Wait…Where Are We? The Summer of No Regrets!

Let’s start with the fact that I am not someone who enjoys sitting on a beach, or by a pool, or on a cliffside, soaking up the rays and “chillaxing.” When it comes to leisure time, I like to pack it with stuff to do, and ways to fill my time, my brain and my soul. I am a notorious “over-planner” who when traveling, simply wants to spend every minute seeing things I haven’t seen before, and experiencing the “local flavor” of where we are. It can be a bit much, and can often result in waking up every morning with, “Wait, where are we?” before my feet hit the floor.

Add to this, the urgency that comes with age. As we watch countless friends and family “timing out,” or “going too soon,” you get the unmistakable feeling that waiting around to check off your bucket list, may be superseded by kicking said bucket before you have a chance to check the boxes.  I won’t go into the maudlin details of how many of my friends and family have passed over the last couple of years, but suffice it to say, it has been a motivating factor in “making every minute count.”

And so…with the wedding of our last of five daughters now in the record books, Deb (my faithful, and best-ever traveling partner) and I hit the booking apps, concert venues, and blue highways, for one of the busiest, and most fun summers imaginable.

Don’t believe me?  Try and follow along…

One of the best/worst things about cell phones and other archiving technology, is that somehow we now feel that unless we “capture the moment,” the moment didn’t really happen. Not true. But, kinda…

As it turns out, as I was going through the myriad pictures and videos captured over the past month, I often did the, “Oh yeah!  I forgot about that!” to myself…out loud…which is how I am since retirement and the COVID lockdowns.  Talking to yourself is a common thing as you get older. And frankly, some of my best conversations are with myself, even though I often disagree or chastise myself for doing so. But, I digress…

For those who don’t like huge, long winded stories with loads of details (too late, if you have read this far), I will give you a brief snapshot of everything that has happened since Maddy and Josh tied the knot in front of God, Family, Friends, and Gandalf (another post).

Week One After Wedding…
Get COVID. Cancel Golf Reunion with Parkrose Gusto Group. Dammit!!!

OK. So I didn’t start out the way I had planned. But the good news, is that it was “COVID-Lite.” Kind of like a summer cold, with the annoying test strip that kept coming up “+” on the indicator. But, I was “healed” just in time for…

We had never been. It was gorgeous. Our campground had a go cart track and mini-golf, within walking distance of the lake, two other mini-golf courses (they are very mini-golf-centric in Joseph), and the incredible Wallowa Lake Tramway that takes you to the tippy top of the mountains (which are called the “Alps of the West” for good reason).  Add to this day trips to town for great food, the many art galleries and museums, and topping it off with a “Pedal Rail Car” adventure through the valley, and you would think we would be worn out. But, nope…two days in Walla Walla with Deb’s sister and brother-in-law, a trip to the incredible “Hot Poop Records, HiFi and Music Store” and finally heading back downstate through the “mostly ghost town of Shaniko” (with the single most expensive gas in the country? $9.75) the incredible Erickson Aircraft museum in Madras, and a round of golf at Juniper Golf in Redmond, before finally “heading for the barn,” in time for new A/C Mini-Splits to be installed the day after we arrived.  PHEW!

We spent our only week in August home, with two of seven grandkids, Andon and Olivia. Time spent, on loads of projects (crocheting, pedicures, model railroad) , a trip for golf and swimming at Shadow Hills CC, and the creation of a “memorial water feature” in the back yard. Stuff, that matters…and time well spent.

Then, the REAL vacation started.

We were scheduled to fly back East on Monday Morning, on August 8th, for a meet-up with Book Club buddies in Camden, Maine. However, I had completely forgotten that I had bought tickets for “Little Feat” on Sunday Night, in Portland. That meant that we would have to drive back from the concert, arriving after midnight, getting one or two hours of sleep, then waking up, and arriving at the airport by 4:30am.

So…if you are going to be challenged by the day, why not make it REALLY long?

We decided (OK…I decided…), that we could stop by the annual Steam Fair in Brookes, Oregon on the way!  See the Steam Engine Powered Parade, ride the electric trolley, and make a day of it, before heading to Portland for the concert. And we did…in 96 degree heat. Thank GOD for a recharge stop at Deb’s Aunt Mary’s, to cool off, eat a meal, and hang out. All capped by an overwhelmingly great show by one of my favorite bands, Little Feat, playing one of my favorite live albums in order (Waiting for Columbus), before heading back down the road.

We made it home, at 1:30am (the concert ran long), woke up to do final packing at 3am, and were at the airport by 4:30a as planned for the short flight to Seattle, and our connection to Boston. No worries. We’ll sleep on the plane, and arrive fresh by 5pm Boston time.

Except we didn’t.

A 20 minute “equipment check” turned into a two hour delay, which meant that we missed our connection, and didn’t fly out of Seattle for Boston, until 3:30 in the afternoon, the Alaska Airlines lounge was closed, so we “camped” in the waiting area, for more hours than I want to admit to. Arrived in Boston at 12:30am, after the car rental place was closed, had to take a Lyft to our hotel, and then go and take another in the morning to retrieve our rental car.  NOT how we had planned things. But, once we got some sleep, got the car, and packed our bags (enough bags and clothes to last at least a month), we started the ACTUAL plans for the East Coast.

That’s enough for now. Even I’m getting tired of typing, and thinking about it. So, check out Part II for the REST of the story…in which we see Boston, Gloucester, Maine, New Hampshire, Mystic, and take a trip back to World War One, before heading home, for back to back concerts.

Just so you know what you are in for…here is the schedule we booked…or some would say, “overbooked.”

August 8th- Arrive in Boston
August 9th – Freedom Trail Walk, Red Sox Game at Fenway
August 10th- USS Constitution, Harvard Lampoon, Overnight in Gloucester
August 11th – Day trip to Gloucester
August 12th-15th- Hang with Book Clubbies in Camden, Maine
August 16th- Stay at Lamie’s Inn and Old Salt Tavern in Hampton, NH
August 17th-18th- Explore Mystic and Groton CT. (by way of Newport, Rhode Island), including schooner sailing trip, Mystic Seaport museum, Groton Submarine base.
August 19th-20th- Katie, Ryan and Jake in NJ- Side trip to Edison Home and Laboratory, West Orange, NJ.
August 21st- trip to Rhinebeck Aerodrome and Air Show
August 22nd- Fly Home
August 23rd- Bonnie Raitt and Mavis Staples Concert
August 24th- Tedeschi Trucks Band with Los Lobos

See?  And that isn’t even a fraction of what we saw and did! It’s in the details…But that is another post(s).

Here are some pics of the Action BEFORE we got to Boston. (I know it happened, because we took selfies!)

The truly breathtaking views from the Tramway in the Wallowas, can’t be captured in a single picture. It is a MUST DO when you visit.

Another “MUST DO” is the Rail Pedal Cars, which take you out into the gorgeous Wallowa Valley, and “closes the rings” on your Apple Watch! Fear not…they are (mostly) power assisted for the ride back up hill. Deb was happy that my tree trunk legs provided most of the power.

Deb and her sister Theresa celebrate TWO holes in one, at one of THREE putt-putt courses within walking distance of one another. We “played the circuit,” and I am happy to report that I won all three…which is far different than my regular game these days.

Another one of those, “why haven’t we been here before” events…golf at Juniper Golf in Redmond. Super fun course…bring a lot of balls. You don’t want to go hunting for lost shots in “rattlesnake country.”

Deb in front of one of the planes in the incredible Erickson Aircraft Collection and Museum.  I was in heaven. This museum rivals some of the best air museums I have seen.

If you think the name of this place is hilarious, you should hear some of the comments I get from the Tee-shirt I bought here. Overwhelmingly huge store, with records, CDs, musical instruments and HiFi gear.  It is one of the best/biggest I have seen in decades.

Olivia and Andon on the “before” pic with Grandma Deb. Before hours of golf, pool action, and food at our country club, Shadow Hills!

Andon spent hours decorating, operating, and improving my slowly growing HO Train layout.

Andon and I built a “memorial water feature” on the last day of their visit.  It was a hoot…and it turned out great!

Another “bucket list” item checked off, on the way to see Little Feat in Portland, the day before we left for Boston. The Steam Fair at “Powerland Heritage Park” in Brookes, Oregon. We were there just in time for the “Steam Parade,” full of early steam powered tractors, engines, and more…as well as a trolley ride. All in 96 degree heat…which my “traveling partner” did not appreciate!

The “Night Before” our flight to Boston, we saw one of the best shows of the year (and we have seen a ton!), at the “Schnitz” in Portland.  Little Feat performed the entire Waiting for Columbus album, live…and it was so much better than anyone could have imagined. Like most great bands from the 70s, they have lost 3 of the original members (as in dead…), but the “new guys” brought it!  It was flawless…but ran long…meaning we had a total of 1.5 hours of sleep before heading to the airport. Not optimal…but worth it!!



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3 Responses to Wait…Where Are We? The Summer of No Regrets!

  1. lorinlamb says:

    Awesome, boss. I am still recuperating from my last adventure.

  2. Elizabeth McCallum says:

    Best time of year to go to the National Parks in the 4 corners area. Even into early October. Quaking aspen, buffalo! On the northern plateau if the Grand Canyon!!!
    All the best.

    Beth McCallum

  3. Guy Cooper says:

    Spent a wonderful night in Shaniko (1977-ish) with a broken down car, and a room full of wasps! I’ll remember that one on my deathbed (and probably tell everyone about it) LOL!

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