Posted in Motorcycle, travel

Enthusiasms

I love little kids’ enthusiasm for motorcycles, maybe because it so closely mirrors my own. Yesterday we were walking along Newport’s waterfront district, each of us with a helmet in one hand and a mocha from the Surf Shop in the other, when a little guy grabbed his mother’s hand and piped loudly, “Look, Mommy! Motorcycle-guys!” Back at camp a gaggle of youngsters approached our site to ask if they could look at the bike, and the youngest informed us gravely that the reason he has to grow up is so he can get a motorcycle.

Yesterday afternoon we took the bike for a long run down Coastal Highway 101—a wonderfully winding road weaving along the ocean’s edge with spectacular views of waves, cliffs, beaches, bridges… it’s the kind of road for which motorcycles are made

We stopped at the Sea Lion caves to stretch our legs and use the facilities, but declined to pay the exorbitant price tag to go gape at the animals. We’ve been doing pretty well with wildlife sightings on our own. Not long after we pulled out of that stop, a shadow caught my eye and I looked straight up (another advantage of bikes—the unimpeded view) at the underside of an eagle winging right over us with an auk in its talons!

Earlier in the morning we clambered out on the rocks below the lighthouse cliffs, poking around in the tide pools and admiring the low-tide look at marine life. It’s not the high season for whale migration past this coastline, so imagine our delighted surprise when a pair of gray whales surfaced just off our rocks, spouted, flicked their tails at us, and sank again… and three more times. (And I’m laughing to think that our excitement at spotting whales sounded an awful lot like that waterfront tyke’s excitement at spotting us… I guess “motorcycle guys” are a wildlife category in our own way.)

There’s something so much more satisfying about finding the critters in their actual habitat—I do enjoy the Oregon Coast Aquarium, but the real ocean is exponentially more amazing. And along those lines… Today was DIVE day!

Jon and I each have a lot of diving under our belts, but (thanks in part to my horrendous head-cold during last year’s visit to the coast) we hadn’t yet been diving together. “We’ll see how tough you really are,” he grinned at me this morning, over my pile of thick neoprene wetsuit, gloves, booties, and hood stacked on the dive-shop counter. As everyone seems to feel obliged to point out to us when we mention our dive plans, the water here on the Oregon Coast is cold

But oh so worth it. Our camp clothesline is festioned tonight with wetsuits and dive gear, and I’ve added a new memory of gliding hand-in-hand with Jon under the green water, fish darting away from us as we swam.

The South Beach fish market beckoned just before the turnout to our campground, luring us in for  fresh-caught fish and chips… and now we’re decompressing (literally, if you know diving) by the campfire. That’s a lot of enthusiasms indulged in the space of a couple days. My body is exhausted from surf and current—we’ll sleep well tonight!

Posted in travel

Reframing

The first glimpse of ocean is a spiritual moment, every time.

We made it as far as Bend, Oregon, last night before calling it quits and settling into a motel that was unquestionably clean, but quite questionably decorated… We walked this morning to a small diner for COFFEE (and ok, breakfast) and then hit the mountain roads to the coast and arrived at our Newport campground around lunchtime.

After offloading the motorcycle from its trailer, we got camp set up with semi-military precision (Jon being the “military ” half of that equation, and me being the “semi”)… And then we took out the bike!

Newport’s bridge is iconic to this area like the Golden Gate is to San Francisco, and I’ve always loved driving across it. But oh my gosh! It’s amazing how different the crossing is on a bike!

In a car or truck your view is constricted and framed, but on the bike you have the full 360 view at once—not to mention the unimpeded soundtrack and the full smell of ocean air. The marina of sailboats, the channel out to sea, the gulls, the returning fishing boats, the overarching green bridge structure—its all so much “closer” when you’re on a motorcycle. I tried to take a photo, but realized the photo has the same limitations as a windshield—only a fraction fits in the frame. So I have to leave this one to words.

I love experiencing something familiar in an entirely new way. Reframing an experience by losing the frame.

Dinner, fresh-caught!
Posted in travel

Where the World Is

“The world is not in your books and maps. It’s OUT THERE.” ~Gandalf, to Bilbo Baggins

ready to roll!
I’m grateful for books and maps when I’m not traveling… But given the choice, I prefer travel! Of course, my travels won’t involve a dragon (unless it’s the dragon-kite we flew on the beach last year), so I don’t need to muster as much courage as Bilbo did…

Hopefully we’re also better prepared than Mr. Baggins, who had to make do without his left-behind pocket handkerchief. We, at least, had time for a packing-list.

Still, what’s a journey without an obstacle? Ours was not a fire-breathing dragon, but a diesel-spewing fuel line just outside of Burns, Oregon. Jon climbed up and disappeared under the hood, emerging with some of his creative not-quite-cussword vocabulary… and the part we’d need replaced.

Just as we were about to (laboriously) unload the motorcycle from its trailer, prayer-for-an-assist got answered in the person of a Sheriff, who gave Jon a lift to town—and then proceeded to take him from shop to shop in search of the part we needed. At High Desert Diesel (bless their hearts!) they took the part off a truck that was in their shop for repair (and would be there anyway till after the new part came in).

The High Desert guy drove Jon back out to where I was standing guard on the truck (well, ok—sitting guard, in my camping chair. With a book. And a sandwich) and Jon had it fired up in about three minutes flat!

One of the things I love about a road trip is the lovely, lengthy conversation it often becomes. With so much time unfilled by other stimuli, we TALK. About work, about stories from our past, about pipe dreams, about goofy abstracts. We made up verses for a new song. We talked about things we saw, and things those things reminded us of…

I sat for hours with the open road-atlas on my lap, tracing our route landmark by landmark as we talked. I know, I know—my phone could have told us where to go… But you know what? Like Bilbo, I DO love a map. Especially combined with SEEING the world that’s “in” it.

Posted in Family

Newton’s Law of… Summer

Wonder Woman 2017 filmMy 13-year-old daughter asked me last week if I’ve seen “Wonder Woman.” When I shook my head, she grasped my arm and leaned toward me earnestly. “It’s beautiful. You have to see it.” Accordingly, we made plans to see it together yesterday. She’s right—the movie is beautifully done, and though I’m more a “Pirates of the Caribbean” kind of girl, I enjoyed the artistic accomplishments of the film, as well as my artistic daughter’s appreciation of it.

The really precious time, though, was after the movie, when we came out from the chilly air-conditioned theater to sit on a padded bench in the sunshine. We both put up our sandaled feet (with matching turquoise toenails–we tend to share an aesthetic) on the table in front of us and leaned back into the cushions—she rested her head on my shoulder and we held hands while we listened to the music piped out over the “entertainment square” and chatted until her ride arrived.

I suppose a “silver lining” of not having custody is that we don’t have the usual parent-teen conflicts going on, and the time we do spend together is usually spent in meaningful conversation. Last week we talked about her art, her friendships, the social dynamics of junior high, her thoughts about eighth grade, her current reading, and some “woman things” that I can hardly believe I’m discussing with my little girl… (Well, she may a young one—but she IS a woman now…)

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my mom & my daughter with kayaks last summer

My mother has promised to take each of the kids on a special Spring Break trip during high school. My son Christian knew exactly what he wanted to do, so they went sea kayaking in Mexico last year. Elena Grace, though, hasn’t come up with a plan for her trip, so yesterday we were brainstorming some of the adventurous things she likes to do. Turns out zip-lining is high on her list, so I texted my mother to see how she feels about that. (She’s not wild about heights, but she’s plenty adventurous—she kayaks and river-rafts and fly-fishes and scuba dives and travels around the world, and she just bought herself an RV for further adventuring!) I got a text back from her with a thumbs-up.

Today the kids are heading north for the first of a couple summer adventures with “Grandy,” as they call my mom. This first one will be taking out a crab boat in the Washington coast’s Deception Pass, and later they’re staying in a Montana cabin and going kayaking. Elena Grace says she’s been looking forward to the trip, but at the same time hasn’t gotten up sufficient interest or energy to pack for it. (“Wait, you’re leaving tomorrow, aren’t you?” … “Well, yes…”)

She thought for a moment and then observed, “I’ve been really lazy this last month since school let out. I’m kind of enjoying it, and kind of feel guilty about it at the same time. I’m just hanging out with my phone or my friends, or going swimming some days. And I know I’ll have fun on the trip, but I’m not in that mode yet.”

imageAnother moment of thought, and she added: “You know that thing about how moving things keep moving, and things that aren’t moving stay still?”

Yup, that’s Newton’s First Law of Physics. “Inertia,” I supplied—and she seized on the word.

Exactly. I’m feeling inertia. I haven’t been in motion, so it’s hard to get in motion.”

It’s an apt observation, and true of more things in life than just summer vacation. (It’s probably why my husband brings me coffee in bed before I even get up—I have a serious inertia-issue before my caffeine kicks in!)

She texted late last night to say she still hadn’t gotten around to packing. “Inertia?” I asked. “Laundry!” she replied, with an emoticon-grimace. Ah well, she’ll get it done—she inherited her mother’s propensity for procrastination (along with the associated ability to get things done in a last-minute flurry). She’s my own little Wonder Woman.

Posted in Language, Motorcycle

Love Languages & Chocolate Sprinkles

imageThere’s a new key on my ring that I can’t use just yet, but I’m carrying it anyway because I’m excited about this unexpected gift from my husband. I’m still sort of in a state of disbelief about it, to be honest. I can’t quite believe I really have this key, let alone what it goes to… But I’ll leave you in suspense for a moment and come back to that.

Here’s what I find kind of funny today. Jon and I have been reading The Five Love Languages, and we have determined that “receiving gifts” is not my love-language. As a writer, maybe it’s not surprising that “words of affirmation” are what speak most eloquently to my heart—and those are closely followed by the language of “physical touch.”

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Jon likes to leave me love-notes in cards… No “occasion” needed!

I feel absolutely adored when Jon leaves me a sweet card with a hand-written love note. Or when he calls me by a pet name, tells me I look cute or sexy, says he loves me. I even thrill when he calls me “Mrs. Smith,” because it’s an emphasis on the married-in-love “Mrs.”… We spend a few hours of every day on the phone, he with his Bluetooth in his ear while his head is under hoods of cars—we talk to each other while we go about our days, and I never tire of the sound of his voice. Words do it for me, no question! I’m also a hand-holder, a snuggler, a butt-grabber, and a happy recipient of reciprocal touches. When he puts his arm around me in church and holds my hand in the grocery store, I feel Capital-L-Loved.

Now don’t get me wrong, regarding gifts. It’s not that I don’t enjoy or appreciate them, they’re just not the currency that “proves love” in my emotional world. When he does give me something, I find myself floored by it, maybe because it seems like such an “extra.”   Continue reading “Love Languages & Chocolate Sprinkles”

Posted in People

An Empowered Shade of Orange

Newsroom_Culture_of_the_Apron_01.07.15.3
“culture of the Orange Apron”

So… I’m going to be back in orange again. And this time it’s not going to be picking up trash along the freeway as penance—I just landed a job as a Home Depot cashier. There’s a tiny part of me that wonders if I shouldn’t sigh and shake my head at myself, past forty with a Master’s degree and excited about cashiering… But I’m pretty sure that’s the part of me I don’t like very much. The rest of me is tickled. I get to be part of the “culture of the Orange Apron.” I get to spend my day with people.

One thing that has been a constant across all my jobs is the fact that I get “charged” by interacting with people. It’s like the human version of putting a cell phone on a charger—I charge my batteries with friendly interactions. It’s the part I loved about the restaurant I had with my late husband—it was literally a “mom and pop” shop, with him cooking and me serving, and people streaming through and smiling with me all day long. I felt like I got a percentage of every smile that happened at my place during the day, and I could come home absolutely exhausted, but still grinning.

It’s what I like about my job at the RV park, and it’s what I’ve been missing on the other days of the week when I’ve been home alone with the laptop, working on freelance articles for a client in India. Somehow the WhatsApp conversations with India don’t have the same charge-me-up potential as in-person interactions.

Home DepotWhen we were running the restaurant, we had a favorite joke. Whenever someone had a special request or an off-menu idea, Keoni would say, “I’ll have to check with Corporate“…  and then he’d turn to me and ask, “What do you say, Babe?” That was the best thing about “being Corporate” at Kana Girl’s Hawaiian BBQ—the fact that I could always make the judgment call to please the customer. So imagine how pleased I was to find out this week that Home Depot associates are actually given a budget to use at their discretion to accommodate customers who might otherwise be having a negative experience. I certainly used that same sort of “power” to good effect in our restaurant, knowing that an occasional meal on the house (when an order took too long, say) would be more than made up for when that customer kept returning. I don’t think many big companies think that way, but at Home Depot even a cashier is empowered to make that kind of call. Continue reading “An Empowered Shade of Orange”

Posted in RVing

Views From the Roof

the fair from our roof
the fair from our roof

On the list of things-I-didn’t-think-about before living in an RV: we have a great balcony with a great view. OK, it’s our RV roof, but the “great view” part is true.

Our park is situated right next to a semi-pro baseball park (Boise Hawks, a farm team for the Colorado Rockies) so we have front-row seats to the fireworks displays after games. (OK, I’ll admit that would be more fun if I weren’t married to a combat vet. Apparently some of those fireworks sound just like incoming mortar rounds…) We’re also next to the state fairgrounds, so we got to know the carnival workers (“not carnies,” we were told, working at the park office) while they stayed at the park, and had a fun view of the fair itself from our roof.

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winter from our roof

The last few months it was a very different view! Same neighbors (many of them, anyway), different landscape. With a record-breaking series of snowstorms, we have now officially had the most snow Boise has seen since someone started measuring in 1875. Did we pick a great year to start RVing, or what? But hey, this way we know we can do it!

As I was just writing to another blogging RV-er, I’m glad now that we chose a “toy-hauler” rig, meaning we have a garage section at the back. I initially thought that was just so we could take the motorcycle with us, but it turns out to be so much more useful than that. We can keep dive gear back there (it was Scuba-and-RVing that sparked the discussion), camping gear (we still like to head further into the mountains than we’d want to pull the fifth wheel), rapelling gear, my mechanic-husband’s tools, snow pants and snow boots and sleds while we were buried in snow this winter, even a Total Gym set up… In other words, all the things I wouldn’t want cluttering my living room!

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last month’s view of Home

Of course, using that back space as “garage” means that we have less living-space… but we have enough. And although we got rid of tons of stuff (literally) when we moved into the RV, neither of us was willing to offload the gear. We’re in this for Experience–and (as my fellow blogging-RVer and I agreed) that’s what that kind of gear is for! Continue reading “Views From the Roof”