Book Talk Tuesday: Hid From Our Eyes

It’s been a long time since we visited with Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne in Millers Kill, New York.

But the wait is worth it!

HidFromOurEyesHid From Our Eyes has three time lines with characters appearing in both the present and past. Spencer-Fleming handles this plot device well and I wasn’t confused about where (or when) we were.

The three time frames have a death in common: a young woman, clothed in a new “party” dress, without a purse, identification, or shoes and no visible wounds or way to tell how she died, or how to identify her. Of course, medical science has come a long way and the present day crime scene and body yields more answers than those in the past.

 

And Russ just happened to be a suspect in one of those past murders.

As usual with this series, the murder-solving is only part of the story. Clare and Russ are new parents, adjusting to their baby. Clare is fretting that her drug and alcohol abuse before she knew she was pregnant may have impacted the child. There’s a referendum coming before the township that may put Russ out of a job. Hadley Knox’s ex is bringing a lawsuit against the town, claiming that former officer (and Hadley’s former on-again/off-again boyfriend/lover), Kevin Flynn, planted drugs that got the ex arrested. Flynn left Millers Kill to take a job with the Syracuse PD and he’s working undercover in Millers Kill.

So there’s plenty in this story to keep you turning the pages.

The solution is neat and makes sense, even if you don’t see it coming. Hid From Our Eyes is an excellent mystery in the “Fair Play” tradition of Margaret Maron and Louise Penny.

I hated waiting over six years for it (and hope I don’t have to wait another six years for the next installment), but I loved the story. I highly recommend it! Unfortunately, you’ll have to wait a little longer. I got an advance copy. The book won’t be available until April. 😦


I received a free Advanced Reader Copy of this book via NetGalley. It did not induce me to review it either negatively or positively.

Book Talk Tuesday on a Thursday: Courageous World Changers

Courageous World Changers: 50 True Stories of Daring Women of God

I could not love this book more!

CWCEach profile is short and easily read in a few minutes. It has enough information to make the person come alive in my mind. There’s a nice variety of historical and contemporary figures. There are women from all walks of life and all ethnicities, proving that being a Christian isn’t exclusive to middle class white Americans.

I’m going to gift this copy to my two 3rd grade granddaughters. It’s perfect for them. The illustrations capture the essence of the story and the person. The vocabulary will be just challenging enough to encourage them to think about what they’re reading without being so far above them that they’ll lose interest.

The back cover says it’s for ages 8-11, but it could be read aloud to younger girls. I’m quite a bit older than 11 and I learned a lot and loved it.

I’m excited to share this book with others!
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I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. It did not influence nor induce me to review it.

Oregon –> Washington –> Home!

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

We needed to be in Tacoma by the end of the day, and it’s less than a three-hour drive from Hillsboro, Oregon. Our next event was in Olympia the next day. Since it was our last day in Oregon and our (okay, my) last chance to do some tax-free shopping, I took some time this morning to start my Christmas shopping. I worked for a couple of hours, then Ubered to a shopping center, to Barnes & Noble. By the time I got back, David had done our laundry. A win/win for me!

We had a quick lunch, then checked out, loaded up, and headed north. We stopped for gas again at our casino/gas station and continued on our way. When we made the reservation at Tacoma, since this was our third time at this hotel, we knew the layout. We’d been on the freeway side each time and been bothered by the traffic noise, so I’d emailed and asked for a room away from the freeway. I stressed that we wanted a quiet room.

As we checked in, we reiterated, “Away from the freeway, we want quiet. We need quiet. We’re old. We’re working hard and long days. We need our sleep. Not to mention, we’re half-deaf, so if the traffic is waking us up, it must be really, really loud.”

We were assured our room was quiet and we were being “upgraded” to a suite. That all sounds nice, and the suite was … nice, but it was still on the freeway side. Argh. Of course, this hotel is surrounded by either freeway, an exit ramp, or busy commercial streets. So there’s not a truly “quiet” side, but still, we were specific: away from the freeway.

We had dinner at the hotel restaurant. There was a young girl at a table nearby, with books, coloring books, games, and puzzles spread out. Her father would pop out of the kitchen every so often to check on her. We found out her name is Asia and David struck up a conversation with her. Pretty soon we were playing Tic Tac Toe and Go Fish, to the amusement of the other guests. Asia is quite the young card shark and very good at Tic Tac Toe. I think all of our games except one ended in a tie. (I won that one. 🙂 ) After about fifteen minutes, Asia’s caregiver (she was quick to say she was not Asia’s mother) came and picked her up.

We said goodbye to Asia, thanked her for playing with us and letting us get a pseudo-grandchild visit, then headed back to our suite. 😉

Thursday, November 21, 2019

IMG_4002The next morning, we needed to make an early start for our half hour drive to Olympia and the state Capitol. But David took a few minutes to ask the front desk staff what we could do to ensure a quiet room next time. I usually book a room with one king bed. He learned that the rooms away from the freeway are doubles. Although our upgraded suite had two doubles and was on the freeway side. So ?? But anyway, they said book a double and after making the reservation through the app, call the hotel directly and talk to someone. So we’ll try that next time.

We ordered breakfast, but a collegiate girls’ volleyball team beat us to the ordering counter and we ended up having to take ours to go.

We got to Olympia a few minutes late, but found our appointed spot without a problem, and got set up. This time we were able to keep the truck hooked up which helped with staying warm. Because it was really cold. In fact, after we set up, David got an Uber to a nearby Target and bought some hand and foot warmers for us. They helped …

We were a bit off the beaten track at the Capitol, so we didn’t get any legislators come through. The video team and photographers were at a loss and wanted to make sure the company got their moneys worth, so I gave them the tour multiple times so they could get different angled shots of the props and me and/or my hands pointing or holding things.

A couple of PhRMA lobbyists came through whom we had met in Chicago. That was fun! They remembered us and the trailer and were excited to have us in their home state. IMG_4003They did send a few coworkers by. And two people came through who are employed by a large pharmaceutical company. They both took the tour, but declined to be on camera, furthering the video team’s dilemma. A member of the state police came through and the video team did get to spend some time with her, giving me a chance to warm up in the truck, walk to the Capitol for the restroom, and pop into the gift shop there for postcards.

We had permission to leave the truck and trailer for a few hours after the event, which was wonderful, because we got to have dinner with longtime friends Kurt and Anna who live in Olympia. They came and picked up us and drove us to dinner.

IMG_4020We went to Anthony’s Hearthfire Grill. Anthony’s is a local chain, and the Hearthfire Grill is on the sound. I’m sure the views are amazing, but we didn’t have the right weather (or daylight) to properly enjoy them. We had their dinner specials, which were delicious! Four courses for a flat price. We had shrimp cocktails and Caesar salads. I had prawns for my main course, and they were fabulous, with enough leftover for another meal. Then “Burnt Cream” (Creme Brulee) for dessert.

We hadn’t seen Kurt and Anna in probably 25 years. Maybe more. We keep in touch with Christmas cards and Facebook, so we picked up like we’d chatted last month. It was so wonderful to catch up and hear about their kids and their lives. That has been one of the biggest blessings of this adventure: the opportunity to visit family and friends across the country that we’d otherwise not be seeing.

After dinner, Kurt and Anna drove us back to the trailer and truck. We said goodbye and hopes that we don’t go another 25 years (yikes! We’d be reallllly old by then!), and headed back to Tacoma and our freeway-side hotel room.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Our event is right in Tacoma, at the Tacoma campus of the University of Washington. We had a bit of a sticky situation getting in position. We were told space numbers in a parking lot, so we pulled into the long and narrow lot only to discover that our spaces were on the street in front of the lot. If we’d known that coming in, that would have helped. At one point, I was in the driver’s seat while David was directing me to turn and back up, until the trailer was situated to where he could pull it out of the lot.

It was another cold day, but we still had hand and foot warmers. Our day was scheduled to be from 9 AM to 4 PM. It was Orientation Day for the next semester’s incoming students. We had a fair amount of foot traffic and did a surprising number of tours, over 30.

The campus is really beautiful, considering it’s essentially in downtown Tacoma. At least I think it is. It’s definitely in urban Tacoma. It’s full of old brick buildings that were once commercially used and many of them still have their old, original names on them.

 

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David walked to a nearby restaurant and brought back hot dogs from Hot Rod Dog for lunch for us and Ana, our local consultant. They were good, with a very crisp snap to them.

By about 3:15 we were frozen and Ana said we were done. Foot traffic had dwindled. So we loaded up. But of course … earlier, two teachers had come by. They were very interested in a tour, but were on their way to a meeting. They said they’d be back. So just as we were almost all loaded up, they arrived. David gave them a brief tour with some highlights, while Ana and I finished the outside tear down. Then we walked around and huddled near the generator, trying to stay warm. Once the final final tour of 2019 was done, we finished loading up, said goodbye to Ana, and headed back to our hotel, all of 15 minutes away, which was a lovely change of pace.

At the hotel, we had our leftovers from Anthony’s Hearthfire in Olympia, enjoyed a brief soak in the hotel spa, and began packing, ready for an early departure tomorrow.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

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We are headed home! Our first stop is Yreka tonight. We want to get there in time for dinner at the Mexican restaurant we ate at the first time we came through, coming home from the Alaska cruise with my folks, Casa Ramos.

We have an uneventful day, and have a delicious dinner. We Facetime with Taryn’s family and get a good night’s sleep.

 

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Home is the goal today! It’s a beautiful clear, crisp morning in Yreka. IMG_4035We skip church in favor of hitting the road and getting by 4 PM. Friends Lee and Karie bring over dinner, a delicious stew and rolls.

It’s been a long five and half months. A lot has happened. We’ve learned a lot about ourselves, and each other. About our country. About traveling. About people.

In the next few weeks, I plan to share some of the lessons we learned.

The trailer received funding for another year. We’ve been offered our jobs again and we’ve accepted. We’re tentatively planning to leave around January 15, 2020. I’ll keep you posted about that, too.

Thank you so much for reading! I know these last posts have been looooong. I’ll try to stay more current in 2020.

Book Talk Tuesday: Fatal Flashback

I love well-written suspense and Kellie Van Horn’s Fatal Flashback did not disappoint. The suspense is tight, the characters are real, the romance is sweet, and the setting is unusual but felt just right.

FFAshley is reporting for duty as a ranger at Big Bend National Park in Texas when she finds herself in deep water–literally. She’s been thrown into the Rio Grande with no memory of who did it or why.

Logan Everett is a ranger, still reeling from the death of a trainee ranger three months ago and the abandonment of his almost-fiancee five years ago. He fights his attraction to Ashley, especially since she’s clearly hiding something.

As Ashley’s memory creeps back, she and Logan search for a crime ring operating inside the park. They don’t know who they can trust, except for each other. Logan also trusts God, but Ashley doesn’t. She can’t remember why, but she knows God abandoned her.

I loved this fast-paced story. Ashley’s memories returned at a realistic pace, just as they would to someone with a head injury. The clues were doled out fairly. The romantic tension built organically, just the way I like it.

I highly recommend this book!


I received a free copy of this book from the author. This did not influence my review, nor did it induce me to review the book.

Media Monday: Christmas Movies

They have a certain reputation. Especially those from the Hallmark Channel. Sugary sweet. Predictable. So cheesy you can see through the plot holes. But they are incredibly popular and are many people’s (okay, many women’s) favorite holiday traditions and a highlight of the season.

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I go in waves. A couple of years ago I probably watched a couple dozen of them. Last year, I maybe watched two. This year, I’ve watched about six or seven. I often have them on in the background while I’m doing something else. But also this year, Stud Muffin has suggested one several evenings. I think because we had a fairly stressful fall season, and it feels good to watch something and not have to think too much about it.

In a probable corollary, he said yesterday he was done with watching The Rookie. We were fans of Castle and Nathan Fillion so when The Rookie premiered in 2018 we watched it. Talk about cheesy. Fillion is a rookie on the LAPD, having attended the academy after a divorce and sending his son off to college. So many of the storylines were implausible and pure Hollywood. For the first season, Stud Muffin could tolerate them, even if he had to hold his nose. But since we’ve been home, we’ve been catching up on season 2 and, maybe because we’re powering through/binge watching/not watching an episode a week, he said couldn’t do any more. That’s fine with me. I’m not a huge fan. Because often when he bails on a show, it was one I didn’t want to watch, but I agree, I get hooked, and he gets bored and quits. Survivor. The Voice. American Idol. To name a few.

Anyway, enough with that rabbit trail. Back to Hallmark.

Some of them are surprisingly good. And some of them are embarrassingly bad. Here are my thoughts on a few I’ve watched this year. Note though that not all of them are strictly “Hallmark.” Some have been on Lifetime, Ion, or Up. But they’re all in the Christmas romance category. And they’re listed here in no particular order. Not the order I watched them in, and not the order of preference.

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Sense, Sensibility, and Snowmen: This one was the most disappointing, I felt. I love Jane Austen and Sense and Sensibility is one of my favorites of hers. So I expected to love this. But … eh. First of all, the writers switched the personalities of Ellinor and Marianne. In this story, Ellie was more distractable and likely to ditch her job and duty while Marianne was the steady and dependable one.  Also, Edward Ferris was a competent businessman. There was very little conflict and even less plot (planning a Christmas party).

A Firehouse Christmas: Not the best, but far from the worst, with a nice message about parental expectations on kids. Tom’s soon-to-be-ex, Mary, has a new relationship book out and she wants the public to think they’re still happily married. He wants to spend the holiday with his firefighter girlfriend, Jenny, and his daughter.

Switched for Christmas: It’s a requirement that you must watch at least one Christmas movie with Candace Cameron Bure and this year I chose Switched for Christmas. It’s a download (8)few years old, but I hadn’t seen it before. It’s not the usual plot. No evil land developer is looking to take over the local resort. No snow storm strands a traveler in the small town (see Christmas Town below, another Candace movie). Candace plays identical twins, one a suburban working single mom, the other an urban single career woman. When they envy each others’ life, they decide to swap for a week. This one was a pleasant surprise. Even Stud Muffin enjoyed it more than he expected.

A Christmas Recipe for Romance: Based on a novel written by a friend of a friend, who is also in an online chapter of Romance Writers of America that I’m a member of. So I watched it to be supportive, not sure what to expect. It was quite good! Definitely predictable, but that didn’t detract from the charm. There is a failing inn that needs money to survive. A plucky inn manager determined to win a cooking contest. A disgraced chef whom she turns to for cooking lessons. You know how it ends. I knew how it ended, but I’d read the book. 😉

 

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There might be a formula …

Christmas Town: Another Candace Cameron Bure movie, this one with the predictable plot of getting stranded in a small town by a winter storm, falling in love with the town and a man. This one has the added plot twists of kids in foster care, a broken angel, and letters from the past. It was better than it sounds.

A Christmas Love Story: I recorded this one because I’m a Kristin Chenowith fan (and I don’t hate Scott Wolf) and it was refreshing to watch a music teacher conduct a choir with authenticity, not aimlessly waving their arms. This one was somewhat predictable, but it has a great plot twist that wasn’t telegraphed too early. The music included true download (11)Christmas music, not just about jingle bells and snowmen. Kristin is a music teacher who needs to compose a new song for her Christmas choir’s concert. Her newest student’s single father is opposed to his son singing and taking time away from preparing for college and his business degree. You can see where this is going. But trust me, it’s good.

You Light Up My Christmas: In Lifetime’s efforts at being more diverse and inclusive, this one stars Kim Fields from the sitcom Facts of Life. Her costars from that show Lisa Welchel and Mindy Cohn have small parts too, for added nostalgia factors. Kim plays Emma who returns to her hometown to sell her family home only to get pulled back into the family business and, of course, sparks fly with her former boyfriend. It was another one that wasn’t great, but not terrible.

Bonus:

Marry Me at Christmas: This one is a couple of years old and it’s the only one I’ve rewatched. It’s based on a book by one of my favorite authors, Susan Mallery. Johnny Blake, a famous Hollywood action star, comes to Fool’s Gold to help plan his sister’s wedding. He hits it off with the actual wedding planner, Madeline, and you know the rest of the story. Except this one has actual conflict (his career and need for privacy vs. her trust issues and business partner’s focus on publicity for their wedding shop). It’s very good.

 

Oregon: Farmers, Family, Friends

Friday, November 15, 2019

We had all day to drive from Eugene to the Portland area. We had planned to stay in the same hotel as we had earlier, in Wilsonville. But that one had been undergoing renovations and the parking lot wasn’t as trailer-friendly as we’d hoped, so I found another hotel in Hillsboro, Oregon.

We had an event Saturday (tomorrow) in Beaverton, near Hillsboro and Portland, and an event in Salem on Tuesday. Salem is about an hour south, but we decided to stay in Hillsboro and drive that hour down and back on Tuesday instead of checking out and staying in Salem. Because after Salem, we’d be heading north to Washington. That’s another thing we’re learning on this trip: what is really an “inconvenience.” Is an hour’s drive lesser than, greater than, or equal to the hassle of packing, loading, checking out, checking in, unloading, unpacking? In this case, the drive was less than, because we’d have to backtrack that hour the next day, anyway.

So, we took our time driving from Eugene to Hillsboro. It was only a two hour trip, so we got to town before check-in time. We unhitched, and went looking for lunch. We found a place nearby and settled in. Copper River reminded me a bit of Lazy Dog. I had a green chili chicken enchilada that was delicious.

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After lunch, we decided to find a couple of wineries for some tasting. There were two near each other, and about fifteen minutes away, so we headed first to Blizzard. The gal pouring was very nice, but we thought the wines were just okay. We didn’t buy anything there. Next up was Oak Knoll. We enjoyed these a bit more and bought a couple of bottles, including a pinot rose.

By now we could check-in, so we drove back to Hillsboro and the hotel. We made some phone calls and talked with friends for a bit, then I had a conference call with two of my critique partners. We had lunch leftovers for dinner and then sat in the hotel’s spa for a few minutes before bed.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Today’s event is at the Beaverton Farmer’s Market. We got there plenty early to get situated on the street. We talked to the market “Marshal,” and learned that in the summer, this farmer’s market gets 15,000 visitors on a Saturday! They expected only about 4,000 today.

We were near a couple of food trucks that were starting to make breakfast wraps. Rebecca and Sophie, our Oregon consultants, soon arrived and we got all set up.

This was a really fun event, for lots of reasons.

1) Our long-time friends, Tom and Nancy, have a very good friend who lives in the area.IMG_1251 copy I’d texted Robin and she came by! We’d heard a lot about Robin, had prayed for her and her family, but had never met her until today. It was wonderful to finally meet her in person and she’s just as lovely as I knew she would be. Having Tom and Nancy (not to mention the Lord) in common, enabled us to chat like we’d been friends for years, not meeting for the first time.

2) The people who came through for tours were really interested in the trailer and in what they learned.

3) I learned some things. A recovering addict took a tour with me. She did meth, she said, not heroin. In my spiel, I talk about a myth from the 1960s and 70s, when heroin users would pull liquid heroin into a syringe through cotton, thinking it filtered out impurities in the heroin. It doesn’t. They were just picking up bits of cotton fiber. They’d reuse the cotton and, over time, bacteria builds up and then they’d be injecting themselves with heroin, cotton fiber and bacteria, and getting sick with respiratory infections. This recovering meth addict told me, “Yeah, it’s cotton fever.” So I learned that factoid! Also, several parents of addicts came through and were grateful for the education we’re doing. They talked about signs they’d missed, about how well their kids are doing now (or not). 

4) We got to buy some delicious food, too. David bought some pears and some salmon spread that we had for dinner with crackers and cheese that night. He also bought us some tacos from one of the food trucks for lunch that were fabulous!

At about 2:00 the market officially closed and we packed up and had to get out quickly because there was a funeral scheduled at the church we were parked in front of.

We dropped off the trailer at the hotel and then went shopping. Because there’s no sales tax in Oregon, we had offered to pick up some things for family members. We bought some shot gun shells for a hunter and a birthday present for a grandson.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

We watched our home church service online, then I did my mid-month work. We called and video-chatted with one daughter and grand-daughter, then we went to dinner and a IMG_9751 copymovie. We saw Midway, which was very good, and we talked about what was accurate and what was embellished by Hollywood.

At Stanford’s, we shared one of their specials, salmon with a beurre rouge sauce that was to die for.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Another quiet day. I worked until about 2 PM, then we went to Cooper Mountain winery for a tasting and had a great time. The tasting room manager, Alicia, is from California and had worked in Napa. She and David talked quite a bit about their Napa IMG_9726 copyfavorites. A sweet, but young and rambunctious dog, Webster, was on hand too. We bought some wine for Thanksgiving dinner, then went back to town. We shared a snack in the truck then watched another movie. This time we saw Ford vs Ferrari, another chance to read and see what was accurate and really happened and what was Hollywood taking liberties with in the story.

After the movie, we got to video chat with our other daughter and grandchildren, which is always the highlight of our weeks.

We finished with another soak in the spa and then bed. Tomorrow would be our long day in Salem.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

We left Hillsboro at 7 AM, to get to Salem at 8. Of course, there was traffic, delaying us a bit, but we got there and were set up in front of the Capitol by 9. The truck couldn’t be attached to the trailer in front of the building all day, per the Capitol police, so David unhooked and parked off site, then came back.

This day was definitely focused on getting legislators to come through the trailer and take the tour. I had a woman from the Grange, and a few staffers and one or two legislators. So, overall, I think it was a good day. It was very cold. Definitely a day we’d have enjoyed being able to get in the truck for a few minutes to thaw out, if it had been available.

Walking back from parking, David had passed a sandwich shop, so he backtracked to get us some lunch, which we ate in shifts at the back of the trailer. Eating, drinking, and bathroom use are practicalities that we always have to think about on the job. We have to stay hydrated, so we both always carry a water bottle. But some days bathroom facilities aren’t nearby. But also sometimes the weather is such that no matter how much I drink, it’s fine, I don’t need a bathroom. It’s crazy. And it’s true of cold days, just as much as warm days. I didn’t use the bathroom at all, this day in Salem. In spite of two cups of coffee and two bottles of water. At the Iowa State Fair, when it was super hot and humid, I’d drink 5-6 bottles of water and not need the bathroom until 4:00 in the afternoon. Is that TMI?

Anyway, back to our day.

I have recently reconnected with a high school friend from Castro Valley, California. Heidi now lives in Salem and we had made plans to meet for dinner at 5:00. Because of the cold and because we had no one come by after 3:00, we started packing up at 3:30.

We got permission to leave the trailer in front of the Capitol for a few hours, which was perfect. We’d chosen a restaurant, a local Oregon chain, that we’d started to go to in Eugene, before our Uber driver convinced us to go somewhere else. We still wanted to try the original destination and there was one in Salem. So we’d chosen that place, thinking we could park the trailer there. But since we had permission to leave it, that seemed the better option. And good thing, because the lot at the Ram was not trailer-friendly, at all.

IMG_4352 copyWe got there a good half hour early. I texted Heidi that we were early and she hurried over. I didn’t want her to rush, but I also didn’t want her to think we were bored and waiting for her. We were happy to have a few minutes to decompress and warm up while we waited. I had the blackened chicken mac and cheese and had plenty of leftovers to take home for lunch.

Heidi and I hadn’t seen each other in probably forty years, maybe more. We had a lot to catch up on! She’s still an animal lover and a wonderfully kind person.

After dinner, a panhandler waited outside the restaurant. We don’t often give money, but will usually buy someone a meal. David offered to go back in and buy the man something to eat. He refused, saying he just wanted a beer. To my shock, David gave him $5. David said later, “Yeah, I never do that, but he was upfront about what he wanted, so I figured why not?” As David walked Heidi to her car, the man disappeared into the restaurant. I guess $5 + what he had was enough for his beer. 

We went back to the Capitol, hitched up, and drove the hour back to Hillsboro, our spa, and our bed.

Tomorrow: Off to Washington!

 

Oregon –> California –> Oregon

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Our event this day is at the Oregon State High School Cross Country Championships at a community college in Eugene. We had to be there at 8 AM, to set up by 9. We met our Oregon consultants, Rebecca and Sophie, for the first time. It was really, really cold out that day.

After we were set up and ready, I gave Rebecca and a campus security officer a tour while David went in search of coffee. This turned out to be a fairly slow day. The parents, grandparents, and spectators were there to watch their runners and not really to chat or take tours. The campus security team was very interested though, and I think all their officers on duty that day came through at one time or another.

This was the first day that we took turns sitting in the truck for a few minutes to warm up. I also got a bit of an upset stomach (too much coffee, I think, trying to get warm) and had to find the restroom. It was off a student lounge area, so I took a few extra minutes there.

The RALI consultants had a hard time giving away the tote bags and water bottles. People just didn’t want to stop and chat. It was cold and they had a place to be and things to do and people to watch.

We packed up just before the last race of the day. We know when we’re beat.

RALI usually sends a photographer to each event and today’s photographer gave us some restaurant suggestions for dinner. I also looked around online and found a place that had been on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, that was known for its seafood.

We were planning/hoping to leave the trailer at our Eugene hotel for the next five days, so we unhooked at the hotel and drove ourselves to dinner instead of using Uber. The Fisherman’s Market is indeed a dive, but what a dive! As we walked up, an employee was boiling crab out front. David stopped to talk to him and asked if those would be available to order inside. The answer was an unequivocal, “Maybe.” David also asked how to tell if crab is fresh. The last couple of years, the crab we’ve gotten locally just hasn’t been that good. We had great crab in Alaska and he’d had really good crab in Monterey. I don’t know if he got a clear answer or not, (I think it came down to smell and appearance), but we headed inside and ordered at the counter. The cashier also didn’t know if the crab cooking outside would be available, but the cook stuck his head in and said, yes, David could order one, it would be ready soon. I looked at their specialties and what Guy Fieri had eaten on DDD and I ordered the Cajun Crawdad pie. It was like a chicken pot pie, but with miniature shrimp/crawdads. It was really good, although very rich. I took more than half of it to-go, and ate it for another two meals.

Sunday, November 10 – Thursday, November 14, 2019

We had a week off with no events, so we’d decided to park the trailer and drive to Crescent City, California to visit longtime friends who’d recently moved there. Great plan, but the hotel refused to let us leave the trailer there. We’d never had a problem before, but for some reason … Anyway, we found another hotel in town that had a huge lot, so we canceled our reservation for when we would return to Eugene Thursday, made a new reservation, hooked up again, and drove three miles north.

After unhooking, we headed south again. It’s about a four-hour drive to Crescent City. From Grants Pass, we headed south and west through some beautiful country.

We met up with Steve and Abbie and had dinner at the Good Harvest Cafe. I thought it was good, although Abbie said she’d had better there.

We’d never been to Crescent City before, but since Abbie grew up there, we’d heard a lot about it. How it was always gray and rainy. And far away from shopping and entertainment options.

Well. Monday morning was gorgeous, sunny and clear and bright. In fact, it wasn’t until IMG_2977 copyWednesday that we got a taste of the “normal,” overcast and gray Crescent City weather.

We had a great few days there. Steve and Abbie gave us a tour of IMG_9347 copythe area, including their new home and the area where Abbie grew up. We saw the coastal redwoods, and even got an impromptu tour of the local lighthouse.

 

We walked out to the lighthouse as two men on Gator/golf cart vehicles were moving sacks of concrete up to the lighthouse. The posted “Open” hours for tours were over, so we knew we were just there to look around the outside of the building and read the markers. David stopped to chat and started helping them unload the sacks. I wasthisclose to hollering at him to 1) Stay out of their way, 2) Not IMG_0561 copyinjure himself helping strangers, and 3) Come look at these amazing views. But of course, he (and God) had other plans. After a few minutes talking to the two men, he learned they are both volunteer lighthouse keepers. One was stationed there that month with his wife. Well, sure enough, the keeper invited us in. We got a history of the lighthouse, its lens, its decommissioning and its current status as county property, maintained by volunteers. We also got to climb into the lens “house” at the top. It was a lovely serendipity. We learned that the lighthouse (and its keepers) are cut off from the mainland by the tides for a large portion of every day. Some volunteers find that too isolating and don’t want to return after their first rotation. The keeper that month and his wife don’t mind it, and the tides that day were late enough that they were planning dinner in town and they’d be able to be back to the lighthouse before the tide came back in. It was all fascinating. 

IMG_9493 copyAlso, while in town those few days, we got to meet Abbie’s sister and see her sister’s home and see their brother and his family again. We did some shopping in some really fun and unique gift shops.

We ate in some great restaurants, both in Crescent City and in Brookings, Oregon. The Chart Room had the best fish & chips. Seaquake Brewing had lots of delicious food, including fried cheese curds, burgers, and thick, creamy clam chowder. In Brookings, we had surf and turf at O’Hollerans Steakhouse. And our last evening, we had amazing food at Oxenfre, also in Brookings.

Thursday morning we headed back to Eugene, but we decided to take the more scenic coastal route.

We drove north along the Oregon coast, stopping for lunch in Coos Bay, at the Blue Heron Cafe. The website said they offered “Classic German Cuisine,” and the menu looked interesting. Somehow we both ended up ordering oysters. David got them breaded and pan-fried with mashed potatoes and coleslaw, while I ordered the bacon and oyster sandwich. We’ve never been big oyster fans, so I don’t know why or how we ended up ordering this way. I guess we thought we were in oyster and seafood country and that’s what you should order when you’re there. I’m sure they were good, but it did reinforce that we just don’t really care for oysters that much. Unless they’re small and broiled with lots of cheese. 🙂

From Coos Bay, we continued north to Florence, then turned east to Eugene. We stopped at Sarver Winery for a tasting. The wines were good, the views vast and they even had small plates available, so we didn’t need dinner that night. As we chatted with the young woman pouring the tastes, the winemaker was nearby. David expressed his opinion about California pinot noirs (that they’re too fruit-forward and most wine drinkers think that’s how they’re supposed to be and don’t appreciate the more delicate and true pinot characteristics). The winemaker, also named David, slapped his hand on the bar and exclaimed, “Thank you!” So of course they were off and running. Winemaker David had an accent and it took me a few minutes to place it, but I finally figured out he was a Kiwi from New Zealand. While the two Davids discussed wine, I wandered over to enjoy the views and our snack. It was too damp and chilly to be outside, but it was still a gorgeous vista.

In Eugene, we found our new hotel where we’d left the trailer, and avoided an accident when someone decided to stop in the middle of the street and turn around right in front of us. It was a narrow street and they had to make a nine-point turn. Fun times!

Tomorrow, we head back to the Portland area. Thanks for reading!