Monday, June 13, 2016

Mapping Our Adventure

Our first go-to-tool when we're planning a trip is a map.  A new adventure's enjoyment and inspiration begins with a map spread out on the table in front of us.  We stare at it, plotting our course, and reveling in the options.  Just like Brad is doing below…

Looking at a globe or Google Earth can take one on a magnificant adventure as well.  So it's with shear joy that I vicariously share Brad and Yessi's summer mapping adventures.  This year, as well as last, they are mapping in the Wallowa Mountains in Eastern Oregon.  But they've also mapped in the Olympics and Cascades in Washington and Big Sur in California.

It's a summer working vacation for them.   They hike for Green Trails Maps, confirming trail accuracy by noting amenities like restrooms, water availability and camping sites, as well as  tracking trail problems.  Floods, wildfires, wind-fall or even too little trail maintenance can alter a trail's course or make it no longer viable.  

Green Trails has this to say on their website:
"Get ready for some epic backpacking!  Our GPS crews are on the trails getting the very latest data and trail conditions for our new map of one of the seven wonders of Oregon."

Yessi & Brad, Green Trails Maps GPS crew

This past spring when we were in Idaho traveling on 209 North we were forced to turn around on a road closed by wind-fall.  As we backtracked Yessi and Brad's trail verification work came to mind.  Clearly the 2015 Idaho map we had recently purchased from Delorme Atlas and Gazatteer had not been checked for accuracy.  A fact that could have been quickly accomplished with a single phone call.  And given the road had been out of commission for a number of years, it was an inexcusable mistake.  This is, after all, why we turn to maps for route finding and why Green Trails Maps is so dedicated to checking their maps for accuracy.

Speaking of maps, a friend just brought to my attention a site called   The usual mapping apps define the best route as the shortest or fastest but this site puts those criteria aside and goes for scenic.  Windows, BlackBerry, i-phones and Androids are all able to use this free service.  Just enter a zip code or city and state and up pop scenic roads.   This is the data I got  for Whidbey Island.   You can also find hundreds of hiking trails.  The site looks promising and no doubt will become part of our planning repertoire. 

There is also a free travel app to make your travels more educational called History Here.  I have not tried it yet but intend to do so soon.   It is offered by the History Channel, alerting you via your i-phone or Android, about nearby places of interest.   Or a couple of not-for-free apps to try are Roadside America, featuring off-beat tourist attractions or Roadside Presidents, providing birthplaces, grave locations and other related data or points of interest about U.S. presidents.

And a map for seeing where we've been is fun too.  This map is on the back cabinet doors in Thistle.  The red dots mark where we've traveled in the U.S. the past couple of years.


"Anytime I feel lost, I pull out a map and stare.  I stare until I have reminded myself that life is a giant adventure, so much to do, to see."

~Angelina Jolie

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Political Mayhem Rethought

I posted the blog, below (in blue), a few days ago, but then withdrew it, probably before some of you  even had a chance to read it.   I was concerned about my broad brush approach even before I posted but I was determined not to show favoritism so plowed on.   I wanted to write about behaviors -- candidates, political parties and citizens -- without letting my personal candidate preference show.  In hindsight, a mistake.  After posting, readers challenged me and rightfully so.

The first criticism was about my lumping together all three candidates.  This felt very wrong to some readers, and I had to agree.  Trump definitely is the candidate who has overwhelmingingly won the disrespect and disgust of so many of us.   He makes a mockery of our political system and insults us all with his rude and ignorant behavior.  My generalization to make a point was unfair to both Clinton and Sanders.

Secondly, bundling together the voters as one huge block was unfair as well.  Some voters (most of my friends I will confess) are well read, well prepared to vote and are not mudslingers.  Once again I was speaking in generalities, but too many toes were unfairly stepped on.  For this I apologize.

What I have found very positive about this experience is that my friends trusted me enough to believe I would hear what they had to say, and I did.   Their criticism resulted in a number of deeply rewarding political discussions about specific candidates as well as citizenship behavior.   

And all these days later, the primary season almost over, let me state my delight at the history-making opportunity before us -- Hilliary Clinton as our candidate for President of the United States, a woman of great intelligence, experience and education. We will soon have, I hope, our first woman president.



"America has hosted 56 presidential elections -- 
33 of them before women received the right to vote.
 Exactly zero of those elections featured a female nominee from one
 of the two major political parties.
Until Hillary Clinton."

~ Ezra Klein

Original Blog Posting 6/3/16

Political Mayhem

This blog is my travel journal. Along the way I also post my thoughts about life as observed from the road. Naturally political observations appear from time-to-time. How can they not? But I do not intend to engage in campaigning nor do I want to tangle up my comments about campaign behavior with political preferences.

As this primary season unfolds I've narrowed my thoughts down to two central concerns:
1).  Campaign behavior of the candidates and their parties, and
2).  Voter complicity in the madness.
The three candidate choices before us represent only what we're left with after weeding out too many others to even recall their names. That elimination process was long and arduous, leaving many of us exhausted. Nevertheless, here we are, painfully engaged in the last gasps of this endless primary.

The remaining candidates, in hugely varying degrees have spewed lies, distortions, threats and insults. Misogynist, racist and xenophobic behavior has been beyond the pale. What we're left with is a campaign, for President of the United State, for heaven's sake, that's a morass of bad behavior.


Us voters are left to sort through conflicted, twisted, ignorant, bigoted and dishonest claims.  A difficult task at best, but still it feels like we've shirked our citizenship duties by not fully embracing the job.  With mudslinging and ugly disturbances we fight among ourselves.  Too many of us have followed the current mood-of-hate and displayed our own discriminatory lapses.

Our government, our nation, is too important for this boorish behavior.

Rather than enlightened political debate we're engaged in bumper sticker idiocy.  The seriousness of good government is overwhelmed with narrow, self-serving ideologies, along with an almost prideful disrespect for knowledge, truth and polite behavior.    

I hope, with all my might, this nation finds its head and heart again.



"Choose a leader who will invest in building bridges, not walls.  Books, not weapons.  Morality, not corruption.  Intellectualism and wisdom, not ignorance.  Stability, not fear and terror.  Peace, not chaos. Love, not hate.  Convergence, not segregation.  Tolerance, not discrimination.  Fairness, not hypocrisy.  Substance, not superficiality.  Character, not immaturity.  Transparency, not secrecy.  Justice, not lawlessness.  Enviornmental improvement and preservation, not destruction.  Truth, not lies."

~ Suzy Kassem, Rise Up and Salute the Sun

Thursday, June 2, 2016

"Yes, We Have No Bananas"

It's early.  We spent the night in Thistle, parked at Brad and Yessi's home.   Ed's tea and my coffee are in front of us, along with our computers.  Our hotspot is feeding us internet.  The dog cuddles nearby.    But where are the bananas?  Our typical breakfast is a banana each but, Yes, we have no bananas.    We just purchased a huge bunch of lovely yellow bananas yesterday, but Thistle's fruit bowl shows only one wrinkled shrunken orange, an onion, and some stray grapes. 



Oh, right!  We were staying at home the night before and the bananas we purchased for our kitchen there needed to be removed  to prepare for our Airbnb guests.   They were shuffled to the little kitchenette in our office, but didn't make it to Thistle's kitchen.  And there you have bananas.

Yep, three kitchens and as many beds and closets and coffee pots.  Enough places and options to feel like the well-heeled Americans we are, yet we're drowning in disarray.  Underwear is always in that other place, where we're not, along with the bananas.  But believe me, it's more than bananas and underwear.   The list is long and seemingly endless...socks, pajamas, Benton's leash, computer charge cords, even garden snips.

Although we're perennial simplifiers, we try to maintain key items in triplicate.  Even then we end up with two at one place, one at another and none at the third.  The organizational details of multiple dwellings challenges us.  We mumble in frustration, "where are the bananas?"

Perhaps we'll figure this out but right now having a home we rent out as an Airbnb; an office, that also serves as our prime bath and sometimes kitchen; and Thistle with kitchen, bath and bed, three miles to the west, our also home, is chaotic.  Beds, bananas, and underwear everywhere and nowhere.  

Fran - breakfast in Thistle



“The nature of life is mess, chaotic, exquisitely beautiful, excruciatingly painful, immensely joy-filled, and unpredictable.” 

~ Debra Moffitt, Garden of Bliss: Cultivating the Inner Landscape for Self-Discovery