominent. The problem with visiting all these cool out back of beyond places is that you have to drive, and drive, and drive to reach them. I have taken to stopping at visitors bureaus (or whatever they're called). These people go crazy trying to tell you everything! And usually have some good tips re where to stay and etc. So the Eco Resort Park was highly recommended and there I went. A beautiful place out out there on the road to Mt. SH. It became memorable because I had my first nightmare (that I remember) There was a big earthquake and something cold and wet was pouring on my head. It was very real. Decidedly creepy. In the morning, packed up, had breakfast at the Resort restaurant and set sail for the mountain. Wow.
Crazy cool to look at knowing what happened but even more so after seeing a film about the eruption and hearing 2 ranger talks. Glad I visited but probably wouldn't ever stay at Eco again.
Following the afternoon at the Mt. went back through Portland (I'm really good at hitting during rush hour and mostly by dumb luck managed to get on my target route back to the coast. There's an interesting winery corridor on Route 18 west, southwest of Portland. It would be worth a visit rather than a drive by.
One really irritating thing in Oregon, other than gas station attendants, is the 55 speed limit on secondary roads. Aggghhrhhgh!
On Tuesday set up Camp #8 at Beverly Beach. This site is a little farther from the beach so not so windy and a little sunny. The beach, though as gorgeous as any, is considerably more windy and no fun at all so I went exploring all the nearby towns and scenic overviews. Saw whales; in Depoe Bay by the Whale Watching Center (hmmm)!

This morning when I woke up my first conscious thought was, "I want a gun." It was 5:45 a.m and the crows were carrying on about something. Then at 6:30 the kids one space over were out riding their lazer scooters and there's a whiny screamer. Was fixing breakfast when I ran out of propane; that's not supposed to happen. Packed up and took off for the next spot down the coast around 11:00. My first order of business was to get my car washed. Somehow I wasn't surprised when the guy said he's have to charge me for "extra dirty". We feel so much better now. Then I had to brave Wal-Mart again hoping that they'd managed to get my docs ok for a RX refill. Finally. So I'm headed south to check out the Oregon Coast Aquarium. They're rated 10th best in the country and deserve it. This is a totally awesome facility. Left there around 3:00. This trip down the coast via 101 is really turning out to be all I'd hoped for. Saw (another) lighthouse today (Heceta Head), crossed a bunch of fantabulous bridges, more bays, more beaches. Life is hard. Tonight I'm camped somewhere in the Oregon Dunes National Rec area in a nice little campground where the featured activity seems to be running dunebuggys.

Tomorrow and for the next few I'll be visiting with my old friend Penny somewhere outside of Eugene. Happy 4th to you all.

Finally back on the coast. It took a little while to find a state park with camping. Currently staying at Beverly Beach which is a lovely park - as most of them are. But the beach is relativley inhosiptable - gorgeous but so windy and cold that it's not much fun. Today decided to visit a bunch of viewpoints and tourist spots in the area. Saw whales - right by the Depoe Whale Watching Center; found out that Wal-Mart doesn't carry hatchets

Finally back on the coast

Thursday, June 25, 2009

It's Been That Long?

Beach art on Dungeness Spit, Olympic Peninsula

Well I'm at the point that I have no sense of what day it is. The newspaper tells me Thursday, June 25. OK. So, Sunday night I moved to the hostel at Fort Worden in Port Townsend, Washington (apparently some scenes from Officer and a Gentleman were filmed there) and it was pretty ok, a bunch of the people were there attending a Theatre of the Oppressed workshop. Monday I actually did go to the library - but not for long- barely room to turn around. So I mostly wandered around the little harbor town of Port Townsend which was fine for an afternoon, all kind of artsy and cafeish with more espresso places that people. Had a great raisin, sage . Bought 2 books, washed clothes. Dinner at a local beer bar, nothing going on there at all. Tuesday, I went downtown(!) to visit my favorite cofffeeshop ---and it was closed! How rude. Otherwise went on another long beach hike - I wear sunblock but get red anyway. Weather was nice so after that I broke out the shorts, flip flops and beach chair and plunked myself down for an afternoon beach read. A tad premature since it was necessary to also wear my fleece ski vest. But it was the principal of the thing. Wednesday moved on to Seattle where I was thinking to spend 2-3 days. One afternoon was enough but I loved my first ever take the car on a ferry trip! Seattle was just a bit much but not enough. The hostel was kinda creepy, some older people were staying there but I never saw them, just the alternative college crowd. Parking is hard to find and cost a lot. The general pace is rather frantic. So hasta la vista Seattle, Oregon coast here I come. Which brings me to my current location at a hostel in Seaside Oregon which is kinda east of Portland and just across the Columbia River from WA. The rain seems to have stopped. This place is on a little river and about 4 blocks from the beach. Also nearish are Mt. Rainier and Mt. but I'd have to backtrack to see them so maybe not. More hills, more trees, more not busy roads, more huge gas bills. I learned today, though, that my car has really good brakes:)

Here's a picture in case anyone has been wondering what those hostels dorms I've been staying in look like :)

Today (Friday, I think) the weather has been clear, blue, breezy and about 60.

Checked out the very southwesternmost tip of Washington; Long Beach and all the other little communities the length of this spit; Lewis and Clark National and State Historical Parks. Great day. And the bridge over the Columbia River from Astoria, OR to Washington is pretty cool. When the weather's good I'm lovin' it here.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Catch Up

Well it's taken 2 nights to get that last entry sent. It's now Sunday, June 21. I have moved on to Port Townsend and am having my first hostel dorm room experience; 7 in the room.

This morning after I packed up the tent I did the Dungeness National Wildlife Refugee 'Spit' walk. Which means a 5 miles one way hike on the beach to the lighthouse (which means 5 miles back). The weather was nice for the first time, sunni-ish and not too windy just a nice beach breeze. I went about 4 to 4 1/4 miles out and decided I didn't really need to actually go to the lighthouse so took my time ambling back. Glad I did by the time I got back to the trailed it was getting cool and windy and the tide was coming in. Good day; I have red cheeks.

Tomorrow should be a down day. They have real people beaches here and the broadband works. I'll also cross the line and hang out at the library during the day (hostel lock out 10:30-5:00). What am I doing!?

Hope all is well with everyone