Wednesday Wanderings: The Last of the Excellent Adventure Before the Pandemic

The last time I posted about the Excellent Adventure, I had no idea what was coming. I procrastinated posting because we were busy, then we went to Scotland (more about that soon!), then we came home to shelter in place, and the next thing I knew it was May!

So, I left off on Monday, February 17, 2020 in Portland. We had a great day at the Association of Nurseries, then met a friend for dinner.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

We drove to Tacoma, to our usual Holiday Inn. It’s right on I-5 and we love it for the huge parking lot, but hate it for the road noise. We’ve asked for various locations around the grounds and haven’t found the sweet spot yet. We’ll keep trying.

We had several days with no events, so we kept busy with work (me), working out (both of us), and trailer and truck maintenance (Dave).

We also took a day to be tourists. Tacoma is home to America’s Car Museum. We visited and enjoyed a great day there. It’s very well laid out with different exhibits showcasing things such as NASCAR, Route 66, racer and designer Steve Saleen, British cars, and so on, as well as collections and restored cars on loan from collectors. At the beginning of our wandering, an employee approached us, said it was a slow day and he’d be happy to give us a guided tour if we wanted. We accepted and got a VIP experience.

We tried a few local restaurants. Tacoma has a Bass Pro Shop, so we ate dinner one night at Uncle Buck’s Fish Bowl and Grill. There’s also a bowling alley right there, so the ambiance is a little odd, but the food was good. Right across the street from our hotel was a Korean taco place that was excellent, Takos Koreanos. Also, a teriyaki place we ate at a couple of times, Ichiban Teriyaki. We also visited a couple of chains, BJs, and Red Lobster, when we were in a hurry and/or starving and couldn’t find a more unique local place. Or wanted something that we knew what to expect.

Friday, February 21, 2020

We had a scheduled event at Pacific Lutheran University. They were hosting an opioid awareness summit for the county and we were going to exhibit. The only problem was there wasn’t enough room anywhere near the summit for the trailer. So we brought some props and set up at a table in the back of the room. It was fascinating to listen to the various presentations from professionals in the recovery … industry? business?profession? (that seems redundant), and recovering addicts.

It was a good day, and great to be inside instead of out in the chill and damp.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

We did the tourist thing again and drove into Seattle. We started at the Chihuly Garden and Glass museum. We were familiar with Dale Chihuly’s work, but had only seen a few pieces. To be surrounded by so much beauty, all in one place was overwhelming. I was choked up and verging on tears more than once.

What he accomplished with sand and heat and centrifugal force is amazing.

After a couple of hours in the museum and grounds, we moved next door to the Space Needle. We were able to go right up to the viewing level where we enjoyed a snack. I guess there used to be a restaurant up there, but now there’s just a cafe with light snacks and drinks. There’s the stationary viewing level with the cafe, then the rotating level. We spent a few minutes there, too.

From the Space Needle, we walked the mile to Pike Place Market. We’d found a good place to park the truck, just a block from the museum and Space Needle, so it was easier to walk and leave the truck where it was.

At the market, we browsed a bit. We tried some dried strawberries that were sweet as candy and David bought some. We watched the fishmongers throw some fish. We asked for restaurant recommendations. David wanted crab. We tried a couple of places, but they didn’t have whole crab on the menu. We walked past the original Starbucks, but the line was too long to stop in.

We ended up at Cutters Crabhouse, where David finally got his whole crab. Our meal was amazing. We had a table with a water view, an attentive waiter (from California!), and delicious food.

We walked to the truck and drove back to Tacoma. I was so glad we went on Saturday, because we had discussed going on Sunday and it rained all day Sunday. Saturday was amazing and couldn’t have been a better day.

Monday, February 24, 2020

We were due to come home February 27. Last summer we had booked a trip to Scotland for February 29 – March 9th. We didn’t know that we’d be working with the trailer again. And if it did happen, we didn’t think we’d be on the road again so early in the year. So we had lined up another couple to take over the trailer for us while we went to Scotland.

They arrived at SeaTac Monday evening and we picked them up and took them back to the hotel. We visited while Ron and Sylvie ate a late dinner. Dave and Ron are both retired from the CHP, and we all used to go to the same church, so we have many friends in common and much to catch up on.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Ron and Sylvie had been studying transcripts and videos of the trailer tours, so we did a couple run throughs of both my and David’s tours. We practiced set up and tear down. We had lunch. Dave and Ron took the rig for a drive. Then we went and picked up a rental car. We had talked about going to the Waterfront area of Tacoma for dinner, but we’d had a late lunch with lots of leftovers (at the Ichiban Teriyaki across the street from the hotel), and we were all tired, so we didn’t have a fun last evening out in Tacoma. It was more of a reheated, walk on the treadmill, movie, early to bed evening.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

We had an event in Tukwila, outside of Seattle. Ron and Sylvie drove the truck and trailer and we took the rental car. It was at an Ironworkers Union. We gave tours to all the apprentices on their lunch hour.

What a great time we had! Everyone was interested and engaged. The apprentices, their journeymen instructors, and other staff. Ron and Sylvie gave most of the tours. David and I were there for moral support and to jump in if needed. I gave a couple of tours. One when we had a big group come through and we needed to divvy them up. And one later in the afternoon, for the mayor and city manager. I was still being the “official spokesperson.”

As soon as the event was over, we hugged Ron and Sylvie good-bye, jumped in the rental car and headed south on I-5. Our goal was Medford, about a seven hour drive. We arrived about 9 PM, tired and ready for bed.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Another long day on the road, but we got home in time to pick up my car at the house, then return the rental to the Fresno airport.

Friday, February 28, 2020

Errands, haircuts, lunch with my folks, laundry, packing.

Saturday, February, 29, 2020

We left for Scotland! Stay tuned for posts about Scotland. Thanks for reading!!

The latest on the trailer: We arrived home from Scotland March 9. We planned to fly to Boise, Idaho March 11, to take over the trailer again from Ron and Sylvie for an event in Boise on March 12. We got notice March 10 that the event on the 12th was canceled. We canceled our flight and decided to fly to Boise a few days later. Before that happened, all events were canceled and the trailer program placed on hiatus. The trailer is being stored near Boise while we shelter in place at home in Madera. When the program starts again, we’ll decide if we’ll fly to Boise and start from there, or bring the trailer home.

 

Book Talk Tuesday: The Life Intended

Somewhere in my web browsing, I came across a book recommendation. Several people raved about the book and the author, someone new to me.

So I bought a used copy.

Well.

This book hooked me from the beginning.

THE LIFE INTENDED.

the-life-intended-9781476754154The description begins: Sliding Doors meets P.S. I Love You in this richly told novel …

We meet the heroine, Kate, twelve years after her husband was killed the morning after he said he had something important to tell her. He died before he had the chance.

It’s been long enough, and everyone is telling Kate she has to move on. And she kind of has. She’s living with a man. He’s proposed and she accepted. But then she starts having some very vivid dreams. About Patrick and the life they would have had if he hadn’t died.

The dreams lead her to make some choices and do some things … I don’t want to give too much away.

This is a lovely, tender, exquisite book about what might have been, but what is, and learning to accept that both are right and okay.

In absolutely unrelated news, I’ve been buying books faster than I can read them. So while I fell in love with this one, I have so far resisted the urge to buy any more from Kristin Harmel. Although I’m remembering her name and will definitely be getting more from her when I whittle down the obscene stack on my desk.

 

Media Monday: Midsomer Murders

I had no idea when we started watching this British murder mystery series that it would take us over a year to watch them all. But we persisted and last week we finished all twenty-one seasons! Yes, you read that right. Twenty-one seasons! Now British seasons are shorter than US. Most seasons had only six episodes. Some had only four. But the episodes are all 90 minutes, so essentially movie length. Definitely a time commitment.

MMThey take place in the fictional British county of Midsomer and follow DCI Barnaby and his younger assistant. The younger assistant changed every few seasons. And even DCI Barnaby changed in Season 14. The original Barnaby retired and his younger cousin moved to Causton CID and became Detective Chief Inspector.

The coroner changed about the same time. First was a very professional man, then a young woman to provide some romantic interest for the young assistant, then a few subs, then a saucy, middle-aged woman who stood up to John Barnaby.

The mysteries ranged from quite dark to much lighter in tone. Some of them were very easy to pick out the guilty party and some were very difficult.

The series began in 1998, so the twenty year old episodes appear a bit dated. The more current shows represent England’s culture better.

Altogether, we enjoyed them very much. We watched them on Acorn TV, through my Amazon Prime subscription.

Just be warned, if you start watching, you’re making a commitment. A big commitment!

Book Talk Tuesday: THE LAGER QUEEN OF MINNESOTA

I’d been hearing great things about this book, so I picked up the electronic version. It has an intriguing title and lots of rave reviews.

TLQoMThere are several timelines in the book, but I didn’t have a problem following the unfolding story. By the end, some characters’ assumptions are proven wrong and others are proven right.

I love stories about reconciliation and I wasn’t sure this was going to provide that. If that’s you too, just hang in there.

Edith and Helen are sisters who go forty years without speaking because Helen was given the family farm (literally) and didn’t share with Edith. Helen put all the proceeds into her fledgling beer brewery. Edith and her family struggle to make ends meet and any part of the sale money would have helped.

Edith’s granddaughter is given an opportunity to learn brewing and the beer business. Eventually the whole family is involved in brewing and marketing beer, especially IPAs.

If you’ve ever wondered about the process for turning hops and yeast and grain into beer, this will give you a primer. But the information wasn’t overwhelming, and added to the enjoyment of the book. The only thing missing as I read was a hot day and a hoppy IPA on the back patio.

I highly recommend THE LAGER QUEEN OF MINNESOTA!

Book Talk Tuesday: IN OTHER WORDS, LOVE

I’m not reading as much as I expected, seeing as I spend pretty much all day, every day inside. We are starting to go out for walks and that helps. But I just can’t seem to keep focused on a book for very long. I’m playing a lot of games on my tablet and catching up on the DVR.

But I did read a few books and this one was especially enjoyable.

IN OTHER WORDS, LOVE by Shirley Jump is another romance from Hallmark Publishing.

IOW.LKate is a ghostwriter, barely making ends meet. She’s offered a new job, for an amount with a lot of zeroes, to ghostwrite a memoir for a busy CEO. Only the exec turns out to be the college boyfriend who broke her heart.

Trent is a driven man, focused on his business and its upcoming IPO. He’s procrastinated writing that blasted memoir and now the deadline is looming and he doesn’t have enough hours in the day. His staff convinces him to hire a ghostwriter who will sign a non-disclosure agreement, so no one has to know he didn’t write the book himself. It feels dishonest, but he doesn’t have much choice.

Of course, as soon as Kate and Trent meet again there are all kinds of complications, not the least of which is the return of their easy friendship. And all the developing feelings, from each of them.

Kate continues to peel back Trent’s layers as she fleshes out his outline and yellow sticky notes. Trent is amazed as this older Kate turns out to be far more adventurous than he thought fifteen years ago.

There are complications along the way to their Happily-Ever-After, of course, but I wouldn’t dream of spoiling the journey for you.

IN OTHER WORDS, LOVE is a sweet romance that I enjoyed and recommend!


I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, but that did not induce me to review it.

 

Book Talk Tuesday: BURDEN OF PROMISE

Today the disclaimer goes upfront: I know the author, Ralaine Fagone, personally. I didn’t know her when the events she describes in her book took place. I met her some years after when she began to write about the murder, arrests and trials. She joined a local writers’ group I was part of and she had a column in a magazine. The group critiqued Ralaine’s columns, then later, when she decided to write a book, she joined another group who helped her. I also did some editing for her, as well as proofreading and copyediting. Also, Ralaine furnished me with a free digital copy of the finished book for this review. So, since I strive to be “fair and balanced,” I want to put all those caveats out here.


Fresno, California has a few claims to fame/infamy. It’s on the way to Yosemite, Kings Canyon, and Sequoia National Parks. The Underground Gardens. Raisins. Home of some pretty good sports teams (National Championship Women’s Softball, National Championship Men’s Baseball, as well as NFL players Trent Dilfer, David Carr, Derek Carr, Lorenzo Neal, Ryan Matthews, …). Searing summer temperatures. A satirical 1980s mini-series starring Carol Burnett, modeled after Falcon Crest and Dynasty. And the Acid Lady Murder.

In 2003, Ralaine’s son, James, was arrested for the kidnapping and murder of his former employer’s estranged husband. Larissa and Tim Schuster were separated and fighting over custody of their son, Tyler, as well as property. Although no longer working at Larissa’s lab, James still helped Larissa by house-sitting and hanging out with twelve-year-old Tyler.

When Tim disappeared, Larissa was questioned and released. James was also questioned, but not released because he confessed to … well, here is where things get murky. Did he confess to the murder? The police and prosecutors say yes. James says he didn’t know Larissa planned to murder Tim and he thought they were going to retrieve some of Larissa’s property. He says he confessed to helping her rob Tim, then he got pulled into being an accomplice when the robbery escalated to murder. Tim’s body was put into a barrel and acid from Larissa’s lab was poured in to destroy the remains.

Ralaine walks the reader through her feelings during that time. Her devastation at the arrest. Her horror at the details of the murder. Also, the months leading up to the arrest, when James’ life took a radical departure from the path he’d been on. As a Christian, Ralaine raised her children to follow God and His precepts, trusting that if she did that, God would keep His end of their “bargain,” and her children would be “good,” and stay out of trouble, and have happy lives. With James’ arrest, all her beliefs about God, faith, and her church came under scrutiny. And not all survived intact.

The reader will experience Ralaine’s emotions. She is honest and vulnerable. The book is more than the story of the Fagone and Schuster families and the murder and trials. The book is part memoir, part true-crime story, part Christian Living, but totally compelling.


Ralaine is offering a free print copy of BURDEN OF PROMISE to a blog reader who comments below. Tell me about a time you were shocked and saddened by a story in the news.

 

 

The Excellent Adventure: Portland Area

Friday, February 14, 2020

One of us was prepared with a Valentine’s Day card for the other, and one of us was not. And that’s all I’ll say about that!

We had some personal business to take care of in the morning, but by 1:00 we were on the road from Eugene to the Portland area. We had another uneventful drive to our hotel in Wilsonville, which was much appreciated. We won’t take those for granted again!

hf19l69hTO6j%+1lHVESswThe hotel is still undergoing renovations, but the lobby is done now. David checked out the restaurant in the hotel and they were having a Valentine’s Special so he made a dinner reservation. We ended up having a lovely evening, when I thought we’d be having Trader Joe’s snacks in our room. We had an amuse bouche of a grilled curried shrimp, then a grilled Caesar salad, then a salmon filet topped (they called it “stuffed” but it just had a little mound on top) with crab and seafood, with a wild rice pilaf and asparagus. The food was all delicious! Much better than you’d expect from a Holiday Inn. Dessert was warm chocolate fondue with fruit and cheesecake and truffle bites for dipping. All together most unexpected and delightful!

There was a DJ playing some music. No one danced, until we finally got up and did one dance in our bumbling-tripping-arguing-over-who’s-going-to-lead style. So maybe we broke the ice. We called it a night, took our leftovers, and headed upstairs.

Saturday, February, 15, 2020

Our first event of the year in Oregon was at the Divisional Wrestling Championships at Canby High School. The rain poured and it was cold, but spirits were high and we had a great day.

We started the day off with two Clackamas County Commissioners and two Grange members taking the tour. They were very engaged and interested and we had an excellent time. They were barely out the door and a Canby Police officer arrived. Dave gave him the tour. We also had some parents and coaches come through. Toward the end of the day, I had a female coach come through and she shared that a friend of her daughter’s was experimenting with drugs. She asked how much longer we were going to be there, because she was calling the girl’s mother to come over right away. We had less than an hour, but I told her where we were scheduled to be on Monday.

We had a discussion with our consultant about Monday’s venue. There was a small parking lot that would accommodate the trailer, barely. But not the trailer and truck. And backing the trailer in would be difficult if there were other cars in the parking lot. Rebecca apologized profusely, but given the short notice and the fact that Monday’s a holiday, we had to work with what we had. I asked if it would be possible to park the trailer there Sunday afternoon (when, presumably, there would be fewer cars in the lot to work around), and leave it overnight. Rebecca checked, got a thumbs-up, and we had a plan.

We were in kind of an awkward space at the high school, and another car and trailer had pulled in next to us. They were inside the (nice and dry and warm) gym selling T-shirts and other merchandise. They came out and said they were going to get some food and would return soon. Well, we got packed up and were ready to go, and they weren’t back yet. But Dave did some amazing pulling forward, and backing up and swinging wide and he got the trailer out of there just fine. I’m sure when the guys came back they were scratching their heads, wondering how the heck that happened?

Back at the hotel, we walked/biked in the workout room, had a bite in the restaurant, then Dave hit a wall. He was snoring by 9:00. I read for a while and then called it a night, too.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

We slept till 8:00 am (late for us, but still tired by the long day yesterday), hurried to breakfast, then back to our room to watch our churchEBOOQKtGSCm08lv2MnP6JA service online at 8:45. I worked for a couple of hours doing my mid-month reports, then we took the trailer to Monday’s venue. It did take some backing and maneuvering, but Dave got it in and it looked like the trailer was made for that spot.


5izq%Gd%TbSoP9D0j7DCmQ

We ran a couple of errands in the Portland area (Duluth Trading Company!), then met my cousin and her husband for dinner at Oswego Grill. We had stayed with them several days the last time we were in the area and they graciously offered again, but given that our two events were on the east side of town, it just seemed to make sense to stay closer to our venues, so we’d thanked them and asked if we could go to dinner. It turned out we went out on Lisa’s birthday, so we got an extra dessert from the restaurant! We’d been there once before, the last time we visited Portland, and the food was delicious. David got salmon and I had baby-back ribs with a wonderful coleslaw. I’m not always a coleslaw fan, because it can be heavy and drowning in too-sweet dressing, but this one was just right–not too sweet, not overly dressed, still crunchy. Too soon, we said good-bye again, and headed back to the hotel.

It was another early-to-bed night.

Monday, February 17, 2020

We arrived at our venue, the offices of the Oregon Association of Nurseries at 9:03. Our consultants were waiting for us. It took only a few minutes to get the trailer all set up and ready to go.

We had a U.S. Congressman scheduled to arrive at 10 AM, and I was to give him the tour. He had a hard departure time of 10:30, which meant the tour would be somewhat abbreviated, so he would have time for questions and answers and chatting with other people.

He arrived promptly and we got right to it. He was thoroughly engaged and we had a delightful time. Our consultant told me after, my tour was, “Perfect.” I hit the highlights, and the timing was just right. The congressman was interested and stood around for several minutes afterward, asking more questions. He asked what he could do to help the project. He really was fabulous to engage with.

8yUSSGuvTSWB1%nYTcMZlAAfter my time with him, he filmed some more questions and answers, then departed pretty close to on schedule. The rest of the day was fairly steady. This event had been well publicized and I had a couple come because they’d heard about it on the radio (she was a school nurse and familiar with vaping and where that paraphernalia is hidden and what it looks like), and wanted to learn more about opioids. Other mothers came because they’d seen a newspaper ad. Dave took two moms on tours whose kids are already experimenting with drugs, especially marijuana, and wanted to be better informed.

Oh, and the mom that coach on Saturday said she was going to call? Yep, she came. I got to give her my last tour of the day on Monday. She was definitely intrigued by what she learned and said she’d be giving her daughter’s room a thorough search. She arrived in denial, but I like to think that maybe she left with opened eyes.

One of Dave’s tour mom’s commented that her son had recently begun collecting “soda cans.” Dave showed her the Coke can personal safe. And the Monster Energy personal safe and encouraged her to go home and take a closer look at some of those “soda cans.” She promised to do that.

Monday was definitely one of our most encouraging events so far. Everyone was so welcoming and eager to take the tour and blown away by what they learned. Everyone from a US Congressman to moms and dads trying to keep their kids safe and healthy.

Tuesday we’re headed to Tacoma for a couple of events in Washington. I’ll be back soon to catch up. Thanks for reading!

The Excellent Adventure: Yreka–>Eugene

After a long day yesterday, we decided to take it easier today. We only drove about three and a half hours into Eugene. It was fairly easy. There was definitely wind, and we did run into some light rain, the further north we got.

I did some work in the hotel room before we left at noon, and continued to work in the truck as we drove.

Once we checked into our hotel in Eugene, we did a short workout (treadmill for me, stationary bike for Dave), then went to dinner at a nearby brew pub.

We’re in our room at 6:00. I have a conference call in a few minutes.

Overall, a very quiet day, which we needed after yesterday!

Tomorrow, on to the Portland area. We plan to stay in Wilsonville, at a hotel we stayed at previously. It had some construction going on, the lobby was all torn up, and the parking lot was an obstacle course. Fingers crossed that things have progressed!

The Excellent Adventure: Back on the Road

Today we left home for the first extended portion of our Season 2 with the drug IMG_4516education trailer. We’re headed to Portland for two events this weekend. We planned to leave at 9 am and we were only about 30 minutes behind schedule this morning. We should have been either on time or a few minutes later.

After about an hour an a half, everything was going well. I was working on my laptop. (Since we knew where we were going, I didn’t need to navigate.) Suddenly David said, “Hold on!”

I looked up to see a truck/trailer stopping in front of us. David was braking but we were not stopping quickly enough. Sure enough, we hit them. Not hard. No airbags deployed. The other vehicle immediately pulled to the shoulder and we followed. Dave and the other driver exchanged information. Traffic had just slowed and he stopped quickly. More quickly than we could.

Everyone is fine, so that’s a blessing. The back doors of the other trailer will need to be replaced. Our truck front bumper has a couple of dimples and the license plate is slightly bent. This truck is a beast.

We were back on the road after about twenty minutes. Dave called the boss and told him. We continued on and pulled into our stop for tonight. Whenever we head to Oregon and Washington, we like to spend a night in Yreka. It’s a long day to or from home, but then IMG_4528it’s a shorter day to an Oregon destination. We have our favorite restaurant, so we got to town in time for dinner, checked in, and walked on the treadmill in the workout room.

David is now writing up all the accident information to send to the insurance company and our boss.

Since this trip started with a (literal) bang, we’re hoping and praying the rest of it will be smooth!

IMG_4527 It was a beautiful day for driving and we had gorgeous scenery to help pass the time.

Thanks for reading! I plan to stay mostly caught up as we travel this year.

Book Talk Tuesday: SISTERS BY CHOICE

I love opening new books by my favorites authors and a new book by Susan Mallery qualifies in every way.

SISTERS BY CHOICE is her newest and it’s my favorite read of the year so far. We return to Blackberry Island, off the coast of Washington state, in Puget Sound, and spend time with three cousins.

Sophie has just returned to the island to rebuild her cat toy/supplies business after a fire destroyed it in Southern California. She ignores helpful suggestions that she let her employees do their jobs while she does hers. She’s the one who grew the company singlehandedly. She’s the one who knows the company better than anyone else. She’s the one who works tirelessly for the company. She’s also the one who threatens the future of her beloved company by her dogged determination to do it all.

cover-sisters-by-choiceKristine loves life as a homemaker, her husband, and their three sons. She also loves her side career baking the cookies and brownies she sells to local tasting rooms, even as she dreams about opening her own bakery. Because her husband isn’t supportive, Kristine keeps those dreams to herself. Until the perfect location becomes available. Then Kristine may have to choose between her family and her own dreams.

Twenty-year-old Heather skipped going to college off the island to stay home and take financial care of her indolent and demanding mother. She feels trapped and resentful. Sophie bringing her business to Blackberry Island means Heather can quit two of her part-time jobs for one full-time job with the cat toy company. But as Heather learns about business and real life, she also learns she has to take care of herself before she can take care of anyone else.

Mallery writes romance and women’s fiction. SISTERS BY CHOICE is women’s fiction, with a dash of romance. Sophie is determined to stay single, but she meets a man who is just as determined that they deserve a future together. Kristine and her husband have a happy marriage on the outside, but when Kristine shares her dreams, it turns out they have some deep issues that need to be worked out.

I enjoyed seeing all three women grapple with their problems and emerge stronger and with better lives than they thought possible at the beginning of the book. They were cousins, but they support and love each other as sisters should.

I love this book and highly recommend it!


I received a free copy of this book, but that did not induce me to review it favorably.