Tuesday, November 30, 2010

NaBloPoMo Complete!

What a relief.  I completed national blog posting month.  There were times (and I'm sure you noticed) when the thought of blogging was less than inspiring.  I had writer's block, drove for days (which is not conducive to posting) and had uneventful days; however, it's satisfying to mark something of my list and hopefully improve my overall blog.
In the past thirty days things have changed.  I'm no longer in sunny Arizona, I'm looking harder than ever for a job, I'm craving my own apartment to set up and decorate.  Over the past thirty days I've realized some things in my life.  I don't want to work exhausting hours in a job that I am not passionate about; in fact, I'd rather work part-time and pursue my real interests.  I want to go back to graduate school and will begin the application process soon.  I think I'm ready to be more settled than I was a month ago.  I've had so many adventures and have literally zig-zagged my way throughout this enormous county and I'm finally ready to sit still for awhile (yeah, we'll see how long this lasts).
I go through stages like this every year.  In the spring and summer I yearn to be free and on the road.  In the fall I crave more adventures and by winter I'm ready to hole up in my own place, cook meals and hang out with friends.  With the end of NaBloPoMo comes the next step in my "sabbatical", I'm heading up to Eugene and then Portland and next to Seattle where I hope to find work, school, friends, and excitement (cause realistically, I like to keep moving).  I say I'm ready to settle for a moment, but there is no telling what is around the corner.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Let It Shine/Cape Blanco Lighthouse

The Cape Blanco lighthouse was built in 1870 with a light run off of lard from the nearby pig farm.  It has endured 179 mph winds during the famous Columbus Day storm in the 60's and countless rainy days.  I can't even imagine what it was like to be one of the old lighthouse keepers staying up through the night to make sure the light stayed burning and hearing the howling winds that feel that much more eerie with the surrounding waves.  

My brother and I drove out there on a fairly mild day.  My dad Jack gives tours in the lighthouse and it's become a bit of a tradition to drive out and visit him when I'm back in Port Orford.  My dad is very suited for the job being a history buff and a talker.  He brings Annie dog out who fits in perfectly with the surroundings.

You climb up flights of narrow spiral stairs and are rewarded with a spectacular view of the furthest western point in the lower 48.  

The lens is intriguing, a gigantic series of magnifying glasses that rotates 24 hours a day, rain or shine.  The lens was shipped over from France 140 years ago.  The detail is intriguing and has almost no marks except for the a few spots that were marked by vandals in the early 1990's.

Such a beautiful spot, Cape Blanco is one of those places that I will never tire seeing.  There are no two days alike out on the rocky coast.
Bonus: Seeing little porcupines wandering happily, a beautiful campground right down the path, an amazing beach to walk on and a bounty of mushrooms in the fall.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Hole In The Rock

A few days ago my brother J and I went exploring on the beach again.  We drove down 101 south of Port Orford about 10 miles, abruptly pulled over on the side of the rode where you will see the below view.  Hole in the rock
 I've driven by this site more times than I can count.  I used to waitress in Gold Beach and got to see these types of views for 30 minutes.  By far the most beautiful commute I've had, sure beats the A train from Harlem.
 Although I lived in Port Orford for 19 years, there are so many spots that I haven't explored mostly due to a severe case of teenage angst that did not include hiking.  I think I had hiked down to hole in the rock once about 20 years ago and wow, did I forget the view.
 Unfortunately, my camera battery was dying so I was only able to snap a few shots.  This was the type of beach that pictures don't do justice.  The rock is huge and imposing, the surrounding ocean powerful and churning.  The beach stretching on and on.  Standing by the hole in the rock you are met with the crashing waves and your feet begin to tingle as you anticipate the churning water pulling you out to sea.
 I'm not sure how that huge hole got there, but to me it seems pretty obvious.  The aliens that landed on Humbug Mt when the summit was enclosed in fog used hole in the rock as their home. Duh.
 Whatever the story, hole in the rock has just become my new go-to hike for visitors to Port Orford.
 In other news, a few days ago it snowed. In Port Orford.  And then pigs flew. Let's just say it's rare to see snow falling down at the beach.  It was fun while it lasted that hour.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Down By The River

Thanksgiving is an interesting holiday.  Oddly enough, it's one of my favorites.  There's something so low stress about it with no gifts or cards to give; however, as a vegetarian and part Native American the holiday also seems slightly odd.  I love the idea of having a day to get together with loved ones and breaking bread together, but there is a fine line between binge eating and enjoying the bounty of the meal.  Moreover, I wish that the complex relationship between the Pilgrims and Native Americans wasn't so easily dismissed with the glorified meal they shared together.  I hope that one day the mistreatment of the Native People will be common knowledge and we can look at Thanksgiving in a new way.
All politics aside, I had a very pleasant day.  I have spent the last three Thanksgiving's in New York with Wojc, my sister, her husband and a handful of friends. I missed that whole group this year but was also happy to spend this year back in Port Orford.
In honor of my annual tradition, my brother and I embarked on a chilly run down to the beach in preparation for the indulgence to come.  We spent early afternoon with my dad at a community dinner which was high spirited and celebratory.

We went on a hike down by elk river afterwards and reminisced about the days of attending a little hippie school in that very location.

In the evening, we headed back to my mom's to begin cooking our delicious vegetarian feast.  We stuck to the basic staples and were not disappointed.  Every year we prepare a casserole dish that has meaning to our family as we fondly remember the kind woman who became a part of our lives and provided so much to our family.


As I work off my apple pie consumption and take breaks in between job applications and trying to decide where to go next, I've been attempting to be a little creative.
I found an old box of my mom's hippie books from the 70's and have been working on some psychedelic collages.  The books themselves are spectacular covering yoga, feminism and buddhism with outrages images.  I'm pretty happy with them and will post some pictures when I'm done.
Tomorrow I'm heading over to my dad's for plywood, stencil's and spray paint to work on a wall hanging that I saw on Holly's blog a few months ago.  Seems like a pretty easy project, now I just need to narrow down the quotes I want to use.  What's your favorite quote?
photo from Nothing But Bonfires 
Finally, since I am a few blocks from the beach I've been trying to think up a project using driftwood.  The only problem is finding something that isn't extremely cheesy, which unfortunately is prevalent in driftwood art.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

*Hasn't God Been Good To Oregon?

It's Thanksgiving, a day to remember all you have in your life and celebrate with loved ones.  There is so much I am thankful for today.  I have had one of the most interesting years in some time and I'm so happy to have had so many experiences.
I am thankful for my health.
After a health scare last fall and having two thugs pull guns on me, I am more grateful than ever to have a healthy strong body.  Sure, I might have a fairly weak immune system that leaves me fighting off colds pretty regularly, but overall my body has proved itself resilient.

I am thankful for my family.
My mom, dad, brother and sister are four of my favorite people on this earth. Each one of them offers such wonderful unique personality.  I am so thankful to have support in all of my crazy endeavors.
with my mum
missing my sister in NY the most today
I am thankful for an adventurous, creative, spontaneous, unique and loving Wojc.

I am thankful for having comfort and support in my time of unemployment.
It could be a lot worse for me right now.  With support and thrift I am able to enjoy this time off work as a once in a lifetime opportunity rather than wonder where my next meal will come from.

I hope everyone reading this has something to be thankful for today....

*Anyone else remember that Thanksgiving show with the pictures of Oregon?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Salt And Pepper Beach

It was a rainy, dark day but that didn't stop us.
In Port Orford, you have to force yourself to go out and brave the elements.  It's easy to get sucked into all day marathons of Millionaire Matchmaker with the chilly air and flood like environment outside.  
Well Wojc, my brother J and I needed to get out so we headed south on 101 a few miles and pulled over to the side of the road, walked down the highway until we found a suitable deer trail to follow and headed down.

Steep terrain, mud, creeks, rain, blackberry bushes, and tall grass couldn't stop us.  We plowed forward in search of a secluded beach.  The colors were spectacular; dark glowing rain clouds, vibrant blue ocean and green foliage.

The view of the isolated cove was out of this world.  Giant rocks, grassy fields and crashing waves gave the impression of a different world, a planet totally isolated and unaffected by development. We spent the time exploring tide pools and rocks and marveling at the black and white pebbly beach that give it its name of Salt and Pepper.

We really lucked out with the rain clouds holding off just till the end of the hike back up to the car.  The beach was one of the best I've seen, a place that you imagine only seeing in your dreams.
Lucky for Wojc, during our beach combing he found an old glass float that is an extremely rare find.  I wasn't so luck and only scored some orange plastic ones.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Over The River

Last night, my best friend of the past 25 years (give or take) invited me up to dinner at her new place way up the river.  It is a truly beautiful house with an amazing deck that overlooks a huge pasture.  The house is surrounded by woods and one of the cleanest rivers you will ever see.
Of course it was a pitch black rainy night with pretty bad visibility for my already weak eyes.  The drive is a breeze until you get to the final obstacle: a swinging bridge over the bitterly cold river.  It's quite the experience and above is a video from this past summer when I crossed the same bridge in broad daylight.
Luckily, visiting Lena is totally worth risking my life ;)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Happy Cows

When a human dies, there is a bridge they must cross to enter into heaven. At the head of this bridge awaits every animal the human encountered during their lifetime.  The animals, based upon what they know of this person, decide which humans may cross the bridge and which are turned away.  -unknown

With my day filled with baking, hiking, organizing my high school belongings in my mom's attic and saying good bye to Wojc before he heads to Seattle (and China!) I haven't had time to think about blogging, but with my goal of blogging everyday for a month near complete I am motivated to post no matter how late.  A couple years back I had an anonymous blog that I occasionally updated and often linked over to Tabitha's blog for her Sunday quote posts. Some quotes touch me personally and this is a nice time to share them with others.
Several things have been pointing me in the vegan direction lately.  As a life long vegetarian I have always had vegan tendencies but too often feel the call of cheese and milk.  I am vegetarian for a wide range of reasons, animal rights being the primary one.
A few days ago as Wojc and I drove up highway 99 past Bakersfield, CA the smell of animal stench became unbearable.  We passed slaughter house after slaughter house with dairy farms in between.  You can glimpse a cow ever so often and the state of their misery all too apparent.
Today I went to the library and picked up Isa Chandra Moskowitz's Vegan With a Vengeance and was newly inspired to focus on more vegan friendly foods.  Cooking vegan forces me to be more creative, eat healthier and ease my conscience.  I have always felt compassion towards animals and this unknown author has a beautiful way of emphasizing the importance of animal kindness.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


I wake up to utter darkness with no sound but the steady pounding rain outside my window.  I'm home.
Port Orford is a step back in time, a much needed break from the fast paced rest of the country.  The quiet used to wake me. Startled out of sleep without the comforting roar of Harlem outside my window I'd wonder what was wrong.
Now, the darkness unencumbered by street lights, the sound of rain, the view of wild turkeys and bucks wandering carelessly in the yard.  These things are comforting, a reminder of my past.
Cards by the fire, knitting of scarves, family, the wet outdoors.
I'm home.
I grew up in this town, my poetry was born between the hill and the river, it took its voice from the rain, and like the timber, it steeped itself in the forests. -Pablo Neruda

Friday, November 19, 2010

Don't Fence Me In (or Affordable Road Tripping)

 In order to better serve my loyal blog readers, here is a more focused guide on my tips for road trips on the cheap.  My suggestions are definitely not suitable for everyone.  For someone who hates camping, my idea of a good road trip would be their own personal hell.
I grew up road tripping.  In fact, I'm a second generation road tripper.  Until I was born (youngest of three) my mom and dad (and then my sister and brother) lived a fairly nomadic lifestyle traveling around the country and living in Arizona, Michigan, California and more.  They were adventurers, traveling so often while homeschooling their kids.  When I was born, we settled for good in Oregon but continued to take camping trips ever summer.  I have such fond memories driving for hours on end with my mom and brother to get to Glacier National Park, the Tetons and other wild spots.  My family was not well off, but what we lacked financially we more than made up with thrift, adventure and love of travel.  For those of you not making the big bucks or merely looking for adventure, I recommend shutting yourself in a small car with your loved ones, driving for days and seeing what happens.

Tips for Road Trips

1.  Sell off most of your belongings for gas money.  Ok, so that might not be so wise for everyone, but I sold my couch, tv and odds and ends on craigslist.  This furniture money paid for fuel from New York to Oregon in a pick up truck so I'm guessing it was worth it. Bonus: limited belongings = lighter travel.

2.  Bring as much food from home that you can.  As tempting as eating out every meal can be, even the cheapest fast food begins to take its toll on your bank account.  Invest in some bags of ice, a cooler and shop along the way.  Get a cheap camp stove and cook your food.  Besides, everyone knows that food tastes better when cooked outside.  My mom is queen of campsite cooking with creative meals like campsite nachos.

3.  Camp.  I can't emphasize enough how much money I have saved by choosing a sleeping bag over an uncomfortable hotel bed.  This summer's cross country road trip would not have been feasible had I stayed in hotels along the way.  I'm proud to say that during a three week trip, Wojc and I only splurged on one hotel room in Santa Fe, NM due to Wojc getting sick.

4. Skip the museums, tours, tourist traps that cost money.  Ok, I'm sure some of you are cringing, but unless you are desperate to head into a city to see a Renoir (which you could always find a free day anyway), I suggest bypassing these and heading off the beaten path where most of the attractions and historical sites are free.  Let's be real, I'm talking about a road trip on a shoestring budge, this is not the time for galleries.  You'll be pleasantly surprised by all there is out there.  Natural bridges, hikes, historical museums at state parks, city centers, and more.

5.  Make use of "free" internet. When you need to fire up your lap top and blog, get directions and whatever, pull up to the nearest hotel/convention center/hardware store and make it quick.

6.  Unless you are on a random "go where ever the wind takes you" type of trip, then try to stick to a fairly direct route. I'm the first to suggest going off the beaten track, but only to a certain extent.  If you back track, go in circles and get lost often you are going to pay way more than necessary at the gas pump.
These are just a few of the endless ways to save on road trips.  If it weren't for these tips, I would travel way less frequently.  Some would rather travel once a year but live it up at a nice hotel and meals out, others (like myself) would rather camp, hike, prepare our food and shower less frequently all in the name of regular (and exciting!) travel.
Finally, with this type of trip you need to have a spirit of adventure and be ready for the unexpected.  You are going to have a few upsets and it's best to know that going in.  Don't get discouraged after a rainy night or a cold.  Keep on treking!
rainy Oklahoma days

post-rainy days.

How hard to realize that every camp of men or beast has this glorious starry firmament for a roof!  In such places standing alone on the mountain-top it is easy to realize that whatever special nests we make - leaves and moss like the marmots and birds, or tents or piled stone - we all dwell in a house of one room - the world with the firmament for its roof - and are sailing the celestial spaces without leaving any track.  ~John Muir

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Travel Tips For The Cheapskate

If you knew anything about me, you'd probably know I'm more than qualified to give advice on cheap travel. In order to make travel possible on a small income (or no income in my current state) I have learned to travel completely bare bones and still have a memorable time, probably more so than a plush resort vacation.  Keep in mind, this is coming from someone who spent two months traveling Europe as a broke college student spending only $2000 (including plane and train tickets). And so, without further ado, the list.

(disclaimer: it's a fairly disjointed list covering domestic and international travel, expect more specific advice shortly)
  • Volunteer to get bumped on a flight and earn a free ticket.  I've only bought two of my past four round trip cross country flights all thanks to volunteering to be bumped on full flights when I heard the gate attendants ask for volunteers.  Bonus: Onetime I was upgraded to first class and booked on a flight that got me to La Guardia earlier than my previously planned trip.  Let's face it, sometimes it's worth calling in sick, but shhh don't tell my old bosses.
  • Don't check bags. It's a money (and time) suck. Don't do it if at all possible.  I wear my coat and heavy boots while flying just to make a carry-on possible.
  • Bring food from home. Airport food is expensive (and not so tasty)!! Swallow your pride and bust out that homemade burrito.  On long travel days, I've been known to pack two full meals plus snacks. 
  • If overseas, try to stay in "private rooms".  This is area specific and not an option in many countries.  However, when I was traveling throughout the former Yugoslavia, there were usually a group of people waiting at bus stations offering a room to rent.  This may sound slightly sketchy, but I've yet to have a bad experience.  Private rooms are what they sound like. Private, but in or near the family house. I stayed in a great little room in Lake Ohrid, Macedonia. It was the equivalent of $4 a night complete with a mini kitchen, private bathroom and cute little bedroom.  and bonus: a lively owner who worshiped George W. Bush. Definitely made for some interesting discussion. In summary: seek out rooms, or at least stick to hostels.
 Church of St. John in Lake Ohrid
  • Camp. I grew up camping with my family and have very fond memories of week long camp outs along the west coast.  Camping is affordable at less than $20 a campsite (except for California which is a whopping $35 a night) and one of my favorite pastimes.  Even when I was working, I had a hard time paying for hotels.  It seems like such a waste to me to spend $50+ on a adequate room. Why not save that money, camp and travel for a few extra days?  Of course, camping can scare some people off, I'll post in more detail in a later post.
show me the hotel restaurant that beats this
  • Network.  Do you know someone who knows someone who went to school with someone in Tennessee? Well call 'em up and hope for some hospitality.  I quickly learned to hide my awkwardness when camping in an almost-stranger's living room.  These situations usually lead to the best adventures and best stories to tell.  Just remember to return the favor next time your friend's brother's girlfriend is traveling thru.
  • Accept the generosity of strangers (within reason).  I'm more wary than many travels and most likely would not stay at the house (or yard) of a stranger by myself.  However, on my recent cross-country road trip I was traveling with my boyfriend which opened up new options.  In Chattanooga we met a middle aged woman outside a restaurant, chatted for some time and quickly found ourselves accepting the invitation to stay a night in her spare room (which turned into a spare floor to ourselves) and waking up to a lovely Tennessee morning.

So there you have it, a very short list of the many ways to save on travel.  I have so many other things I do in life to allow for travel, what are yours?