Committed traveler

IMG_2373IMG_2445I should be committed, someplace.  30 hours for my trip east and 18 hours return and I haven’t even left the country. Not counting the fact I slept in a hotel last night where I can park my car.  We didn’t factor our love of travel in when we moved two hours from the closest airports.

Today’s modes of travel included hotel shuttle bus, two planes, light rail from Seatac to Washington State Ferry, Strait Shot bus, uber, power boat run by Capt Tim and pickup truck to the cabin.  I’m only at the bus part now. Phew.

It could have been worse though. Last night I dropped my wallet in a parking lot with my ID, all my credit cards and my PO Box key. I retraced my steps (3 stops) and at the last, someone had turned it in. I was ecstatic. Restored my faith in the world.

During my trip home, I reconnected with children, grandchildren, sibling, coworkers, friends and, last but not least, my cat. And I worked and worked and had my car repaired.

Now I’m ready to enjoy island life and solace with Tim again, for another month. While I saw a lot of people, I avoided large groups. I wasn’t ready for a complete reentry into civilization.  It’s a process.

Except for being a challenge to get there, our part of the world is pretty sweet too.

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Things got worse before I was saved by a loaf of bread

Although I traveled for more than 30 hours with only three hours sleep, my trip went fairly well. I took advantage of lounges in the airports and had a quiet place to have appetizers (and a cocktail) at night and breakfast (and good coffee) in the morning. IMG_2367I watched a movie, The Meddler, where I laughed and cried. Perhaps sleep deprivation played a part.

On the seven seater flight home to the Adirondacks the boy pilot said he expected a smooth ride except for some “messy” weather over the mountains. The altimeter said we were at 8,000 feet so I knew we wouldn’t graze the High Peaks, at 4,000 feet.  When I saw him tighten his seat belt mid-flight, I thought it might be a good idea to do the same. I did and sure enough it was a bit bumpy.

We landed beautifully and then I was concerned my car, which had been parked for two months, wouldn’t start. I needn’t have worried about that though because as I walked to the car, I saw the rear tire was flat. NOOOO!!! I’m too tired for this. But I had visions of an ice cream cone from Donnelly’s and powered through. The flavor of the day was raspberry peach swirl and it perked me up for the drive home.

Yesterday was lazy.

This morning I drove Tim two hours back to a different airport, then drove back home, after a roadside nap, and headed to the seasonal farmer’s market. I stocked up on hand dyed yarn, fresh veggies, local meat, and eggs. My last stop was my favorite bread baker’s booth. I had just collected my large bag of bread and switched the bag on to my left arm to pay. A large gust of wind came up and I thought the bag had exploded because there was a loud noise and commotion on my left arm. One of the tent supports, with a long nail at the end, pulled free in the wind and landed on my bag of bread, NOT ME!, and tore it apart.  I feel my luck may have changed for the better.IMG_2371

Highs and lows

Island life and travel off island requires planning, mostly around tides and weather. The tides are predictable, the weather less so.

Last night was lovely, the moon wasn’t quite full and the cabin looked like a little house on the prairie.

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There are certain times, at least once a day, when the tide is too low to leave or enter the marina. It falls lowest when the moon is new or full; somehow the tide table we rely on states it can fall below 0. That means we frequently wake up and leave before 6 am, like this morning. I actually understand tides better now that I they are frequently presented in graph form.

The other piece of information we gather is the weather forecast, issued at least three times a day. Early in the week today’s wind was forecast to be light, then it was going to be a little stronger and when I woke up at 4:20 this morning there was a gale warning. I was crushed.

The wind seemed very calm around the cabin although one of the buoys in the Strait reported steady 20+ mph winds. We had been shadowed by the land to the south all night while the wind blew. I got binoculars and looked at the water I was able to see and it looked pretty calm. Weather point forecasts, confirmed this, so I left. Just as the sun rose. There were some gentle rollers and it was fine.

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Pretty spectacular and I docked like a champ!

Then the day really began. I walked a couple of miles to get breakfast,

IMG_2337IMG_2340a couple more miles to the post office, where I added so much stuff to my pack I decided to walk another 2 miles (roundtrip) to ship some stuff separately because I was going to tour Seattle. Until I got a text which said my midnight plane was delayed until 0100 and I wouldn’t catch the little plane back to the Adirondacks. After a mere 2 hours on the phone!!!! the problem was worked out. And I should catch the little plane and get home with only

I would love to have an assistant when travel plans hit the dirt. It takes all the fun out of travel. My phone calls were dropped at least 3 times, by the 5th person, I had a chance to look up flights online, when the bus was on the ferry, and after giving 3 pieces of evidence that my flight was actually delayed just kept saying, I want to be on X flight on a different airline. To be truthful, I was ready to just buy that ticket. But my 5th agent got the message, hung in there and made the change, requested a refund from Jetblue and I only had to pay $16 more. You might argue I shouldn’t pay anything, but I’m happy. And I am scheduled to leave 3 hours earlier so although I didn’t get to see Seattle at least I was on the bus to the airport. Home tomorrow by noon.

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It was quite a jolt back to the world of schedules, delays, and customer service representatives. My transition from island time has begun.

 

Click your heels three times

and say I want to go home. I got to say this line when I played the part Glenda, the good witch, during an elementary school play. I was revelling in my stardom just a little while ago. 

And now we’re home. A little more complicated than clicking our heels. Our return flight included some security issue in Paris and all the passengers had to deplane with their belongings so the could search the plane. The last time this happened to me was 9/4/2001. Boy how times have changed since then. 

My idea of souveniers has changed too. I have little piles of rocks, shells and feathers from around the world. Here are my newest additions.

  
The snail shells were from the scariest part of the hike at Navacelles, the smooth round rock was from near the abbey in Sommiers and the gray rock was from St. Guilhelm le desert.  Soon they will just be part of the pile. 

Then there are my jars. We had homemade quince jam in this adorable little mason jar and spicy mustard in the elegant shaped jar. I knew they were coming home with me when I saw them. They will be a great reminder. 

  
The cats liked their market baske, which will remind me of our daily shopping adventures for baguettes, pastries, irridescent strawberries and wine. 

  
I know that souvenier means to remember because our Canadian neighbors’ licence plates say, “Je me souviens”, I remember.

And today I went to work next to a much newer, albiet pretty, church on a lake. 

  
I will remember and cherish our trip to Languedoc but it’s good to be home. 

What is a vacation from vacations?

Work! I have to confess I complained a little to Tim about all this travel and packing. We’ve been home from Alaska for 6 weeks and during that time, I’ve taken 4 trips, all of which required some degree of planning. And here we go again.

I had a chance to discuss my fiber planning and travels with Kelley Petkun on the Knitpicks podcast last week. You can find the episode here

This weekend, I’m getting ready to head to Seguin Island again.

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Friends stay at our house and watch the cats, which is great, but I have to get the house ready. The fridge is almost empty, a little prematurely.

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We’ve taken our last sail on Boreas for the season.

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I’ve been trying to spin an hour a day. Here is some alpaca fiber I am spinning straight from the locks.

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Yesterday, I wound several skeins of my handspun, wool-mohair blend for socks and kool aid dyed corriedale for a child’s hat.

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My clothes are packed, I’ll spend some time working on projects I am leaving behind today and, oh yes, plan our food. Tomorrow I take a vacation from vacation before my next vacation.

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And we’re off

I pulled two almost all-nighters and they had nothing to do with packing for our trip to Alaska. I accomplished that in three hours; one backpack for me and a carry-on bag for my projects – camera, quilt hoop and yarn. My hula hoop and jump rope fit in the backpack.

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My foul weather gear takes up most of my clothing space. No fashion show here. We learned this week that 1) noone has been to the lighthouse yet this year (I hear, “expect dirt and critters”); 2) the “big” boat won’t be ready for our 60 mile trip along the inside passage so we’ll take the tender (hence the full foulies); 3) oh yes, and the ramp is out so we’ll dingy our stuff ashore (hence the need for rubber boots). Yet I’m psyched.

Tim found this great slide show to put me in the mood, put together by an artist in residence a few years ago. You can find it here.

I lost sleep due to self imposed deadlines. I had to weave several placemats to complete a set I made for my daughter and I did – in 24 hours! The first part of the set only contained three placemats due to warping mishaps. Now she has a complete set of eight and she will know how much I love her.

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Then I had to finish a quilt to for my son since I will be away for his birthday. So I had to finish it six weeks early. I’m a crazy woman but I did it. 3072!! That’s the estimated number of stitches I sewed to finish the binding. The quilt is 96″ x 96″ so the circumference is 384″ with about 8 stitches per inch for a total of 3072 at the rate of about 500 stitches per hour or 8 stitches per minute. I must be slow and crazy.

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Pièce de résistance is the quilt label. I used my phone to generate a QR Code, which I printed onto fabric and sewed to the back of the quilt.

It’s a private message so I’m only showing an unfocused photo. I wonder if there will still be QR scanners a hundred years from now.

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He’ll have it for his birthday and know how much I love him.

Now to catch up on sleep so I can plan my food shopping for a month.

I see DC

I’ve spent a lot of time in the car these past several days. I drove to Montpelier, back home, to Washington, DC and will head back to Montpelier for two more days after one night in my own bed. I haven’t had a home cooked meal for a week!

But I ate oysters, and Ethiopian food – hard to find in the Adirondacks. Most importantly, I spent a few days with my daughter.

The weather was beautiful and provided a real zing of Spring. Except for a parking ticket and a nail, which punctured a tire in two places, it was a fabulous trip.

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We rented bikes and rode around the Mall and visited the monuments. Capitol Bikeshare has kiosks around the city and you pick up a bike from one location and return it near your destination. Then we picked up different bikes to head home. What a concept! I downloaded the Spotcycle app, which told me where bike stations were and how many bikes were available there.

We were a few days early for the cherry blossoms on the mall but saw a few trees in full bloom in other parts if the city.

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We headed home to the remnants of winter, with snow on the ground and temperatures below freezing once again.

Visiting the Shire Town

A business trip brought me to Montpelier, VT, the smallest state Capitol in the US. Although it’s only a short trip over a lake, and around some mountains, I am not in Kansas anymore. This is quintessential New England. A shire town means County Seat and is the term used here. Middle Earth.

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There’s a lovely village green on the campus of the Vermont College of Fine Arts, where people and canines play frisbee in the snow.

I was very sad to find the New England Culinary Institute closed for break. I was looking forward to dinner there. But I found plenty of alternatives. There is some food I can’t find in the Adirondacks so I try to eat it when when I am out. I found a sweet Thai restaurant, Royal Orchid and had coconut milk soup and potstickers. Yum!

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It’s very hilly and a short walk downtown for a great variety of coffee at Capitol Grounds. Along the way I passed frozen puddles ,

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Colorful hilltop houses

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And a whimsical, mustached bark man.

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Ignore all signs

At least three times during our trip to Puerto Rico we were told, you will see a sign that says, “Don’t Enter”. Just ignore it. So we did. Very unlike me, because I usually obey all the rules. The first was for Flamenco Beach on Culebra. We were advised not to pick anything up while snorkeling because it could be an unexploded device. No problem. So while I ignored the do not enter sign, I didn’t touch anything.

We wanted to tour the derelict lighthouse on Culebrita. Who knows, we could end up as caretakers. We met a Belgium couple whose paths we crossed a couple of times and one of them explained the lighthouse was well worth seeing. It’s surrounded by barbed wire and a fence that says, “No trespassing” but just ignore it. So we did. I can see why the sign was there. The buildings were in quite a state of disrepair. There were a lot of similarities to American and Australian lighthouses but the outbuildings definitely had a Spanish flair. There were open courtyards with tiled floors, and ornate stonework, which was really quite magnificent. The stairs were missing quite a few pieces and the tower’s cupola had blown off and was lying outside the barbed wire fence. But the light still worked and we could observe it from our anchorage.

I see no evil

These three guys looked over us at a beautiful anchorage on the island of Culebrita. Notice the one on the right holding his head. We coined them see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil. There couldn’t be anything evil on that beautiful island, which even has a working lighthouse. Could be our next gig! The light works, even though it’s toppled over and the buildings are in ruins. Photos to follow.

There were heart rocks afoot.

Then in the rain forest, El Yunque National Park, in southeastern Puerto Rico, we found man eating ferns! It was strange to be in a rain forest and find typical USDA park signs. We felt like we were a world away from the United States. Our road back to the airport however passed the worst of the worst in architecture. Strip mall after strip mall. Walmarts, McDonalds and traffic!