We took the rv for a test drive to Creekside City Park, Sisters, OR after it came back from having the transmission repaired. We wanted to give it a good distance test with some mountain climbing. It did just great and we had a nice day trip.
We meandered through the mountains and stopped here for a bit of exploring. At Sisters, we found Creekside City Park, where we pulled in for lunch. There is also a campground there. Creekside is nice and green (like most of Oregon) and has lots of shady trees. There are picnic tables but no barbeques and there seems to be a lack of trash cans. I ended up putting our trash in the dumpsters, inconveniently fenced off. At least they had doggie doo bags and scoopers. Of course, Mrs. Susie was on her own doggie dude ranch vacation back in Colorado.
From the picnic area you cross the covered bridge to get to the bathrooms in the camping area. The bridge is an impressive work of art, sturdily built and beautiful to look at. We trekked down to the creek and dipped our toes. I found it very relaxing to close my eyes and listen to the gentle burble of the stream which seemed to wash away all my cares. Wanting to share this experience with my companions, I dragged them down to the creek and made them sit and listen with closed eyes, also. They giggled and squirmed and didn’t get it. I guess you just have to mentally be in a certain place to appreciate it. I tried.
At a stretch stop on the way back to Portland, we found this pretty critter stuck to our front grill. He was still barely alive when we peeled him off, but didn’t survive long.
After Ballard Locks, we asked for a recommendation of where to eat for fresh seafood. Ray’s was mentioned. We drove downtown and found it on the docks. The outdoor seating looked appealing, but not on this chilly, overcast day. Our table inside had an outstanding view of the ocean. The seafood did, indeed seem very fresh. Steaming bowls of white clam chowder, accompanied by a shared seafood salad and a shared plate of Alaskan King Crab legs filled us up.
The quality of the food was exactly what you would expect from a high-end fresh seafood restaurant. Our budget is certainly not high-end, but by sharing 2 entrees among the 5 of us, and partaking of the cafe menu, we were able to enjoy a classy dining experience. We always enjoy waterfront dining and Ray’s is definitely tops on that list.
About an hour drive from where we were visiting in Tacoma, WA is Ballard Locks. The official name is Hiram M. Chittendom Locks, but I don’t think anybody knows that.
Ballard Locks is more than just a shipping channel. On the shore are beautiful gardens, with rare trees and plants. Parks to sit and watch the activity on the locks, have a picnic, or roll down the gentle slopes, as a number of children (and adults) were doing. There is also a walking path through the gardens and a museum. We had a personal tour guide: Tim, a ranger, took us around and pointed out features of the gardens and locks. He pointed out ginko trees, dawn redwoods and sequoias in the gardens.
He showed us the difference between the stronger, original cement and gravel construction of the buildings and the newer cement benches, which were already cracked and crumbling. He explained how the locks functioned as we watched them in action.
He showed us the fish ladders where the salmon migrate from their ocean home, back to fresh waters to spawn. Cables, much like clotheslines, are strung across the locks to protect the spawning salmon and smolts from seagulls and other predatory birds.
We watched as kayakers paddled through the locks from fresh water into Puget Sound and yachts motored from Puget Sound through the locks.
Even sculptures are displayed at the locks.
Across the dam, there is an underwater viewing area, where you can watch the locks and fish ladders, if you’re lucky you’ll see some fish. Of course, it helps if you’re there during spawning season.
2016 is starting out with sunshine and mid 60’s in Southern California. Not as warm as I’d like it, but not as cold as we’ve been. We’ll be heading back to sub-zero temperatures soon enough, so time to soak up that sun!
We’re enjoying time with family and friends; reviewing what worked and didn’t last year, and making plans for new projects this year. Two things in particular for Catholic Traveller: the first is to start offering “Pilgrim Guides” to specific areas. The first will be “A Pilgrim’s Guide to the Grand Canyon”, currently in the works. Sign up for updates via our FREE newsletter, Catholic Travels, in the box to the right, or on any page of the website.
Our other major project for the year is to start posting short, travel related videos on our long, inactive youtube channel. I have wanted to do this for a long time, but it is a lot of work shooting, editing, and polishing videos! Updates on that will also be included in Catholic Travels newsletter.
We hope you, too, are enjoying time with family and friends, and making exciting plans for 2016! Don’t forget to plan time to make a pilgrimage, even if it is just to the Holy Doors of the nearest consecrated “pilgrimage church”.
Mr. Cuddles was irresistable. Of all the kittens available for adoption from Petsmart in Flagstaff, Arizona that day, he was the calmest and most responsive. His gray coat, with white socks and tuxedo shirt, was gorgeous and soft. He had already been adopted once, but regretfully returned due to severe allergies. I sometimes wonder about that one.
Mr. C’s favorite spot in the tiny trailer
Thankfully, all the cats at Petsmart had to be fixed, litter box trained and current with vaccinations. He even came with coupons for free cat food and treats. We took Mr. Cuddles home and let him explore the house at the Homestead. He inspected the wood pile next to the woodstove. He sat in every windowsill. He growled and hissed at Mrs. Susie. He found his favorite spot, on top of the futon bunk in the living room. Our next destination was California. It was with regret that we locked Mr. Cuddles in his cat carrier, but with his tenuous relationship with Mrs. Susie at this point, we didn’t have a choice. Every couple of hours we stopped to stretch our legs and theirs. Mr. Cuddles proved himself adept at slipping out of his harness, but the boy easily caught him every time. Finally, in California, we were able to let him out to roam around my dad’s house.
Cuddles and Susie going for a walk
Here, he found a new sort of mischief to undertake. We would bring dog and cat into the guest room overnight, so that we wouldn’t have to worry about them throwing wild animal parties with my son’s pit bull and his wife’s cat. The problem being, that when he wanted out, he would jump up on the door and claw his way down. This made my dad none too happy. Since he performed this mischief early in the morning, we would let him out. He soon discovered Simba, who would sleep with my son and his wife. Now he would jump and claw their door to get Simba to come out and play. This would result in him getting tossed back into the guest room and the whole pattern would repeat itself until everyone was up and about. Thankfully, this was just a phase.
Tiny trailer and Susie at Goose Island SP, Texas
We moved on to Texas, where Mr. Cuddles made himself at home in our tiny trailer. He led us on some merry chases in our campsite, before we got a recommendation on a harness which might better contain him. We found one at Petco and it worked like a charm. It is much more pleasant to travel with animals (and children), when you are not constantly having to chase them.
The new digs – feels like a mansion!
As much as we loved our tiny 14 foot trailer, with a dog, a cat, a full sized adult and a tween boy, life became much more bearable when we upgraded to our 26 foot home. Mr. Cuddles now had plenty of room to roam and no one was sleeping on top of the cat litter box, never mind that the pine pellet litter controls the odor much better than clay cat litter. He and Susie had finally become bosom buddies and he is now able to travel without being locked in the carrier. He still doesn’t like walking on the harness, but at least it gets him outside once in awhile. He still tries to use the walls for scratching posts, but we are working on that. No, he hasn’t caused any noticeable damage to our walls.
the boy and his cat
He likes to pounce on our feet when we are in bed. In winter, the blankets are thick enough that this is an amusing game. In summer, it is a grievous annoyance. Even with a folded up blanket over my feet, he sometimes gets me with a claw. Game over! Mr. Cuddles’ newest trick is opening the screen door. We like to leave the door open for extra light and fresh air. Mr. Cuddles loves to sit and look out the screen. He soon discovered that he can jump up and hang on the lever to get it open. Now we are looking for a lock, but in the meantime, no more leaving the door open.