Category: Travel

A couple of weekends ago we learned that going to the movies really is an all-day affair when you live out here where we do. The closest movie theater is almost an hour and a half away. When you have a 3 hour round-trip drive, a 2+ hour movie, and then you factor in the fact that I stop at practically every scenic overlook we pass to take pictures, well…you get the idea.

We drove to the town of Seaside to see the movie Divergent. To say that this movie theater could use a little updating is like saying the Roman Colosseum could use a little work. I don’t think I’ve been to a theater quite like this one since the 70’s. Maybe not even then.

When we pulled into the parking lot, I wasn’t even sure I had the right place. The building was sorely in need of a paint job, and the entrance wasn’t clearly marked. I couldn’t tell if we were walking in the front door, or the employee break room. I had ordered tickets online, afraid that the movie might sell out, since it was new. I shouldn’t have worried. Rather than picking up the tickets from a machine or the box office, we were directed to pick them up at the concession stand.

Once we had our tickets, we walked down a long, narrow hallway with red fabric-covered walls, then turned down an even more narrow hallway to reach our theater. The theater itself was small…maybe 15 rows of seats, total. The floors were entirely concrete – there wasn’t even a carpeted aisle. Some of the seats may have had cup holders, but ours did not. And stadium seating??? Fuhget about it!

Did I mention that the sound did not work throughout almost the entire “First Look” program that they show before the previews? One of the other patrons went and told the teens working up front and was told that “it will come on in a minute.” Five minutes later, I went and told them again, only to be told the same thing. Oooook. It finally came on right before the previews started, which was good, because I was starting to think maybe I’d just gone deaf, and didn’t know it.

At least the movie was good.

As I mentioned earlier, I stopped for every photo op on the way home:

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No matter how hard I try, the pictures never really convey just how freaking big the hills are...

No matter how hard I try, the pictures never really convey just how freaking big the hills are…

This little guy had no fear of people whatsoever. He stopped right in front of me to pick some grass to take back to the nest he was working on in the rocks.

This little guy had no fear of people whatsoever. He stopped right in front of me to pick some grass to take back to the nest he was working on in the rocks.

Those of you who saw my last post, East Meets West – A Room with a View, probably got the impression from my bedroom window photos that I live pretty close to the ocean, right? Yeah, I thought so, too…that is, until I actually tried to walk there. One of the things I’m quickly learning about Oregon is that if it’s easy, it’s not worth it…so they don’t make anything easy, and that includes getting to the beach.

There is a sign across the street and not too far from the end of our driveway that reads, “Nature trail to the beach.” No arrow pointing you in the right direction, no map, no distance…just a sign. My daughter and I walked around for 20 minutes one day trying to figure out just where the freaking trail was, until I finally gave up and went to the management office to ask. As my luck would have it, the office assistant is almost as new as we are, and didn’t know either. My daughter and I gave up, and drove to the public access about a mile away.

A few days later, on a (fairly) warm, sunny afternoon, I struck out on my own, determined to find the beach path. Now, here’s the thing…despite the fact that the sign was across the street, I was looking in that general vicinity on my side of the road – because, after all, the ocean is behind my house, not in front of it…so why on earth would the beach path lead even further away from the beach?

That’s what I get for being logical.

Directly behind the sign, leading away from the ocean, is the path. It starts out by heading towards the back edge of the lots across the street. Because it traverses a large hill, there are about 50 stairs up, and then about 50 stairs back down. Then, you walk a narrow, winding, downhill footpath through the woods that basically skirts around the end of the neighborhood, and gets you to the beach after a good 13-15 minute hike. Oh yeah, and to actually get down on to the beach, you have to carefully maneuver yourself down a huge hill made of mostly sand, that seems like it must be at least a 70 degree angle. I stood at the top of that hill thinking to myself that I could probably get down it without too many problems, but climbing back up afterwards? Followed by a 15 minute walk almost entirely uphill? Fun times…

The walk was not in vain, however. I got some pretty pictures out of it:

The view from the northern side of Fall Creek looking down towards Netarts

The view from the northern side of Fall Creek looking south towards Netarts

I saw many broken sand dollars on the beach, but is the only intact one I've found so far. I promised my 2 nieces I'd find one for each of them, though, so I'd better get to looking!

I saw many broken sand dollars on the beach, but this is the only intact one I’ve found so far. I promised my 2 nieces I’d find one for each of them, though, so I’d better get to looking!

Three Arch Rocks in Oceanside

Three Arch Rocks in Oceanside – I wish those people would get out of my picture!


Oceanside – to the north

For my return trip, I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to make it back up the steep sand hill, so I debated either walking the 2 miles down to Oceanside and calling my mother to come pick me up, or taking the beach access path at the other end of my community. I chose the path. I chose poorly.

In order to better illustrate this to you, please focus your attention on the photograph below:

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In this picture, my house is the second one from the left. You can see the beginning of the path where it starts on the beach, pretty much directly beneath the house on the far right. From looking at this picture, you’d think that this path would be much shorter than the one that brought me down to the beach…I mean, it’s just a bunch of steps straight up the hill, right? WRONG.

First, you take 113 stairs up the hill, until you reach a platform. You can see the platform here, about halfway up the hill between the beach and that first house. At this point, you get to a path that, while moving slightly uphill, also takes you 190 paces to the left…passing through this gully/valley type thing, and getting further and further away from my house. The path ends at a playground, and next to the playground is another staircase of 84 steps up in order to reach street level. Great. I’ve made it, right? Well, if you ignore the fact that this isn’t the street on which I live, then sure. Otherwise, I then have to trudge to the beginning of the cul-de-sac, hang a right, walk all the way to the end of that street, hang another right, and walk 3/4 of the way down my own street…traversing the neighborhood takes almost as long as all the stairs!

But…if it’s easy, it’s not worth it. If nothing else, I’ll have buns of steel from all these steps before too long!

All of the pictures in this post were taken from my bedroom window. (Not bragging, just…a very lucky girl!!)

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I opened my eyes one morning, and this was the first thing I saw – how freaking awesome is that??

A panoramic view...

A panoramic view…

And then, a little while later the same morning - another one!

And then, a little while later the same morning – another one!

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I’ve been in Oregon for 25 days now, and I just wanted to share my first impressions of the place…

These first few pictures were taken on the last day of our cross-country drive:

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One of my first views after crossing the border into Oregon…

First glimpses of the Columbia River

First glimpses of the Columbia River

What keeps the onions from flying out when they hit a bump? Sorry, had to include this one...

What keeps the onions from flying out when they hit a bump? Sorry, had to include this one…

More of the Columbia River

More of the Columbia River

It's getting dark...OMG, are we there yet???

It’s getting dark…OMG, are we there yet???

Obviously, we made it here eventually. Here’s my first glimpse when I woke up the next morning:

A little gray, sure, but hey, it's the ocean...outside my bedroom window!

A little gray, sure, but hey, it’s the ocean…outside my bedroom window!

I’ve heard it said that if you don’t like the weather here, wait 5 minutes. It was my first full day in Oregon, so I had to make an appearance at the beach. This is Netarts, about a mile south of the house. This part of the beach is called Happy Camp. Seriously.

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You can see two of the Three Arch Rocks down in Oceanside, a mile or so north of the house.

You can see two of the Three Arch Rocks down in Oceanside, a mile or so north of the house.

Fall Creek, Netarts Bay and the Pacific Ocean all sort of come together here.

Fall Creek, Netarts Bay and the Pacific Ocean all sort of come together here.

Another view of Fall Creek

Another view of Fall Creek

I’ll put the rest in a separate post, so that hopefully they won’t take too many hours to load up!

To be continued…

The last day of our 5-day adventure was a combination of awesome and awful. We started out our day with a flat tire (awful), but fortunately, there was a  Commercial Tire center literally a block away from our hotel – in fact, the parking lots were connected, so you could get to it without ever having to pull out on to the street (awesome)! Of course, we didn’t know that until after we’d gone out into the 40 mph sustained winds and put the spare tire on the car (awful). Luckily, though, when I drove the car over to get the tire fixed, they took me in right away *and* they were able to patch the tire for a whopping $14.50. (AWESOME…ok, I’m sure you get the point.)

So, the whole tire debacle put us behind schedule, which was unfortunate, because even without that setback, this was to be our longest travel day so far, with about 635 miles to go. No more hotels. No more chasing cats who have at last caught on to the pattern and scatter like leaves in the wind the moment they see us packing up our suitcases in the morning, determined that we will not be stuffing them into their carriers for yet another day on the road. It was Do or Die. Oregon or Bust.

We got everyone and everything loaded into the car – a procedure that by this time we had down to a science – and headed the 4 or 5 miles from Twin Falls toward the highway, with the intention of filling the gas tank at a station we’d seen the night before right off the interstate.

Do you remember a few minutes ago when I mentioned the 40 mph sustained winds? That was not an exaggeration. Not even a little bit. It. Was. Windy. Ridiculously, crazily windy. Grip-the-steering-wheel-with-both-hands-and-hold-on-for-dear-life kinda windy.

We pulled in to the gas station only to find that it was closed. Yes, closed. Apparently they had no power, thanks to the hurricane-force winds. Not seeing another gas station in the immediate vicinity (that wouldn’t be suffering from the same problem), we decided not to risk getting on the highway without filling up, and headed back into Twin Falls to find another station.

Let me interject two things here – first, the town of Twin Falls is located very near to the Snake River Canyon. In fact, we drove over the canyon on the way to our hotel the previous evening, and I was chomping at the bit to get out and take pictures of what was quite an impressive sight, and I had been disappointed to be leaving town without getting a chance to do this…so having to backtrack 5 miles in that direction to get gas didn’t upset me as much as it should have. I sensed an opportunity.

Second, I learned very quickly that Idaho is the Land of the Tumbleweed. I don’t know if they actually call it that or not, but damn it, they should. Those things were everywhere, and for some reason, the very sight of them amused the hell out of me.

So, we got the tank filled up, and since it was almost 11:30am, I figured, why not just stop and look at the canyon for a few minutes. What difference could it make at this point? So we stopped.

Pictures don't adequately convey the...hugeness...of this canyon.

Pictures don’t adequately convey the…hugeness…of this canyon.

The bridge over the canyon

The bridge over the canyon

The Snake River

The Snake River

Once I’d gotten my photo-op fix, we finally got on the road. It was a pretty tense ride for the first couple of hours, with the wind constantly threatening to tear the steering wheel out of my hands, and couch-sized tumbleweeds that seemed to take aim for the windshield of the car. It was a relief when we finally made it into hillier land, because it helped to block out some of the wind.

Because of our late start, we had a late lunch, but I was thrilled to be able to tweet (yes, I tweet occasionally…don’t hold it against me!) that we were having lunch in Oregon! Don’t get too excited, though, we still had several hours’ of driving ahead of us. It’s a damned big state!

Around 8:30 pm or so, we passed by Portland, which meant we had another hour and 45 minutes to go. At this point, every cat in the car was starting to act up, and I could totally sympathize…there just comes that point where you feel like if you don’t get out of the car right this very minute, you’re going to start taking hostages…and I had reached that point. It didn’t help that once you pass Portland, the road turns into this crazy little two-lane, two-way nightmare that twists and turns through the woods…so at a time where you want nothing more in life than to be able to floor it, you have to slow down.

Just when I was starting to suspect that we were, in fact, never going to get there, things started to look familiar. Hey wait…I know that road…I’ve been here before. WOOHOO! WE MADE IT!!! QUICK – GET THE CATS TO A LITTER BOX – THEY HAVEN’T PEED IN 12 HOURS!

The End.


Um…ok, so is anyone surprised that I wrote this blog back on March 16th, and went to bed without ever posting it, and then never blogged about our last day on the road at all?  Yeah, I didn’t think you would be. Well, here it is, albeit a little late:

Today was Day 4 of our 5 day trip. Yesterday was so non-eventful that I didn’t even bother to blog about it – and believe me, I am happy to be able to say that!

I’m to the point now where the days are all blending together, so I had to go back and consult a map before I could say this: yesterday we started off in Missouri, and traveled through Iowa and Nebraska, accidentally spent 10 or 15 minutes in Colorado (missed a turn!), and finished the day in Cheyenne, Wyoming. This morning we resumed our travels across southern Wyoming, dipped briefly into Utah, and started across Idaho.

As I said, yesterday was a pretty ho-hum day. The cats all behaved themselves, other than an occasional protest here and there. It rained some as we crossed Nebraska, and was pretty windy all day in general, but nothing awful. We took a short (accidental) detour over the Colorado border, but that only took us 10 minutes out of our way, and it allowed us to add another state to our “yeah, I’ve been there!” lists…

Up until today, all of our travels have taken place at fairly low elevations. Even when we crossed the mountains out in western Maryland, I don’t think we ever got above maybe 3,000 feet. Today, we hit the eastern Rockies, and learned something we didn’t previously know – cat’s don’t like crossing mountains. As we started our way up into the mountains, reaching elevations of over 7,000 feet, the cats all started to get more vocal. A lot more vocal. Apparently the change in elevation bothered their ears as much as it does ours (wow, who would’ve thunk it?), and telling them, “It’s ok, kitties, just yawn” didn’t seem to get the message across to them. Eventually everyone quieted down again, as we reached a point where we leveled out – everyone except Dinah, of course.

After awhile, I couldn’t take it anymore, and brought her into the front seat to sit in my lap. Oddly enough, that shut her up right away.

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After a few minutes of looking out the window and trying to convince me that letting her walk around the dashboard would be a great idea, Dinah snuggled up into my lap and went to sleep for about 2 hours.

At lunch time Dinah went (quietly) back into her carrier and stayed there…and this was right around the time that we noticed the low tire pressure light was lit up on the dash. The next time we stopped, my brother did a quick walk around the car, and said all of the tires looked ok, so we kept driving, not thinking much of it. When we stopped for gas a couple of hours later, the driver’s side rear tire was almost completely flat. Ruh-roh!

Thankfully, putting air in the tire got us to our hotel in Twin Falls, Idaho, but I have a feeling that the first thing on our agenda for tomorrow morning will be getting that tire fixed!


Harley and Dinah enjoy the king-sized bed

Today was Day 2 on the road from Maryland to Oregon. So far, we’ve traveled through 7 states: Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, and Indiana yesterday, and Indiana, Illinois and Missouri today.  I know everyone is waiting with baited breath to hear my horror stories about the nightmare that is traveling with 5 cats, but the truth is, so far these girls have been pretty darned good. We’ve had a few minor incidents, but, really, I was expecting a lot worse.

Yesterday we had a little carrying on in the car, mostly by Dinah (the demon-eyed tortie in the photo above).Today, there was hardly any at all. There were a couple of random bouts of meowing here and there, but for the most part the back seat was quiet.

Today, our two incidents both took place at hotels. This morning as we were preparing to leave Smoker’s Central (a.k.a. the La Quinta in east Indianapolis on Post Road), Dinah (why is it always Dinah???) decided to attempt a 6 or 7 foot jump from the sink located to the right of the front door to the shelf above the ‘closet’ area to the left of the front door. Ordinarily, this wouldn’t be a particularly major feat for her – I call her my little flying squirrel – except that in this case, the ‘shelf’ she was trying to reach wasn’t actually a solid platform. Instead, it was made up of metal bars with spaces in between each bar.

I saw the idea take root in her mind, but I was too far away to stop it. She jumped and fell, taking all of the towels that had been folded on top of the shelf with her, and then disappeared. She wasn’t on the shelf (of course), and I didn’t see any movement under the fallen towels…so I immediately think that she’s hurt herself badly, and oh no, where am I going to find a vet at this time of morning in Indiana? I quickly moved the towels to assess the damage…but she wasn’t under them. Um, where’d the cat go? I called her name, and looked around frantically, only to see her come walking towards me from the bed area as if nothing had happened. OMG.

Incident #2 happened after we reached the hotel in St. Joseph, Missouri this evening. My mother’s 3 cats, Isabel, Ivy and Sophia were with my brother in his room across the hall. (They aren’t quite friends yet with Harley and Dinah, so we have to keep them separated.) After about an hour, I got a text from my brother stating, “The cats made a mess in here.” Seems they were running around the room, chasing each other like wild things – probably just happy to be free from their carriers – and upended the (thankfully not yet used) litter box. He had to go borrow a broom from the front desk to clean up the mess.

So, in summary, I have to say that other than the mind-numbingly boring car ride and last night’s stinky hotel room, there’s not much to complain about on this trip. Just the thought of saying that on day 2 of 5, though, makes me cross my fingers and hope that I’m not jinxing myself.

I’d take some time now and tell you about how much better tonight’s hotel is than last nights – we’re staying at a Drury Inn and Suites, and it’s great! – but I see Dinah eyeing the top of the room’s armoire, and I can see the gears turning in her head, so I’d better go.

More tomorrow!

Day 1: The Move

This about sums it up:

Harley, after 10 hours in the car

Harley, after 10 hours in the car

It’s late and I’m tired, so I’ll sum today up with bullet points:

  • Woke up at 4:15am, and never got back to sleep
  • Drove my mother and daughter to the airport at 6:15am so they could FLY to Oregon. Biotches.
  • Got a late start on the road – 10am
  • The cats were surprisingly quiet…for the most part…except, of course, for my Dinah. She spent the first couple of hours on the road letting us know that she was not happy about this trip. And then decided that this idea needed reiteration off and on throughout the day.
  • I’m not sure exactly what Isabel was doing, but when I checked on her the first time, maybe an hour and a half after getting on the road, she’d somehow managed to scrape her nose and make it bleed a little.
  • We arrived safe and (relatively) sound in Indianapolis, Indiana at a little after 8pm.
  • I’ve decided that traveling with cats is just as bad as traveling with children. We’re staying in this hotel for 1 night, and we had to make two trips to get all of our junk into the rooms…and my second bed is almost completely full of stuff.
  • We got through the entire day with only 1 accident – toward the end of the day,  Harley peed a little in her carrier. I felt bad for her, because it seemed like she felt bad for doing it. Poor baby. I don’t blame her. I’d die if I had to hold it for 10 hours.
  • MIRACLE OF MIRACLES – HARLEY DID NOT POOP IN HER CARRIER!!!! Anyone who knows me knows that an amazing feat this is. Harley has a knack for pooping in her carrier roughly 37.8 seconds before we reach whatever destination we are driving towards – even if it’s only a 15 minute car ride to grandma’s.
  • We are in another La Quinta hotel. This one claims to be an entirely smoke-free building….and so far I haven’t experienced a part of it that does NOT smell like cigarettes.

There’s more, but I’m sleepy. (See bullet point #1)

Tomorrow’s a little bit shorter day, at just over 500 miles. We’re shooting to leave by 8:30 or 9am, and our next destination is St. Joseph, MO.

CAT-astrophe #1

Let me just say first of all, we haven’t even left town yet. We’re currently holed up in a hotel near the airport, while we finish wrapping things up here in Maryland.

The humans came to the hotel last night, but we didn’t bring the cats over until today. While the movers were at my mom’s place packing up her things, I ran over there, collected her 3 cats, and brought them back to the hotel. I had this very specific plan as to how things were going to be done with these cats for the move, and I’d say it probably took all of, oh, 5 minutes for that to be entirely out the window.

Here’s the original plan:

  • We would have 4 large (32-inch) carriers – everyone would get their own carrier, except for Sophia and Ivy (momma and baby) – you know, to reduce the amount of times that I would have to clean one cat’s puke off of another cat
  • Into each carrier would be placed a small, kitten-sized litter box. To keep the box from sliding around while driving, double-sided tape would be used to secure it to the floor of the carrier
  • A puppy-pad would be placed on the floor of the carrier to cover the space not covered by the litter box – just in case of an accident
  • 8 plastic bowls were brought along to be used for food and water – 2 for each carrier
  • Once we arrived at the first hotel, and for the entire length of the trip, the cats would remain in their carrier – people seem to delight in telling me horror stories about cats stuck inside mattresses in hotels…that’s not going to happen to OUR furries…

My, how plans change.

I arrived at the hotel with mom’s cats, Sophia, Ivy, and Isabel. I brought them in their regular carriers, with the intention of transferring them to the large carriers in the hotel room. I placed a litter box in each of the two carriers, then laid a puppy pad down to line the space that was uncovered. I put the first cat, Isabel, into her carrier. Since we were in the hotel room, and not driving around, I filled one bowl with dry food and one with water, and placed them inside the carrier. Isabel promptly stepped on the water bowl, spilling all of the water into her carrier…which, of course, soaked the puppy pad. As she was scrambling to avoid the sudden flood, she stepped on the side of the litter pan, overturning it. (I hadn’t had a chance to get the double-sided tape yet).

She wasn’t in the carrier 5 minutes.

I still had to go back to my place and get my cats, Harley and Dinah. On the way, I stopped at Lowe’s for double-sided tape, and at PetSmart for some dishes that would clip on to the bars of the carriers. About $45 later, and 2 cats heavier, I returned to the hotel.

I found Ivy curled up asleep -inside her litter box – and Isabel hiding behind her still-overturned litter box. Sophia was meowing to be let out. Sigh.

I cleaned up Isabel’s mess, and got out my double-sided tape, only to find that it wouldn’t stick to the bottom of the litter box.

The new plan:

  • No litter boxes in the carriers. They can have them at the hotel, but otherwise, hey, you’re the one who’s got to sit in it, not me.
  • I’m not staying up all night listening to meowing cats – they can roam the entire hotel if they want, as far as I’m concerned.

Basically what I learned today was that all the money spent on the larger carriers, the special clip-on bowls, the double-sided tape…all a waste.

Oh, yeah, and I just realized that I forgot to pack socks. I have the one pair that’s on my feet, and they have to last me until next Monday. I could go buy some socks, but…why? lol

Today marks the beginning of the Great Oregonian Migration. (More commonly referred to “our big move to Oregon”.) Last night was my last night at my old condo, and I have to admit, when I crawled into bed and realized it was for the last time there, I may possibly have teared up a little. Just for a second. If you tell anyone I said that, however, I will deny it to my last breath.

It was a long day. filled with packing, runs to Home Depot for more boxes, a run to Lowe’s for a new bathroom door, and many trips up and down the stairs. I also had a handyman come over for the day to take care of all of those household projects that I have somehow lost the will to complete myself. I started painting my kitchen cabinets and changing out the hardware from ugly brass to a nice brushed nickel, oh, at least 3 or 4 years ago, if not longer. Today, the handyman finished them. Too bad I didn’t do it way back then – it looks nice. He also installed two smoke detectors, painted a bathroom vanity, replaced the bathroom door that had been mauled by wild dogs (that would be the previous owner’s Siberian huskies), re-caulked both showers and vanities, hung all of my new mini-blinds, and re-screened my balcony screen door. Oh, and bonus – he hauled all of the trash that I had accumulated over the course of the day down to the dumpster for me.

I think I need to keep a handyman on retainer.

The plan today was to finish all of the packing while the handyman did his thing, then pack up the cats and my suitcase and haul them over to a hotel by the airport, so that everything would be out of the way for the arrival of the movers tomorrow. At around 9pm or so, as I was still at my condo throwing away about 4 pounds of flour that my mother forbid me from paying movers to haul across the country and a jar of beef bouillon cubes that expired 9/22/2001, I decided that the kitties could stay where they are for one more night, so that I could get a quiet night’s sleep at the hotel.  Tomorrow is soon enough to piss them off.