Montana/PNW trip, Oregon

Central Oregon, May 25, 2016

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I’m so glad that we chose to go east of the Cascades for a couple of days. My heart wanted to do the Oregon Coast, but Sandy saw the word “Fossil” and that was it for him, and since I had planned most of the vacation I had no problem letting him take over the direction of our trip. It is funny because the only fossils we saw were in display cases, but the day was amazing anyway!

Central Oregon is full of wheat fields, wind farms, rolling hills, mountains, cliffs, volcanic geology, dry plains, conifer forests, long highways, small towns and very little traffic and population. I could easily see myself settling on this side of the Cascades, maybe closer to the Columbia River because I don’t want us to be TOO isolated, but the artistic inspiration for me here would be endless.

We drove southeastward on Highway 206 through Cottonwood Canyon State Park to Condon, where we stopped for gas, water, and a little shopping where Sandy bought me MORE clothes. That man loves to dress me up. Then we took Highway 19 south.

In Fossil, we needed to make the choice of which John Day Fossil Beds National Monument location we would visit. We only had time to do one. After talking to the employees in a coffee shop, we continued on Hwy 19 to Service Creek, turned southwest on Hwy 206, and on to the Painted Hills off Hwy 26.

In some places there were windmills as far as the eye could see.

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At one vista pullover, you could see the mountains in the distance while standing on a circle that identified them.

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Perhaps my favorite photo of the whole trip:

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Montana/PNW trip, Oregon, Pacific beaches

Oregon, May 23-24, 2016

We saw our friends off on Sunday and Monday and Pam was kind enough to let us stay another night at her cabin while we figured out what we wanted to do next. Our only plan was to return to Portland on Thursday night, when our car rental was over. I wanted at least one more day on the coast. We cleaned and did laundry at the Livermore House and headed south to Manzanita to have lunch at the Big Wave Cafe on Hwy 101. I needed some fried halibut before I left the coast. We drove a bit further south and poked around a few shops in the little town of Nehalem, then went back to Pam’s cabin, said goodbye to her, and caught the sunset over the ocean one last time. I finished weaving my sample, although later I went back and unwove part of it and altered it.


On Tuesday, the weather forecast was excellent so we decided to drive up the Columbia Gorge, spend the night on the east side of the Cascades, then drive several hours farther southeast to the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. We stopped on Alberta St. in Portland on the way to have a piece of pie and explore a few stores there. I took a photo of this house because I think that the colors might be nice for our Craftsmen house when we paint the exterior.

Then we stopped at Multnomah Falls. I did walk on that bridge, but I got off quickly. I hope that I’ll be able to go back and hike to some of the other falls along here one day.

We turned south at the Dalles, and ironically, just after the sign stating that we had left the national scenic area, there was this view of Mount Hood. And I began to fall in love with central Oregon. Maybe it’s because that I grew up in the swamps that I love hilly dry country with lots of sky.

When we got to the tiny town of Dufur, we reached our destination for the night. We were the only guests on a Tuesday night at the Balch Hotel, a lovingly restored hotel built in 1907. We had cheeseburgers at the saloon across the road, then settled in to the former “Ladies Sitting Room,” our bedroom with a view of Mount Hood. The next morning, we had a wonderful breakfast in the hotel which was included. This may have been the best deal on a lovely hotel I’ve ever gotten. The rooms and the grounds were gorgeous.


My view at 5:30 a.m. on Wednesday was this. I picked up my phone and snapped it from our bed, then went back to sleep.

art retreats, Montana/PNW trip, Oregon, Pacific beaches

On the beach at Oswald West State Park

Sandy and I rented the Livermore house about six miles south, and I was determined to get down to the beach there this time. The last time I stayed there my knee was aching and I listened to my body. This time my hip was just going to have to deal with it. Winter storms had washed away the first public access point I found so I drove down to the next one, where I found gratitude for the new stairs.

^^^Tempting, but nope.





The house is nestled in a temperate rainforest on a sea cliff. I wished that I could have one rainy day all day to spend there. What a restful place.

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art retreats, Cannon Beach, Montana/PNW trip, Oregon, Pacific beaches

Pam Patrie’s Creative Retreat, May 2016

Later that afternoon, we arrived at Pam’s cabin where Jeanne and Jenny and Glen had already arrived. It was so great to see them and meet Glen. He and Sandy spent most of Saturday together exploring Lewis and Clark National Park, Fort Stevens and Cannon Beach while the women played with dyes and silk yarns. I painted a second weft to try again at home.

As usual, Pam pampered us with incredible meals. On the first night this lemon pasta dish blew me away. That reminds me, I need to put lemons on my grocery list.

I didn’t take a lot of photos here, but that is a sign of a good retreat for me. I was too caught up in the present moment to pick up the camera, and the hours whizzed by. For more photos of Pam’s retreats from 2014 and 2015, please see these links:

A winding path to the sea

So fresh was the air, like a breath taken from the stars

What beholds a given day, an hour, a moment

Tapestry retreat with Susan Maffei and Archie Brennan at Pam’s Cabin Part I, Part II, and Part III.

The June 2015 Trip to Oregon – Pam’s Place

Astoria, critters, Montana/PNW trip, Oregon, Pacific beaches

Astoria, Oregon, May 19-20, 2016


Sandy and I arrived at the Commodore Hotel in downtown Astoria in the early evening. The Commodore is a restored hotel with tiny rooms and (in our case) bathrooms on the hallway, but big on style and absolutely clean as a whistle. The staff was great. We were offered a glass of local beer before we headed to our room on the second floor, where we had the street view.

Astoria is a big tourist place but it is also one of the oldest towns on the west coast. The Lewis and Clark expedition reached the Pacific Ocean here at the mouth of the Columbia River. Lewis and Clark National Park as well as several historic sites and state parks surround it. There are lots of interesting shops and artists and several breweries here. Our first stop was at Fort George Brewery. I ordered the Plaid Scotch Ale and the Quick Wit. Not my favorites. But we ate dinner at the bar and I pronounced both the Wallapa Bay oysters and the “Buddy Rich” beet and arugula salad the best I ever ate.

The next morning we walked along the harbor. There were a lot of murals. We shopped in a good thrift store and Sandy bought me a beautiful batik tunic from La Luna Loca. We ate lunch on the waterfront at Bridgewater Bistro, where I had the salmon.


Before we left Astoria, we had to go see the sea lions. I was surprised at how big and loud they were. We saw some of the boats that were the subjects of the paintings in the restaurant.

Cannon Beach, Oregon, Portland, tapestry, weaving

We’ll be back

I didn’t do any serious weaving while we were at Pam’s. I played around with color combinations and followed along with her lessons with Susanne, which were very helpful to me too, since I never received any formal training in tapestry. I sketched an idea for another small tree tapestry and came home with many more ideas on the tree theme. I left my “98% Water” tapestry there and Pam is going to mount it for display for me – she is a very kind mentor and friend indeed. On Sunday morning, we packed up our things and waved a sad goodbye to her, with plans already percolating to come back in 2016.

We returned the Beetle to the car rental place, and they joked about charging 25 cents per pine needle stuck to the car. Then we took the train from the airport to downtown Portland, where we checked into the Crystal Hotel. Each room had been decorated with the theme of a song by a singer or band who had performed at the Crystal Ballroom. It seemed as if they knew something about our personalities. Susanne was in Gogol Bordello’s “Wonderlust King” room. I was in Silversun Pickups’ “Lazy Eye” room, with the theme of waiting, something that comes up a lot in my journaling. We loved this historic hotel in the heart of Portland.



We went to Powell’s City of Books, of course, and to Sizzle Pie for slices of pizza with names like “New Maps from Hell.” Their motto was “Death to False Pizza.”

We stood in line at Voodoo Doughnuts for incredible sugar highs.


And, what the hell is this bug that we saw on a Portland sidewalk? It was about an inch and a half long.

Then we got up at 3:30 a.m., caught a plane home, and we are here now.

Cannon Beach, hiking, Oregon, Pacific beaches

Ecola State Park


Susanne said, “What an unfortunate name – sounds like a combination of E coli and ebola.” But it is one of the prettiest beaches on the planet, on the north side of Cannon Beach. We only went to part of it, because it was midday on Saturday and everybody was trying to get in. We didn’t mind waiting in a long line of cars in the cool shade of the woods, but when we heard it was another hour wait to get to Indian Beach, we stopped in this part and hiked down a trail that went to the edge of the sea cliffs and looked down on the beauty below and beyond. Later I learned that Indian Beach is where people go swimming.

Looking back at Cannon Beach and Haystack Rock.




See the fisherman near the bottom of that big rock?


Yeah, it got a bit too steep at this point so we sat and enjoyed the view.


As we were leaving we noticed the fisherman was scampering around that huge boulder near the top like a mountain goat. I took this photo of him at the halfway point down. We waited to make sure that he didn’t kill himself, and he sort of slid down with that pole still in his hand.


We tried to go into Cannon Beach for a late lunch but the traffic and parking situation was so insane I nearly had a panic attack. So we headed south on the Pacific Coast Highway with its stunning views over the ocean and found Big Wave Cafe in Manzanita, where we split a fried seafood platter and I drank a Moose Drool ale, which was much better than it sounds. We loved it!

art retreats, book arts, Focus on Book Arts, Oregon

Focus on Book Arts 2015

On Tuesday evening we left the beach to go to the Focus on Book Arts conference at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon, about a 90 minute trip toward Portland. Pam arranged for us to stay with a friend of hers, Nel Rand, who lives in Cornelius, only about 15 minutes away. So not only did the travel improve, we had the privilege of making a new friend, who is a fabulous artist and writer as well.

Our class, “An Intimate Atlas,” was a three-day map-making experience with Jill Berry. I’ve taken a lot of great book workshops, and this one ranks up there with the most enjoyable I’ve taken. The synergy of the women in the class and the instructor was perfect. There were no whiners and no neurotic meltdowns. Jill gave us techniques and prompts and it was amazing to see what a dozen different women did with the materials. I was already acquainted with some of these from Jill’s book  Personal Geographies, and had done a few of the exercises in a journal. In this class we each made six different maps and a book to contain them as pop-ups! I was surprised at how easy the book structure and pop-ups were to do. Therefore, I HIGHLY recommend this class to anyone who love maps and would like to do a bit of introspective play with watercolors, markers, and stencils.

Jill has an excellent slideshow of all the different maps on her blog post, but here are some photos of just mine.


This was my favorite, based on Wendell Berry’s poem “The Peace of Wild Things,” which was copied on the white paper in white ink and then painted over with a grey wash.


This hand map is about creativity and teachers, the past and the future. It is not quite finished in this photo because I have added names since this was taken.


Here is a travel spread. On the left is my trip to FOBA in a game board format, spiraling into the center. I struggled the most with the heart map, because my heart has been hurting and closed for business lately. I made this “Hearchipelago” of islands places where I have lived and visited that I loved.

A spread of the last two maps – At the left is a map of Marietta, my hometown, circa 1972 or so, of all my hideouts. At the right is a map of our house from Diego and Pablo’s point of view.

The outside cover and spine of the book.


Here are classmates dripping lines onto papers with walnut ink to make the back of our maps. I really loved doing this part.

Susanne and I connected with Judy Strom, who steered us to FOBA in 2011. She is from Montana and we first met at Journalfest in Port Townsend, where we took two classes together. Judy is one of the main reasons I want to visit Montana, because I don’t get to see her enough. She was taking a class in the room next door.

We made another new friend, Kathy Dickerson, who I look forward to spending some time with on another trip to the PNW. Here we are hanging out in Urban Decanter on Main St. of Forest Grove on our last hot (upper 90s!) evening in Forest Grove.

Cannon Beach, fiber art, National Parks and Monuments, Oregon, Pacific beaches

Fort Clatsop, Lewis and Clark National Park

On Monday Pam ran errands so we hopped into our rented baby blue Beetle and headed north up the Pacific Coast Highway to Astoria. I like to visit any national parks nearby when I travel so we went to Fort Clatsop at Lewis and Clark National Park, and had a nice walk under the huge trees.

We drove into Astoria, which has an interesting Finnish heritage that I’d like to learn more about, and a place where I’ve been researching real estate on daydream days. However, given the charts of projected tsunami damage from the overdue big earthquake they expect, I think that I’ll seek higher ground.  I like the idea of being near or on the Columbia River though.

Then we had halibut sandwiches at the Screw and Brew in Cannon Beach (a combination hardware store and pub). They were delicious.  We did a little shopping and found a wonderful fabric store, Center Diamond. I had to force myself to have some self-control there, and I will budget with it in mind when I go back. (Oh dear God, I now see that they have an online store.) When we came back, a group of people were pointing at our car and I feared that it had been damaged, but they were talking about it sparkling in the sun because of the resin that had dripped on it from trees. The pine needles stuck to the resin stayed there throughout several days of driving. Fortunately it all came off at the car wash later that week.

Cannon Beach, critters, Oregon, Pacific beaches

I do love a hole in a rock

I wanted to explore this hole last year but didn’t have the courage. I tend to be clumsy and the rocks are covered with sharp mussels. When I saw a little boy come out of this “cave” I wandered in and found that the rocks were not slick but it was still a challenge to keep my balance. Anyway, I came out unscathed which is pretty good for me, and it was totally worth it. It is between Arcadia Beach State Park and Cannon Beach.

The strange teal to grayish green blobs are sea anemones which blossom underwater.