“Pic of the Week”, August 2, 2013. Japanese Garden, Portland

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One of the finest Japanese Gardens in North America — perhaps the best anywhere outside Japan — is found in Portland, Oregon, in the hills near downtown.  Covering five and a half acres of Washington Park, it’s a setting of calm and tranquility, as all Japanese gardens are.

I’m always been inspired by the asymmetric balance and harmony of these gardens.  The methodical selection, placement and pruning of trees and bushes, the blending of colors, the judicious use of water and stone make me want to do better in my own yard (though somehow I always fail with this).  It’s a great place to go for a slow relaxing walk.  The garden is open throughout the year and its character changes with the …

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.All Trips / North America / Oregon / Pacific Northwest

Portland, Oregon — The Cozy City of Roses

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I can enjoy a visit to a large city as much as anyone — seeing the Eiffel Tower, Sistine Chapel, Buckingham Palace or Statue of Liberty are as exciting and fun for me as for any traveler.  But overall I’m more relaxed and comfortable, and derive greater pleasure from visiting smaller cities and towns than I do a huge metropolis.   Such places are easier to get around in and lend themselves well to exploration on foot.  They often have quality attractions not as well known or as busy as those in larger cities.

Downtown Portland and Willamette River

Such — sort of anyway — is the case of Portland, on the lush green banks of the Willamette River where it joins the mighty Columbia River …

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“Pic of the Week”. January 4, 2013. Skedans Island Totem Poles, Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands)

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Haida Gwaii, formerly known as the Queen Charlotte Islands (or “Misty Isles”), is a chain of islands off the coast of northern British Columbia, just below the Alaska panhandle.  The Islands are lush and green because they are wet — frequently foggy, drizzly or rainy.   When I visited, one of the locals told me it’s not unusual to have only have a single day of sunshine a month.  I’m not sure I could live in that type of environment but I did enjoy my visit!

Haida Gwaii has a rich aboriginal history and culture.  Natives in the area lived as tribes, often in large communal houses built of cedar logs.  Food (salmon, game, berries) was very plentiful …

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Karl on | Comments Off on “Pic of the Week”. January 4, 2013. Skedans Island Totem Poles, Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands)
.All Trips / North America / Pacific Northwest / Washington

Seattle, Washington — Coffee Capital of the World (and a city of many other nicknames)!

001- Seattle 2012 Skyline viewed from Space Needle

Seattle is a great city — a world-class travel destination!  Situated in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, it has much appeal as a several day (or even week-long) stop especially when part of a circuit through other great sites in the region, such as Vancouver and Victoria B.C, or the Olympic and Long Beach peninsulas, or Mount Rainier and Mt. St. Helen’s.   By far the largest city in America’s Northwest, with over four million residents, it’s a bustling growing metropolis with a memorable skyline set on the shores of lovely Puget Sound.  Lush and green, fenced in by the Cascade Mountains to the east, with westward views of the Sound and …

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.All Trips / North America / Pacific Northwest / Washington

A visit to Washington state’s Long Beach Peninsula

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For most travelers, the southwestern corner of Washington state is easy to bypass.  It lies well over an hour’s drive from the busy I-5 Interstate Freeway.  The broad mouth of the Columbia River limits access from the Oregon coast and the geography of the peninsula limits access from northern Washington.  The peninsula is several hours drive from airports in the nearest major cities, about 2 hours (110 mi) from Portland and 3 hours(180 mi) from Seattle.  So you really have to plan to visit here and can’t just drop by.  My wife and I were definitely motivated to go as the Long Beach Peninsula was the last major region of Washington State we had not visited.

The Journey to Long Beach

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.All Trips / North America / Pacific Northwest / Washington

Tacoma — Water, Glass, more Glass, with a little history thrown in…

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Tacoma is a city I’ve driven through numerous times but never thought much about.  I was aware it was a port city situated on Puget Sound, and that it had a huge dome (Tacoma Dome) just off the I-5 freeway. I knew Tacoma is Washington state’s third largest city (Seattle and Spokane are more populous) and a gateway to Mt. Rainer National Park.  But this time we weren’t going to Mt. Rainer, rather to Tacoma’s Museum of Glass, which Sylvia and I’d heard good things about.  We had few preconceived expectations for our visit and as it turned out we were to be pleasantly surprised.

The Museum of Glass is an interesting hybrid …

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.All Trips / Idaho / North America / Pacific Northwest

Don’t forget to stop at Twin Falls

Don’t forget to stop at Twin Falls

Most travelers seem in a big hurry to complete their drive on I-84, through the lava fields of the Snake River Plain.  Their destinations are often Boise to the north, Yellowstone National Park to the east or Salt Lake City to the south.  I’d encourage people to slow down and use Twin Falls as their base of operation if they want to explore places in south-central Idaho like Craters of the Moon National Monument or the Sun Valley area.

Twin Falls is a small, clean neat city — typical of so many in the heartland.  It provides very reasonably priced services to travelers (a large …

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.All Trips / Idaho / North America / Pacific Northwest

In Hemingway’s footsteps: Ketchum and Sun Valley

In Hemingway’s footsteps — Ketchum and Sun Valley

As we drive north from Twin Falls, through the lava fields, farms and sage, I take in the majestic mountains up ahead as they emerge from the clouds.  It’s easy to see why this area had a special place in ‘Papa’ Hemingway’s heart, and why he had chosen this as his final home…it would hard to find a better setting.

I’d first heard of the adjoining twin towns of Sun Valley & Ketchum when reading about one of my favorite writers, Ernest Hemingway.  Hemingway was a complicated individual but an extremely talented writer.  A man who lived life to the fullest in almost every way — manly outdoor adventure, partying, drinking, and writing about these experiences in …

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