Monday, December 22, 2014

Portland Living Room

Pioneer Square
The threat of rain has diminished considerably to almost non-existence, so I brave myself and bring my camera to Portland’s Living Room and take some pictures in the wee hours before the crowd gathers around. Also the “Ugly Sweater PDX” dresses some of the art in downtown, which was featured on NBC News last month, so I better memorialized it. It was a balmy morning, nice enough without your hands shaking since most of the night images are handheld. Enjoy, this should be the last website for 2014 I think. 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Holiday Express 2014

All Aboard!
For many years, I always want to ride the Holiday Express. What prevented me for doing so were always the weather factors. Either it was too cold or too wet. Today was a perfect morning, a bit cold but not that foggy. Not a bad day indeed. So, I present you with the Santa Express to Portland from Oaks Park in Milwaukee. Enjoy the ride. All Aboard!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Holiday Cookies 2014

Hazelnut Shortbread Cookies
Holiday Cookies is definitely the biggest event of our BCI (Beaverton Culinary Institute) event of the year. This is our final gathering for 2014. Our next meeting will be in the spring of 2015, but I forgot the theme. I did suggest Southern cooking, but we will see. I believe if my calculation is correct, we made twelve different cookies for this event. As always, it was a organized but chaotic time, but at the end all cookies were baked and we had a hell of a good time. Enjoy the images, sorry no samples!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Hurd Culinary Institute

This is the first cooking “class” that we had, notice at that time it was not called Beaverton Culinary Institute (known as simply BCI), but we started with Hurd Culinary Institute. We made Pierogi (Polish style). It is hard to believe it was almost 5 years ago from this date of writing.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving 2014

Happy Thanksgiving 2014
This year we were invited once again to the home of Steve and Joan to celebrate 2014 Thanksgiving. There are a lot to be thankful this year, but the one and foremost important thing is our health. Also, this year we have two guests from Minnesota, Rachael and Jason.

Enjoy the images:

Friday, November 28, 2014

Pumpkin, pumpkin and more pumpkin

Pumpkin Square
In late October, BCI (Beaverton Culinary Institute) one again made a gathering, this time the theme is anything with Pumpkin. We came up with many recipes, we made two kind of soups, pumpkin casserole and many more, enjoy this occasion.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Let's make some sliders


What a way to close for the summer this year. We at BCI (Beaverton Culinary Institute) made sliders on September 7th, 2014. They are ranging from turkey, shrimp, CLAB (Clam and Crab) plus Banh Mi sliders. We do this at the house of Tony and Kelly. Absent from this gathering are April and Jill. Enjoy.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Labor Day 2014

Lincoln City, August 31st, 2014
I was still nursing my bloated stomach and dizziness, but the lure of cooler weather at the coast is stronger. So, we visited Cannon Beach, Tillamook and Lincoln City for our last summer vacation of summer 2014. We camped for three nights mostly relax and enjoy the cooler temperatures. It has been hot in Portland area and it did not settle well with my body this time. As of today we had 19 days of 90 degrees, but the 75 percent of above temperatures were the main culprit. I can’t wait for cooler weather and cool rain, I am tired of watering the front lawn.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Vancouver Island 2003 - revisited

Nanaimo, BC
This was the first time we explored Vancouver Island, back then in 2003 I did not have a digital camera. A decent camera will probably cost about $3,000.00 if not more, I remember buying 1Gigabyte memory chip in early 2004 for more than $100.00. So the images here were shot with 35 mm camera then digitally converted by Costco at that time.

We explored Victoria, Nanaimo, Port Alberni then took the whole day excursion with MV Lady Rose, this was the first time we met Bruce Morton and Celia also known and simply CC, the we went to Ucluelet, what we remember was this was a fishing village and the relentless rain that we had, I think we stayed inside longer than outside. We went as far as Tofino then went back to Qualicum Bay, we spent a few nights in Parksville.

We also took two train excursions, one from Nanaimo to Courtenay with VIA and then Port Alberni Railway. We spent at least two weeks for the whole trip.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Spending Time with Bruce Morton

Bruce Morton, enjoying morning tea
I am not a biographer by trade, but I will try my best to write about the person that inspires us. His initial is BRM – Bruce Ralph Morton, but we simply just call him “Bruce”. He is 97 years young; he was born in Roblin, Manitoba, Canada on July 30th, 1917. Way back then it was a very small town of a few blocks where everybody knows anybody. Presently, he lives in Qualicum Beach, Vancouver Island, British Columbia by himself.

Bruce is pretty much very independent, he still drives to Victoria occasionally and of course around town, he prepares his own breakfast, lunch which he calls dinner and dinner which he calls supper. It is confusing for us, but we get used to it after spending two full nights with him. Bruce does not have a big lunch, usually a muffin and a cup of tea. Of course, he has to put cream on his tea; this is of course the big British influence when he grew up.

Bruce still goes to the market for groceries and does his chores around town; I almost forgot to mention that his supper is between 4:30 PM to 6:30 PM. no later than that. In the morning, he drives to the beach and walks for about 30 minutes; he told us that walking is good for you. On the rainy days, Bruce pedals his stationary bike, where he placed it very conveniently close to his big living room window while watching any activities outside.

That day, Bruce took us to the Englishman River waterfall and we walked some more that afternoon. At night he walked through his backyard with Pokie, I was beat so I stayed behind. You see, the energy is like an advertising of Eveready battery, keep going and going and going.

Bruce Morton left home when he was eighteen years old; he went to Regina, Saskatchewan, looking for a job, any job. Back then you are lucky to make $1.50 per day. A loaf of bread is 5 cents, a dozen of eggs were 15 cents and chicken livers were given away for free. Bruce told me, he was very lucky to have two bucks in his pocket at any one time. Bruce has two brothers and one sister, they are all passed away, Bruce is the only who is still living, he even lost his only son at the age of 42 due to stomach cancer.
At this age he is considered very healthy, he does not have high blood sugar level, nor has high blood pressure, his cholesterol level is pretty much in check.

Hockey is his favorite game, in his earlier day he went to Vancouver but did not make the team. He did however made the hockey team in Lethbridge, Alberta for two years. His team was Lethbridge – Maple Leaf.

Enter the World War II; he immediately joined the Army for just six months but that he was not satisfied, so he quickly joined the Navy for three years in Calgary.  His job in the Navy was a supply ship, a convoy of 68, he also in charge of unloading the anti U-Boat (German submarine) depth charge during the Battle of Atlantic. He was shipped to Halifax to pick up the ship.

Bruce also worked at a control tower in High River, Alberta for one year; he worked as an employee number 159 at the High River Flying School. Back then radar was almost to a non-existence, he told me by looking at the cloud formation, and he could predict the condition. It’s amazing to think about it.

He then worked for Imperial Oil in Calgary, Alberta making a mere $3.50 a day. At one time he also applied to be a Canadian police – RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police), but at the end he declined as he was requested to have his tonsils removed. It was indeed a strange requirement back then.
Now, enter his love life. Bruce first saw Celia (CC as we know her) when she was 16 years old in 1938, this is I believe his first love. CC was born on August 8th, 1922 and passed away on May 14th, 2012 some two years ago. CC was five years younger than Bruce.

The war was a terrible thing, for some reasons Bruce and CC got separated. Bruce married Betty in Calgary in 1944 and they were married for 50 years, having one son and one daughter.  Betty passed away in 1993 due to lung cancer. Bruce was alone again. Oh, at the beginning his in laws did not approve of him because he was in the Navy.

In the meantime CC (Bruce first love) married another person by the name of Earl which passed away in 2001. Luck would have it that CC’s niece phoned Bruce, letting him know and CC’s husband just passed away. Bruce gathered his strength and called CC at that time.

Three weeks has gone by, Bruce got a call from CC, guess what, she was just less than an hour away from where he lives, she landed in Comox Airport to the north, she said, “Pick me up”.  This was the first time in 63 years that Bruce met CC, the last time being in 1938, he told me that maybe CC had put a lot of weight, but to Bruce delight CC was just still the same, still cheerful and full of smiles.

This was another beginning of another love affair, a continuation of their first love separated by World War II.  They went together again for the next eleven years until CC passed away in 2012. Bruce remained in Qualicum Beach and CC lived in Lethbridge, Alberta.  When they were not together physically, Bruce phoned CC almost on a daily basis at night.

Thank you Bruce for being such an inspiration to us, you are more than a family in our hearts. His motto is “Every day is a good day”.  We look forward to see you again next year.

Lake Quinault

Lake Quinault
This was our last destination in term of sightseeing. It was just an hour and a half from where we stayed last night in Forks, Washington. The drive was not bad at all. Many people is wondering “where is the rain?” since we are right smack in the middle of the rainforest. Forks has an annual rain of 12 feet, that’s 144 inches of rain about four times the annual rain we receive in Portland.

Arriving in Lake Quinault, I fell in love with the town, it has one general store, one museum and another small store doubled as our registration for the campground. It is located next to the lake and it is just plain appealing, one exception, the RV Park is not maintained to the standard of a good park and I have to tell the office to clean the bathroom before we settled in.

Lake Quinault is the home of the largest Spruce tree, located just one hundred feet from where we park our Wanderlust. It was really cold when we came in, later it cleared up to a sunny afternoon, the next morning it clouds up again, but it represents another opportunity for photography subjects that I did not see in the previous day.

Cape Flattery & Neah Bay

Cape Flattery
We left early that day in anticipation of winding roads and a two lane highway from Sequim to Neah Bay. On a day of travelling, Pokie usually prepares breakfast and lunch beforehand. So in case we could not find anything interesting to try and eat, we always have something ready to eat. Breakfasts usually are on the road while we are driving, this will cut down a lot of time.

We skipped Sol Duc Hot Springs and Hoh Rainforest for our future travel; I think we had enough to see on this trip. We arrived in Neah Bay just after 10:00 AM,  I wanted to be the last destination, but Pokie pressed on to Cape Flattery (I am glad otherwise we will regret it later), then another dilemma, we still have to hike to see the most Northwest point of the US continent.

It started with an easy downhill trail, but soon it was more challenging for me, going downhill is more problematic than going uphill. The wooden trails are wet and slippery plus the roots of the trees are notorious to catch your footing if you are not careful. To say the least it was spectacular scenery, the fog just added to the beauty. Again pictures do not do any justice! The trial was three quarters mile down and another three quarters mile up. I was exhausted, but happy and content.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Port Townsend

Port Townsend
Sometimes we have a tendency to ignore any Point of Interest or destination that are closer to home. It is just a human nature I guess. So this time we want to make sure to visit Port Townsend since we are just 30 miles from where we stayed in Sequim.

Port Townsend preserves its many historic Victorian buildings, it houses many unique shops and within a walking distance in downtown, so the best way to explore is walking from one end to the other.

I stay outside taking photographs while Pokie goes to every shop that interests her. We found a very good ice cream shop and a small pizza joint. In this trip we also found vinegar shop that is unique to this town, we brought home two bottles of Cranberry-Pear and Raspberry.

Hurricane Ridge

Hurricane Ridge
We climbed up to 5,200 feet in just 17 miles from where the ferry dropped us in Port Angeles. It is a winding road, after just five miles we had to stop and deposit an entrance fee of $15.00. By the way, I managed not to buy a drop of gasoline in Canada, which cost about 25 percent more than in the US.

We can’t ask for a better weather than this, it was sunny with a slight breeze and the temperature is manageable. I am really impressed with this place; I ask myself a question, why should I go to Switzerland? We have all the alpines here.

We saw so many deer, and they get used to the visitors and ignore them. It was indeed a treat to be able to take pictures up close.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Victoria, BC

Victoria, BC at night

Welcome to Victoria, BC. This is our third time to this city. We stayed here for its convenient since the COHO ferry will take us right to the center of the Olympic National Park. The US Custom is very easy as well, they will come to your vehicle and we do not want to go back to Blaine, Washington where it could take hours just to get back to the US.

When we travel, usually Pokie cooked way ahead and brought the foods with us since we have a pretty good size refrigerator, heck, we can even make ice cubes if we need to, We do cook rice almost on a daily basis with a small rice cooker.

On this trip Pokie enjoys oysters a lot since it is fresh and does not smell, it is something about Canadian oysters in this part of Canada. We stayed two full nights in Victoria and went to the ferry dock pretty early since we do not make any reservation, we were number 11 and we were lucky to take the 10:30 AM cruising back to the States. It takes about 90 minutes to cross Strait Juan de Fuca. By the way, the ship is as old as we are, built in 1959.

Qualicum Beach and its surroundings

Deep Bay
We promised ourselves NOT to buy souvenirs for us. This habit stopped when we do not know where to put our cups from so many different places. They are stacked in our cupboards and never been used. But we do shop for specialty foods such as homemade breads and cookies, locally made ice creams, specialty teas, and foods that we could not find at home, for example Lemon curd jam, this one is made in England and only available in Canada.

Oh…we bought liquor (duty free) when we cross the International water to bake cakes and not to drink, the price is almost half price. Enjoy Qualicum beach and its surrounding.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Denman Island - A Picnic

Denman Island
This is my second installment of our vacation. I will take you for a tour of Denman Island. We took a short ferry ride from Buckley Bay to Denman Island, just ten minutes away. I wanted to take the 9:00 A.M. ferry but when we got there at 8:25 A.M., I was surprised that the operator hurries us to board the ferry to our delight; we just took an earlier ferry!

I believe the total cost is about $43.00 Canadian dollars. We wanted to see Bryanna and her husband Brian. She is a vegan cookbook author, to date she has published seven books and sold more than 60,000 books. We met her some 12 years ago in Seattle and we became friends since then.

In a blink of an eye, we arrived in Denman Island. Now what? I suppose to make a call to let them know and I am not using my cell phone, it costs an arm and a leg to do roaming call in Canada. So the best thing was to see a public phone, so I tried and failed. So….I went back to the only general store on the island and I ask how to use this antiquated public phone, I was told to use all the 10 digits instead of 7 digits.  In short, I made the connection; it was the first time in more than a decade that I used the public phone again.

We met at the only Denman Island Guesthouse minutes later, Bryanna and Brian took us around the south side of the island and we had picnic later at Fillongley Provincial Park. Bryanna prepared Inari Sushi, potato salad, marinated tofu and kale salad. Yummy…..of course they are all vegan dishes. On top of that, no paper cups, no paper plates, no paper napkins. How’s that for a picnic on the beach?

Thank you very much Bryanna and Brian, we miss the island hospitality!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Let's Go Camping

Blaine, Washington
We have just completed a journey of 1,130 miles or 1,818 kilometers in Canada measurement.  We went to Vancouver Island and explored Olympic National Park. This time we skipped Sol Duc Hot Springs and Hoh Rainforest, we reserve these place for our next travel. We spent a total of twelve nights, including one night in Seattle and two nights in Parksville with Bruce Morton.

This is my first installment of the websites that I will create throughout next week or so. This time our Wanderlust is the “star”, I will show you where we parked for the nights and some places that we initially went.

Meeting Bruce Morton was certainly the highlight of this tour, he is 97 years young. We met him some eleven years ago.  He is such an inspiration to us, that’s why we diverted to the north to see him. I will have more to share with you later. His motto is “every day is a good day”.

During our trip, we were reminded to take life to the fullest. Mortality does not know the time and the place. One morning on our last day in Parksville, I saw a RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) in our RV Park. My initial thought was one of the neighbors made so much noise or something in that nature.

Later it downed on me when Pokie spotted a coroner van coming to the park. The guy next door just lost his lovely wife; I saw the body bag being loaded to the van. I felt so bad, later I saw the guy with his dog walking aimlessly around the park. So, enjoy life to the fullest!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Vamos a comer tacos autentico

Taco Combo
On the second longest day of the year, we gather again at BCI (Beaverton Culinary Institute), except that day we changed the name for one day to BIC (Beaverton Instituto de Culinario) in Spanish. As for Yongkie, he makes his first vegan taco called Chicken Run Taco, get it…Chicken Run! On this special occasion, we celebrated Cory graduation; he becomes Dr. “C”. He is an N.D. now, it stands for Natural Doctor. All of the BCI members get one free advice every time we meet.
Here are our tacos that we made last Sunday:

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Festival of Flowers

Festival of Flowers
When my co-worker offered me to test his new lens, I obliged. What a better way than to take images of the flowers – The Festival of Flowers at the Pioneer Courthouse Square. I do not get used to with a fix lens, but I have to do what was given to me. The colors are stunning to say the least. Enjoy

The story of Bruce Morton

Bruce and CC, July 2003

Portland, June 3rd, 2014

We first met Bruce eleven years ago in 2003 aboard the MV Lady Rose (she has been retired since 2009). This vessel served as a cargo as well as a whole day excursion ship, it serves the community along the Barkley Sound all the way to Bamfiled and the Broken Group Island. I witnessed the ship was carrying lumbers, lawn mower etc and the best cargo of all was booze! Yes, this ship hauls the precious alcohol, the consumption of this fine spirit increases during the winter months.

I noticed that Bruce sits with a fine woman, so we introduced ourselves to him and his “wife” as I first thought. I did ask him as how long they have been married. Bruce smiled and he told me that Cece (the name of the woman, later I found out) was just his girlfriend.  The story was just started to get interesting.
“How so?” I asked him pressing for more details. So he slowly explained to me. Before World War II, Bruce and Cece went out together and fell in love as a boyfriend and a girlfriend. As you know, war is a terrible thing. During the war, Bruce enlisted and managed to lose contact with his love. Years gone by, Bruce got married and Cece got married to different persons.

Years have gone by, their respective spouses passed away, in short they managed to find each other again and they became boyfriend and girlfriend again. This was in the year of 2003; Bruce was 86 years young at that time.

Eleven years later in 2014.
After watching the Sunday morning show segment where this guy was phoning his friends wishing them “happy Birthday”, we got an inspiration and motivation to call Bruce again, we have to say that we were afraid that he is no longer with us, a short search in the old rolodex, I found his phone number.

I called and ask when the other party answered if this is the residence of Bruce Morton, to my delight he said, “Speaking!” He is 97 years young now and he still drives the car and best of all, his entire mind is still very sharp. I told Pokie we should visit him again and divert our planned vacation from Olympic Peninsula to Vancouver Island. We are making plan to see him in a month and I am so excited.
He also told me to see him before he turns 100.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Eat, Sleep and Go

The Palmer House
This concludes our tour of Chicago, I hope you enjoy the sights as I enjoy making the website and share it with you. In this website, you will find the hotel that we stayed in, the culinary that we encountered and some of the public transportation that we took during our stay.

It is solely my opinion that if you have not taken the “eL” train, you have not been to Chicago. We had a nice time in this windy city and we will go back in a heart beat given the chance.

Chicago - North Bridge

Chicago from the south side of Navy Pier
I will take you to the north side of Chicago (still downtown area) namely North Bridge, but do not ask the younger folks about the name. It is simply known as Magnificent Mile – Shop till you drop these days. To reach this area from the Union station, we walked a few blocks east then take the Red Line Subway then walk eat a few blocks more, it is really convenient within downtown. I just have to study the subway line.

It is time to relax as we are winding down our trip, only three things we have to see and do as tourists, Magnificent Mile, John Hancock Tower and the Navy Pier.

The Magnificent Mile is a busy place indeed, one funny thing I noted is the homeless, and they make their voices heard. Arm with an 8 ½ X 11 card, a word “HOMELESS” is printed neatly, feels like an association and shouts “ HOMELESS HERE, can you help please, HOMELESS here, can you help please” this is done in the decibels where I can close my ear, it is that loud.

Pokie did the 30 degrees TILT at the John Hancock Tower, I stay behind. The next day we strolled along the Navy Pier. We could not ask for a better weather than this, crisp morning and not much humidity in this part of the country.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

One day with Fred

Fred and Pokie in Hibiscus kingdom
My curiosity about an RV lands us to this beautiful friendship with Fred and his wife back then. We first met them in 2006, some eight years ago in Bellingham, Washington. We were on the way to Alaska. I did ask him as to why he has an LP tank outside his big rig.

We met them again in 2007 at the same place, and then we continue our trip to San Juan Island. That was the last time we had dinner together. Fred lost his beautiful wife Lynn a day after Christmas in 2011 and he then moved out of Tucson, Arizona in the early 2012 to Lafayette, Indiana.

When I planned to go to Chicago by train about a year ago, I looked up to see if there is a train service to his hometown. To my delight, there is, but it gets there late at night.

So, one day I called him, telling him that we will visit him for a day or two. I think I made him nervous for two months not knowing what to feed me, because I am a vegetarian and Lafayette is in the middle of “anything fried”.

True enough, the train coming in to Lafayette was late some 35 minutes and he had been waiting for us for more than an hour. I told Fred, lucky that we did not come in the next morning. In short, we had a wonderful time spending a full day with Fred.

Oh, we did try the “Fried Green Tomato” and to our delight, we like it very much.

Thank you for the memories…..till we meet again.

Chicago River Tour

Chicago River Tour
We have till 5:25 P.M. today to catch another train to Lafayette, Indiana from the Union Station. With every travel, you need to be there early to anticipate the unexpected, it turned out to be true, the Chicago train station is a zoo compare to the one in Portland, it is underground and it is mixed with the Metra trains (a commuter train in this metropolitan city). This is the time where the Chicagoans go back home from work, we did witness a rat race and it seems everything is in slow motion when we compare how we walk. This people run in my opinion.

The 11:00 A.M. river cruise is fully booked, so we opted the noon departure instead, I figure we have enough time, we will take a taxi to the train station later, I am just tired of walking. That morning we walked leisurely to the Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive, having breakfast along the way. We stored our luggage at the Bell Desk.

Enjoy the cruise! Tip is not accepted as the guide is from the Chicago Architecture Foundation. 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Chicago - The Loop

Millennium Park
Welcome to Chicago!

Our first two nights in this city, we stayed in the Chicago Loop section. This city is relatively clean, inviting and we feel safe, but at night we retreated to our room, plus we were tired from walking. There are four things must see and do in this section in my opinion namely, Millennium Park, Willis Tower, Buckingham Fountain and do an Architectural river tour (tomorrow).

In the morning we explored Millennium Park for its famous “Bean” then to Willis Tower, we went back to the “bean” in the afternoon and then explored the Buckingham Fountain. Enough walking for one day, my feet hurt so bad!

The Willis Tower’s balconies are suspended 1,353 feet above the ground and jut out 4 feet from the building. They’re actually more like boxes than balconies, with transparent walls, floor and ceiling. Visitors are treated to unobstructed views of Chicago from the building’s west side and a heart-stopping vista of the street and Chicago River below – for those brave enough to look straight down.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The train ride to Chicago

Promenade Lounge, Union Station, Portland
All aboard!

If you have to be somewhere fast, Amtrak is not the answer, period the end. Moreover if you have a connecting flight or a connecting train to catch, I wish you the best of luck. On time and speed is not the norm for this National Train. Priorities are given to the freight train and now the oil tankers in North Dakota; fracking is rampant in the Plains state.

Not only we had to come three hours and fifteen minutes earlier, we are still late arriving in Chicago by four hours. But I have to say, the train left Portland on time at 1:40 P.M. We are treated with the scenery of Columbia River from Washington state looking south on the first hours on the trip.
The train arrived in Spokane at 9:30 P.M. and it is connected with the sister train from Seattle, two engines are now pulling us from this point on. It is time to sleep for the night, as the train moves east to Idaho and Montana.

We did not sleep well the first night; I ordered a roomette which is becoming smaller by the minute. Pokie sleeps on the upper bunk bed and I sleep below, the two chairs become a bed, the second night is better by a long shot, maybe we are tired, that’s the only explanation I can have. Next time if there is any, we will order a bedroom which is a lot bigger that the roomette and it has its own bathroom.

The only decent food that I have was those two breakfasts, lunch and dinner is Ok for me, I did order vegetarian pasta and it was not thoroughly cooked. The vegetarian burgers are not any better, but I could eat. By the way, corn medley is served on every meal; we had a chuckle over that! Here comes the corn medley again! Pokie exclaimed on every meal.
We used the shower twice to refresh ourselves in the morning, I call it a “dripping faucet” but it does the job. What interesting is one hand hold the safety bar and the other hand hold the soap bar due to the rocking motion of the train!

Other than spending twenty-four hours on the train on my birthday, one of the highlight in this trip is meeting my high school friend from Indonesia who boarded in Minneapolis/St.Paul Union Station to Chicago. This is purely coincidence and unplanned. What a treat.

Arriving in Chicago four hours late and it is getting dark fast, we walked to our hotel with the empty stomach, and luckily we found a nice establishment that sells pizza and fresh salad. The bed in our hotel looks so inviting after the roomette on the train.

In conclusion American track is not for passenger train, but for freight. I do not know if I will ever see a high speed train in my lifetime. I got my wish though; we travel about 2,200 plus miles to Chicago. If you think that I was deterred by this experience, think again, my next trip would be from Vancouver, BC to Toronto in Canada for four days and three nights, I just have to convince Pokie to go along, wish me a lot of luck!

Here’s my poem on Amtrak.

All aboard!
Memories will be made
Timely arrival is not guaranteed
Running late is the norm
All aboard!
Keeping America moving at a much slower speed

Monday, May 26, 2014

Chicago Trip - Highlights

The "Bean" at Millennium Park

I did it! I did it! I got my wish, spending twenty-four hours on my 55th birthday riding a train from Portland to Chicago. It was indeed a long trip, three days and two nights plus we have to come 3 hours early and a delay for 4 hours to Chicago. I did torture Pokie all right! It only took 4 short hours to come back to the rainy Portland last nigh by plane. But the destination is journey, Chicago is just icing on the cake. Many people asked me as to why Chicago? My answer is simple, it is the longest train ride from Portland, Oregon without any transfer!

We love “downtown Chicago” very much, it is clean and food prices are very reasonable compared with a big city like Boston for example, but best of all foods are good in Chicago. I was pleasantly surprised. Of course we did all the tourist must see and do! The “bean”, the fountain, the skyscrapers, the Navy Pier and the Magnificent Mile – shop till you drop. I will sort the images and stay tune for each segments.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Poncol Station (Revisited)

Backyard Garden Railroad

Sometimes I wonder why I do like trains so much. Yes, most kids love trains but they grew out of it, I don’t. I still love train and I will always love train. If I can blame my love train, I should blame it on my childhood, I grew up very close to the train station and I would not eat my breakfast if I did not see any train, so my mom or my maid would take me to the Poncol station. I try to recreate my Poncol station in our backyard, I have to say, so far I run this train just one summer, I should do it more often.

Eastern Oregon 2010 (Revisited)

Eastern Oregon

Since most people live in the western side of the state, Eastern Oregon is hardly visited; people tend to go to the Oregon Coast and Central Oregon. But I have to say that Eastern Oregon has its own beauty and rich in history. Back in 2010, the state of the Oregon economy is not at its best shape by a long shot, so I have furlough for 4 years straight, but my motto is “I got no pay, I go play”. Here’s one of them where I planned my trip and enjoy the Painted Hills, Kam Wah Chung Museum, and Sumpter Valley Railroad. Enjoy

Garden Train 2010 (Revisited)

The largest privately owned Garden Railroad

Since my blogspot was created in 2011, many of my websites are not in it. I decided to revisit one of the largest privately owned garden rail road in Oregon. This garden rail road was featured in as well as the owner tried to sell the property, asking price was about $3.0 million plus. It was a nice visit indeed, thanks to our friend Cheryl and Penny who invited us for this “steam-up”. Inside you will find the largest G Scale railroad indoor. This is simply amazing.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

National Train Day 2014

National Train Day 2014
Today is National Train Day, so I have to go and check it out. The threat of rain did not materialize during the morning hours, a good thing. As usual we got to the Union Station minutes before it is open, thus the crowd is still manageable, even that, the event is filling rather quickly, apparently this show is a favorite among parents with a small kids like myself. There are about thirty booths in all. I am happy that I got my hat; remember an early bird always catches the worm. Enjoy! I can’t wait to be on board next week to Chicago!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Peony Garden

Adelman Peony Gardens
There are two words to describe going to this Peonies Garden – “windy” and “too early”, O well, three words then. Nonetheless, we were able to take as much photographs as we could. We drove south for about forty-five minutes to Adelman garden in Salem, two more weeks would have been perfect as I was told, but in two weeks we will be on the train to Chicago to celebrate my 55th birthday, I will torture Pokie for 3 days and 2 nights on the train. As usual Pokie was in charge for the close up images. Sit back and enjoy the beauty of the nature on this early May.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Happy Easter

Caution: Wet Flower!
With the suggestion from our neighbor, we went to Al’s Garden this morning, just a few miles down the road from where we live. I only brought my macro lens and Pokie was the sole photographer for this assignment. We quickly downloaded our images and one finger stay on the DELETE button since taking macro we have to content with unintentional blurriness; we want some “BOKEH” effect that will enhance the images on the other hand. I hope you find your favorite flowers or colors. We also wish you Happy Passover and Happy Easter 2014.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Woodburn Tulip Festival 2014

I could easily say this is “Happy Spring II” the sequel. The weather is a bit chilly but the lighting is outstanding to take tulips. These colors are screaming to my lens wanting me to click the shutter button. While I like overall pictures, sort of landscape, stacking the various colors to make a good composition, Pokie prefers a more close-ups of the flowers. As a result, we complement each other and make such a good team to take this tulip festival of 2014. The last time we came here was in 2010, some four years ago. Come, I take you for an easy walk; watch the puddles!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Happy Spring 2014

Spring 2014
Happy Spring 2014 everyone! I always come back to the same spot year after year to see these flowers blooming. It is like saying, “Spring is here, spring is here!” It makes me so happy to see these plus the sun is out with a full force. It was a beautiful day indeed. On a troubling note, someone is using my social security to file a 2013 tax return; it means just one thing! I have to deal with the IRS. Wish me luck!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Snowstorm 2014

Obsidian Street looking west

This must have been the second worst snowstorm since 2008. The office was closed for two days in between weekend, unheard of since I have been in Portland. Four days at home, I became restless, there was so much you can do, and television had been my best friend in the duration of the snow days. It took more than two hours on Thursday, February 6th to get home, when the snow was covering the street we decide to head back home. I was very careful what I drank in term of quantity, but nonetheless everything was shrinking including my bladder, so I had to melt some snow in the middle of the snow blizzard somewhere in Hillsdale on the side of the road. This snowstorm also cost me two vacation days for nothing.


Sunday, January 26, 2014

Oregon Pacific Railroad

Oregon Pacific Railroad
This is our first outing in 2014. When our friend showed us an article about this railroad (he knows I am a train nuts), and the weather is relatively dry and sunny, we decided to go and check this out. This is a short line railroad, what amazed me is that this line is still owned by an individual and not a corporation, for five bucks a ride the owner said that he won’t make money and he will earn smiles from people who rides it.

The weather is so dry that we even have forest fire in five places in Oregon; this is unheard of since I moved to Oregon some fifteen plus years ago. Send some rain our way. Anyway, I always love anything that runs on rails. Enjoy the ride with me.