Tag Archives: Roadtrip

Weekly Art Challenge: DISTANCE

Hey Folks!!

This week our theme is: DISTANCE

RJ – Three Bridges, Photograph

RJ’s photograph reminds me that distance is quiet and sometimes peaceful, like a day in the park; and gives us the space needed to see the full picture. The three bridges along the canal are spaced apart and each with their own story, yet they are connected by the flowing water of the canal and together they form the fuller picture seen from a distance.

rj distance

 

Karri – Heart, Collage on Paper

“This week I used pieces of torn maps of all the places my loved ones are, spanning 4 states. Though it might seem like a great distance, they all seem to fit nicely on this piece of paper.”

I love the puzzle aspect of the torn map pieces “fitting nicely” together, despite the distance between the people represented by each piece. The people that love you will always love you no matter where you are on the map.

karri 0 distance

 

Emily – Distance Makes the Heart Grow Fonder, mix media

“Heres my entry for this week. My partner recently left for university, so yeah that’s what this is about “
Emily’s piece reflects the distance of the heart and it pulls the viewer into feeling that distance with her. I like the transparency of the faces over the map. Seeing the lines and shapes beneath facial expressions further suggests that distance is more than space between two points, but also an emotion.
IMG_2281

 

Amber – Wanderlust, instagram photograph

This was a somewhat difficult challenge for me. I had too many ideas shifting around inside my head. The concept of distance is both spatial and emotional for me, and the two are tightly connected in various ways.

When I was seven my mother allowed a rainbow “priest” named Blue to bless me. His blessing (or prediction, depending on how you look at it) was that I would forever wander, that I would find plenty and nothing at all – or something along those lines. He also gave me a piece of glass made from lightening striking the ground and told me I would eventually lose it, I did.

I travel a lot, both for work and for pleasure. The happiest years of my life are those with distance covered, the most depressing years are those that were stagnant. The people I love the most in the world are scattered all over it, I am never near enough of them. But, I can’t stop moving about because that is when I will feel the distance from everyone and emotionally shut down.

This is a theme that I plan to return to and fully explore in the future, but for now I present a photograph of an antique toy car, an old map of Denver, postcard of Wyoming and a tiny teacup – representing me – to represent the time, emotion and spatial aspects of distance in a way that is connected to me.

 

IMG_2335

 

Next challenge is a two week challenge and the theme is: OCEAN!

Thanks for stopping by!

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Alaska – Meeting our Deck-mates!

May 18th – Day 2 of our adventure!

BC coastline

BC coastline

Robert and I have become comfortably settled on our lounge chairs under the warm solarium heaters and taking in the peaceful and stunning views of the British Columbian coastline. This is the ultimate way to travel to Alaska. Great views, good company and large picnic basket of treats!

AM 18 ferry 10

British Coastline

Last night we began meeting our deck neighbors. They were a unique group of people. We had elderly couples moving to Alaska for retirement, a family of 12 musically talented kids on tour, students, more musicians, adventurous types from New Zealand to France and so forth. Everyone had a story.

 

Under the solarium

Under the solarium

First there was a man named Greg. He set up camp next to us on the first night and immediately began talking about his life, his past adventures and the new adventure he was about to start.  He became a big part of our ferry passage experience. Greg is a great and affable guy. I would love to tell you more about him, but I am saving the next post just for him.

Coastlines

Coastlines

In the café I met our deck mate Bob, a traveling ER Nurse and HAMM radio caller who was one his way to Homer, AK for a three month job assignment. Bob loves his job and is constantly moving about from one city to another working here and there as an ER nurse. He had even spent a year or so living and working in Hawaii while his daughter went to college. I instantly liked Bob. He was a very nice guy and we had many wonderful conversations over the next couple of days on a wide range of topics from travel to social issues. He was helpful enough to tell me all about some RV resources that I might find useful for future road trips and taught me the difference between Star side and Port Side! Which is very handy to know when the captain tells you that there is something of interest on port side to know what the heck port side is!

Oliver and Bob

Oliver and Bob

I also met Oliver, a traveling Frenchman and musician from the Paris area. He took to the family of touring musicians on the deck.  I watched him play his guitar with them a few times. The little boy from the family really liked him and would keep running up to him to show off what he was learning on his instrument. Oliver was really good with him! He also hung out with the girls from New Zealand – I didn’t speak with them much but not from not wanting too. With so many people I just didn’t get to make my way to them. Always missing one another.

Deck tents

Deck tents

We met an older couple who was drunk most of the trip. I don’t remember their names but the older man was a riot! He had a Mohawk with rattail and would repeat every question he asked several times. He talked a lot about his ex wife while his current and younger wife just sat and looked on like she wasn’t hearing anything. Several times he would offer his “Smooth” Brazilian rum. It was as smooth as a cactus plant! The couple was moving to Alaska because it was the man’s goal to return before he was 60 and he was achieving that goal with one day to spare! A few times I told him it was my birthday the day before. Each time he would ask “How old are you”. “34” I would reply and he would always respond “ I have kids older than you”. HAHA He thought Robert and I were a couple, though he would always make it known that it was not any business of his no matter how many times we told him we were only friends. He would ask questions I think just to ask and then forgot he asked them half way through our replies so the cycle would keep going. Must have been that “smooth” rum!  My favorite moment with the old man was when he asked if I met the pastor and I thought he was asking if I had met the bastard! What an awkward moment that was!

 

Coastline

Coastline

Finally there was a young Tlingit youth on hi way home from the lower 48. He was training as a mechanic near Portland, OR. Nice kid. We talked about the totem poles and he answered many questions that I had about how they were created. Impressive stuff, but more on that in a later post!

British Columbia Coastline

British Columbia Coastline

The passage today was good. We did have an hour or two in open water – thank goodness I wasn’t hung over. I don’t know how the Mr Mohawk with the “smooth” Brazilian rum fared in this portion of the trip. I was sober and not enjoying the rocking of the ship. I had to stay in the center of the ship and focus my mind on something other than the rocky movements to keep myself from getting seasick.  It was a short span and then the ship was back in the calmer more narrow channels of water.

 

Later in the day I actually saw whales off in the distance. I tried to tell people but everyone on the deck just looked at me and smiled like I was crazy or speaking in tongues. I don’t know, perhaps I was… There were whales in the distance, Killer whales in fact, but then the young boy from the musical family came over to correct me, actually he schooled me, about the whales not being whales. He said they were actually dolphins. I laughed and knowing not to argue with a 10 year old since they are usually smarter than the rest of us, I said “oh well, I am not from a sea area”. His responded “ well, I am from Minnesota”.  HA! Okay kid, point taken!

A few days later I learned from Bob that Killer Whales are not whales and they are actually a type of dolphin. Perhaps its time to change their names?

Robert

Robert

AM 18 ferry 4

Rocky Spruce Islands

Coastlines

Coastlines

AM 18 ferry 6

Evening

Am 18 ship 6

View of Solarium

 


Alaska, The Beginning

Alaska sign

Traveling to Alaska was one of the most epic adventures I have ever tackled. It took me over a year to plan a month long  trip and was originally meant to be myself with three other people in a rented car tramping freely around the state. I can’t even give a number to how many times a route had to be changed or someone would drop out or to come to realization that one of my bucket list stops was not going to be possible during this trip. There were moments when I swore that I was never going to figure out the Alaska Marine Highway schedule – tip: skip the website and call the AMHS office!

AM 17 ferry shadow

My shadow!

In the end it was simply me, my friend Robert, my xterra – Teddy the Bean – and Alaska, my 49th state. It was perfect and better than planned!

the ferry

The columbia

The epic adventure began with a three thousand mile cross country trip from hometown, New Jersey to Seattle, Washington. Five days driving west, admiring the changing landscape, two mini Montana adventures and three friendly hitchhikers before arriving in Seattle to pick up Robert who was flying in from Florida. The first thing Robert said to me when I picked him up was “I hope you are prepared for this, I’m not!” That was when I knew that we were going to have a memorable adventure.

Robert

We made our way from Seattle to Bellingham – the I-5 bridge collapsed a few days after we crossed over it, scary – and spent a day collecting all the camping gear that we both procrastinated to purchase. Our plan was to board the ferry at the Bellingham terminal and enjoy three days of scenic views as we make our way to Juneau. Robert and I both thought it would be better and cheaper to camp under the solarium with other more adventurous travelers and it was the best idea!

Sunset 2

I first met Robert at a 2010 Travbuddy Iceland meet-up in Reykjavik. At the time I didn’t get much of a chance to get to know him, it was a large and rowdy meet up; but I instantly thought he was a really cool guy who clearly knew how to have some fun. He was the first person to accept my invitation to drive to and around Alaska and the only person who stayed when everyone else dropped out. Standing on the 8th deck with Robert and the rest of the solarium campers I knew that it was a blessing that everyone else dropped out. Not because the trip would be less amazing with the others, but I came to realize something that I had missed during past road trips with larger number of people. I realized that traveling with a larger group almost and unintentionally cuts you off from everyone else around you. Robert and I were able to mingle more with locals and other travelers because it was only two of us. We were more approachable and had more time to approach others. Additional people and then we might not have been quite as social. Not rudely anti-social, just more content with our group and maybe less aware of those around us. A smaller group allowed the freedom to make connections outside the group.

AM 17 solarium

The solarium

Robert and I met many new people on the ship, but I will save that for the next post.

 

AMH 17 ferry 1

The coast.

 

Bellingham 2

Bellingham terminal

AM 17 ferry sunset 3

AM 17 ferry sunset 1


Mt St Helens National Volcano Monument

Work has taken me out to the West coast. While I was visiting the West my sweet loving nieces, having learned that I was only a hop, skip and jump away from Mt St Helen’s National Volcano Monument, requested that I go and take some photos for them. This was the first time either of my nieces have made a specific travel related request – besides “can you wait for us before going to Australia?” –  and in the spirit of supporting their own desires to travel and see the world I made and kept my promise.

Silver lake

Silver lake

The day started out as foggy and grey as any late Autumn day in the Pacific Northwest. In the morning, when I peered out the hotel window, my heart dropped and hopes of fantastic views quickly diminish; but I am stubborn and was determined to go for the sake of keeping a special promise.

This was my second attempt, the first was unsuccessful due to foggy damp weather and my father not knowing where to go. For my more successful attempt I took the Northern route, Rt 504. I was still unsure about the quality of views, but I knew that my nieces were counting on me and I reminded myself several times that I had NOTHING else to do. Views or not, this was much better than spending another day in the hotel room with nowhere to walk.

Feet!

Self portrait with Mt St Helen’s

In hindsight I should have just driven all the way to the Johnston Ridge Observatory, but I couldn’t help myself and stopped several times at several visitor centers along the way. Most of the centers, including the Johnston Ridge Observatory, were closed this late in the season; but I still found the informative plaques to be engaging.

St Helens VIII

Ridge trail

With each mile the sky and views became clearer and more stunning. At one point the scenery was too amazing for me not to pull over into the viewpoint pullout to take some photographs. It was here I met a lovely couple, the Schindlers, who had forgotten their camera at home and none of us could figure out how to work his camera phone. They had decided to get out of the house and have a little adventure of their own. I didn’t want them to leave the national monument without any photos, especially since the grayness from earlier had passed and the view was spectacular. The Schindlers wrote an email address down for me and Mrs Schindler gave me a warm hug before we parted ways.

SH XXI

Prior to reaching the J.R Observatory I turned onto a road to view Coldwater lake – one of the lakes formed by the 1980 eruption. I quickly found the trail that eventually led to a boardwalk walkway over the lake. The view was of course gorgeous. The water was smooth and clear as ice. Fortunately for me there were plenty of benches to perch myself and take in the landscape. I met another individual who once worked for the National Forrest Service and lived nearby when the 1980 eruption occur. We talked briefly about the eruption and how the Coldwater lake was formed and took about six years to transform from a murky muddy mess into the clean and peaceful body of water before me.

coldwater lake

Coldwater Lake

Finally, I set out for the final Observatory. As I am pulling out of the parking lot I see the Schindlers flagging me down. They wanted to warn me about the snow on the road and to be careful. So sweet! The road was not that bad, not for my car with brand new tires and 4WD. I was surprise to see so many people at the observatory. There didn’t seem to be as many on the road today. The air was colder than it was just a few miles away at the lake. The landscape was incredible! I am not sure, but I think I was maybe 3.5 straight miles away from Mt. St. Helen’s.

Shadow

Shadow fun on the ridge trail

I was told by many that Mt St Helen’s was amazing, I expected it to be “pretty” and “cool”, but this was beyond my imagination. I saw a paved walkway that went up to a higher viewpoint. so up I went. From there I noticed the walkway continued and became a dirt path. I continued following. Eventually I left the Observatory behind with its crowd of visitors and was walking along the mountain ridge with Mt St Helen’s on my right. I couldn’t stop myself, not yet at least. I must have walked about three miles out before I had to force myself to turn around. The sun was 45 minutes from setting and I didn’t have a flashlight with me to help navigate the trail at night, though I don’t think it would have been difficult.

St Helens Night

When I made it back to the observatory I noticed my phone had bars and that I could call my sister and speak with my nieces. I spoke with them as the sun went down, telling them about my day and making more promises to take them on adventures when they are older. My one niece asked “when I am, like 22, maybe I can call you and we could go some place. Can I?” . I assured them that they can ALWAYS call me and that we will go many places in the future. Love those sweet girls.

Night View

Night view

St Helens IX