Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Portland adventure

We arrived at the San Diego train station at 6 am and got on board to take the commuter to L.A.
Once there we were treated special as the had a small area for those who had sleeping berths. We could drink all the coffee or juice we wanted and could get drunk at the bar if we wanted to (it was a thought but it was 10am). The conductor escorted us to the train and the Starlight adventure began.

Now mind you our berth was as big as a closet with our chair converting into bed And a big picture window and with a bunk above. (Guess who got the bunk above)?

After settling in we explored. We found the lounge car that had a 1950's motif. It was wonderful as we could sit in lounge chairs and look out the large picture windows and watch the California coast and the Cascade mountains (as I drank wine, yes, I brought 2 of my own bottles and a nice wine glass. I come prepared!!).

But first things first. I signed up for the wine tasting in the afternoon. And met two of my new friends who became part of my wine drinking posse, Pete and Kevin. What fun they were, Pete had taken this particular Starlight train about 50 times and Kevin rode it back and forth to San Fransisco. They were great wine drinking partners as they taught me what legs and lights are as far as the tasting of wine goes. (I do not care about all the
Pertinatious baloney concerning wine , is it smoky, is it fruity etc. etc. I just like it if it tastes good)!!! And these were California/Oregon wines we tasted which were just so so but what could I expect at $5.00 bucks.
But these guys made the wine tasting fun!!! Oh and my husband can't stand wine or even drinking so I make up for him..

Anyway since I brought 2 bottles of my own wine I was completely supplied for the two days on the train to Portland, from the afternoon to the evenings I stayed rather happy. And yes I shared my wine with my new pals. So you see I am not a complete lush!!

The food on the train is really yummy from Steak to Pasta, and a nice breakfast and lunch too. It all comes included with having a berth.

At night time though when sleeping time came what another adventure. Of course hubby got the bottom bed and I rolled up into the top bunk (imagine a tubby middle aged chick trying to get to the top bunk after drinking with her buddys) which was more like a board. Of course you have to belt yourself in if you don't want to roll off. And I do mean belt yourself in as it's like a suitcase strap. I rolled back and forth in our little closet room. By 3 am I had enough and took the lap top to the lounge to play games.

On the next day it was more wine tasting and more of my good wine I had brought along. It was one big party all day long with all my new friends. Now imagine for two days I have sat in front of pictures windows watching the California Beach coast that the usual tourist will never see by car and going over the top of the Cascade Mountains. What made it so spectacular was we hit a snow storm in the Cascades. We watched the snow drift down and it was so exciting for us as my husband and I are desert rats.

We finally got into Portland at 8pm (about 5 hours late but who was counting). Although let me tell you I was happy happy happy after being at the wine tasting ect. We found our Victorian house we were staying in and it was so wonderful as we stayed in the attic apartment and it was all angles and wonderful views. And now the adventure in Portland began.

We stayed in an Area Called the Hawthorne district. It's blocks and blocks of painted ladies.
Not only that we had a spectacular park one block away. Everyday we took long walks and I took pictures of houses. And if you go down a few streets wonderful little stores with local cheeses and wines. Although I am an idiot as I was so into the tipping scene that when the man who was allowing the tasting of wines finished I dropped a tip into the bucket. Yes, you guessed it the spitting bucket. Talk about feeling like a hick!!! Poor guy fished it out and said he'd dry it off.

But I wanted to see the country side and if it meant tasting wine Yahoo.... So I called Eco Tours and they came to the door and picked me up. My new buddies were some ladies that were teachers and a doc. They were my wine tasting buddies for the day.

We were so fortunate as the sun was shinning. The tour consisted of
award-winning Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Riesling wines while our driver guided us through the rolling hills of the picturesque Williamette Valley.We went to four wineries and saw the step-by-step tour of the wine-making process. (Think of I love Lucy but much more upscale). This was a blast even if I had a cold. It was a day of slugging down cough syrup followed by chasers of wine.
It took me all day but I finally found a Chardonnay I loved and had to buy it...
(Oh and again hubby hates wine so it was just me on the tour)
Anyway I arrived back at the victorian about 7pm that night. The happy part was the hubby had made a whole Mexican dinner for the daughter in law, baby, son and the other in laws. So
I pleasantly in a wine haze met the new in laws and saw the new grand baby . Thank goodness for husbands who can cook and entertain without the wife...

Later in the week we went on another tour of down town Portland. I have to say this city has it pulled together. Not only is it a promoter of being green it is so organized and completely artistic. Everywhere you look there is an art piece on the streets or side walks. Many walk, bike, or take the public transportation. Many do not own cars and the city provides for that. They have key cars. You go on line reserve a car in the downtown area and you are given a code. You can rent it for a couple of hours. The car is filled with gas. And you can go off and take care of those everyday necessities such as going to Wal-Mart for toilet paper or groceries if need be.
I would love to live in this city but of course I would have to be willing to live with rain for 7 months solid. Not sure if I am ready for that.

Anyway we had a spectacular time all week. Then it was time to get back on the train and start the process of going to wine tastings for the next two days and being spoiled with great service.
I love Oregon and I love riding the Starlight Train it's the only way to travel if you like traveling stress free and have lots of time to enjoy life.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Get out of your Box in your 50's

I am finally back to creating my dollies after spending a year up in the mountains by myself.

Why did I spend a year up in the mountains? At 54 I decided I wanted to get out of my box of the same ole same ole in my little bitty world...

I went up there as a customer in the summer of 2007 and decided to stay on and work in the office for the winter. I have lived in the Southern California Desert my whole life and have never seen it snow. So this year I wanted to actually see the seasons change.

And I got my wish when on Feb. 14th we had a snow storm to the point that we actually got snowed in and the freeway between San Diego and Imperial Valley was shut down with 300 motorist being stranded and having to be rescued. It was the most beautiful experience to see the snow coming down and I was jumping up and down

at getting to have a new experience at my age.

While living in the RV camp I got be friends with the most independant woman named Judy.

She was in her 60's and had sold everything and lived in her 38 ft. Motor home with two slides. She made me see how strong women can be and how a man is not always necessary. It's all in the attitude and whether a woman can learn to live with out a man... Don't get me wrong I have a darn good husband but at least I have learned that if he drops dead in the future I do not have to feel like I have to have a man in my life to fulfill myself.

Judy has traveled every where with a goup of gals called the Winds. They are all older women that travel together in their RV's. And most all have become extremely independent and chose not to live their lives in one place but to see the United States and live for their own lives and not like whiny old women that talk about their illnesses to get attention or at the whim of their grown children or grandchildren. It was a real revelation for me considering how helpless my Grandma acted was when she was alive or how Dependent I see my husbands Mother on her Children instead of having her own life and friends. I Have to say Judy really woke me up as far as what one can do with their lives when they become older.

Just like the poem says, When I am old I shall wear a Red Hat with purple dress and learn to spit...In our older life we need to release our selves to enjoy all the things we might have missed out on because of family and life responsibilies.

If anything ever did happen to my husband I am out of this stick house I live in. I have learned that homes are nothing but work and a drain on one's life. I plan on selling everything and hitting the road. Living in an RV is so simplified. You get rid of all the stuff you spend a life time accumulating and believe me it's just stuff!!! And what a sigh of relief I would feel if I could get rid of all these things surrounding me that do nothing but collect dust bunnies. Since I have come back home once again I feel like it's a never ending cycle of cleaning this and cleaning that, washing this and washing that. I will always look back on last year with real fondness.

But not only that I got out of my little world. I was so protected before I lived in the mountains last year and when I lived in the camp I met some of the most sub culture type of characters that worked in the camp as seasonal work ampers. (I will save those particular characters for another story). I have to say some of my experiences really toughed me up. I even had a married woman come on to me and at the time I was shell shocked because this was so out of my relm of life but now realize that I can see life with a broader view point. And even though at the time I was embarressed about the situation it's now a good story for a laugh with the girl friends.

Plus one of the best experiences was picking up my boyfriends for companionship. Well that's what I call my two dogs I got at the San Diego Central Shelter. One is a shit zu and the other is a cockapoo. I just love these boys and we went on lots of long walks on trails that wound through the RV camp.

Plus we had a cart that we also went on long rides in to see all the wild life and flowers.

But I am back to reality again and once again trying to gain an audience for my dollies. The economy is in the dumper and all my old customers are long gone but it's been fun to start over again even if I get low prices since I am gaining new customers. I am looking forward to this year in determination to climb that hill again as far as my creations.

Signed The mountain woman from last year...