Friday, July 26, 2013

Lost Heart

Haiku My Heart
July 26, 2013

Don’t get an opportunity like this too often. Today is Friday, the day I participate at Haiku My Heart through my friend Rebecca’s blog, recuerda mi corazon. It’s also my first born daughter Maggie’s birthday. 

Please cut and paste if link doesn't work:

As everyone in our family has their mind on Maggie, I guess we have decided to get together and have a birthday party tonight here at Spadoville.

We couldn’t think of anything that Maggie really liked a lot other than Diet Coke, so, we’re making shish kabobs and the youngest daughter will bring dessert. That will be a surprise.

In the meantime, that’s where my mind is these past few days, so please indulge me as I pay tribute.

Maggie, Please come back

I knew you would, if you could

Love and miss my child

This is one of my favorite photographs of the children. Maggie is in the middle with Jayne on her left and Alyssa on her right. This had to be 1979 and Jayne was 2 years old, Alyssa 3, and Maggie 6. They are playing in our backyard when we lived on Laurel Avenue in St. Paul. Click it to enlarge. It's a rich warm black and white.

July 26, 1973. We were living in Brookfield, IL back then. Mrs. Spadoman’s dad gave us some money for a down payment to buy a house. We lived across 31st Street and one block West of Raymond, the street where Mrs. Spadoman’s mom and dad lived, and where she grew up from around eight years old until she married me and moved out in 1971.

It was a small two bedroom affair that was built on a cement slab. No basement, just the two bedrooms, a living room, kitchen and bathroom. There was a single car garage that we tore down so we could build a two-car garage.

I sold my 1970 orange Plymouth Barracuda when Barb got pregnant with Maggie. I bought a station wagon. A 1972 Ford Torino Station Wagon. Traded in a two door hard top sports car for a family truckster. Maybe I was thinking we’d have a bunch of kids. Maybe I didn’t know what I was thinking, or don’t remember. But by August of 1974, just one year and one month after Maggie was born, we traded in the station wagon, bought a Dodge van and moved to Minnesota. We haven’t looked back since.

We had her name picked out already. We didn’t know what sex the baby was going to be before she was born, but we picked out a boy and a girl name. If I’m remembering correctly, I think we had Andrew for a boy so we could call him Andy. That was after no one in particular.

We had it in our mind to name a girl Margaret so we would call her Maggie. Margaret Ellen, with Ellen for a very dear friend who is still a very dear friend and someone we love and respect deeply.

Maggie was born in the middle of the morning. Back in those days, I was in a waiting room and the doctors and nurses took care of the birth and all. I was shown the baby in the nursery behind a glass window. 

No matter, she was a precious dear little soul and I still feel the feelings I had when each of my three daughter’s were born. The second two, I was involved with the birthing by being there, in the delivery room, and in the case of the youngest, I participated by actually wielding the scissors that cut the umbilical cord. I was given the baby to hold immediately after their Mother held them. It was Barb that handed them to me to hold.

Last month, on June eighth, we remembered that it was 22 years ago that we lost Maggie. She was involved in a car accident that took her life and the life of the driver, young Jim Cooper. Also in the car was her friend Adrienne. We are so fortunate to still have Adrienne around and get to see her now and then.

So, this day and this Haiku is dedicated to my daughter, Maggie. I’ll save some cake and ice cream for you.


Sunday, July 21, 2013

Food Glorious Food

Monday Mystery Tour
July 22, 2013

Everybody has to eat, right? And some are more adventurous than others when it comes to eating. I’m one of those people, and along with Mrs. Spadoman on any kind of trip, whether it be to the Twin Cities to the “big” thrift store or on a 5000 mile road trip like we did the first two weeks of July, we wonder where our next meal will be.

Let me tell you, “We’re not fussy eaters”, but the kind of place we try to find when traversing territory strange to us far far from home is so important to us that we’ll skip a meal rather than accept dining at someplace we just don’t like the looks of. All chain corporate franchises are out of the question and never considered.

Of course we carry a couple of bags of assorted tidbits of food, condiments and essential utensils along with a well-stocked cooler that ices down plenty of fruit, veggies, cheese, cold water from the Lake Superior springs and the hallowed half-and-half for our coffee, but at least one meal, taken in a place that hopefully satisfies the adventurous spirit while traveling, is always on our daily agenda.

We had several great scores on this recent trip. Some good places across the breadth of the journey. Places like The Starlite Cafe in Vale, Oregon and the Tall Town Cafe in Lakeview, OR will receive honorable mentions as places we’d definitely go to again. In this group are also Gills By the Bay in Eureka CA. and the Montana Coffee Traders coffee shop in Whitefish are definitely on the ‘mention’ list as well.

The top places, which I will review individually in due time are The Dragonfly Cafe in Salmo, BC, The Owl Spirit Cafe in Port Townsend, WA and Ma Mosa’s in Grants Pass, Oregon. In the meantime, let me tell you about our experience at a seafood dining establishment we found to our liking in Victoria, British Columbia, called Nautical Nellies.
Nautical Nellies was billed as the best restaurant in British Columbia and seemed to be a famous and expensive seafood restaurant in the bustling downtown of Victoria proper.

Here, at this link,is a gallery of photos of their fare from their website. I’ve included a few photos that I took as we had a late afternoon/early evening dinner that included deviled eggs, with blue crab and proscuitto, as an appetizer along with the raw oysters on the half shell that only I succumbed to.

Deviled eggs, sorry, we had them almost all eaten when I decided I was going to take a picture

Incidentally, one of my reader friends used the word, if it is a word at all, “Gak”, when I mentioned raw oysters. I don’t think it’s a word but rather a guttural sound made from the back of the throat. The same one I get when I smell curry. But I have no “Gak” reaction to raw oysters, well chilled, on ice, served with lemon, horseradish and my choice of five different kinds of Tabasco brand Louisiana Hot Sauce.

Oysters on the half shell

Mrs. Spadoman enjoyed a “small plate”. It was called the “Bag O’ Doughnuts” which included Crab, Lobster and Shrimp Fritters. These were all battered and deep fried and served in a small brown paper lunch bag that had the uppermost part of it torn off so the diner wouldn’t have to stick their hand too far into the bag to retrieve the delicate seafood morsels.

Mts. Spadoman's "Bag O' Doughnits"

Prior to the Bag ‘O Doughnuts, she opted for the French Onion Soup that was to die for, or so I was told. It certainly had a beautiful presentation and looked like a fountain exploding from the vessel it was served in.

French Onion Soup

I had the West Coast Paella which included Halibut, Salmon, Scallops, Shrimp, Bistro Prawns, Chorizo sausage with peppers and onions, all with a spicy creole rice topped with Mussels. That is a mouthful, literally and figuratively., and it was delicious!

Freshly ground black pepper was being added to my West Coast Paella

Of course, I lubed up with a couple of Vodka Martinis since I wasn’t going to be driving. Nautical Nellies is right next to the Black Ball Ferry dock on the inward harbor where we would catch the evening ferry to Port Angeles, Washington later that day.

The waitstaff were neat and orderly and very friendly. As much time as was needed was taken with our choices, including comments about who was in the kitchen on this particular day and if that chef does one dish or the other exceptionally well. It might have been lip service, but we enjoyed the conversation and tipped handsomely for the time spent with us.

Besides, here we are in Canada and the waiter was from Ohio. It was the Fourth of July and we all mentioned the peacefulness born to us by the lack of fireworks in the “foreign” country. Of course that was over after our evening ferry ride to Port Angeles, where at dark, when the ship arrived in the American Port, the blasts and colorful displays occurred for a few hours and were seen clearly in all directions from the second story balcony of the Flagstone Motel.

I’d return to Nautical Nellies. It was expensive, but we were on vacation and sometimes expenses and extravagances like this are not only unavoidable, but mandatory.

Next, breakfast somewhere along the journey.


Friday, July 19, 2013

Form Mimics Function

Haiku My Heart
July 18, 2013

Each week, on Friday, many gather and share their life, art, comedy and tragedy under this Haiku My Heart heading. All started over three years ago by my friend Rebecca, a vibrant soul that gives us all a lift in all her beautiful postings.
You can see more Haiku My Heart and find out how to participate at her blog, recuerda mi corazon.

(I can't get the link to work, so here's the blog URL. Please just cut and paste it, I'm a dunce)

Reflected sunset aboard the M.V. Coho, Strait of Juan de Fuca

Travel on water

Seasick behemoth floating

Form mimics function

The amphibious Hippo Bus

If you’ve stopped by recently, you’ve seen that we have been on an adventurous road trip. I wrote about the trip itself in the posting previous to this one entitled Motoring West. One of many highlights of this trip were the three ferry rides we took from Vancouver on the Canadian mainland to Vancouver Island and the British Columbia Provincial Capital, Victoria. From there, we ferried again to the USA across the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

The city of Victoria is a pretty large metropolitan area and in fact, is the 15th largest city in Canada. Being near the sea, there is a lot of tourism and many of the attractions include the water.

We could have driven across the border as we traveled from the East of Vancouver through the mountains of British Columbia, but we chose to use the ferry and have that experience.

Of course we saw a plethora of boats of every shape and size. Kayaks, small aluminum fishing boats, cabin cruisers, Coast Guard vessels, cruise line ships in port, freight haulers, the ferry boats themselves and the many water taxis and novelty watercraft that lured the tourists in for fun, adventure and sightseeing.

One of these boats was called "The Hippo".The photo at the beginning of this post is a stock photo of a "Hippo" from their website. These giant vehicles are amphibious and can move about on land and in the water, yet they are the size of a bus, a very large bus.

We had seen them driving around Victoria as we were looking to park so we could eat at Nautical Nellies, a famous and expensive seafood restaurant in the bustling downtown of Victoria proper that has, as we were told, been voted as the "Best Restaurant in Victoria, BC". By the way, a full restaurant review of Nautical Nellies and a few other great dining establishments we encountered along our journey will be forthcoming in the days ahead. Finding unique coffee shops and places to eat is a passion that both Mrs. Spadoman and I relish to the max.

I didn’t snap any photos of the Hippo Buses we saw that were on dry land, but I did get a couple of shots from the ferry as we were waiting to depart the dock. These behemoths do indeed float!

So, we were relaxing on the rear deck in the sunshine. The weather was pleasant. A lot cooler than the high inland temperatures we had just experienced, so we sat outside, even though many folks sought the coziness of the inside cabin during the ride. Locals, I’d guess.

When I saw the Hippo bus coming towards us, and as I was grabbing the camera out of the case to get ready to take some pictures, I pointed in the direction where I saw the very large bus/boat coming from and exclaimed, rather loudly, to Mrs. Spadoman:

“Look, here comes the Hippo!”

The Hippo on the horizon

As if on cue, a cue that would have been good enough for any Hollywood producer either of us had ever worked for, a woman of portly proportions walked up the metal stairway and stepped onto the sun deck, directly in the path of my gnarled pointing finger!

The Hippo, afloat and underway in the harbor

I put my arm down and quit pointing immediately and got up and walked to the rail to take the pictures. I never looked back to see if the woman saw me pointing “at her” or nearly shouting with enthusiasm what I had said about her size.

I mean, what if this happened to you? You or I walked into a room and someone pointed and called you a hippo? I’m still a large framed man, and although I don’t weigh in at a svelte 270 pounds, (122 kilograms), like I did in 1985, I still have some girth to contend with and would have easily accepted the fact that someone could perceive me as a hippo, or a rhino, or even an elephant! Yet I would never believe in a thousand years that any normal human being, who was a stranger, would call me any of those things to my face! 

Maybe if they knew me well enough to get away with it, but an imbecile in a place as public as the sundeck of a ship that holds 410 cars and 2100 people that has just pulled away from port for the nearly 2 hour journey across the sea!!??

Oh well. Luckily, she didn’t seem to notice, Mrs. Spadoman informs me long after she left the area. But all the while, I was waiting with one eye scanning fore and aft of the ship and keeping plenty of space between myself and the rail for fear of being pushed overboard. Imagine, a Pirate Cap’n, well seasoned such as meself, in fear of his own life on any ship, even if it wasn’t under my command.

Avast Ye Mateys! Thar be large animals aboard. Shiver me timbers. Retreat to starboard and pass the cutlasses and flintlocks. Ye can’t know when trouble will strike.

Next time through Victoria, BC, I’m gonna take a ride on a hippo.

Late edition to this post is this short, 1 minute, 22 second YouTube of the Ferry and the Hippo:

Peace to all

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Motoring West

We’re home! We actually  got home Sunday afternoon, but after 15 days on the road and 5180 miles, (That’s 8336 kilometers), we had a lot of unpacking and laundry to do. It’s not easy unloading sticks, rocks, t-shirts, sweatshirts and trash out of the car after such a journey.

We had great fun, and we actually went to places we have never been to before as well as the more familiar haunts revisited, and driven on roads I have never driven on in both familiar and strange
Lake Christina in British Columbia

Canadian flag at the Roosville border crossing

We got an early start and left Sunday afternoon and made 265 miles to Fargo, North Dakota. We spent the night there and avoided driving through St. Paul and Minneapolis in Monday morning rush hour to head West. Monday morning had us on I-94 and well into Montana, Great Falls to be exact, by Monday evening.

Provincial Government, complete with totem pole on the far right of the photo.

From there we traveled North through Glacier National Park and rode the Going to the Sun road before meeting the Canadian border at Roosville.

Our border crossing was totally uneventful and besides the showing of passports to the agent, there was no difference from the numerous times we crossed into Canada when we lived near the border in the very early 1990’s. I got a kick out of the question, “Do you have anything with you to protect yourselves?”

I answered, “No, should I?” 

That response was greeted with a smile. I’m glad he had a sense of humor. We had no guns, ammo, plants or items we were going to sell in Canada.
Mrs. Spadoman and Bigfoot are old friends. Who knew?

We got to a town in Eastern British Columbia named Cranbrook and got a motel room. It was very hot, over 95 degrees, (That’s 35 Celsius). The room was cheap enough, and so was the old almost expired air conditioning unit. We did get some air to move around and got a good nights sleep despite the heat and headed out early the next day to travel on the Crowsnest Highway, British Columbia Highway 3.

BC 3, Crowsnest Highway

We were in the mountains the entire journey towards the coast and Vancouver. Beautiful vistas overlooking large expanses of fertile valleys, deep blue lakes, rivers plump with water and pine laden mountain tops. We stopped for the night with an easy 2 hour drive to Vancouver in sight, but we were sorry we made reservations on the ferry lines as we saw many roads that we wanted to take. We even missed a chance to meet a blogger friend from that way that hinted to us that there were not one, but two, great coffee shops in thew town near where she lived.
We took time to smell the flowers.

We did get to eat at a couple of great little cafes that we found along the way. I’ll write about there in depth later when I do separate restaurant reviews. One was the Dragonfly Cafe in Salmo, BC, the other was The Round Up Cafe in suburban Vancouver. I wasn’t aware of the Russian/Eastern European influence in this part of the continent. I had fried perogies, eggs and potatoes with Ukrainian sausage for breakfast, complete with sourdough toast and local jam.

A shot through the sideview mirror in a tunnel, Vancouver, BC

We took a ferry from Vancouver to Victoria Island and the Provincial capitol of British Columbia, Victoria and had a wonderful seafood dinner at Nautical Nellies where I satisfied my craving for raw oysters. We took another ferry to Port Angels, Washington, USA later that evening, just in time to see firework displays for the Fourth of July. On some level, we both wondered why we didn’t stay in Canada another night to avoid the noise!
Ferry service!

The next morning, we traveled the Olympic Peninsula and took yet another ferry to Seattle after a great breakfast in Port Townsend at The Owl Spirit cafe. (Yes, this place made one of the top three that I will review in the days to come). In Seattle, we were greeted by a fellow I have known since I served in Vietnam as a young soldier. I hadn’t seen him inn44 tears. We have been in touch via e-mail for the past year or so. It was a delight to connect with him.

A lot of places named Joe's or Joey's in Canada. I like that!

Although we only spent 24 hours as a guest of my friend Howard, we came away feeling grand for the experience. We shared the highlights, and maybe a few lowlights, of out lives since we parted company in 1969. We made a pact to get together again, within the next year. Either at my place or his, or maybe in between somewhere.
Raw oysters on the half shell with tabasco and lemon. A real treat for me.

From Seattle, we traveled South through Oregon and spent the night in Grants Pass, a great town with great scenery and weather on the Rogue River. Found yet another fantastic eclectic eatery called Ma Mosa’s for breakfast. This one also made the cut as one of the top three.
My friend Howard after breakfast at one of his hometown places.  Friendships have no time limits.
(Howard on the left)

We drove into California and spent the next 4 days at our lifelong friend’s place where I got out on one of Hal’s motorcycles, played music with Hal and another friend from long ago and visited friends and friend’s Grandkids.
Actually a color photo taken in the morning fog along the Northern California coast

It was time to go home as all good things must come to an end. Took us four days, with the last two being long drives, but that’s because we spent the first two days on the road towards home cruising through parts of Oregon, Idaho and Montana we had never been.
Another business establishment with that great name!

We made it, and vowed that next time we make a spontaneous road trip, we would make no reservations for any motels or ferry boats and would call our friends we were to visit when we got to town.
My friend Steve with his new Fender Stratocaster 1962 reissue guitar.

We took over 275 photos and several short movies that I have yet to edit. As I said, restaurant reviews are to come along with more photos.
Catching up to a thunderstorm while traveling at sunset gave us this rainbow as we entered North Dakota

Inn the meantime, It was good to get back out on the road. It has been a while. Health concerns have kept me from doing what I love, driving through the country, and now, through the continent. Did you know there is a whole ‘nuther country North of us? They use strange numbers to figure things out like kilometers, celsius and meters. How do I know this? I got a “courtesy” parking ticket in Vancouver because my vehicle was over three meters. (metres) in length. They have weird money too. Loonies and Twonies, (or is it tooneys?) Did you know they got rid of pennies?

Canadian Sunset on the straits

Peace to all

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Haiku My Heart, July 12, 2013

Oregon tonight

Making our way towards home

Report to follow

See more at: recuerda mi corazon