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Meandering Along The North Oregon Coast

Meandering Along The North Oregon Coast

Posted by on Jun 16, 2017 in Birding, Family, Food, Friends, Gallery, Hiking, Oregon | 29 comments

Ican’t tell you how many times we’ve been cruising along in our travels and I’ve exclaimed, “Oh! Look at that beautiful view/interesting wayside trail/cool one-street town/yummy café” and we’ve just zoomed on by, because there isn’t a place to pull over with our trailer and we still have a long drive ahead of us. (Left to my own devices, I would pull over at every whim. But I do realize that we would never get anywhere at that rate.)

We’ve spent the past couple of weeks on the north Oregon Coast, moving short distances and spending four or five days in each place. It’s been great. And there’s been almost enough time to explore all of the places that capture our interest.

Following our stay in Tillamook, we moved 25 miles up the coast to Nehalem Bay State Park, another lovely Oregon State Park. Not only is the natural setting gorgeous, the picturesque little towns of Nehalem, Manzanita, and Cannon Beach are nearby. Being so close to Portland, there’s a hip vibe that’s drifted over to the coast, which means that along with beach strolls and hiking nearby trails, we could get good coffee, browse bookstores and intriguing shops, and enjoy creative offerings from local cafés.

The proximity of Portland also means that we were close enough for Eric’s sister Peggy to drive over for a visit. We spent a couple of days together exploring the adorable town of Manzanita and relaxing and catching up. It’s always fun when we’re together. We also were able to catch up with our friends Rick and Kim, whom we last saw in Taos. They’ve recently bought a sweet home in Seaside, which they’ve beautifully renovated. We spent a delightful afternoon and evening with them, including a long walk along the beach and dinner at a tasty Mediterranean café.

We rose early one morning to head to Cannon Beach, only 25 miles away. Our goal was to see Tufted Puffins at Haystack Rock, an iconic landmark on Cannon Beach and home to a nesting colony of puffins (as well as Pigeon Guillemots, Common Murres, Pelagic Cormorants, Western Gulls, and Black Oystercatchers). We had great views of the birds, but came away with no photos of Tufted Puffins. When they leave their nest burrows in search of fish, the puffins fly speedily and awkwardly overhead, like little bowling pins with wings. They are impossible to photograph in flight—and when they head back to their nests, they disappear immediately into their burrows. The lack of photo opportunities notwithstanding, we had a blast watching them.

Five miles south of Cannon Beach is Hug Point State Recreation Site. We were lured by the promise of unique scenic beauty, where at low tide, a half-mile hike leads to a beach with beautiful sandstone caves, a seasonal waterfall, and tidepools. Little did we know that the history here is as interesting as the landscape.

Before the coastal highway was built, people traveled the coast via the beach. Getting around this particular headland required hugging the point at low tide (hence the name). Stagecoaches plunged into the sea to careen around the point, until someone decided to blast a trail through the rock. Even then, it was a risky ride. At low tide, you can walk along the original stagecoach road, just steps from the pounding surf and tidepools below. At high tide, the old road floods quickly—you had better move fast when the tide starts to roll back in (I speak from experience).

The Hug Point road played an important role in the fight to preserve public access to Oregon beaches. In 1913, Governor Oswald West used the road as an example of why Oregon beaches needed to remain public—he basically saved the beaches by declaring them state highways. In many cases, such as Hug Point, there were no alternative routes. Although the beaches are no longer highways (thank goodness!) all of us Oregonians are really happy that Governor West had the foresight to preserve our beautiful beaches and keep them out of the clutches of private ownership.

At Oswald West State Park (named in honor of Governor West), just 10 miles south of Cannon Beach, we hiked the beautiful Cape Falcon Trail, a five-mile round trip journey that winds through a forest of ferns, cedars, and spruces and ends up in a maze of tall salal and wild beach roses. We bushwhacked our way through to openings that revealed spectacular views of the coastline below. We highly recommend this gorgeous hike.

As far as culinary adventures, we loved Buttercup in Nehalem, a fabulous little take-away eatery that serves up excellent chowders and ice creams. That’s it for the menu. But oh wow, the chef/owner is a genius. She sources everything locally, including fresh seafood, dairy products, organic vegetables, and even local salt from Jacobsen Salt (the little salt producer we visited near Tillamook). The offerings change frequently; we came away with spring clam chowder and Malaysian fish chowder (both excellent) and a basil strawberry sorbet that was ridiculously good.

About the campground:

Nehalem Bay State Park is another beautiful coastal Oregon State Park. The sites are spacious, level, and surrounded by shore pines, each with a grassy sitting area, picnic table, and fire pit. We especially liked the sites in A-loop, and even better, those backing up to the dunes (we were in one of those sites). Electric and water hookups, good Verizon coverage, quiet, and dark night skies—all things that make us happy. Walking trails lead from the campground through the dunes to four miles of beautiful beaches that we always seemed to have to ourselves.

Meandering Along The North Oregon Coast

Dunes To The Beach At Nehalem Bay Campground

Not Sure Where Everyone Else Is....

Roosevelt Elk Browsing In The Dunes

Happy Hour With Peggy

In The Sweet Little Town Of Manzanita

Wonderful Bookstore In Manzanita

Independent Bookstores Are The Best

Scenic Views Along The Coastal Highway

The Curving Coastline And Nehalem Bay

The Pretty Nehalem River

Tiny And Cute Downtown Nehalem

Don't Miss Buttercup!

Amazing Homemade Chowders

The Beehive Artisan Tea Shop, Nehalem

The Refindery, Ultimate In Recycling

A Chandelier From Spoons, Forks And Knives

Breezy Day At Hug Point

A Really Little But Cute Waterfall

Heading For The Old Coastal Road

Great Views From The Old Road

Hug Point Road In The Early 1900s

The Old Road As It Looks Now

Lush Ferns On Cape Falcon Trail

A Bit Wet In A Few Places

Lovely Wild Douglas Iris

Views Along Cape Falcon Trail

Serenaded By A Pacific Wren

The Trail Is A Bit Overgrown With Salal

Wonderful Views From The Tip Of Cape Falcon

The Promenade Turnaround At Seaside

Fun Reunion With Rick And Kim

Sleepy Monk Coffee Roasters In Cannon Beach

I Could Have Spent The Whole Morning Here

Interesting Shops For Browsing In Cannon Beach

Searching For Puffins At Haystack Rock

A Picturesque Cormorant Colony

Pigeon Guillemots In Breeding Finery

Campsite At Nehalem Bay State Park

Meandering Along The North Oregon Coast
Dunes To The Beach At Nehalem Bay Campground
Not Sure Where Everyone Else Is....
Roosevelt Elk Browsing In The Dunes
Happy Hour With Peggy
In The Sweet Little Town Of Manzanita
Wonderful Bookstore In Manzanita
Independent Bookstores Are The Best
Scenic Views Along The Coastal Highway
The Curving Coastline And Nehalem Bay
The Pretty Nehalem River
Tiny And Cute Downtown Nehalem
Don't Miss Buttercup!
Amazing Homemade Chowders
The Beehive Artisan Tea Shop, Nehalem
The Refindery, Ultimate In Recycling
A Chandelier From Spoons, Forks And Knives
Breezy Day At Hug Point
A Really Little But Cute Waterfall
Heading For The Old Coastal Road
Great Views From The Old Road
Hug Point Road In The Early 1900s
The Old Road As It Looks Now
Lush Ferns On Cape Falcon Trail
A Bit Wet In A Few Places
Lovely Wild Douglas Iris
Views Along Cape Falcon Trail
Serenaded By A Pacific Wren
The Trail Is A Bit Overgrown With Salal
Wonderful Views From The Tip Of Cape Falcon
The Promenade Turnaround At Seaside
Fun Reunion With Rick And Kim
Sleepy Monk Coffee Roasters In Cannon Beach
I Could Have Spent The Whole Morning Here
Interesting Shops For Browsing In Cannon Beach
Searching For Puffins At Haystack Rock
A Picturesque Cormorant Colony
Pigeon Guillemots In Breeding Finery
Campsite At Nehalem Bay State Park
Meandering Along The North Oregon Coast thumbnail
Dunes To The Beach At Nehalem Bay Campground thumbnail
Not Sure Where Everyone Else Is.... thumbnail
Roosevelt Elk Browsing In The Dunes thumbnail
Happy Hour With Peggy thumbnail
In The Sweet Little Town Of Manzanita thumbnail
Wonderful Bookstore In Manzanita thumbnail
Independent Bookstores Are The Best thumbnail
Scenic Views Along The Coastal Highway thumbnail
The Curving Coastline And Nehalem Bay thumbnail
The Pretty Nehalem River thumbnail
Tiny And Cute Downtown Nehalem thumbnail
Don't Miss Buttercup! thumbnail
Amazing Homemade Chowders thumbnail
The Beehive Artisan Tea Shop, Nehalem thumbnail
The Refindery, Ultimate In Recycling thumbnail
A Chandelier From Spoons, Forks And Knives thumbnail
Breezy Day At Hug Point thumbnail
A Really Little But Cute Waterfall thumbnail
Heading For The Old Coastal Road thumbnail
Great Views From The Old Road thumbnail
Hug Point Road In The Early 1900s thumbnail
The Old Road As It Looks Now thumbnail
Lush Ferns On Cape Falcon Trail thumbnail
A Bit Wet In A Few Places thumbnail
Lovely Wild Douglas Iris thumbnail
Views Along Cape Falcon Trail thumbnail
Serenaded By A Pacific Wren thumbnail
The Trail Is A Bit Overgrown With Salal thumbnail
Wonderful Views From The Tip Of Cape Falcon thumbnail
The Promenade Turnaround At Seaside thumbnail
Fun Reunion With Rick And Kim thumbnail
Sleepy Monk Coffee Roasters In Cannon Beach thumbnail
I Could Have Spent The Whole Morning Here thumbnail
Interesting Shops For Browsing In Cannon Beach thumbnail
Searching For Puffins At Haystack Rock thumbnail
A Picturesque Cormorant Colony thumbnail
Pigeon Guillemots In Breeding Finery thumbnail
Campsite At Nehalem Bay State Park thumbnail

 

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The Long Road Back

The Long Road Back

Posted by on May 25, 2017 in Friends, Gallery, Hiking, Musings, Oregon | 51 comments

As of Saturday, we’re on the road again. YAY!!! To be perfectly honest, that’s “yay” with some sadness and regret at leaving our beautiful hometown and our wonderful community of friends in Ashland. Leaving this time, after seven months, was almost as difficult as the first time we pulled out of town four years ago to embark on our full time journey.

As I’ve said before, we would never have signed up for this particular adventure. Open-heart surgery is no walk in the park. But after many months of cardiac rehab and daily long walks, Eric is back to his normal, active, healthy self. I look at photos from early December when he was in the hospital, and then look at photos from the hike we did yesterday on a bluff overlooking the Pacific. Grateful and lucky, that’s what we are.

We couldn’t have done this without our friends and family. Or we wouldn’t have wanted to. Not only did they support us during the first weeks of Eric’s surgery and recovery, but when the crisis passed, we started having fun times together, just like always. That helped with our healing, as much as anything.

It has been a rich and full seven months. Playing music, creating art, dinner parties, hikes, wine tasting, film festivals, plays…it has been wonderful. I often reflect on how fortunate we are to have friends with whom we can share the highs and the lows of life. However, I will repeat here what I have told all of our friends: Eric took this one for the team. No one else needs to undergo this particular experience.

Our last two weeks in Ashland, we moved over to Emigrant Lake County Park. At a mere two miles from Ted and Kath’s beautiful farmstead, it was the perfect place for us to regroup and ease back into traveling mode. It was a bit anxiety provoking, that first hitching up and moving after almost seven months of sitting still. When I asked Eric how he felt about it, he said, “Well, I’ve done this a few times before.” I love how he takes things in stride.

Our last several days at Emigrant Lake, we were joined by Bill, Jodee, and Tessa, fellow full time travelers we first met up with in the Sierra Nevada a couple of years ago. We had a delightful time together, sharing breakfast on the plaza, walks in the park, and a picnic in our favorite spot by the creek. It was good for us to reconnect with friends we’ve met on the road. We’re looking forward to catching up with them again later this summer.

P.S. Just as we’ve fledged, so have the little Rock Wren nestlings that we rescued three weeks ago. All four were successfully released back at Emigrant Lake yesterday. You can read more about it on Badger Run’s website here.

See you down the road!

Next up: Tidepools and Lighthouses: Newport, OR

Back On The Road, Newport, OR

Words To Live By, Downtown Ashland

December 05, 2016

Our Home In Ashland For Seven Months

Sunrise Over The Pond

Amanda And Findlay Came To Be With Us

Fall Harvest, Ted And Katherine

Brunch With Winn

Keep Calm, Indeed

Tea With Ann And Jake

Dinner With Leslie, John, Steve, And Lindi

A Cozy Evening With Cynthia And Kyle

Us, Steve, Linda, Diana, John, Judy, & John

A Garden Party At Diana And John's

Grilling Oregon Oysters

So Delicious!

Sunday Music: Lydia, Joe, Cynthia, Karen, And Kyle

Lydia (Banjo Babe) And Laurel

Another Fun Sunday Gathering

Thursdays At Kindred Spirits Wine Bar

Friday Art Days With Diana

Cocktails With Steve And Leslie

Morning Coffee With Barbara

Alfresco Lunch With Kath And Ted

Morning Bird Walk With Janet

Happy Hour With Chris And Lila

In Lithia Park With Jodee, Bill And Tessa

Beautiful Site At Emigrant Lake

Owlet At Emigrant Lake

Rock Wrens Growing Up

Back On The Road, Newport, OR
Words To Live By, Downtown Ashland
December 05, 2016
Our Home In Ashland For Seven Months
Sunrise Over The Pond
Amanda And Findlay Came To Be With Us
Fall Harvest, Ted And Katherine
Brunch With Winn
Keep Calm, Indeed
Tea With Ann And Jake
Dinner With Leslie, John, Steve, And Lindi
A Cozy Evening With Cynthia And Kyle
Us, Steve, Linda, Diana, John, Judy, & John
A Garden Party At Diana And John's
Grilling Oregon Oysters
So Delicious!
Sunday Music: Lydia, Joe, Cynthia, Karen, And Kyle
Lydia (Banjo Babe) And Laurel
Another Fun Sunday Gathering
Thursdays At Kindred Spirits Wine Bar
Friday Art Days With Diana
Cocktails With Steve And Leslie
Morning Coffee With Barbara
Alfresco Lunch With Kath And Ted
Morning Bird Walk With Janet
Happy Hour With Chris And Lila
In Lithia Park With Jodee, Bill And Tessa
Beautiful Site At Emigrant Lake
Owlet At Emigrant Lake
Rock Wrens Growing Up
Back On The Road, Newport, OR thumbnail
Words To Live By, Downtown Ashland thumbnail
December 05, 2016 thumbnail
Our Home In Ashland For Seven Months thumbnail
Sunrise Over The Pond thumbnail
Amanda And Findlay Came To Be With Us thumbnail
Fall Harvest, Ted And Katherine thumbnail
Brunch With Winn thumbnail
Keep Calm, Indeed thumbnail
Tea With Ann And Jake thumbnail
Dinner With Leslie, John, Steve, And Lindi thumbnail
A Cozy Evening With Cynthia And Kyle thumbnail
Us, Steve, Linda, Diana, John, Judy, & John thumbnail
A Garden Party At Diana And John's thumbnail
Grilling Oregon Oysters thumbnail
So Delicious! thumbnail
Sunday Music: Lydia, Joe, Cynthia, Karen, And Kyle thumbnail
Lydia (Banjo Babe) And Laurel thumbnail
Another Fun Sunday Gathering thumbnail
Thursdays At Kindred Spirits Wine Bar thumbnail
Friday Art Days With Diana thumbnail
Cocktails With Steve And Leslie thumbnail
Morning Coffee With Barbara thumbnail
Alfresco Lunch With Kath And Ted thumbnail
Morning Bird Walk With Janet thumbnail
Happy Hour With Chris And Lila thumbnail
In Lithia Park With Jodee, Bill And Tessa thumbnail
Beautiful Site At Emigrant Lake thumbnail
Owlet At Emigrant Lake thumbnail
Rock Wrens Growing Up thumbnail

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A Hike In The Enchanted Forest

A Hike In The Enchanted Forest

Posted by on May 18, 2017 in Friends, Gallery, Hiking, Oregon | 26 comments

With winter finally letting go and Eric back in hiking form, we’ve been venturing out from our daily long walks around Emigrant Lake to hit the local trails. Southern Oregon has a plethora of hiking options, from a network of trails in town to mountain treks that connect to the famed Pacific Crest trail.

This time of year, a lot of the higher elevation hikes are still deep in snow. After a longer, snowier winter than we’re accustomed to, we’re more interested in hikes where we can enjoy spring wildflowers. And oh boy, has this ever been a year for wildflowers.

It surprises me that after all our years exploring southern Oregon, there are still new hikes to be found. Last fall, we heard tales of the Enchanted Forest Trail from friends who had discovered it the previous year. As soon as the weather warmed enough for the flowers to emerge, we set out with said friends and long-time hiking buddies Linda, Steve, Judy, and John, to see what we could find.

It was all we had hoped for, and more. As we wound our way through stands of gnarled oaks and madrone, we came upon wave after wave of magenta shooting stars, pure white trillium, cobalt blue hound’s tongue, and clutches of delicate lavender fawn lilies. We often see these ephemeral flowers in early spring, but rarely in such abundance. Enchanted forest, indeed.

(To reach the trail, head west from Jacksonville on Highway 238 for 15 miles. Turn right on North Applegate Road then continue about 4-1/2 miles, then go briefly right on Kubli Road for about 200 yards before turning onto Slagle Creek Road. The paved road ends in about 1-1/2 miles where the trailhead begins. More excellent trails near Ashland where you can be assured of finding wildflowers in season include the Jacksonville Woodlands Trails and Upper and Lower Table Rocks.)

Fields Of Shooting Stars

Good Buddies On The Trail

Ready For The Enchanted Forest

Shooting Stars

Thickets Of Trillium

A Trail Through Ancient Oaks

Henderson's Fawn Lilies

The Jacksonville Woodland Trails

Peaceful And Beautiful Trails In Town

You Have To Leave Your Elephant At Home

The Rare Gentner's Fritillary

Not Rare But Beautiful Mission Bells

On The Trail To Upper Table Rocks

Tolmie's Pussy Ears

On Top Of Table Rocks

The View From Table Rocks

Mt. McLoughlin In The Distance

Fields Of Shooting Stars
Good Buddies On The Trail
Ready For The Enchanted Forest
Shooting Stars
Thickets Of Trillium
A Trail Through Ancient Oaks
Henderson's Fawn Lilies
The Jacksonville Woodland Trails
Peaceful And Beautiful Trails In Town
You Have To Leave Your Elephant At Home
The Rare Gentner's Fritillary
Not Rare But Beautiful Mission Bells
On The Trail To Upper Table Rocks
Tolmie's Pussy Ears
On Top Of Table Rocks
The View From Table Rocks
Mt. McLoughlin In The Distance
Fields Of Shooting Stars thumbnail
Good Buddies On The Trail thumbnail
Ready For The Enchanted Forest thumbnail
Shooting Stars thumbnail
Thickets Of Trillium thumbnail
A Trail Through Ancient Oaks thumbnail
Henderson's Fawn Lilies thumbnail
The Jacksonville Woodland Trails thumbnail
Peaceful And Beautiful Trails In Town thumbnail
You Have To Leave Your Elephant At Home thumbnail
The Rare Gentner's Fritillary thumbnail
Not Rare But Beautiful Mission Bells thumbnail
On The Trail To Upper Table Rocks thumbnail
Tolmie's Pussy Ears thumbnail
On Top Of Table Rocks thumbnail
The View From Table Rocks thumbnail
Mt. McLoughlin In The Distance thumbnail

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A Beautiful Autumn In Ashland

A Beautiful Autumn In Ashland

Posted by on Apr 26, 2017 in Friends, Gallery, Hiking, Musings, Oregon | 30 comments

Autumn in our hometown of Ashland, Oregon is truly a thing of beauty. For a leisurely stretch of several weeks, the valley is painted with rich reds and golds, the weather is generally perfect, and the holiday season is ushered in with the most outrageous Halloween parade and street party imaginable.

We usually return home once a year in our travels, and stay for about a month. This year, of course, was very different with Eric’s unexpected health crisis and surgery. We arrived just in time for the fall colors, survived one of the coldest, wettest, longest winters in history, and are now enjoying the spring blossoms.

Sitting still in one place for seven months (seven months!!) was certainly not what we had planned when we started our full-time journey almost four years ago. But if we’re going to be settled down somewhere, Ashland is where we want to be. It’s been wonderful to reconnect with friends, and to even share our hometown for a few days with fellow full-time traveling buddies MonaLiza and Steve (Lowe’s Travels), who came to visit in mid-October.

It’s a bit disconcerting to realize that so many months have passed. I can’t quite tell you where all of the time has gone—but suddenly, we’re just weeks away from leaving town. It’s a strange feeling to have had something of this magnitude happen, and to have had our lives rearranged for us for such a long stretch of time. It certainly puts into perspective the illusion of control.

I’m excited about resuming our travels, and also feeling a bit tentative. Part of me wants to go, and part of me wants to stay in our beautiful hometown, surrounded by people we love, doing things we enjoy right here in our own backyard. This is a familiar internal tug-of-war. I don’t know that I’ll ever reconcile the two.

But as I think about our summer and fall plans—the Oregon Coast, Olympic Peninsula, San Juan Islands, North Cascades, and Glacier—I feel the spark of adventure rekindled within. And in my mind, I hear the words of my favorite poet, Mary Oliver, nudging me along: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and wonderful life?” For now, travel wins.

Next Up: Birds In The ‘Hood

Brilliant Fall Colors In Ashland

In The Japanese Garden

Beautiful Lithia Park

A Walk In The Park With MonaLiza And Steve

A Fun Day With Friends

Our View In The Fall

Old Farm Down The Road

A Few Of The Neighbors

Halloween In Ashland

Dia De Los Muertos Costumes

Even The Ferret Has A Costume

Double Take

Flying Dragon Baby Stroller

Not Just For Halloween

A Hike On The Rogue River

Peaceful Autumn Hike Along The Upper Rogue

The Rogue River Near Natural Bridge

A Contemplative Moment

Brilliant Fall Colors In Ashland
In The Japanese Garden
Beautiful Lithia Park
A Walk In The Park With MonaLiza And Steve
A Fun Day With Friends
Our View In The Fall
Old Farm Down The Road
A Few Of The Neighbors
Halloween In Ashland
Dia De Los Muertos Costumes
Even The Ferret Has A Costume
Double Take
Flying Dragon Baby Stroller
Not Just For Halloween
A Hike On The Rogue River
Peaceful Autumn Hike Along The Upper Rogue
The Rogue River Near Natural Bridge
A Contemplative Moment
Brilliant Fall Colors In Ashland thumbnail
In The Japanese Garden thumbnail
Beautiful Lithia Park thumbnail
A Walk In The Park With MonaLiza And Steve thumbnail
A Fun Day With Friends thumbnail
Our View In The Fall thumbnail
Old Farm Down The Road thumbnail
A Few Of The Neighbors thumbnail
Halloween In Ashland thumbnail
Dia De Los Muertos Costumes thumbnail
Even The Ferret Has A Costume thumbnail
Double Take thumbnail
Flying Dragon Baby Stroller thumbnail
Not Just For Halloween thumbnail
A Hike On The Rogue River thumbnail
Peaceful Autumn Hike Along The Upper Rogue thumbnail
The Rogue River Near Natural Bridge thumbnail
A Contemplative Moment thumbnail

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Matters Of The Heart

Matters Of The Heart

Posted by on Dec 30, 2016 in Family, Friends, Gallery, Musings, Oregon | 88 comments

On the morning of December 5th, Eric underwent open-heart surgery and a triple bypass. As he told the surgeon, this experience was not on his bucket list. Nor mine. Needless to say, this has been the most intense month of our lives.

All things considered, Eric is doing remarkably well. He’s now walking 30 minutes a day, soon to increase to 45 minutes. He looks great. But he looked great before the surgery, and had no symptoms other than occasional minor chest tightness when we were hiking or biking strenuously. We were lucky. This could have turned out very differently, and I try not to think too much about that.

There have been times in our adventures when we’ve been hiking alone in the middle of nowhere and I’ve thought, “I wouldn’t want to sprain an ankle out here, miles away from help.” I’ve even had brief imaginings of “What if something really bad happened and help was hours away?” At those moments, I’ve reassured myself by acknowledging that I’d rather accept the risks that come with doing what I love instead of indulging my fears and staying home where life is undeniably safer. Nonetheless, I am extraordinarily grateful that we didn’t suffer a tragedy on the trail.

Our doctor told us that Eric is very fortunate—that only about one quarter of people have symptoms that indicate cardiovascular disease. Apparently the first symptom for the remaining unlucky 75 percent is a heart attack. Eric didn’t suffer a heart attack. In fact, his heart is remarkably strong (the EKG tech referred to him as a “work horse”). He also has perfect blood pressure, a heart rate in the 50’s, low cholesterol, and takes no medications. We thought he was bullet proof. But his dad had a heart attack at age 47, and died from cardiovascular disease at 58. So there’s that.

Even now, almost four weeks after we entered the cardiac lab for a diagnostic angiogram (“He might need a stent,” said the cardiologist) and ended up in the hospital for nine long days and major surgery, the whole experience is surreal. I still have times when I expect to wake up and discover that this was all merely a bad dream. The image of Eric in intensive care, hooked up to a tangle of tubes and wires and flashing lights, haunts me. More than ever, I am in awe of both the fragility and resilience of the human body and spirit.

I have always been skittish around hospitals and medical procedures, and do my best to keep medical intervention at bay with a healthy diet, daily exercise, and a positive attitude. When we need help, we turn to herbs, acupuncture, massage, and other noninvasive treatments. This problem, obviously, required drastic measures. The technology and approach of Western medicine is at once terrifying and miraculous. This has been the most humbling experience of my life, and I will be eternally grateful to the skilled and compassionate people who saved Eric’s life and made a scary situation as comfortable as it possibly could have been.

Both Eric’s surgeon and cardiologist assure us that in time, we will be able to return to our normal lives. And they understand that “normal” for us looks different from what most people think of as normal. The doctors and nurses were intrigued by our stories of travel and our outdoor adventures. In Eric’s chart, one of the doctors wrote, “He and his wife travel the country full-time in their RV, and are active hikers, bikers, and kayakers.” I loved reading that. It made me feel that they understood something about us, and that they cared.

So, here we are. We would never have signed up for this adventure, but we are extraordinarily grateful that we discovered the problem before it turned into a tragedy. We are grateful that we’re here in our hometown, within a few miles of one of the finest cardiac centers in the country. We’re grateful for our wonderful surgeon and the skilled nursing care Eric received. And we are grateful to be in the embrace of our loving community of friends and family, who have held us in the most challenging moments, opened their homes and their hearts, brought us nourishment, and encouraged and supported us through it all.

Here’s to life, and to doing what makes your heart happy. You’ve heard it many times, but I have to say it anyway—don’t put off doing what you want to do. Tell your family and friends that you love them. You can’t say it too much. I know that I’m going to do my best to be more present, more generous, and more compassionate in this amazing, wild journey of life. We wish you peace, joy, and good health in the New Year.

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Caught Between Two Worlds

Caught Between Two Worlds

Posted by on Nov 28, 2016 in Friends, Gallery, Musings, Oregon | 44 comments

Every so often, I’ve wondered how it will feel when we decide to stop traveling fulltime. I hope I’m not going to feel as lost as I’ve been feeling the past few weeks.

Other than a two-week trip to Portland in October, we’ve been parked in our hometown of Ashland since mid-September. Our original plan was to head south by the end of October, wending our way leisurely across the country, and ending up in Florida for the winter. But life doesn’t always go as planned, and we have things we need to attend to before we can leave. At this point, it looks like we’re going to be here until sometime in January.

We love Ashland. In all of our travels, we’ve yet to find a place that we would rather call home. And we dearly love our friends. When we’re here in Ashland, life returns almost to our pre-full-time-traveling “normal,” and we share wonderful dinner parties, music jams, creative art projects, and outdoor adventures with friends. This is home, in the deepest sense of community.

I love being here, and at the same time, I feel out of place. I’m deeply grateful to our friends who welcome us home, and who create a place for us to stay when we’re here. But this isn’t what we had planned, and it’s knocked me off course. Winter is nipping at the heels of fall, with the gray and chill and rain that is typical for November in Ashland. We’re home, but we’re not home—we’re in our small trailer, instead of in our cozy house on the hill with a fireplace and plenty of space for entertaining.

I feel stuck, and the mud that I’m slogging through on the trails is a metaphor for the spiritual mud that I’m slogging through as I try to motivate myself to get things done. We’re getting out for long walks everyday, we’ve recommitted to a daily meditation practice, I’m working on my music. I have a blog to catch up on. We have plenty to keep ourselves occupied, some things more fun than others.

Our plan was never to travel fulltime forever, but we’re not done yet, not by a long shot. (I check in with Eric, and he feels the same.) Maybe that’s why I feel like I’m adrift between two worlds. It calls on every glimmer of awareness I can muster to be here, now, knowing that we’ll be leaving again before too much longer.

Wherever I am, I want to be fully present. Truthfully, it’s effortless when we’re traveling. When every day brings fresh adventures, it’s easy to be present and appreciative. Simply being in a new place, I feel energized and happy. But it’s much more challenging for me to be present on a trail that I’ve hiked in Ashland thousands of times (I’m not exaggerating—I’ve done the math).

And so I’m practicing—yet again—opening my eyes to what surrounds me in the present moment. Traversing the path in the park that I’ve walked almost daily for 18 years, I turn my attention to the sounds of the creek, the birdsong, and the rhythm of my breath. I watch the leaves as they turn to gold and then fall from the trees. It brings me back to the present moment, which is where I want to be. Even if I can only manage that for a brief instant, it’s something.

We’ll be leaving again, before we know it. I don’t want to miss any of our time here in Ashland by worrying about the present and all that we need to do, or planning for the future. I just want to be here, now, grateful for this moment, for our friends, for this beautiful place that is still our home. When I can manage to stay in the present moment, I never feel lost.

Caught Between Two Worlds

Caught Between Two Worlds

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