The town of Astoria, Oregon is located where the mighty Columbia River meets the sea. Lewis and Clark ended their famous journey near there and it has been for many decades since a center of trade and a fishing town. Today huge freighters from China and Japan navigate up the river to ports in Oregon and Washington. In recent years it has also become a haven for artists of all types, microbreweries, good eating, and great coffee.
On our recent three day prime number anniversary trip (19 years is a way more interesting number than 20), my husband and I celebrated right ON the river at the Cannery Pier Hotel, built on the site of an old salmon cannery when the fishery was in its heyday. Rather than do the usual touristy things like the museums and historical points, we were happy to sit and watch the boats go by our room,
watch the sea birds, walk or ride a cruiser bike (provided by the hotel) along the Astoria Riverwalk, a 6-mile path which was formerly an old railroad bed and explore some of the quirky shops in town.
A highlight was Vintage Hardware. I love old junk and was very happy exploring the many nooks and crannies of this shop.
I-phone out, I am always looking for interesting patterns to document….
Then don’t forget the great beer and the Buoy Brewery where you can get your favorite brew canned on the spot and watch sea lions through a plexiglass floor.
If you ever get to Oregon or live here as I do, don’t miss Astoria. It’s a gem.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. – Mark Twain
Don’t refuse to go on an occasional wild goose chase; that’s what wild geese are for. –Henry S. Haskins
I became a risk taker in late in my late teens. A depression had settled over me and thoughts of suicide sometimes crossed my mind. Then it occurred to me that rather than do something so unimaginative like throwing myself off a bridge, I might as well live my life with abandon if I was that disposable.
My inner compass did not consider this as a license to make stupid choices like getting addicted to drugs or criminal behavior. Rather I decided to take risks and see what life could offer me in the realm of adventure. My first step was to extract myself from my miserable high school experience. I graduated from high school early and started attending my local community college- a total liberating experience.
Travel… many write about their journeys to far flung places but what about the return? How does one re-enter gracefully after days from home and hours in transit? Last night I returned from a week in Alaska on the heels of a three-week trip to Ireland and tried to get my bearings.
When I opened the door
It was like revisiting a book I had set aside
Trying to remember the plot and the main character,
Myself, and my part in the story
Piles of unopened mail, weeds in the garden
A routine obscured by recent memories
How do I continue in my role?
Do I rewrite my destiny or carry on as it was written?
I lay down on the couch exhausted,
Wrapping my arms around the soft, safe fur of my dog
I traveled to the small village of Ballycastle, Ireland in early June to take a week-long printmaking workshop at the Ballinglen Arts Foundation. The instructor, Ron Pokrasso is from Santa Fe, New Mexico. It would have been a cheaper option to take the class in “Beyond Monotype” at his home studio but I have been to Santa Fe numerous times and was looking forward to exploring new territory. Since I love Irish music & culture and loathe hot weather, Ireland seemed like an ideal location.
Travel for the sake of travel is not my thing (see my post “The Reluctant Traveler”). Wandering around looking at tourist attractions is tedious for me. If I have no other purpose to be there other than being just an observer, I am bored. Give me a sense of purpose and I am engaged. In the past, Spanish language immersions with homestays gave me the opportunity to experience Mexico & Central America on an intimate level.
Then about eight years ago, I realized if I was going to get serious about my art without domestic distractions, I was going to travel away from home and immerse myself in creativity for a good week. I was fortunate to discover Ghost Ranch Retreat Center in N. New Mexico where I have returned most summers to get a creative & spiritual boost. Even though I plan to return there in the future, I am widening my options now to other locations.
It’s been my experience that when I travel with a purpose, not only do I learn more skills, I develop deeper social & cultural connections. There are so many options to chose from in this regard. During this trip, we ran into an enthusiastic group traveling with a knitting and spinning focus. There are trips and classes that are focused on gardening, photography, history, you name it. Next year I hope to go to an Irish music camp in North Carolina.
If you are a reluctant traveler, as I am, or an experienced traveler, consider traveling to creativity in the future. It will definitely add new dimensions to your skill set and give your travel more depth.
I don’t know how you experienced travelers do it. For me to leave on any trip is a challenge, let alone an overseas trip. Here is a glimpse of my reality. The good news is, I am finally here my printmaking workshop at the Ballinglen Art Center, Ballycastle, County Mayo, Ireland.
Travel for humans, for the most part, is a lifestyle choice. We travel the earth to seek & experience, new destinations that pull on our hearts. But humans aren’t the only travelers on this planet. When it comes down to it, we are totally put to shame by those in the animal world where travel is mandatory. For many, the mysterious urge of migration calls some of the earth’s smallest inhabitants to take journeys unfathomable to our minds.
Consider the Arctic Tern who flies from the Arctic to the Antarctic and back every year. Monarch butterflies fly thousands of miles through several generations from regions throughout Canada to one small mountaintop in Mexico to spend the winter. Pacific salmon are born in mountain streams and swim down to the open ocean only to return years later. They travel the hundreds of miles to that very spot where they hatched, to reproduce, & subsequently die. The pull of migration affects tiny hummingbirds, whales, caribou, wildebeest & many other species too numerous to name.
As a trained naturalist, and as I ponder my own motivations for travel, I wonder what it must be like for one of these creatures when one day, they wake up and its time for them to leave? What do they experience when often they must depart the only place they have every known to embark on an unfathomable journey of such physical magnitude?
I wrote this poem thinking of a bird during its first migration & what it might be like….