Saturday, August 11, 2018

Catch a falling star

Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket; Never let it fade away,
Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket; Save it for a rainy day.

                                                                         – lyrics by Paul Vance and Lee Pockriss

The decade of my 40's is but a blur. I'm not sure where the time went, but it went fast – seemingly as fast as a streaking star. There are, of course, lots of moments that I can recall and treasure. One of those moments happened nearly 20 years ago, on a night much like tonight... 

I wrote about it here on this blog six years ago, but wanted to share it with you again, in the hope that it might inspire you to look up tonight (or tomorrow) and see one of the greatest shows above earth. 


August 2000

"Attention! Important!" the outside of the folded sheet scotch-taped to the kitchen entrance door proclaimed.

Inside: "Mamma, meteor shower tonight. Wake me up. Your loving daughter, Mary"

Oh that Mary. It's so late and I'm so tired. And a nine-year-old needs her sleep more than she needs to get up in the middle of the night to see (or not see) a few shooting stars.

"Attention! Important!" the note on the second step of the stairway proclaimed.

Inside: "I'm serious. Wake me up. Meteor shower tonight."

She'll thank me in the morning for letting her sleep. Too many trees around the house and too close to the city lights to see any stars falling from the sky.

"Attention! Important!" the note in my bathroom sink read.

Inside: "Mamma, wake me up. I mean it. Big meteor shower tonight."

That Mary. Such a headstrong child. 

"Attention! Important!" the note on my pillow read. This one decorated with stars and a moon.

Inside: Mamma, meteor shower tonight. Wake me up. P.S. I love you."

Just let me slide into bed and fall off to sleep. I'm so exhausted... 

2:00 a.m.: wide awake. I tiptoe down the hall and into Mary's room. I wake her. Holding hands, we make our way down the dark steps, grab a blanket and slip out the door. We lay down on a chaise longue; her little long-limbed body on top of mine; my arms holding her tight.

We look up to the dark sky. And there it was. The most magnificent meteor shower ever. Ecstatic memories in the making: ones that neither Mary nor I will ever forget. Memories that we can dig up and reclaim through all the years of our lives.


The Perseid meteor shower will peak late Sunday night and early Monday morning, but you can also catch a good number of meteors in the middle of the night on Saturday. There is a new moon tonight, so the skies will be particularly dark, perfect for viewing the heavens.  

Before I go to bed tonight, I'm planning to take a blanket and pillow out into our back yard in the hopes that I'll awake in the night and feel my way out into the dark where I can lay down and look up at the skies and remember that night so long ago. I only wish Mary was here to catch a falling star with me.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Home is where you park it

If you read this blog you know that Ed and I travel. A lot. We haven’t always. When the kids were young and our careers were vibrant, we rarely had the time or resources (or energy) to take off on adventures.

But the kids are long grown; our work careers are a thing of the past; and so we travel.

We are just back from an adventure to Portland, Oregon, and the Pacific coast. I must have been absent the day in 4th grade when we studied the great state of Oregon as I had no idea what a wonderful part of the world it is.

Other than a hotel stay in Portland on the front and back ends, we experienced the trip from a camper van. You heard me right. We travelled the coast from Astoria to the redwoods of northern California in a VW Eurovan. We rented it through Road Trip Oregon and it came fully equipped with all we needed (except groceries) for a 9-day trip. The van was small enough to make the driving/parking easy, but large enough to serve as a comfortable home away from home.

Our van featured a pop-up top, giving enough headspace even for Ed to stand and move around. Once the queen-sized mattress was unfurled each night, the “moving around” space was limited to just enough space to step into the van and crawl into the remarkably comfortable bed.

I’m not suggesting that everyone would appreciate traveling in this style, but it worked for us. We are campers from way back and this was basically like camping, but without the nightly hassle of setting up a tent. (And if it rains — which it didn’t — you stay dry.) Ed made coffee every morning in a French press with water heated on a 2-burner propane stove and I cooked a simple dinner every night over a fire in the campsite pit. We either picnicked for lunch or stopped in small towns along the way for fish and chips. Every day or two, we would pull into a new tent campsite, reserved ahead of time, at a state or national park.

We were in no hurry the entire trip, which meant we stopped often to explore a lighthouse or cheese factory, take in a scenic view, inspect a tide pool at low tide, hike a forest trail, or pick wild marionberries.

I’ll leave you with some photos — that don’t do justice to the beauty of the place or the scale of the mountains and redwoods. You may just have to go see for yourself. Perhaps in a camper van?


Portland: all-around great town, with outstanding restaurants. Dinners at Apizza Scholl, Jacqueline, and Serratto. Lunches at Maurice and Jake’s Grill. We stayed at Hotel Lucia. The best part was catching up with Ed's nephew Stephen Todd and Sarah. The next best part was browsing the thousands of books at Powell's City of Books (and buying a stack of them). 

Cape Lookout State Park, Tillamook, OR
Cape Pepetua, Suislaw National Forest, OR
Harris Beach State Park, Brookings, OR
Elk Prairie Campground, Redwood National Forest, CA
Nottingham Campground, Mt. Hood National Forest, OR