Home Free ~ Bloom Where You’re Planted

It’s been a month since we packed up the old SUV and drove off into the future.

So far.  So good.

We definitely planned an easy take-off by staying on the west coast through the winter.  And when we see the nightly weather reports, we are very glad we decided to play it safe and not make a long cross country drive right now. We’re in no hurry. We’re old. And as it turns out, much more cautious than we used to be. We’re still in training and figuring out this new lifestyle one day at a time.

Even though we are back in Portland for a few weeks and know our way around the New Seasons market and where the best restaurants are, it is definitely not “home” as we knew it.  What we’re learning to do is put down very tiny roots wherever we are.

It sounds easy…and sometimes it is.

Other times, not so much.

Each new place we land, things feel slightly different. Some crazy people put their silverware in the wrong drawer. The recycle has to be dragged down the street to the corner. In the rain. The TV remote is new and we’re too un-techy to get anything beyond basic cable. The bed is kinda hard and I need my memory foam. Nobody can find the broom. Blah, blah, blah. We allow ourselves a momentary WHINE. Then we look at each other and laugh. Because it is NOT our house and therefore NOT our problem. As long as we have silverware, who cares what drawer its in? It’s time to roll up our sleeves, let ourselves settle in and figure out how to make it all good. Change your attitude. Change your reality. Or something like that.

It turns out that once we’re done sorting through everything that is different, there is much that is the same and most of the time, it all works just like we want it to.

We unpack our bags and begin to work out a routine. I set up my office. Les looks for a local gym. We get the lay of the land. And most important of all, we open up our own box of small comforts that will make this house our new (temporary) home. There is magic in this box! We each have our beloved coffee and tea mugs. I have a both red and a white wine glass. Hubs has three of his favorite knives. I have my mini whisk, my cheese spreader and the world’s best veggie peeler. You get the point. There is even flashlight and a deck of cards in case the TV doesn’t work at all. And, yes, I have my holy crap tiara as well.  It’s the little things that make us feel like we’re home.

Home on the road

Home on the road

 

Wherever home is.

Here’s where home will be for the next several months – Southwest Portland in a lovely large house with a sweet 18 year old kitty. Downtown Portland in the trendy Pearl District in a high rise condo with a new kitty we’ve yet to meet. A custom built log home in the woods on Whidbey Island in Washington with two lap-loving doggies. And finally, a small house in beautiful Ashland, OR with brother and sister kitties will take us through March.  Not too shabby for a couple of old beginners! And the good news is that we are learning how to put down very tiny roots at each stop we make.  Bloom where you’re planted are our new words to live by.

A comfy couch, a warm blanket and a kitty.  Feels like home!

A comfy couch, a warm blanket and a kitty. Feels like home!

We’re counting our blessings! One home, one pet, one new location at a time.

See you on the road.

Cheers!

Nancy, Les and Tika our kitty of the moment.

If you need house sitters or know someone who might, please check us out at www.theglobalhousesittingpros.com

 

 

 

Top Baby Boomer Travel Blog 2015 Awards

And the winners are… pause for breath-holding… pause for envelope opening …

Well, actually there are 20 winners.  But I am beyond excited to be named one of FlipKey’s Top Baby Boomer Travel Blogs to follow in 2015.  There are some well-seasoned travelers and heavy-hitter bloggers in the mix.  And now me and Just a Backpack and a Rollie.

I’ll take it!

And hubs and I will keep on dragging our backpacks and rollies and sharing our adventures with you throughout 2015.  I’ve been busy applying for house sitting gigs all along the west coast from Canada to Mexico.  And we have some very interesting gigs in the works.

So please click on through to the wonderful post on the FlipKey blog and check out our fellow boomer travel bloggers.  They are all truly an inspiration to me.

And here is our little Award.  She’s not a gold statue, but I think she’s pretty cute.

Field of Dreams ~

Field of Dreams – build it and they will come.

This weekend hubs and I slathered ourselves with sunscreen, loaded our cooler with ice, water and lots of snacks and drove down a dusty gravel road headed for a beautiful place that we will forever remember as the orchard in the middle of nowhere.

I had signed us up to be members of a small but mighty volunteer army whose mission was to transform a dusty field in a pear orchard into an elegant location for a farm to table dinner.  Talk about a make-over!

This dream team, a well-oiled machine of many talents and amazing can-do energy (plus hubs and I) rolled up their sleeves, put on their sun hats and got to work early Saturday morning.  In less than 36 hours something akin to magic had taken place.

I had my camera in hand so I could capture the transformation. It was such a cool experience that I put together this little time-lapse video to share ~

Congratulations to Kirsten and the whole Home Plate Dream Team.  You guys rock!  Thanks for letting us get our hands (and feet!) dirty and use a few muscles that must have needed it.

Cheers!

Nancy

 

Magic Moments ~ a photo essay

Good news!

We saw the sun in Oregon this week.  Several times.  And it was glorious.  I was inspired to get out and walk, walk, walk.  That is always good news.  Even better, I just started a new online photography class and although I’m still using my tiny point and shoot camera, it’s been so much fun to once again slow down and wait for the every day magic to appear.   One of our lessons this week was exploring what photographers call the “magic hour”.  That’s the hour right around sunrise and sunset, when the light practically glows and photographers capture their best shots.

So off I went, less than ten minutes from the house, to see what my camera and I could find.  We were not disappointed.

applebarn

Apple bar in the warm glow of sunset

treessunset

Sunset through the old walnut orchard

farmblue

Magic hour at the farm

farmandfield

Tranquility just three miles from my townhouse

tree

These were taken in the morning light.  The ducks put on a show.

duck2

Duck Yoga

duck

Mamma Duck

What a beautiful reminder to stop and experience the beauty of every sunset and sunrise.  And, since it’s almost Spring, take time to smell the roses that will be blooming before you know it.

Life is full of magical moments.  I’m so happy I could share a few of my favorites with you.

Cheers!

Nancy

 

Homemade Chinese Dumplings ~ they’re what’s for dinner

Last December I was formally introduced to the fine art of dumpling making and I’ve fallen in love with these  plump little pillows of melty, tangy mouthwatering deliciousness.  I showed hubs how to make them and now we are the dynamic duo of dumpling-making.

A couple of weeks ago we decided to share our new-found skills and invited our friends over to a make your own dumpling dinner.   Dumpling night was a hit as you can see from the photos below.

Make your own dinner!

Make your own dinner!

Try a dumpling night at your house.  It’s a simple way to entertain family and friends.  It takes a little bit of prep work in advance but when guests come over, you open a bottle of wine, pass out aprons and rolling pins, show them how it’s done and turn them loose.  Expect rave reviews!

Flour-y fun

Flour-y fun

My friend (and home cook extraordinaire) Kate  found the original recipe in the Seattle Times.  She invited me to dumpling night during a recent Port Townsend visit and I was so excited by how simple and delicious they were that I had to make them again as soon as I got home.  Dumplings are now a staple at our house.  Hubs and I make them just for fun. We eat our fill and then freeze what’s left for future use.  We’ve made both pork and chicken and although I haven’t tried veggie or tofu, I’m sure it would be pretty easy to adapt this oh so easy recipe from Judy Fu owner of the Snappy Dragon Restaurant in Seattle.

Judy Fu’s Pork Jiao-zi  – Makes 36 dumplings

3/4 pound ground pork (not too lean)

1/2 cup minced napa cabbage

2 finely sliced scallions (green part only)

3/4 teaspoon minced fresh ginger

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1/4 teaspoon sesame oil

3 cups cake floor (plus more for rolling)

3/4 cup cold water (we found you might need to add up to 1/4 cup additional water to get the right “sticky” consistency.)

1.  To make the filling:  In a bowl, use your hands to thoroughly combine the pork, cabbage and scallions.  In a separate bowl, mix the ginger, white pepper, soy sauce and sesame oil; add to the pork mixture.  Mix thoroughly, in one direction only, until you have a well-blended paste.  Refrigerate.

2.  To make the dough:  Pour the flour into a mixing bowl and make a well in the middle.  Add water and stir to produce a fairly stiff dough that maintains a bit of stickiness.  Add more cold water, a teaspoon at  time if necessary, to achieve the correct consistency.  Knead by hand for 2 minutes until smooth, then cover with a slightly damp towel or place in a zip-lock bag.  Use immediately (or refrigerate the dough for no more than 24 hours).  I think it’s easier to work with if it chills an hour or two.

3.  To form wrappers:  On a lightly floured surface, use your hands to roll dough into a log 1 inch wide.  Cut the log in thirds.  Pinch off (or cut) each log into 12 equal pieces.  Working in batches on a generously floured surface, gently flatten each piece with your palm.  Grasp the dowel (or rolling pin) in your dominant hand and roll from the middle to the outside edge, rotating the dough with the opposite hand until you have a 3-inch circle, slightly thicker in the center.  *we also roll on the board, turning in the same manner to get the circular shape.  Relax, you can’t mess these up.  We had a few perfect little disks lots of blobs and oblongs.  They all tasted great and as long as they stick together, it’s all good.

4.  To assemble and cook:  Hold the wrapper in your non-dominant hand and with your other hand use a dinner knife to spread about a tablespoon of filling into the middle.  Fold the wrapper so the edges meet.  Press edges to seal tightly and place on a lightly floured baking sheet.  Use a little water to help seal if needed.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add dumplings.  Don’t cook too many at a time.  Boil for 5 minutes then strain.  The dumplings will float to the top when they are done.  We drained then placed them on another baking sheet with parchment paper to dry.  We tried paper towels and they stuck.

5.  Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.  You can use bottle sauce, but I loved this easy to make Ponzu sauce (recipe below).  Give it a try.  dimsum4

dimsum8 dimsum5 dimsum2

dimsum3

dumplings1 dumplings2

Cooking and eating in this way can be your evening’s entertainment.  We fortified ourselves by sampling a few of the first batch of dumplings than managed to cook the rest and sit down at the table where I served them with a noodle salad and an asian slaw (used up the rest of that napa cabbage).

Ponzu Sauce –  So easy.  So good.  Makes 1 cup

1/2 cup fresh lime juice or 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice or a combination

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1/3 cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons mirin (sweet rice wine)

2 tablespoons light brown sugar

1 pinch red pepper flakes

Whisk together juice, vinegar, soy sauce, mirin and brown sugar.  Let it sit at least 1 hour to marry flavors.  Store covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days.

It truly is the simple pleasures that make our lives abundant.  Good food, simply prepared and shared with good friends.  It doesn’t get any better.

Life is good!

Cheers!

Nancy

 

 

 

 

Happy New Year Resolutions!

I resolve to ~

~ Do better

~ Be smarter

~ Lose weight

~ Make more money

~ Save more money

~  Stop eating chocolate

~  Give up the glass (or two) of wine

~  Make friends with my inner child, my wrinkles and those damned age spots on my hands

Or not…..

Like a lot of people I know, I’ve pretty much given up on all the “resolving”.  It’s futile to say the least and frustrating at best.  Maybe I should tell all those folks who crowd the gym in January so you can’t get on a treadmill or find a tiny piece of floor space in Zumba.

Don’t get me wrong, I have big plans for 2014.  I’m setting my sites on new adventures, exploring more retirement options, discovering hidden travel gems close to home and across the globe.  I’ll be looking for information and inspiration to share right here on the blog.   But, here’s the deal.  I don’t need to resolve to fix me or make a better me to enjoy the life I have and the future I’m working on creating.

Here’s my very simple plan ~

  Image

And know that sometimes its okay to just relax and get on the bus.

And to put my feet up and enjoy the ride…

Wherever it takes me.

Cheers and Happy New Year!

Nancy

 

 

It was a very good year!

Time flies when you’re having fun.

And, since 2013 seems to have flown by in a blur, I must have been having one heck of a good time.  I certainly hope so, because there is so much of it that I’ve already forgotten.  What’s up with that?  It’s a good thing I never go anywhere without my camera.

They say that looking back in gratitude at where you’ve been helps you adjust your sights on where you want to go next.  With that in mind, and with much gratitude to those who made my journey through this year the thrill ride that it was, here are just a few highlights from my 65th turn around the sun.

My 2013 Mandala -

My 2013 Mandala –

In January, I set my intention for 2013 during a Mandala Workshop at Via Artistica.  My words for the year were passion and risk.  The tarot card I drew was the Chariot which, among other things, signifies travel, change and movement.

Everyday Magic

Everyday Magic

I challenged myself to find a little bit of magic every day through the lens of my camera.  Thanks Tammy Strobel for inspiring my creativity this year with your brilliant online classes.

Published an article

Published an article

I officially became a published author.  Thank you Mark Chimsky for inviting me to take a very scary leap with my writing.

It's mom with FOOD!

It’s mom with FOOD!

I became a “grandma” when a momma Junko built a nest and laid 4 tiny blue eggs in the lettuce bowl planter on my front porch.  Yep, those are 4 tiny, wide open baby bird mouths.

Doing our best Vrikasana at the gate to the Japanese Garden

Doing our best Vrikasana at the gate to the Japanese Garden

Hubs and I participated in our first (but not last) Urban Adventure Race.  Thanks to my husband and partner in crime for (almost) always saying a hearty YES! to my hair-brained ideas.

Two weeks worth of Medicare Love.  XO

Two weeks worth of Medicare Love. XO

I signed up for Medicare.  Yep, I’m that old.  Thank you to the Government for providing this safety net.  Now, please quit trying to de-fund it.

And the race is on!

And the race is on at the Milk Carton Boat Races.

I participated in the 2013 Word Count Blogathon and blogged every day in June with the theme 30 Fun, Funky and Fabulous Things to Do Within 30 Miles of Portland.  I love this town!  Oregon ~ Things Look Different Here.

NancyCaminoI celebrated my 65th birthday by walking 65 miles on the Camino de Santiago in Spain.

Looking back over this year, I’m reminded once again that “Life should not be measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the number of moments that take our breath away.”

I am grateful for every breath I take these days, and it is my fondest wish that 2014 leaves each and every one of us absolutely breathless on more than one occasion.

Cheers! 

Nancy

 

I Made a List, Now I’m Checking it Twice ~ 42 Fun Things to Do

So, I was sipping my morning tea, carefully perusing the Friday A&E section of the Oregonian, looking for something FUN for hubs and I to do this weekend… A&E

Movies?  It looks like there are lots of good ones playing, but we try to save movies for rainy weekends.  Antique & collectible show?  Used to be fun, but we’re not buying these days.  Haunted House?  I counted at least 20 in Portland this weekend. Unfortunately, being scared silly (even for fun) is not exactly my cup of tea.  Plus, these events are all inside activities and since it’s supposed to be sunny in Portland so I’m thinking we need to get outside while we still can.

At some point today hubs will come to me and say “So, what fun things are we doing this weekend?”  And for a moment, I wasn’t sure I would have my usual brilliant answer.

That’s when it hit me.   What about my own list of 42 fun things to do this year?  The one I made way back in January.  When was the last time I actually looked at it?  Well…I’ve been busy.  And, I’d truly forgotten all about it.  Better dig into the archives and take another look.  And so I did.  There’s some good stuff on that list if I do say so myself.   And just reading through it has sparked lots of new ideas.

Just for fun, here’s my original post for a second look.   I hope it sparks a few ideas for your own weekend fun.

42 Really Fun Things to Do This Year ~

Apparently I am a very late bloomer.  Sometime around my 60th birthday I finally got an inkling that grabbing the gusto was what Life was really all about and I’d better get on with it.   I found my bravery gene and my adventurous soul finally began to emerge.  Oh, I’d had my share of adventures, but the last few years have taught me to look for the joy and the adventure in every experience.   Savor the moments, step out of your comfort rut and try new things when the opportunity comes your way.    I’m pretty sure adventure is the juice that keep us young.   You don’t have to ride a camel across the desert to find fun and adventure.  Adventure is what you make it.  Close to home or across the globe, there are so many fun ways to enjoy an afternoon, a day, or a long weekend.  The list is endless, but here are my current favorites…

1.  Start a regular date night practice.  It can be with the hubby, significant other or fun friends.  Hubs and I started this a few years ago on Friday nights.  We take turns coming up with a plan.  It’s fun to see who can be the most creative on a budget!  I also have regular date nights with “the girls”.

2.  Rent a canoe or kayak and go for a paddle.  No experience or equipment required.

3.  Unleash your inner Beyoncé.   Go to a piano bar or sing karaoke.

4.  Try Laughter Yoga.  It’s good for the body and the soul.  Laughter really is the best medicine.

5.  Learn a new language.   “Hola, mi nombre es Nancy. ¿Atienden vino aquí?”

6.  Start a twalking group.  My friend Judy came up with the word twalk and I thought it was a perfect!  Walking + talking = twalking.

7.  Listen to TED Talks and sign up for TEDx if your area has one.

8.  Become more tech-savvy.  Learn how to use all the features on your iphone or Droid.

9.  Take more photos.  Carrying your camera helps you slow down and see the beauty is in the details. I recently took a great online class with Tammy Strobel of Rowdy Kittens.  Awesome!

10.  Go dancing.  When is the last time you kicked up your heels on the dance floor?  Don’t have a partner?  Try line dancing or Zumba.IMG_1920

11.  Explore every one of your local museums.  Even the button museum can be interesting.

12.  Pick up a brochure at your local Visitors Center and spend the day like a tourist visiting the attractions you’ve never seen but always wanted to.

13.  Rekindle a lost love.   I’m talking about hobbies, sports, and other activities that you loved to do but somehow Life got in the way and you let them go.  Why not pick up those skates, the knitting needles or the swim goggles and fall in love again?

14.  Sign up for Groupon, LivingSocial or other online discount offers and try out the two for one at the symphony, the theater, or a new restaurant.  A two-for-one took us to The Portland Corn Maize.

15.  Spend some time exploring the opportunities on HomeExchange.com.

16.  If you are 55+ or better yet 62+ start taking advantage of the senior discounts.  Last weekend we went to the Rose City Dog Show for FREE.   We might not have gone it we had to pay $20 or $30 to get in.  It was raining.  It was indoors.  It was free.  It was a really fun experience.  Who knew?

17.  Pack up your dinner and take yourselves on a picnic.

18.  Miniature Golf.  Fun, fun, fun.  We keep our putters in the car because you never know when you might see a new miniature golf course.IMG_3338

19.  Seek out and shop at your local Farmer’s Market.  You feel healthier just being there.

20.  Go geocaching.  I can’t wait to try this when the weather warms up.

21.  Volunteer at a senior center.  Calling bingo is calling to me.  I’m going to give it a try this year.

22.  Connect with long lost friends.  Facebook is a great place to start.

24.  Check out local theater, high school plays, roller derby, bourbon & bingo, music in the park, parades, festivals art shows.  They’re free or cheap and way more fun than you might think.IMG_2256

25.  Sign up for a creative class.  Not everyone is an artist but stepping out of your comfort zone in an easy supportive three-hour class is a great way to dip your toe.  Clay, watercolor painting, photography, drawing, card making, lettering…the list of options is endless and its a great way to get out and meet other people.  Look up classes through your local college or community center/parks and rec.

26.  Spend the night (or the weekend) in an unusual lodging.   How about a yurt at the beach, glamping, a vintage trailer, a treehouse, a rustic cabin, a historic hotel or B&B complete with breakfast and a resident ghost?  Wherever you live, they are easy to find via the internet.

27.  Try out your local vegan restaurant.  Vegan food has changed since the 70’s.  It’s gourmet good and good for you.

28.  Take yourself on a walking tour in your town.  This is one of my favorite activities on a warm summer day.

29.  Glow in the dark bowling.  Yah, baby!

30.  Sign up to walk or run a 5K.

31.  Throw yourself a birthday bash.  Mine’s a biggie this year and I plan to celebrate all month.

32.  Wear your tiara.  Trust me on this.

33.  Meet your neighbors.  Invite them to dinner or throw a community party.

34.  Not up for traveling across the globe this year?  Explore the amazing ethnic communities in your area.  Great shops, great food and lovely people.  Take your camera!

35.  Do something that scares the hell out of you but that you have always wanted to do.

36.  If they are old enough, take a mini vacation with your grandkids – one at a time.  Give them a list of places and let them choose.  Take your camera!

37.  Take a cooking class, a cheese making class, a beer making class.  It’s one of our favorite things to do.  We take classes at home and when we’re on vacation.IMG_4052

38.  Sell something on eBay.   Hubs could give a class on this.  It’s fun, you make a few bucks and you start clearing out the stuff.

39.  Start writing your memoir.  Really!  There are easy online guides to get you started.   You will be amazed at all of the adventures you can recall when you take time and look back.  Savor them and share them.  The wee ones will think you’re cool when you tell them about that time you rode on the back of a Harley up the California coast.

40.  Take a helicopter ride over your city.  Or a boat.  Or the tram.  It’ll give you a whole new perspective.

41.  Buy coffee for the person in line behind you.  You’ll feel good all day and so will they.

42.  Start planning your own really big adventure!  Make a list, cruise the internet, send for brochures, explore the options, start saving.  Set a date!

What new adventures have you had lately?  We’re always looking for a good time!  I’ll add them to the list.

Cheers!

Nancy

Lookin’ for a Quickie? ~ as in quick overnight escape

 

Wheeler Oregon

Wheeler Oregon

A great adventure can be found anywhere.  

One of my favorite things to do is throw our PJ’s and toothbrushes into a bag, jump in the car and head out to see what we can find no further than two hours and a tank of gas away from home.  We’ll head out early on a Saturday morning and be back in time for dinner on Sunday night.  Easy, (relatively) cheap and always entertaining. My new goal is to plan at least one of these little “quickie getaways” every month.

Gas prices in Oregon have dropped 40 cents/gallon.  It’s time to hit the road again!

A while back, on one of our quickie escapes, Hubs and I explored the quaint and charming village of Wheeler, Oregon.   Wheeler is tiny (pop. 414).  It’s an easy 1 1/2 hour drive from Portland and sits at the edge of the Pacific Ocean on Nehalem Bay.   In the early 1900’s Wheeler was a bustling railroad depot.  Trains delivered lumber and seafood from the bay into Portland.  Today tourism is the main industry.  Bustling?  Not so much.  It’s not much more than a dot on the map along US Highway 101, but whether you stop for lunch, some serious antiquing, or an overnight stay like we did, Wheeler is definitely worth your time.

Old Wheeler Hotel

Old Wheeler Hotel

We checked into the Old Wheeler Hotel – an eight room beauty with stunning views of the bay.

Lovely historical details like an old bellhop uniform display

Lovely historical details like an old bellhop uniform display

Like the town itself, the Old Wheeler Hotel is a tiny gem.  Full of charm, it’s complete with creaky wooden floors, well appointed rooms, lots of light, comfortable beds, quality linens and interesting antiques.  Many rooms have private baths, but a few have a bath “down the hall”.  Not to worry, they provide fluffy robes and the bathroom is “all yours” while you are there.   These folks are all about service and special touches. WheelerHotelDoorsign

At the end of the hall on the second floor is a common room with comfy couches, a small kitchen area,  a spectacular view, lots of board games and a large library of DVD’s.  If you hang out for a while, you are sure to meet some very interesting people.  We brought our own wine and cocktail snacks and enjoyed a sunset happy hour in the lounge.  That’s where we met the “ghost chasers”.  Adventure?  You betcha!

the "lounge" perfect for cocktail hour, breakfast or board games.

the “lounge” perfect for cocktail hour, breakfast or board games.

When we checked in, we were advised that the room I had originally reserved was not available and we were upgraded to another room.  Same spectacular view, but larger and with a spa tub.  We also noticed a lot of unusual activity for such a tiny hotel, but didn’t think much of it until we starting chatting with some folks over cocktails in the common room.  Turns out we had decided to spend the night at the Wheeler on the same weekend as a well-known paranormal investigation team was filming.  Yes, they had earlier tested the rooms for “activity” and our original room seemed a likely candidate for spirits.  We were spending the night in what had once been the Rinehart Hospital and, of course, not everyone left through the front door.  According to the investigation crew, the building was humming with interesting paranormal energy.   Nothing visited us during the night.  Perhaps the snoring from one particular side of the bed kept them at bay.

the spa room

the spa room

Twenty-Four Hours in Wheeler ~

This is a sleepy little place.  You park your car and walk.  Less than 10 minutes in any direction and you’ve covered it.  We still found plenty to entertain ourselves.  We wandered through two large antique stores and ogled beautiful art and handmade craft treasures at lovely little stories like Trillium.  Across the street from the hotel is a small marina offering boat and kayak rentals.  What a great way to explore Nahalem Bay.  Unfortunately, we didn’t have time on this trip.

the "main drag" in Wheeler

the “main drag” in Wheeler

There were so many great photo ops. Thank goodness I had my camera.   Across the bay is a wildlife viewing area where, if you are lucky, you will spot blue heron, eagles and herds of elks that routinely inhabit the landscape.  We just missed a herd of elk!  Or…maybe they say that to all the visitors.

morning view from our room

morning view from our room

I’m not always a fan of small town food, but we discovered an absolutely delightful and delicious restaurant called the Rising Star Cafe where we managed to slide into the last available table for a gourmet dinner.   Great food. great people. Great wine. Great fun!  There is also a fun pub and a quaint cafe within a half block of the hotel.

Wheeler is well located for exploring the North Oregon Coast.  It is a gorgeous 30 mile drive from the Tillamook Cheese Factory to the art galleries of Cannon Beach   Wheeler lies right in the middle.

We loved our overnight in Wheeler.  Sometimes great things really do come in small packages.

See you on the road!

Nancy

 

 

Home Exchange ~ the art of settling in

Where’s the light switch?  I’m not sure.  Here?  No.  This it?  Nope, not that either.  #$#%&*!!

There is an art to settling into the home of a complete stranger.  Something as simple as finding the light switches can take on a whole new meaning if they aren’t the straightforward switches you’re used to, located in the places you would normally expect to find them.  It’s funny at first…and then…not so much.

Actually, it IS fun.  It’s just different.  And it takes at least a day to settle in and make it home.  Sleeping in a stranger’s bed, cooking with their spices and watching their TV.   Hanging your clothes in the closet right next to theirs.  It can all feel a little bit strange and uncomfortable at first.

This week hubs and I are swapping houses with Tom and Dana from Vancouver Island, British Columbia.  I’m writing this post in their cozy den looking out on the back garden.  I’ve set up my office here and I’m working, but I have to admit that I am often distracted by the backyard antics.  There are several bird feeders outside the windows and each one is a fly-up restaurant.  Traffic jam on feeder #2 as they push each other out of the way.   Back and forth, each getting their turn somehow.  To my friends who are “birders” – I totally get it now.  I could watch this action for hours. Sydneybirdsatfeeder

Birds Eye View

Birds Eye View

We’re staying out on the Saanich Penninsula in the middle of farm country and very close to the lovely little harbor town of Sydney.  We came on the car ferry through Victoria.  We spent the first day in Victoria, but were glad to leave the bustle, the traffic and the tourists behind and head out to find our home and explore this beautiful island.

We’re here for a week so we have plenty of time to settle in.  And we are doing just that.  The first evening we had a few moments of frustration.  After we finally figured out how to turn on some of the lights, we poured a glass of wine and sat down to watch TV.  There were five remotes and one Apple TV controller.  They left instructions for us, but we were definitely out of our limited range of ability.  We might have to watch TV all week with close captioning because we could not figure out how to make it go away.  Netflix?  Don’t even go there.

Not for the technology challenged!

Not for the technology challenged!

We needed Geek Squad, so I did the next best thing and emailed Tom for assistance.  He emailed back with just the right info.  And, he also informed me that he saw the second cable we had not yet installed for our DVD player/Apple TV and hooked it up for us.  Yea Tom!  By the next night, we were relaxing on the couch enjoying Diane Sawyer on the news without the aid of close captioning.

Keeping some sort of routine is helpful.   We found the local rec centre and set hubs up for his regular morning workout.  Day pass only $5.50.  I’m trying to stay on my Camino training schedule so I’m walking morning and evening on the steep hills right outside our door.  My glutes will thank me later.

It’s day three and we’re feeling like a couple of locals.  We know where the market is, the wine store, the shortcut into Sydney for my daily Starbucks fix and we’ve walked the Lochside Trail into town.  Hubs cooked up a delicious salmon dinner on the barbeque last night and I’ve re-kindled my childhood love of meat pies, sausage rolls and butter tarts.

BBQ salmon + veggies picked from the garden.  Doesn't get any better.

BBQ salmon + veggies picked from the garden. Doesn’t get any better.

It’s beginning to feel a lot like home…only different.  And once you get used to it, that can be a very good thing.

And the wee bunny who visited this morning was the frosting on the top of this home exchange adventure.

And the wee bunny who visited this morning was the frosting on the top of this home exchange adventure.

I am determined to master the art of photographing birds while I have this opportunity.  It’s a whole new world I wouldn’t have had the pleasure of enjoying if we hadn’t said Yes! when the note came from Dana through HomeExchange.com.

Life is good eh?

Cheers,

Nancy