And The Oscar Goes To ~

After months of hype, buzz, and blatant self-promotion… the 86th annual festival of who’s wearing who, who’s with whom, who said what, and who the hell really cares? also known as The Oscars, also known as three hours of your life that you will never get back, aired last night.

Congratulations to all the winners, the losers and the “I’m just happy to have been nominated in such august company” peeps.  Thanks for letting us share your moment in the spotlight.  Who got my vote?  Ellen and the pizza delivery guy.  It was definitely a night that young many will never forget.

I live in Portland OR where, quite honestly, right up until a week or so ago many folks didn’t even know for sure when the show was airing. But last week I was in L.A. and now I see what a sheltered life I live. The Sunday entertainment section of the LA Times (much heftier than the entire Oregonian these days) was packed with page after page of gigantic ads touting films, actors, directors, documentaries, shorts.  Every one was the biggest, the best and worthy of the statue.  It all felt so glamorous and important and kind of awesome in a wonderfully strange way.  I was visiting a dear friend who has seen every nominated film, animated short, and documentary nominee.  I think I’ve seen two…but I’m not sure.  We live in different worlds and glancing through that paper really brought it home.  Not better or worse, just very different.  And it was great fun to spend a little time in hers.

Whether you got your Oscar fix last night dressed to the nines at a fancy party or sitting solo on the couch in your jammies with a bowl of popcorn and a champagne toast, I hope your favorites won.  And, while the buzz from the Oscars is still humming in your ears, I thought you might enjoy this fun article highlighting some of Oscars Biggest Losers.

Not wanting to look like stalking paparazzi, I left my camera at home on our many walking adventures, but I did manage to snap a few iphone photos of the non-glittery side of Los Angeles, where the real beautiful people hang out.  The ones who watch the movies but are never in them.  You know who you are.

View from the tippy-top of Franklin Canyon.  The hike down was a thigh-buster.

View from the tippy-top of Franklin Canyon. The hike down was a thigh-buster.

Took a self-guided walking tour of the art & architecture of downtown LA

Took a self-guided walking tour of the art & architecture of downtown LA

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Wandered into a wedding on the steps of the magnificent Disney Hall

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Two tired old broads take a selfie on the lightrail ride back to the westside after many fun adventures in tinsel town.

Thanks for the memories my friend.  You will always be a star in my book.

Cheers!

Nancy

 

 

 

 

A Hearty High-Five for Volkssport Walking

Sometimes we walk alone…

Selfie at the Volkswalk

Selfie at the Volkswalk

And that’s what I did this weekend. While hubs was winging his way to sunny Florida, I was invited to participate in an AVA sponsored 10k walk. The sun was bright and it was a balmy 45 degrees so I joined a group of 100+ hearty souls for the Pre-Super Bowl Walk sponsored by the Columbia River Volkssport walking club. This walk was very easy and rated 1A. There is a rating system that goes all the way to 5. This event was well organized, the volunteers were friendly and helpful.  I wasn’t looking for credit stamps so I walked for free.  I haven’t investigated how the whole IVV/AVA system works yet, but there are clubs and walks all over the the world.  Members have books and get stamped for each walk they compete.  I think it’s $3.00 if you are going for stamps and I’m here to tell you that there was lots of stamping going on. Most people came with a walking buddy or two, but there were lots of single walkers too. It was an easy-going, friendly group. The average age was somewhere mid-50’s.  Lots of gray hair, but these folks were fit and energetic and many well into their 70’s were passing me on the street.

I’ve been thinking about doing one of these walks for a long time and I am so glad I finally found one that fit my schedule.  Tuesday at 10:00 a.m. doesn’t work if you are still chained to the office.   I wonder how long it will take after I finally retire to not think I have to cram all my fun activities into the weekend.

Hubs doesn’t know it yet, but I’ve already signed us up for another Volkswalk.  This one is on February 15.  It’s called The Heartbreaker Walk. And the route is sure to get the old heart muscle pumping.  It’s 11km and rated a 3C – for the hills and stairs.

I also picked up a flyer for the Columbia River Gorge Biennial Classic – 13 walks and 1 bike – June 19-22, 2014.  Walks range from 5km to 25km, rated 1A to 4C (straight up?).  What a great way to enjoy a weekend in the beauty of the gorge.  In addition to all of the walking, this is also a social weekend with picnics, potlucks, a buffet dinner and a cruise on the Sternwheeler.  And, it’s hub’s birthday weekend. Happy Birthday, honey! bg-splash

Sound interesting?  Click here to find out more about the IVV (International Volkssport) and the AVA (American Volkssport) associations, their walks and all of the other non-competitive events they sponsor worldwide.

Then lace up your shoes and get going.  If you want to walk in the Portland area and need a walking buddy, call me.

See you on the road (or the trail),

Nancy

Nothing Says Lovin’ Like Something From the Oven ~

It was swoon at first sight and love at first bite.

This weekend while a huge swath of the United Stated was hunkered down under ten feet of snow and bone chilling cold, Portland was aglow with bright sunny skies.   It was perfect weather for a winter walk.  All I had to do was convince hubs to pass on a little football, bundle up, and head out into the cold air and blinding sun.  Fortunately, I know the secret.  I enticed him with the promise of brunch and a new restaurant.  Works every time.

taborbreadshopinside

waiting for me to decide on our next tasty treat.

We headed over to the east side of Portland, where tucked away on a quiet corner of Hawthorne Boulevard sits a little slice of Heaven called Tabor Bread.   These folks are working more than a little magic with yeast and flour.  And the magic begins with locally grown wheat which they grind themselves.  Believe me when I say you can taste the love.

taborbreadflourbags

Real red wheat flour, spelt and kamut from local growers.

The flour mill.  How cool is that?

The flour mill. How cool is that?

The minute Hubs and I stepped into this delightful little shop our noses twitched from the heady aromas of yeast and sugar.   And here’s where my plan (not a resolution) went right out the window.  Cup of soup and half a turkey sandwich?   That was the plan.  Ha!  We were called immediately to the sweet, and oh so delicious, dark side – first up we shared a freshly baked pecan sticky bun.  Swoon.  That was devoured while we perused the menu.  Still trying to decide on what to order, we shared a tiny delight called a donut muffin.   DoMuf, how do I love thee?  Let me count the ways.   By this time neither of us was actually hungry and we were pretty well sugared-up, so we decided to be “good” and settled on two cups of rich, house-made hot chocolate and a plate of toast with fresh balsamic pear butter.  Oh my.  Is there anything better than toast made from thick slices of just out of the oven bread?  It was the perfect finish to our three course breakfast.  Oops!  We ate it so fast, I forgot to take photos.

taborbreadoven

Nothing says lovin’ like something from the oven at Tabor Bread

The tiny dining room was warmed by the giant brick bread oven along the back wall.   It was comfy and cozy and so we lingered over our toast and chocolate and settled in to watch the show.  The baker never stopped his dance.  A wooden paddle with a 6 foot handle was Ginger to his Fred.  Piping hot loaves of all shapes and sizes slowly filled the racks.  The air even had a hint of smoke.  Did I say heaven?

Finally, with gooey fingers, full bellies, warm hearts and huge smiles on our faces, we agreed it was time to get on with the second leg of our adventure.  We waved goodbye to the kind folks at Tabor Bread and set out to walk off just a few of the 1,000 calories we had each just consumed.  Hubs led the charge and we headed up the hill and then up a little more until we reached the top of Mt. Tabor.   The air was crisp, the sky was blue, the sun was bright in the sky and the birds were a chorus cheering us on as we trudged up the path.  The view from the top was well worth the effort.  taborbreadwalkview  And then we took the easy way down. taborbreadwalkstairs

Happy Camper

Happy Camper

This was one of the tastiest close to home and on foot adventures we’ve had in a while.  We found a little bit of everyday magic at Tabor Bread We will be back…very soon.  Next time we’ll branch out and try some of the savory bread pudding that we didn’t have room for.

Yum!

Nancy

Vino, Tapas y Camas ~ Wisdom from the Camino de Santiago

Hola!

Our time in Spain was absolutely magical and beyond everything I imagined when I conjured up the crazy plan twelve months ago to walk 65 miles on the Camino de Santiago for my 65th birthday.

I had originally planned to post photos from the Camino but the internet availability was spotty and slow and to be completely honest we started walking around 8:30 each morning and finished around 4:00 or 5:00 in the afternoon.  I was pooped! I didn’t have the energy.  Instead I chose to shower, slather my aching feet with the magic “freeze” medicine, wander the grounds of our lovely accommodations and meet up with my compadres to sip a few glasses of vino tinto and share stories of our day’s adventures.  Eight o’clock brought a delicious dinner, more vino tinto and then I fell into bed so I could get up and do it all again the next day.  Life couldn’t get any simpler… or fuller.

I took this photo in the village of O’Cebrerio on the very first day of our Camino.  It was my mantra for the week.  Really, if you have these three things, you don’t need much more.  Even a good internet connection.

Wine Food & a Bed ~

Wine Food & a Bed ~

I’m busy editing my photos and will be sharing more of our adventures soon.

It truly was a Buen Camino and I am grateful for the experience.

Cheers!

Nancy

 

 

 

 

Fitness ~ Setting a Really Big Goal!

As anyone who knows me will tell you, I have traveled all over the fitness map.  Sometimes there’s a plan.  Other days, not so much.  But, I have learned from experience that setting a long term goal that is a real stretch (pun intended) is often the motivation I need to keep up my exercise or walking practice.  It works for me.  Every time.

HonoluluMarathon

That’s me #12168 with the white visor coming into the finish lanes.

Way back when I was a young 49 year old mostly-couch-potato, I read an article about Team in Training and marathon walking.  Intrigued, I explored this opportunity to train with a group and walk or run in marathons all over the world while raising money for a great cause.  Sometimes I tend to jump without worrying about the details like “How far is 26.2 miles anyway”?  In I jumped!  I set a goal to walk the Honolulu Marathon for my 50th birthday.  I was committed.  I walked every day starting with two miles that first week and ending my last training walk with a 22 miler from my front door in Lake Oswego to my sister’s house in Hillsboro, Oregon.  Two weeks later, I was on a plane ready to take on the full 26.2 in Honolulu.   And I did it.  And I never walked another marathon again.

But I did keep on walking.   Usually by myself.  Until recently, this was the typical evening conversation at our house.  Me:  “Honey, want to go for a walk with me?”  Hubby:  “Umm, No thanks.”

But that all changed exactly one year ago when I began hatching my plan to do something memorable for my 65th birthday at the end of August.  I wanted to walk the last 65 miles of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela (The Way of St. James) in Spain.  I discovered a walking tour company, Marly Tours, who provide support for those of use who do not want the full Pilgrim experience (carrying everything on your back, sleeping on the ground and/or sleeping in hostels with 300 others in bunk beds).  I was so excited about this idea that my enthusiasm spilled over onto my husband.  Suddenly, he wanted to join me on walks.  Perfect!  Last Fall, we began planning our weekends around walking or hiking.  We have explored most of the City of Portland Oregon on foot and we’ve recently branched out to local hikes like the The Ten Falls Hike.   We’re up to 8 to 10 miles on Saturday and then another 6 or 8 on Sunday.  Always with a stop for lunch.  We call it jogging for doughnuts.

Not too bad for a couple of almost senior citizens.  On the Camino, we’ll be walking our 100km over 5 days.  We don’t know the terrain, but I’m told to expect everything from country lanes to farmers fields to hill climbs to city streets.   We walk 13 miles the first day!  Then we get up and do it again the next day, whether we’re ready or not.  Whether we’re tired or not.  Whether our feet hurt or not.

I can’t wait to get started!

Setting this long term and very large goal, has changed our lives.  We walk every day.  Hubs joined the gym.  We walk for entertainment.  We enjoy our time together.  We’re active people again and I don’t see that ending anytime soon.   In fact, we’re already thinking about walking through England or Italy next.

See you on the trail!

Nancy

 

Tulips, Tulips and more Tulips

I have developed very bad case of itchy travel feet.  I have the backpack, the rollie, the travel partner and I am so ready to hit the road, or the skies, or the high seas, but for just a while longer, I am anchored here in Portland.

I have to admit that sometimes I’m so busy dreaming of greener pastures, colorful faraway lands, and take-your-breath-away vistas, that I forget to seek out and enjoy the bountiful beauty that is all around me – right here – in Oregon.  That’s why last Saturday the hubs and I braved some very cold and threatening weather to drive out into farm country and visit a place that had been on my local bucket list for several years – The Tulip Festival at the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm.   It wasn’t Holland, but it was only 45 minutes from home and it was truly spectacular. redtulips tulips5

We wandered the tulip fields for about two hours so I could attempt to take photos with my tiny point and shoot camera and my iphone.   Hubs was a champ.  I’m sure he was done in the first fifteen minutes, but he stood tall and let me play.  When we started to get crowded out by the “real” photographers with their fancy DSLR cameras, high powered lenses and tripods, it was time to head off for a hot toddy and a tasty lunch.  Promise my guy a meal and he’ll sign up for almost any crazy adventure I propose. tulips3 tulips6

I think you will agree the colors were amazing.  Thousands of delicate heads of red, yellow, orange, purple, lavender, and white dancing in the wind.  Picture perfect indeed! tulipspurple singleyellowtulip

I am in love with my iphone camera and cannot wait to use it when we do start our world travels.  In the meantime, we truly enjoyed this close to home adventure.

Cheers!

Nancy

 

 

Travel + Learning + Adventure = Road Scholar

Way back in my youth (I was probably 48 or 49), I discovered a brochure in our local library for something called Elderhostel.  The name definitely did not appeal, but a quick glance at the offerings and I was captivated.  I was also too young.  You had to be 55 to participate.  So I put Elderhostel on hold until I reached the age of “elder”.  No hurry on that.  Well now I’ve found my self at that certain age and, as so many great ideas in life seem to do, Elderhostel circled back around.   This time with a new, and much more appealing name – Road Scholar – Adventures in Lifelong Learning.  Lovely name.  Brilliant way to travel.  Perfect timing.

If you’ve been on this planet long enough, chances are pretty good that you’ll know somebody who knows somebody who knows.  Well, that is exactly how I came to meet Bernie Segal – a true wealth of first hand knowledge about Road Scholar.   One mention to the right friend that I was researching this interesting travel option and bingo!  She knew somebody I could talk to.  So I called, we talked, and with any luck, maybe I’ll also make a new friend.

Bernie currently lives in Los Angeles, but spent much of her life in New York.  That’s where she discovered Road Scholar (then Elderhostel) many years ago.  Bernie signed up for several trips including a London theater tour and an adventure in Key West.  She was hooked.  Here’s why.  Bernie often travels as a single woman.  She feels safe.  She easily meets interesting people.  In fact, she’s met a few women who have become good friends.  She can be paired with a roommate avoiding the hefty single supplement charge, and every trip is all inclusive.  You make your own air reservations, but once a tour begins, everything is included even tipping (which can add up).  Bernie enjoyed her trips and the organization so much that she signed up to be a tour volunteer.  That was 14 years ago and she’s still going strong.  She travels to NYC several times a year for tours.  As a volunteer Bernie works long hours – greeting everyone at breakfast and tucking them in at night – but she also participates fully in the tour, sharing all of the experiences, adventures and sights of the city.

Before you get too excited (like I did), there are not a lot of Road Scholar volunteer opportunities available.  They only have volunteers in certain big cities (like New York) and the waiting list is long.  If you are interested, you will need to have taken several Road Scholar trips, love meeting people, have a lot of patience, and be on call at all times during a tour.  Still, since I live in the world of you never know if you don’t give it a go, I think this is an opportunity worth exploring.   Start with a tour and see if educational travel in a small group fits the bill for you.

Before I spoke with Bernie, I spent a long time on the Road Scholar website.  It is easy to navigate and is filled with great information and inspiring ideas for travel and learning.  This is so much more than your basic tour group travel.  The educational component is what sets Road Scholar apart – more than 5,500 educational adventures in all 50 states and 150 countries provide exceptional opportunities for learning and exploration through behind the scenes access delivered by local and world renowned experts.

I found programs with enticing titles like Drawing for the Absolutely Terrified, Food for Thought: Northern Italy’s Culture of Cuisine and Canyon de Chelly: Enduring Tradition and Modern Challenge (experience ancient ruins, gain insight into Navajo culture and language, hear about Kit Carson and the infamous Long Walk of 1864, hike through the canyons to view the petroglyphs – all led by experts from Northern Arizona University).  Hubs would love this one!

With so many tour options, there is something for every interest, level of ability and budget.  Not all of the tours are cheap, but with the all-inclusive pricing, the reputation of this organization, it’s 30+ years of experience and the glowing review I got from Bernie Segal, I’m thinking Road Scholar offers a great value for the money.  

This is what a Road Scholar looks like.

This is what a Road Scholar looks like.

Bernie celebrated a milestone birthday last year in a very big way.  She treated several of her friends to accompany her on a Road Scholar trip to New York City.  What an amazing gift.

I have no doubt that this group of wild women left an indelible make on the Big Apple!

 

 

See you on the road!

Nancy

 

 

 

 

A Winter Walk + A Little Link Love

Everyday Magic on a winter walk

Everyday Magic on a winter walk

These days it’s more than a little dark, damp, chilly and gloomy in Portland.  It that almost-Spring time of year when I usually come down with a huge case of cabin fever and start stuffing myself with chocolate.  I’m not picky.   Anything that’s baked with chocolate, coated in chocolate, chocolate bars, See’s chocolates, dipped in chocolate, smells like chocolate or, the worst, something that sort of resembles chocolate when I dig it out from the bottom of my purse.

This year I am trying a new tack.  I have been taking myself outside on daily walking adventures whatever the weather (mostly) looking for a little Everyday Magic.  It started with the photography class I took last month.  Instead of just complaining about the ugly piles of brown gunk and dead leaves everywhere, I am looking at winter with new eyes – through my camera.  And I’m loving it.  I put together the collage above using a few of the photos I took on a recent outing.  Just me and my iphone camera.  Who knew brown came in so many beautiful shades?  Other than chocolate that is.

I also wanted to share a little link love with you.  Here are five blog posts I really enjoyed this week and I hope you do as well.

Amazing Winter Snow Art

There’s No Place Like Rome

Love it or Leave it

Where will boomers spend their golden years?

and…this recipe for gorgeous no-flour chocolate cake

Cheers to a happy weekend filled with your own everyday magic.Nancy

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A Tasty Trek through Flavor Town (Portland Style)

It often amazes me how much time I spend dreaming about and researching the places I want to visit when we travel.  I have a clear vision of the two of us of walking down tiny off-the-beaten-path streets in towns and villages all over the world.  They all seem so interesting, unusual, and well… just more darned fun than my own home town.  I know it’s human nature to think the “grass is greener” in someone else’s field, but lately I’ve been ignoring the town I have professed to love.  Heck, I chose to move here not once, but twice.  That must mean something.  Since we are doing more local travel these days to save for our adventure in Spain, I thought it would be a good time to explore Portland once again and share some of my finds.  Truth be told,  I’m also hoping to entice a home exchange or two.  And what better way than to share our own local adventures.

We’re training for our big walk on the Camino de Santiago and have covered so many miles and made so many interesting discoveries that  I’ve joked about starting my own on foot tour company.  Not exactly the shuffle, eat, shuffle, eat tour I’m going to tell you about in this post, but a more robust 5 or 6 mile tour with a stop for lunch or a glass of wine and a nibble.  Kind of a walking workout, sight-seeing and food experience combined.  It is amazing what you see when you travel at about 3 mph.  You have time to take photos and you burn enough calories to alleviate any guilt about the eating and drinking.   I think I’m on to something.  Hubs thinks I’m crazy.  Maybe.

Since Portland has become the go-to destination for foodie culture, and since we love to eat, an Epicurean Excursion offered by Portland Walking Tours seemed like a match made in heaven.   And it was.  Three hours flew by as we enjoyed downtown Portland’s culinary scene, enjoying the smells, sampling the tastes and sipping some tasty wine along the way.  Our starting point was the Heathman Hotel where we all gathered on the mezzanine to meet our tour guide.   There were about 10 of us in the group, locals and out-of-towners, all ready for fun and food.

We stopped at ten locations – specialty stores, restaurants, a wine bar, and a cupcake shop, where we learned about finishing salts, tasted olive oils and vinegars, enjoyed a back of the house kitchen tour and met with several of local chefs.  Our little band of food explorers meandered through Southwest Portland and into the Pearl District.  An easy mile and a half walk during which time our guide kept up a running and very informative conversation offering tidbits of Portland history, architecture, farm and food facts and a joke or three.  He was a wealth of local knowledge.  A tour guide by day and an improv comedian by night.  At each stop we learned about the farm to table food culture that is alive and well in Portland and enjoyed a sample or two.  Some larger and some rather tiny, but all delicious.  Add in two glasses of wine and several mini cupcakes and we ended our afternoon feeling well-fed, well-informed and very well-entertained.

Taking a tour in your own town is a great way to re-kindle the romance with your city.  You’ll learn things only tourists the take time to find out and enjoy a fun afternoon with your sweetie, your kids or your visiting dignitaries.   There are two companies in Portland currently doing food tours.  Portland Walking Tours and Forktown Food Tours.  We signed up with Portland Walking Tours.  The cost was $59 each, so it’s not cheap, but it was a lot of fun and we will do it again.  Next up, since Portland has become the food cart capital of the world, I think we might sign up with Forktown for their Food Cart Tour.

Portland has so much to offer.   It’s a vibrant city filled with art, culture, history, natural beauty, wonderful quirky people, and food, fabulous food.  Oh, and artisan coffee shops, wineries, brewpubs and the hubbie’s new fav – micro-distilleries.  Now there’s a tour he’d really enjoy!

Just a Couple of Crazy Kids ~ another on foot adventure

Since we are now fully committed to the Camino de Santiago trek next September, the hubs and I have upped our walking game significantly.  Every weekend we’re out exploring the city streets and country roads in and around Portland.  It is amazing what you miss when you are whizzing along at 55 mph.  Of course, the beautiful Fall weather hasn’t hurt.  I don’t know how motivated we’ll be when it’s cold, gray and soggy, but we’ll cross that bridge (on foot) when we come to it.

I’m in charge of mapping our routes and coming up with interesting locations and access to restrooms and good food along the way.  So far, so good.  Last week a friend of mine who is always off on one adventure or another, mentioned she had gone to the Portlandia Corn Maize out on Sauvie Island.  When I asked how much actual walking was involved, she indicated it could be A LOT depending on how many dead ends you took in the maize.

Well, thanks to Lois, I thought this would be a great way to try something new and get our walk on at the same time.  What a hoot!  Yes, it is mostly for families with kids and somehow that brought out the kid in us too.   We walked, we laughed, and we got lost over and over again.  But, we enjoyed the fresh air, acres of corn stocks at least ten feet tall, answered silly questions that helped us find our way through the maize, and of course, I sang a chorus or two of “I’m as Corny as Kansas in August”.

Honey, I think we’ve been down this row before.

And, the best part…because we aren’t kids (only kids at heart), we finished the afternoon with a couple of adult beverages on the dock and watched the boats go by.