March 22, 2018

Olympic Peninsula Trip - Day Eleven

Wednesday, September 27, 2017
Port Townsend, WA to Brinnon, WA
Distance: 40 miles
Campground: Dosewallips State Park
Cost per Night: $35
Site #5
Duration: 3 nights
Departure Weather: 70 degrees and sunny

We had another pretty sunrise over the mountains. It was such a serene morning, sitting by the water, listening to gentle sound of the waves lapping against the rocks. What a life!

Mount Baker was much more visible than previous days.

Mount Rainier is showing her glory, too.

The fall colors were just beginning to appear and the morning light on the marina and the buildings in town was so beautiful. Is there a morning "golden hour?"

I really didn't want to leave this lovely area! The view from our bed was almost perfect. Next time, we'll try to get a spot closer to the shore (or turn our trailer so the dinette faces the water).

There's Mount Baker!

The drive was very quick, taking only an hour. The fall colors were so pretty, but next year we should try to arrive a week later in order to see them in their full glory. We never go very far without making a stop to admire the view! 

Or get shots of the cute trailer, manly truck and handsome husband. :)

We arrived at our campsite, which was situated at the far end of the campground, on a loop with five RV sites and five small cabins. The asphalt-paved sites have a generous amount of space between one another and the campground is full of trees and shrubbery, providing plenty of shade. We loved our site since we didn't have anyone behind us and had a nice grassy area, backing up to a dry creek bed, as well as the pad for the picnic table. We also had a fire ring (a bundle of wood & kindling was available to purchase for $6 at the ranger station), which we used every night. The road into the park was right behind us and Hwy. 101 was alongside our loop, but we weren't bothered by the road noise. It was actually fun to watch the new arrivals driving into the park, giving us a chance to check out all the various RVs & travel trailers. Our very level site was equipped with water and power and the dump station was nearby, behind the ranger station. The restrooms and token-operated showers were within walking distance and very clean. 

We arrived mid-week, so there were lots of empty sites and the campground was very peaceful. The night before we departed, the park filled up with a lot of people getting away for the weekend and we noticed a lot more children. It still wasn't noisy and it was fun to watch the little kids riding their bikes around the park. With a very slow speed limit, it's a perfect place for kids to play and ride. Quiet hours are 10:00 pm to 6:30 am and generator hours are 8:00 am to 9:00 pm. 

After getting settled, we walked down to the Dosewallips River. I spotted an eagle nest up in one of the trees, but it was empty. I made a mental note to return with the Olympus camera on my return walk.

The salmon were spawning and there were dozens of the dead fish all along the shore. It smelled terrible and was rather depressing. Neither Rod or I had ever seen salmon spawning, but it's their life cycle and just part of nature. Thankfully, our campsite was far enough away so we weren't bothered by the nasty odor!

You can't see it, but there was a fair amount of elk poop in the grassy area behind our site. Apparently, there's a resident herd of Roosevelt Elk that we were hoping to see during our visit.

Note: Those are just small pine cones in the foreground. :)

Pretty sweet spot with my dad and stepmom camping beside us with their Airstream motorhome (and cute little Smartcar).

Our home away from home. Life is good!

March 21, 2018

Wordless Wednesday

McMinnville, Oregon
March 2018

A wonderful lunch date with a blogmate (Robin @ A Fondness for Reading)!

For more Wordless Wednesday, click here.

March 19, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Well, I managed to finish two books this week. I loved both of them and will eventually get reviews posted, but for now just know that they are both winners. This Is How It Always Is will wind up on my Top Ten list for the year and The Soul of the Octopus is sure to make the Honorable Mention list. 

After I finished Frankel's outstanding novel, I picked up On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan. It's a slim book and one that I've been meaning to read for several years. When I discovered that the movie is due out later this year, I decided it was time to read the novel. I began very late last night and was immediately pulled into the story. I do so love McEwan's writing!

I'm still enjoying The Great Alone (on audio), but only listened for a little bit this past week while I was out running errands. I'm really hoping that once the weather improves, I'll get outside for longer walks so I can fit in more listening time. I miss listening to books on a regular basis and this one is really holding my interest.

What about you? Are you reading anything wonderful?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? (#IMWAYR) is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It’s a place to meet up and share what you have been, are, and about to be reading over the week. It’s a great post to organize yourself. It’s an opportunity to visit and comment, and er… add to that ever-growing TBR pile! This meme started with J Kaye’s Blog and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at Book Date.

Last Week's Posts: 

Wordless Wednesday - Yaquina Bay Bridge

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Looking Back - Bird by Bird

March 16, 2018

Looking Back - Bird by Bird

Looking Back... In an effort to transfer my book journal entries over to this blog, I'm going to attempt to post (in chronological order) an entry every Friday. I may or may not add extra commentary to what I jotted down in these journals.

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
1995 Anchor (first published January 1st 1994)
Finished in August 1997
Rating: 4/5 (Very Good)

Publisher's Blurb:

"Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he'd had three months to write. [It] was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother's shoulder, and said. 'Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.'"

With this basic instruction always in mind, Anne Lamott returns to offer us a new gift: a step-by-step guide on how to write and on how to manage the writer's life. From "Getting Started,' with "Short Assignments," through "Shitty First Drafts," "Character," "Plot," "Dialogue." all the way from "False Starts" to "How Do You Know When You're Done?" Lamott encourages, instructs, and inspires. She discusses "Writers Block," "Writing Groups," and "Publication." Bracingly honest, she is also one of the funniest people alive.

If you have ever wondered what it takes to be a writer, what it means to be a writer, what the contents of your school lunches said about what your parents were really like, this book is for you. From faith, love, and grace to pain, jealousy, and fear, Lamott insists that you keep your eyes open, and then shows you how to survive. And always, from the life of the artist she turns to the art of life.

My Original Notes (1997):

A very funny book! "Some instructions on writing life." I enjoyed it for the most part, especially when she talked about how to write about your family and history. I'm not interested in writing a novel for publication, however, Bird by Bird is still very enjoyable. Laugh out loud funny. Rod also read it and kept laughing. Makes me want to sit at my computer and write about my life.

My Current Thoughts:

This is one that I'd like to read again. I've read a few others of Lamott's and she can be a bit crass, but I like her messages. I'll have to remember this one when I'm in need of a good laugh.

March 15, 2018


Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
2016 Alfred A. Knopf
Finished on July 5, 2017
Rating: 2/5 (Fair)

Publisher's Blurb:

A novel of breathtaking sweep and emotional power that traces three hundred years in Ghana and along the way also becomes a truly great American novel. Extraordinary for its exquisite language, its implacable sorrow, its soaring beauty, and for its monumental portrait of the forces that shape families and nations, Homegoing heralds the arrival of a major new voice in contemporary fiction.

Two half-sisters, Effia and Esi, are born into different villages in eighteenth-century Ghana. Effia is married off to an Englishman and lives in comfort in the palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle. Unbeknownst to Effia, her sister, Esi, is imprisoned beneath her in the castle's dungeons, sold with thousands of others into the Gold Coast's booming slave trade, and shipped off to America, where her children and grandchildren will be raised in slavery. One thread of Homegoing follows Effia's descendants through centuries of warfare in Ghana, as the Fante and Asante nations wrestle with the slave trade and British colonization. The other thread follows Esi and her children into America. From the plantations of the South to the Civil War and the Great Migration, from the coal mines of Pratt City, Alabama, to the jazz clubs and dope houses of twentieth-century Harlem, right up through the present day, Homegoing makes history visceral, and captures, with singular and stunning immediacy, how the memory of captivity came to be inscribed in the soul of a nation.

Generation after generation, Yaa Gyasi's magisterial first novel sets the fate of the individual against the obliterating movements of time, delivering unforgettable characters whose lives were shaped by historical forces beyond their control. Homegoing is a tremendous reading experience, not to be missed, by an astonishingly gifted young writer.

I read Homegoing for my new book club here in Oregon and had I read it simply for my personal enjoyment, I don't think I would've finished (or even read past page 50). The structure of the book deals with two branches of one family for a total of seven generations. Each chapter reads like a short story and while they are all loosely connected, there is no sense of cohesiveness when one reaches the final page. There were a few chapters that I enjoyed more than others and I found myself wishing for more time with those characters, but they disappeared once their chapter concluded. Maybe this would be a good book to read in a literature class, but I was confused about who was who and how they were related to the people in previous chapters. 

The members of my book group were somewhat divided about their reaction to the book and although we had a decent discussion, there were a few who didn't chime in and I wonder if they even read the book. One member said she read one side of the family's story first, then went back and read the other side's story. She said it was less confusing that way.

Homegoing was less than satisfying, but I am in the minority as it has received numerous awards and was a favorite with a lot of my blogging friends.

American Book Award (2017), PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize Nominee for Shortlist (2017), Audie Award for Literary Fiction & Classics (2017), Dylan Thomas Prize Nominee for Longlist (2017), National Book Critics Circle Award for John Leonard Prize (2016), The Center for Fiction First Novel Prize Nominee for Shortlist (2016), Andrew Carnegie Medal Nominee for Fiction (2017), Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Historical Fiction (2016), Alabama Author Award - Fiction (2017).

March 14, 2018

Wordless Wednesday

Yaquina Bay Bridge
Newport, Oregon
March, 2018

For more Wordless Wednesday, click here.

March 12, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

I don't know about you guys, but last week flew! Honestly, where did the time go?!

I didn't finish a single book, but I'm getting close to the end of The Soul of an Octopus. I'll probably finish just in time for my book club meeting on Thursday. 

I was able to renew my library copy of This Is How It Always Is, which made me very happy since it's such a wonderful book and I'd really hate to have to return it without finishing. (I'd probably wind up ordering it online so I could continue reading. Did I mention how good it is??)

I haven't had much time to listen to my audio book (The Great Alone), but I've enjoyed what I've listened to so far. Now that the weather is improving, I should be able to start walking outside again, which means more listening time.

What about you? Are you reading anything wonderful?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? (#IMWAYR) is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It’s a place to meet up and share what you have been, are, and about to be reading over the week. It’s a great post to organize yourself. It’s an opportunity to visit and comment, and er… add to that ever-growing TBR pile! This meme started with J Kaye’s Blog and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at Book Date.

Last Week's Posts: 

H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald

Wordless Wednesday - Boiler Bay

A Month in Summary - February 2018

Looking Back - Refuge

March 9, 2018

Looking Back - Refuge

Looking Back... In an effort to transfer my book journal entries over to this blog, I'm going to attempt to post (in chronological order) an entry every Friday. I may or may not add extra commentary to what I jotted down in these journals.

Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place by Terry Tempest Williams
1992 Vintage
Read in August 1997
Rating: 3/5 (Good)

Publisher's Blurb:

In the spring of 1983 Terry Tempest Williams learned that her mother was dying of cancer. That same season, The Great Salt Lake began to rise to record heights, threatening the herons, owls, and snowy egrets that Williams, a poet and naturalist, had come to gauge her life by. One event was nature at its most random, the other a by-product of rogue technology: Terry's mother, and Terry herself, had been exposed to the fallout of atomic bomb tests in the 1950s. As it interweaves these narratives of dying and accommodation, Refuge transforms tragedy into a document of renewal and spiritual grace, resulting in a work that has become a classic. 

My Original Notes (1997):

Pretty good, but not great. Depressing topic - multigenerational cancer deaths due to radioactive fallout in Utah. I actually enjoyed the book when it dealt with the family and Mormon issues, but got bored with the ornithology and Great Salt Lake issues. I skimmed some of those. Rod read it, too, and enjoyed it.

My Current Thoughts:

I only have a vague recollection of this book and I'm sure I picked it up after hearing about the author in my Great Plains Lit class. I might enjoy it more now than I did back then.

March 8, 2018

A Month in Summary - February 2018

Little Whale Cove
Depoe Bay, Oregon
February 2018

Last month's summary seemed to be a big hit since I didn't just talk about the book I read, but I also included the shows & movies we watched, plus the puzzles we worked on. I've decided to continue with that format again this month. Hopefully, it won't be too long. It rained a lot in February, so we watched a lot of shows in the evening!

Books Read in February:

Promise Me, Dad by Joe Biden

The Heart's Invisible Furies by John Boyne

Need to Know by Karen Cleveland

News of the World by Paulette Jiles (second reading)

The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett

The Force of Nature by Jane Harper

First Lines:

The days were getting shorter, so the light in the sky had started to fall away when the gate to our temporary home swung open and our motorcade edged beyond the fencing that surrounded the United States Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C. (Promise Me, Dad)

Long before we discovered that he had fathered two children by two different women, one in Drimoleague and one in Clonakilty, Father James Monroe stood on the alter of the Church of Our Lady, Star of the Sea, in the parish of Goleen, West Cork, and denounced my mother as a whore. (The Heart's Invisible Furies)

I stand in the doorway of the twins' room and watch them sleep, peaceful and innocent, through crib slats that remind me of bars on a prison cell. (Need to Know)

Captain Kidd laid out the Boston Morning Journal on the lectern and began to read from the article on the Fifteenth Amendment. He had been born in 1798 and the third war of his lifetime had ended five years ago and he hoped never to see another but now the news of the world aged him more than time itself. (News of the World)

At Windsor it was the evening of the state banquet and as the president of France took his place beside Her Majesty, the royal family formed up behind and the procession slowly moved off and through into the Waterloo Chamber. (The Uncommon Reader)

Later, the four remaining women could fully agree on only two things. One: No one saw the bushland swallow up Alice Russell. And two: Alice had a mean streak so sharp it could cut you. (The Force of Nature)

Movies & TV Series:

Broadchurch - We finished Season 3, which I thought was anti-climatic. Of all three seasons, the first was the best and now there's no more to come. I'm so sad. I miss this great duo, so I may have to watch the whole thing all over again. 

I'm not sure I'm ready to see David Tennant return as Kilgrave in the new season of Jessica Jones. Kilgrave is one creepy dude!

Endeavor - Once we finished Broadchurch, we moved on to more of Endeavor (Seasons 2, 3 and part of 4). This is a great show, but at times, I can't even keep up with the subtitles (we always enable them for British shows - ok, who am I kidding, we use them for everything!). The dialogue moves very quickly and as the episode wraps up, it feels rather convoluted and somewhat contrived. Still, great acting and very entertaining.

Vera - I've started watching Vera with my mom (who is watching it for the second time) and have only seen Season 1, Episodes 1 & 2. I like the fact that Vera is frumpy and enjoys her whiskey, but she is pretty coarse and loud. My husband, who was upstairs in the loft working on an editing project, asked what all yelling was about. I told him that's just Vera. ;) I'm not hooked yet, so maybe I'll try some of the books (by Ann Cleaves) before I watch any more. It may just be one of those series that takes a little time getting in the groove of the main characters.

Goodbye, Christopher Robin - We all watched this movie and thought it very good. I found it fascinating to learn how the Winnie-the-Pooh books came to be and how it affected Milne's young son. I think it would be fun to read the books again as an adult. I'm sure I read The House at Pooh Corner to my daughter, but that was almost 30 years ago!

Wonder - What can I say. This is a fantastic book, which I wrote about here. The movie was equally as impressive, although it came across more as a "feel-good" movie than R.J. Palacio's powerful book, written for young readers, but loved by all generations across the world. I was a little surprised that Auggie's appearance in the movie didn't reflect what I pictured after reading the book, finding his disfigurement not as severe as the author depicted. Overall, the movie was both informative and entertaining, but read the book. It's much better!

Victoria & Abdul - What a delightful film. I love Judi Dench in everything I've seen her in and she was a perfect queen! I don't know much about Queen Victoria and after reading this article from Vanity Fair, I'm interested in reading more about her life in the palace. 

Dead Again - Hmmm. Emma Thompson is another favorite actress of mine, so when my mom rented this dvd, I was eager to watch it. I liked it, but thought it was bizarre and melodramatic. 

Darkest Hour - Gary Oldman was outstanding as Churchill, but we have also recently watched Dunkirk and Churchill, so this latest film was not quite as riveting as I had hoped for. 

Coming Soon!!:

I just watched the trailer for this movie and can not wait to see it!! There is no U.S. release date, so I think I might have time to reread the book and refresh my memory. It has been a decade (!!) since I last read it.

And then there's this, which I know nothing about, but it looks wonderful! Oh, wait. I read this book (by Penelope Fitzgerald) many years ago and as I recall, I didn't care for it. But the movie looks quite good.


A dear friend of mine sent me this puzzle and at first glance, I was pretty sure it would prove to be impossible! None of the pieces are "traditional" in the sense of any puzzle I have ever worked on. It doesn't have 500 pieces or 1,000 pieces, but rather 527 pieces! Even assembling the edges, which is usually a task I'm eager to finish first, was a major feat. We swore (as we always do) that there must be several pieces missing--or on the floor--or hidden by my husband! But in the end, they were all there and this wound up to be one of my favorites and I'm eager to try another like it. This particular puzzle is Interior of the Pantheon, Giovanni Paolo Panini by Liberty Puzzles (Classic Wooden Jigsaw Puzzles). The pieces are cut out of thick wood and there are dozens of shapes resembling people and objects. What fun!

Once we finished that puzzle, we were sure this one would be easy. Ha! I don't remember how long it took, but we struggled!

We ended the month with a dusting of snow. The nighttime temps dropped down in the high 20s, so we cancelled our week-long camping trip to Brookings. Fingers crossed that the weather continues to warm up through March, as we're planning a three-week-long road trip to Northern California at the end of the month.