Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Rock Painting

This is a new hobby for me, and I've found that my inspirations are very thin if I'm just sitting there looking at my blank rocks trying to think what to paint. After several months of this 'painter's block' I finally bought a book and started collecting images on Pintrest for inspiration and reference. I'm posting a few images here that I've gathered off of my Face Book groups that hide rocks-yes, I do that too-so I can bring them up on my tablet at my painting work table.
A local rock artist does these butterflies. I love them!

I've got to do some Dr. Who for grandchildren!

Simple and so fun!

I'm not sure I'm up to this, but it is relevant to our PNW

I'm pretty sure these are beyond my skill, but I really like them 

These are simple, but so colorful!

I do simple seascapes on shells like this, and have access to them on local beaches, so I'd like to try this. 

This looks fairly simple, but the design and artistry are very appealing 

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Trip Journal: Day 7 Travelling the Oregon Coast, Day 8, heading home

Friday, September 16th

Then here it was, our last full day on the road. At the end of the day Monday it felt as if we had endless time for leisurely exploration along our route, and in a flash, as it seemed, we were at the end of our week. I hated to see the end, after all our experiences so far, I could happily have continued on and on, like the couple in the little trailer who had been travelling for a year so far. But one more day was one more day, and I looked forward to the journey up the coast. The Oregon coast is beautiful, and I hoped the fog would recede and we could get some good views as we drove. We planned to make Astoria on the border between Washington and Oregon by night and camp there at Fort Stevens State Park, with a stop in the afternoon in Tillamook at the cheese factory. The next day we would head inland to catch I-5 and head for home. The drive time for Astoria was 7.5 hours, but we weren't really doing the math for that as we planned our day, as usual planning to be flexible. We wanted some time on the Oregon beaches as we went.

We slept well and Wayne went down and ate while I showered and then I ate while he showered. The dining area was large and well appointed and the food was fresh and local, not the usual prepackaged stuff served by chain hotels. It was a continental breakfast, but the fresh food made all the difference.

Our main stop of the day

The day started out cloudy and foggy as it had been the day before. After entering Oregon and driving for an hour or so we pulled over at a scenic overlook hoping we might be able to see something in spite of the fog. It turned out to be a good choice. Even though the fog was thick, we were able to see the beach, the waves, and the sea stacks,which are large formations of rocks sticking up from the sand and water. The foggy scene was ethereal and beautiful, and we were able to get some wonderful photos. Then at a certain point when we had enough photos, Wayne asked me, 'Should we go, or do you want to go down to the beach?' I answered, 'I could go down, or if you think we need to get going, that's ok too, it's up to you." Then he admitted, 'I didn't know what I wanted before I asked you that, but as soon as I said that I realized that I want to go down on the beach. So we headed down, and had one of the standout experiences of the whole trip.

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The tide was slowly making its way in, but there was still quite a lot of wet beach sand showing. Everywhere we looked it was beautiful. The pick-up-stick tumbles of driftwood, the stacks looming out of the fog, the scatterings of shells and wet pebbles dimpling the wet sand, the feathered fringes of beach grass all framed the surge and curve and foamy crash of waves rolling on to the shore. The beach jutted out into the Pacific at this spot so that the waves were coming in on a 90 degree curve of beach punctuated at the apex by the looming stacks.

As we walked along the beach we skirted around a huge sandy depression filled with water, a kind of sandy bottomed tide pool.  On the far side of the pool we got photos of the reflected images of some of the stacks. The fog made a back drop that increased the effect. Wayne and I fell silent as we walked, and then each wandered our own way.

A small figure to the right of the stack give some scale to this photo

I picked up some mussel shells that were especially beautiful inside, with deep blues and beautiful iridescence, all of them still fastened together in pairs. I also picked up a few rocks, some jasper, and green jade-like rocks. I hoped to use some of them for our local 'Gig Harbor Rocks' group that paints and hides rocks for others to find, but the small jade would be nice to tumble smooth.  I watched the waves and took a lot of photos and some videos. At one point I was panning a video around and found I was panning around toward Wayne as he panned a video around toward me. We got into each other's videos at the same time, laughing about it as we did so.

The waves were crashing up in fountains of spray against one of the smaller stacks, and after getting a number of photos and videos of it we talked about heading back the way we came. The tide was in enough by then to start cutting off our way back along the beach. Wayne went up high and walked through the dunes and over the drift logs, and I walked down by the water, strategically timing my progress to the ebbing of the last wave as I scurried through the tight spots. I managed to keep from getting any waves across my sneakers.

We had a little trouble locating the place we had come down, overshooting it by some distance before realizing we needed to turn back. It was about this time that I finally became aware of the passage of time again and looked at my phone to see what time it was. We had been on the beach for an hour and a half. In all that time, once we got down on the actual beach, time seemed to go into suspension. For all that time I had been just totally in the moment, in the 'now'. The sensation of timelessness was one of the best experiences I had on the trip. The waves, the fog, the immersion in the details of my surroundings, focusing on taking photos and looking for stones and shells put me in a different state of being. It was wonderful. When we decided it was time to go it was like entering the stream of time again after having been outside of time for some indefinite period.

Ultimately we got to Tillamook just after the factory closed and were 1.5 hours short of being able to get to Astoria at the end of the day, but we didn't regret it. The experience on the front end was worth losing the experiences at the end of the day.

We didn't really stop after that, just enjoyed the scenery of ocean and forest as we drove. Because we didn't stop and take photos, the rest of the day is somewhat of a blur in my mind.  We stopped for lunch in a little town when we saw an A&W restaurant. Wayne has a weakness for draft root beer in a chilled mug, and come to think of it, so do I...  We had great burgers and fries and were glad to have our one real fast food meal of the trip be so delicious.

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Online photo

At Tillamook we were somewhat inland of the shore. Tillamook is not as much a tourist destination as a beach town would be, so the choices for lodging were not great. There was one chain motel, a Shilo Inn, but the reviews were not great for it. I narrowed us down to the Ashley Inn, which had better reviews but was listed somewhat more expensive with the Shilo as second choice. Wayne went in to the Ashley and found that there were only rooms with one king sized bed available. He had a cryptic conversation with the clerk trying to find out what the local reputation of the Shilo was, but she was unwilling to speak critically of it, though her lack of praise was somewhat illuminating. We went over to the Shilo and had to wait for someone else to check in. As we stood there we were silently but mutually more and more uncomfortable. There was a smell of smoke in what was supposed to be a non-smoking hotel, and the guy checking in was seedy looking. The clerk told him about the dog he was bringing in, 'Just don't let it tear up the room'. We both had a bad feeling about staying there and after a quick consultation, went back to the Ashley Inn to share a King size bed. We were really happy with our choice. The room was spacious with a living room area at one end. We found no bugs in the bedding, so all was well for us to stay.

Online photo, but this is the layout of our room. Behind me is the Fridge/microwave and door to the bathroom

Instead of going out for dinner, we brought in our leftover baked potatoes from the night before. The restaurant had packed up the sour cream and butter that came with them and we had the package of Tillamook shredded cheese we were going to use in the taco skillet meal I had planned for that night if we had been camping. So we had our loaded baked potatoes and a cookie and a little chocolate for dessert, and felt well satisfied. Only we did leave the package of cheese in the fridge when we checked out the next day, the only thing we lost on the trip. I made the skillet meal for everyone at mom's later in the following week, after we bought more cheese.

Wayne had been worried that sharing the bed would be disturbing to me since he has the C-pap, but it is silent and less disturbing than his snoring in the tent the nights he had to sleep without it. In any case, I always use earplugs because my husband snores too, so it didn't matter one way or another to me. The King size bed was huge and felt like I was sleeping in my own separate bed because of all the space. We have often traveled together, my two brothers, my mom and I, my brother and his wife, her mom and sister, my brother, me, mom and my aunt, on different trips and the night before going on cruises together, and everyone is patient with various snoring (mine included). We use the bathroom for changing clothes and exercise patience and consideration of one another and have had good experiences with travelling together and saving money by not having to pay for separate rooms.

This was our last night, and we were glad we paid a little extra to have a room that was so comfortable. We talked to our respective spouses and caught up on Facebook before settling in to a good night's sleep.

Day  8, Saturday, September 17th. 

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We woke rested and opened the curtains to find a drizzling rain outside. Our streak of good weather had ended, but not too soon as we only had to travel home.  The hotel had a good breakfast which included eggs and sausage. We tried to eat a little more lightly because we hoped to have ice cream and grilled cheese sandwiches at the Tillamook Cheese factory.

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We had checked on when the factory opened and timed our check out for soon after that. I hadn't been to visit the factory for probably 20 years or more. I wasn't thinking about the possibility that it might have changed, so I was surprised when we turned into the visitor's parking lot and saw what was there now. I knew that the product line had expanded over the years and that I was seeing it at stores when I traveled, but I hadn't realized that it had become the 2nd best selling cheese brand in America! What was once a small, regional/local product had become a major national brand. Of course the operation had to grow accordingly, and what was once a small building with a window looking into the room where the open vats of milk were being 'cheddared' or cut into smaller pieces after setting up, was now a very large, two story building.

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When we went in, signs directed us upstairs for the self-guided tour. The tour now included multiple windows looking down on a large room with up to date machinery. Vats like I remembered were there too, but empty, and the signs explained that cheddaring was done in a large enclosed machine, and the hand cheddaring in the vats was only done for special varieties.

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The shop floor was also much larger than in the older building. We sampled from the sample dishes and then went to make our purchases. When we were children in Southern Utah our family would sometimes stop at a place where we could get fresh cheese curds, which we called 'Squeaky Cheese' because of the way it squeaked in our teeth when we ate it. That is the apparent logical name for it, because that is what others I have met call cheese curds too, and it is what Tillamook calls them too.

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We each chose some curds and some other types of cheese. I got some smoked white cheddar and some snack wrapped white cheddar for Harry as a traveling gift from me. Then we moved on to the ice cream counter and each chose two flavors, a dessert after breakfast. We learned we had to do without our grilled cheese sandwiches because lunch service was still an hour away. The ice cream was in generous portions and tasted fabulous. I especially loved my Cinnamon Horchata, which I never see in my local store.

This is a photo from online, not my actual ice cream

When we got on the road, we had full tummies and a plenty of cheese curds for snacking on the way.

The rest of the day was unremarkable. My brother Mark had arrived the day before, so we were anxious to get home and see him. He had the chance for some time with mom, just the two of them to catch up before we got there and things got busy. We got back to mom's in time to unload the van and make sure it was all cleaned out. I had put a 'Trunklet' trunk protector sheet down in the back deck of the van so it caught all the sand and pine needles and so on, leaving the van interior back floor clean from our camping. We made it back to the car rental in Federal Way a bit late for their closing time, but the manager was renting a car out at the last minute so he was able to inspect it, check the gas level and sign it off as returned in good shape. Then it was back to mom's to start our week of visiting and family activities.