Thursday, January 30, 2014

Vie's Beach and others

Vie's Beach, St. John, USVI
The beaches and water are terrific in St. John:  clean, warm and clear.  Our first couple of days, we hit three areas: Salt Pond Bay, Waterlemon Cay and Vie’s Beach. 
To Salt Pond Beach

Among their distinguishing features are their entrances.  For Salt Pond Beach, it’s a few hundred yards down a rutted dirt road.  For Waterlemon Cay, we walked about one mile along the Leinster Bay until we found a place to get in the water and snorkel to, and nearly around, the little island. 
Leinster Bay Trail

For Vie’s beach, people enter through the deep fryer.  
At Vie's Snack Shack

Vie owns Vie’s Beach.  You drive up, park near Vie's Snack Shack, and pay $2.50 per person to enter the beach along Hansen Bay.  Vie’s is also known for good hospitality and local food.  So, since we’d already hiked and snorkeled around Waterlemon Cay that morning, we felt just fine ordering the fried garlic chicken with Johnny Cake (a local favorite consisting of fried bread garnished with honey), plus an order of conch fritters. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Vacation in St. John, USVI

We arrived at our destination:  Sailview Villa, St. John, USVI!

Portland is not a vacation transportation hub.  Direct flights to Hawai’i, Amsterdam, and Chicago are good to have, but here’s how we got to the Caribbean:  Streetcar to coffee shop.  Light rail to PDX.  Boeing 737 to SFO, Boeing 737 to Newark, Boeing 737 to St. Thomas, “Taxi” (shared van with other stops) to Ferry, Ferry to St. John, rental Jeep to villa. 

Great dinner last night at a local spot: Acqua Bistro.   Ready for several days of sun, heat, snorkeling and hiking on an island and sea that consist mostly of a National Park and reserve areas.    

Thursday, January 9, 2014

They're Just Things?

“They’re just things,” is what survivors say when a tornado takes their stuff but leaves Billy, Jr.

While many items are “just things,” other possessions are not just things because they conjure memories.  And it’s not just the Mother’s Day gift little Billy lovingly made at age 6.  It surprises me all the common items that can tickle the heart, boost pride, and remind a person of good people and happy times.  

Emptying my home of 20 years brings this to mind. 

You know the concept, “low-hanging fruit?”  Well, when the goal is to get rid of stuff, I first grabbed the “low-hanging turds:” out-of-fashion clothing, the coffee maker that worked 90% of the time, contents of the junk drawer . . . .

But the shoes above may or may not make it to the new home. 

They’re old.  I bought them in the year 2000, Thanksgiving weekend to be precise.  They are extremely functional for puddley Portland:  note how the rubber soles wrap up the sides.  They are pretty comfortable.  See the scoop where the ankle might otherwise rub?  I would not hike for miles in them, but for dashing in and out of stores, coffee shops, and restaurants on a rainy weekend, they are perfect.

You see, Allyson and I met in September 1999.  That year, we spent a fantastic Thanksgiving weekend in Victoria, British Columbia.  Canada is a good place to spend Thanksgiving, because our friendly neighbors do not celebrate the holiday, so nothing is closed.  Back then, the exchange rate was 20% in our favor.  Plus, those foreigners speak English!  We returned to Canada in 2000, this time Vancouver, BC.

It was another great weekend. It rained. We dashed in and out coffee shops, restaurants and stores, where I found the perfect shoes for another perfect weekend.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The First Hurrah

Friday evening, Ellen visited the condo.  She’s a good friend.  She decorated her cute vintage home mostly with vintage and second-hand items, and it is perfect.  So, we were hoping to get the benefit of her keen decorator’s eye on what to do with our room, because, honestly, we live in one big room for kitchen, living and den. 

After chatting for awhile, we walked a couple of blocks to dinner at Irving Street Kitchen.  Along the way, Ellen commented on how living around here could be expensive.  Allyson’s comment was, perhaps, right on, “It’s our first hurrah.” 

We are beginning to learn where the happy hour deals are.  We are finding new places.  And there is no excuse for eating out when a Safeway is just two blocks away and Whole Foods in between here and the office.  But those first couple of weeks, it’s been a pleasure to just go to some of the nearby landmark places we know.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Okay, I will "go by streetcar."

Tonight, after work,

This morning, I caught the streetcar on the corner of NW Johnson and 11th, which got me close to a city office about 30 blocks away.  Looking east from that corner, I can see the Italian Renaissance Tower of the 1896 Union Station, with its sign, “Go By Train.” Looking north, I see the “Go By Streetcar” sign on the Street Car lofts. 
Someone else's picture; not quite my view.

The rest of the day, I walked.  I walked drom that city office about 10 blocks to my office.  From my office, I walked to my bank, the mall for walking shoes, the ATT store twice, and another store.  After work, I walked over a mile home.  Then, a quick walk to the grocery store and back. 

I did not make it to 24 Hour Fitness.  But today, I suffer no guilt because I got moving without the aid of a machine.  Plus, I breathed fresh, cool air, and enjoyed the sights and sounds of our little city. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New year, new circumstances.

We started our day along the Wind River, in Washington state after blasting in the New Year with Tim and Michelle.  It was an eventful 2013, with the biggest change being a move out of my home for the past 20 years into a condo in the Pearl District. 

After some coffee, we headed to Trout Lake to check on our house.  It needed checking.  When we last dashed out, sometime in September, we expected to return in a couple of weeks instead of over three months.  We expected the unkempt appearance outside: dead flowers and pine needles covering the walkway.  

We did not expect the chill indoors.  40 degrees, because we forgot to leave the furnace on.  Thank goodness a neighbor entered the home and turned off the water a couple of months ago.  But we found some ice in one of the toilets, and it looks like we will need some minor fix up in the commode.  Also, the smoke alarms were tweeting, but the hardware store was not open to sell us batteries.  So, they will continue to tweet for a while longer.  

Next, we need to clean out the Portland house and list it for sale, while we shop for condo furnishings.