Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Hodgepodge Questions-Volume 327

I'm in the middle of recapping our trip up the California and Oregon coasts and if you'd like to follow along you'll find them here (Post 1), here (Post 2) and here (Post 3). I'll take a break on Wednesday to host the Hodgepodge, then get back to it Thursday.

In the meantime...here are this week's questions to the Wednesday Hodgepdoge. Answer on your own blog, then hop back here to share answers with the universe. See you there!

1. What does/did Halloween look like at your house this year? Did you decorate? Pick pumpkins? Carve pumpkins? Expect trick or treaters? Wear a costume to a party or event? Make a costume? Feel glad you didn't have to come up with a costume? Cook a Halloween themed treat? Eat all the leftover candy?

2. What are you waiting for? Elaborate

3. Do you wish you were friendlier, braver, more creative, more athletic, or something else? Explain.

4. When it comes time to paint are you a do-it-yourselfer or do you hire someone? What was the last paint job completed at your house? What room most needs painting now? How do you feel about wallpaper?

5. What is one specific thing you felt gratitude for in the month of October?

6.  Insert your own random thought here.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Eureka! (Post #3)

You can read Days 1 and 2 of our trip up the Northern California/Oregon coast here and here

Day 3-Mendocino to Eureka California, 160 miles

We got on the road early Monday morning because we wanted to see Glass Beach at sunrise and also because we were still on East Coast time. Mostly though it was because we wanted to see Glass Beach at sunrise. If you're on Pinterest you've likely seen a photo or a hundred of Glass Beach and it's definitely worth visiting if you're traveling this way. 

I had a wide range of outerwear packed for this trip including a light fleece, a heavy fleece, a light hooded rain jacket, and a warm hooded waterproof jacket as well as gloves, headband, and scarf. I wore everything except the light rain jacket and on this particular morning was happy I had my warm coat. 

The pictures you see on Pinterest make it seem like the colored sea glass is everywhere, and I guess it is, but you do have to hunt for it.  

The beach itself is gorgeous and rocky and the ocean wild. We could not get enough of the crashing Pacific on this trip. The coastline reminds us of New England with its jagged rocks and rough surf, not to mention chilly temps. So pretty! 

We grabbed breakfast in Fort Bragg (the town where Glass Beach sits) in a small but really cute little cafe called Eggheads. This was another favorite of ours, mostly because our server was adorable, but also because the cafe has a Wizard of Oz theme and when you ask where the restroom is located they hand you a giant key and tell you to go out back and follow the yellow brick road. Hubs had Eggs Benedict with a hollandaise made from lime, tequila, and cilantro and it was so good! The portions were large and really hearty, so we skipped lunch this day and never missed it. 

I normally keep my blog photos sized large, but this next bit needs supersizing-

We drove back along the coast until we reached The Avenue of the Giants which is for sure a don't miss stop for anyone driving north. Avenue of the Giants is 31 miles of absolute staggering beauty. Honestly the California Redwoods must be seen to be believed. Words and pictures cannot adequately capture the grandeur and magnificence of these ancient giant trees. 

But of course I'm still gonna try.

There's a map posted at the route's entrance which Josh had suggested we photograph (also available in the visitor's center), and it indicates marked stops along the way. I think we managed to hit them all and possibly a couple that were not on any map. 

That's the beauty of a road trip. You pass something interesting or particularly beautiful that makes you want to take a closer look, so you pull the car over and do just that. We had planned to spend part of Monday and all of Tuesday in the Redwoods which gave us plenty of time to really see and enjoy them. 

You need time here.

You feel small here.

Your soul sings here. 

You wonder for a second if the person who penned How Great Thou Art was standing in the middle of a California Redwood forest. 

He wasn't but you hum it anyway because how great Thou art. 

We made a couple more stops on our continued route up the coast ending the day in Eureka at a Best Western that had a great shower and a person in the next room who watched their television very, very loudly all.night.long. Whyyyyy? 

We had dinner in old town Eureka at a restaurant called Cafe Waterfront which was at one time saloon downstairs, brothel upstairs. I like buildings with interesting stories and this one has retained it's original architecture too so very pretty. The food was good and our waiter was a nice young man who explained the booming 'plant' growth in this part of the country. ahem.  

Actually hubs managed to get his entire life story over the course of dinner being served which is partly why I love him. He's never met a stranger, introduces himself and shakes hands with waiters around the world, and is truly interested in hearing their stories. This trait served us so well on a later stop and I'll write about that here soon. 

Also, there will be more tree pictures because y'all!...the California Redwoods are < insert all the synonyms for amazing here >. 

Sunday, October 29, 2017

The Road to Mendocino (Post #2)

Speaking of roads...the Pacific Coast Highway aka the PCH aka the Coast Road aka the 101 aka about twenty other monikers depending which state you're in and which section you're on was a pleasure to travel. Viewpoints or vistas as they're called are very well marked and many stops have restroom facilities of some sort available too.

My propensity for motion sickness has been well documented here on the blog, and after reading about how winding the coast road was in several sections I wondered if I'd enjoy a week in the car. Hubs has traveled with me a lot so he drove like a regular guy, we had little to no traffic, and we stopped often because there was so much to see. We drove a total of 1057 miles in the course of a week, but broke it down into manageable chunks thanks mostly to the helpful guidelines I found on the blog I mentioned in my previous post, and which is worth mentioning again-California Through My Lens. 

Okay, back to Day 2-San Francisco to Mendocino, 196 miles (If you missed Part 1 click here)

We'd spent a fair amount of time at the Golden Gate Bridge on our way out of San Francisco, and another fair amount of time standing awe struck at the Muir Overlook so by the time we hit Hog Island Bay (near Marshall CA) we were ready for lunch.

Hubs and I both say this little spot was one of our favorite afternoons of the entire trip-Hog Island Oyster Company. It helped that the weather was perfection and the oysters superb.

We shared a dozen pulled right out of the water behind us, along with a cheese plate and a really delicious glass of rose. Honestly we could have stayed right here all day but there were places to go and people to see, case in point this-

Every great road trip includes car snacks and this one lasted us over 1000 miles and across three state lines. Get the caramel and I promise you will not be disappointed. Also get gas because gas is not all that prevalent on the coastal highway. We topped up each morning before traveling to avoid arguing having to hunt for it later.

We carried on northward enjoying the scenery along the way, stopping next at Salmon Creek State Park for our first real up close and personal look at the beautiful Pacific Ocean.

We marveled at how wide the west coast beaches are, and how cold the water is. There were people surfing though because surfers are crazy.

We wanted to make it to the Point Arena Lighthouse before they closed at 4 PM, and we did except on this particular day they had an evening program happening so were closing early. Boo. We couldn't go up in the lighthouse, but were able to walk around the grounds which were rugged and beautiful.

This is where I had my first Sea Lion sighting as they sunned themselves on the rocky ledges down below.

Hubs and I both thought this lighthouse and the point it sits on looked familiar and read later it was used in filming the movie Forever Young with Mel Gibson. If you've seen the movie you'll recognize this spot from the last scene.

We'd been on the road about eight hours at this point and decided to call it a day. We drove into Mendocino where we'd booked a room at the Mendocino Hotel (it was a little tired, but so were we) then walked to dinner at a nice little restaurant called Flow on Mendocino's charming Main Street. Sunset and seafood were the perfect way to wrap up an almost perfect day.

Had I managed to snap a picture of the sunset we could have called it a completely perfect day, but still...

...it was close.


Friday, October 27, 2017

California Dreamin'

We got home late Wednesday evening after spending nearly two weeks on the west coast, and then somehow I'd scheduled a full day and evening of activity for Thursday, which meant grocery shopping and errands Friday morning so here it is Friday afternoon and I've just now finished uploading photos from two cameras onto the computer.  Hi! Come on in and see my vacation pictures!

While I'd never say that in real life, this is blog life so Hi! Come on in and see my vacation pictures!

Hubs and I are determined to see a little bit of the northwestern part of the US while my daughter and her family are living there, and decided this visit we'd drive up the Northern California Coast, follow the shoreline all the way up through Oregon, and then cut over to Tacoma for a few days with our grandson. Hey, when you're in the neighborhood, right?

Not being too familiar with the geography, the distances one can reasonably travel in a day on the coastal roads, or the best places to stop for a night, I began reading and asking questions on the Trip Advisor travel boards. Everyone there was so nice and made me feel less anxious about the fires and our chosen route. We jumped on the coastal road early and had no plans to veer into Napa this time around, so no smoke or fire issues at all on our trek north.

Pinterest was also a great resource and in fact was starting to overwhelm me when I happened upon a fantastic blog called California Through My Lens. Y'all I feel like I need to send this blogger a case of beer or a dozen roses because he had the most wonderful, easy to read, helpful posts on the exact trip we were taking.

His relaxed way of traveling fit with our own relaxed way of traveling and we followed an itinerary very much like the one he followed when he went up the coast and into Oregon. He listed mileage and the hours it took to drive those miles, his favorite stops and some he thought you could skip if you didn't have an endless amount of vacation time, he shared great places to eat that we'd likely never have run across on our own, and best of all he suggested we bring shoes that could get wet (more on that later). Thanks Josh!!

I'm going to post old-school style here with a day by day recap because I've got a lot of pictures and they need to go somewhere. Don't worry... I have a lot of words to balance it out.

Day 1. Which was really Day 2 because Day 1 was a full day of travel from South Carolina to Atlanta to San Francisco. We picked up our rental car and no we didn't opt for a convertible because it's the Pacific Northwest in October and a convertible seemed crazy
even for us. Also, we almost always rent from Hertz, but their prices were double that of Alamo so we went with Alamo and had a great customer experience from start to finish. We stayed at the Courtyard Marriott close to the airport and got on the road bright and early Day 2.

Day 2. San Francisco to Mendocino. Also this post may actually be Day 2 hour one only, because it's already so long and we haven't even gotten on the road yet. Buckle up...

We decided not to spend any time in San Francisco this trip, we've both been to the city and while we'd love to go back and linger there we opted to get on the road early and start making our way north instead. We did stop at the Golden Gate Bridge, because you've got to cross it to get out of town, and also because the sun was shining and we both had that wonderful anything is possible feeling a road trip stirs up in your soul. Road trips are my favorite.

Can you tell it was breezy? We had absolutely gorgeous weather the first five days of our trip, but you will see my hair acting a little crazy in some of our pictures. I just couldn't worry about it so decided might as well embrace it. Also can I just tell you that after 33+ years of marriage hubs has not lost hope that he can improve my sense of direction? He still insists on telling me routes and showing me maps and pointing out where the sun is in the sky until it makes my head spin. We're going north, right? Or 'up' as I like to say. That's basically all I need to know. I was happy I'd ordered honest to goodness laminated maps, the kind you can fold and unfold and hold in your hand and that allow you to see the big picture.

Seeing the big picture helps, on road trips and life in general.

The first stop we made after crossing the bridge was at the Muir Overlook. We almost missed it thanks to a detour, but initially we ignored the detour because we weren't sure it was for us. Turns out it was but if we hadn't driven up the road to check we would have missed this amazing little corner of the world.

Stunning! I will use that word many times in describing both the California and the Oregon Coastlines because it fits.

There are some old base stations here that were set up following the attack on Pearl Harbor to allow soldiers to watch for potential attacks on the San Francisco harbor. They're no longer in use of course, but interesting to see and think about.

The views here are incredible and it was the perfect start to a trip filled with the beauty of creation at every turn.

Okay, next post-Day 2 for real.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

It's A Blog World After All-Hodgepodge Edition

I've been traveling the past two weeks, and need to regroup before I dive back into regular blogging. Whatever regular blogging means? In the meantime, let's hodgepodge. If you've answered this week's questions add your link at the end of my post, then leave a comment for the blogger linking before you.

1. What's surprised you most about your life or life in general?

Many things, but for now I will say how full it is. I guess I imagined the empty nest as truly empty only to discover it's in fact quite the opposite. 

2.  Sweet potato fries, sweet potato casserole, a baked sweet potato, a bowl of butternut squash soup, a caramel apple or a slice of pumpkin pie...you have to order one thing on this list right now. Which one do you go for?

I'm answering these questions close to suppertime on a lovely autumn day so a bowl of butternut squash soup sounds pretty perfect to me. 

3. What's a famous book set in your home state? Have you read it? On a scale of 1-5 (5 is fantastic) how many stars does it rate?

Question-what's my 'home' state? 

Since SC is currently home we'll go with that. There's a famous book set in SC that's near the top of  my 'favorite books ever' list. The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy.  He was a gifted writer and I love everything he's written. I give The Prince of Tides five stars. 

4. There are 60 days until Christmas...have you started your shopping? How do you stay organized for the holidays?

I have one or two little stocking stuffers, but haven't started shopping in earnest just yet. I typically don't begin Christmas shopping until November.   

How do I stay organized for the holidays? Just like Santa...I make lots and lots of lists. I also schedule baking and wrapping days on my calendar, keep a basket in my closet to put gifts in as they're purchased, do most of the decorating Thanksgiving weekend, and my cards soon thereafter. 

It does seem no matter how much you plan there's always a bit of last minute frenzy and you might as well embrace it. One thing that helps me is spending time each day of December in an advent reading plan. This keeps my mind and heart focused on the meaning of the season and I find it easier to let go of some of the craziness and my over the top expectations.

5. October 26th is National Tennessee Day. Have you ever lived or spent any time in Tennessee? Is this a state you'd like to visit one day? The top rated tourist attractions in Tennessee are-

The Great Smoky Mountain National Park (Gatlinburg area), Elvis's Graceland (Memphis), Birth of the Music Biz (Memphis and Nashville), Dollywood (Pigeon Forge), Tennessee's Military Heritage (many battlefields), The Hermitage (Andrew Jackson's home), The Parthenon (Nashville), Oak Ridge American Museum of Science and Energy, Chattagnooa and the Tennessee Valley Railroad, Downtown Knoxville, Lookout Mountain, The Titanic Museum (Pigeon Forge), The Museum of Appalachia (Clinton), and The Lost Sea Adventure (Sweetwater)

How many on this list have you seen? Which one on the list would you most like to see?

I went to uni in Tennessee, got married in Tennessee, and lived in Tennessee as a newlywed so yes I have spent time there. Hubs is a Tennessee boy and still has family there so we're in the Volunteer State pretty often. 

I've seen many of the tourist attractions listed, and since I love historic homes and have never been to The Hermitage that's my choice. I will say if you can only see one thing on the list make it The Great Smoky Mountains. 

No explanation needed. 

6.  Insert your own random thought here.

As I mentioned I've been traveling for the past couple of weeks and have a lot to blog about. One thing I will share here today though because this feels like the right space for it.

I've been blogging for eight years now, and many of the bloggers who were blogging when I started have gone by the wayside. There are a handful though I've 'known' since the early days, who still blog and who I think of as friends even though we've never met in person. 

Carrie (It's Not Easy Being Queen) is one of them. While she's west coast and I'm east coast we've both navigated the world of hard working husbands along side children transitioning from high school to university to full time employment and married life. These days we're both figuring out how to parent adult children and best fill our own empty nests.

On our recent trek up the coast hubs and I were in Portland for one night only and were so happy to have the chance to meet Carrie and her hubby for drinks and dinner. As a bonus her youngest son and daughter-in-law were in town for the weekend so we got to meet them too. So cute!! It was raining buckets, but they kindly picked us up at our hotel and treated us to champagne (of course!) and a fabulous meal at Jakes, a Portland institution. We spent a long relaxed evening chatting like we'd known each other for years. 

Which technically we have. 

Sometimes real life friends freak out when I say I'm meeting someone in person I know only through my blog, but all the bloggers I've met have been people I've emailed and texted with for a long while first. It's never felt the least bit shady-ha! and I've had nothing but wonderful experiences connecting with bloggers in real life. Carrie was exactly how I imagined her to be, and it was so nice to finally put a real life voice with the online voice I've been hearing as I read her blog. 

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Hodgepodge Questions-Volume 326

I've been traveling for the past two weeks and have so much blogging to do because of course you want to see and hear about all 647 pictures I took while trekking west. Ha! Right now I need to regroup so let's kick things off with the Hodgepodge. Here are this week's questions...answer on your own blog then pop back here tomorrow to add your link to the party. See you there!

1. What's surprised you most about your life or life in general? 

2.  Sweet potato fries, sweet potato casserole, a baked sweet potato, a bowl of butternut squash soup, a caramel apple or a slice of pumpkin pie...you have to order one thing on this list right now. Which one do you go for?

3. What's a famous book set in your home state? Have you read it? On a scale of 1-5 (5 is fantastic) how many stars does it rate?

4. There are 60 days until Christmas...have you started your shopping? How do you stay organized for the holidays?

5. October 26th is National Tennessee Day. Have you ever lived or spent any time in Tennessee? Is this a state you'd like to visit one day? The top rated tourist attractions in Tennessee are-

The Great Smoky Mountain National Park (Gatlinburg area), Elvis's Graceland (Memphis), Birth of the Music Biz (Memphis and Nashville), Dollywood (Pigeon Forge), Tennessee's Military Heritage (many battlefields), The Hermitage (Andrew Jackson's home), The Parthenon (Nashville), Oak Ridge American Museum of Science and Energy, Chattagnooa and the Tennessee Valley Railroad, Downtown Knoxville, Lookout Mountain, The Titanic Museum (Pigeon Forge), The Museum of Appalachia (Clinton), and The Lost Sea Adventure (Sweetwater)

How many on this list have you seen? Which one on the list would you most like to see?

6.  Insert your own random thought here.

Monday, October 16, 2017

On Grandparenting

So I'm a grandmother. Well really a Nana or at least I'm trying to be. I quite often call myself Grandma so maybe I should just go with that. I need to figure it out before baby boy starts talking.

Oh he talks, just not in complete sentences yet-ha!

I'm so thankful for technology, and the way it allows me to watch him grow from so many miles away. And of course when his little face pops up on whatever screen we happen to be on I literally want to crawl through the glass and kiss his chubby cheeks in person.

Baby boy loves his chow and I can't wait to make all his favorite foods.

Once he's eating actual food of course, but let's not rush things because these early months are oh so precious. Babies whose age is still counted in weeks literally change before your very eyes. One minute they lack the muscle control needed for smiling and the next minute they're smiling. Life is an absolute miracle and grandparenting reminds you this is so.

Last week Daughter1 and her hubs took their lil' punkin to the pumpkin patch.

You know once upon a time hubs and I took our lil' punkin to the pumpkin patch too. This was back in the day before cell phones took over our lives so we didn't snap a picture until we'd already turned our find into a jack-o-lantern, but the memory is no less sweet.

This photo y'all! Here I'm young and naive about all the ways motherhood will change me, grow me, sanctify, and define me. All I knew for sure was I was head over heels in love with someone I'd met just four months prior.

Grandparenting is like that too, with a cherry on top. You lay eyes on this little person and your heart opens the door wide to a love that feels positively endless. But this new love is layered in all the best ways with your first love. Your child. The one you raised who is now the one raising.

Someone asked me recently what was my favorite thing about being a Nana, and it's many things but mostly it is this-

It's watching the girl who just yesterday sat atop my lap on a front porch stoop mother her very own son. It's watching her find the rhythm of her own life.

It's remembering the sweetness of all the firsts, and how every day I knew her just a little bit better than the day before. It's remembering the wonder I felt as love was multiplied and I'd say to myself, 'what a wonderful world'.  

Some things don't change.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Life And Stuff

My daughter and I were talking about how she had recently gone back and read a blog post written in 2006 by someone who went on to become a very popular blogger. This particular blogger had taken a trip somewhere my daughter plans to visit and she remembered this blogger writing about it.

She told me how much she loved reading the post and how it was written in the format of here's what I did on day one of my vacation and here's what I did on day two of my vacation and here's a picture of every single dessert we ate and here's the beach we walked on and how there wasn't a single link to anything commercial and it wasn't polished but it was oh so real.

And we both agreed this was why we became bloggers and it's the thing we miss when we don't blog.

I'm bringing it back. Here's some stuff from the past few weekends that I never got around to mentioning and that maybe isn't worth mentioning because it's just friends gathering and reminiscing and people coming and going and babies being adorable and isn't that the stuff life is made of?

Two weekends ago I was here-

Hilton Head Island.

It was a too quick weekend spent with girls I pledged a sorority with nearly four decades ago, but who are still eighteen in my head. We laughed until our sides hurt and remembered how good that feels. There was some beach sitting, some shop til you drop kind of fun, shared appetizers and stories and a brilliant sunny Saturday. There was birthday cake (pink of course) with too big candles and heartfelt wishes.

We chased down a sunset but were laughing too hard to run so almost missed it.


The kind of weekend you want to tuck in your pocket and pull out from time to time when the world feels gray and your heart needs a pick-me-up. That kind of weekend. These girls. The stuff life is made of.

While I was away hubs drove over to Tennessee and picked up his mom and brought her to the lake to spend a few days with us here. The weather was glorious and we had a wonderful time showing her around tiny town. On Tuesday she visited Daughter2's classroom and read a book to her kindergarten students. So special!

We had an early dinner afterward and enjoyed hearing about her day, and then we spent most of the next day on the lake because it was too nice to do otherwise. This summer weather in October is something, isn't it?

We drove my mother-in-law back to Tennessee Thursday evening, then went on up to collegetown Friday morning for homecoming festivities. We had lunch at a little spot called White Duck Taco where we sat outside and caught up with some of our favorite people also in town for the homecoming shenanigans. White Duck does fancy tacos and I had one Thai chicken and one pork belly and both were scrumptious.

That evening we went to dinner with a big group of friends and then Saturday was game day. Let's just say it was warm. Have mercy! 

Still we tailgated and enjoyed seeing the brand new stadium, but by halftime we were melting so we called it a day and headed back to the hotel for a nap before the evening party.

I know this picture looks cloudy, but those clouds lasted just long enough for me to snap a picture. The rest of the time the hot hot sun was staring us down.

I love visiting campus even if they did take down 'our tree' and put the stadium in it's place. The grounds around the school are still so pretty and hubs and I always take a walk hand in hand and remember why we fell in love. It's good to remember.

Are you still in touch with your college friends? Do they still know how to make you laugh, pull at your heartstrings, say remember when, sense you need a hug or maybe lemon drops and a reality check (hi Amanda!)? Ours do, and for that we are truly grateful. Who knew thirty five+ years ago our lives would be so entwined still?

I really need to blog more because now here I am many paragraphs later and I haven't even mentioned baby boy being adorable. He needs his own post anyway, don't you think? No worries...he'll get one. Or ten. Or maybe a hundred. teehee.

Happy Thursday everyone!