Shoes of Eastern Oregon

The other night, I was at a basketball game, and watched a little girl wearing cowboy boots playing a version of hopscotch on some squares that had been painted on the floor.

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A few nights later, at a work event, I spotted two little girls waiting patiently for their mom and brother to finish getting the assistance they came for.

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I later asked them if I could take a picture of their boots, and they posed prettily. I prefer the unposed version.

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A Short Drive Across the U.S.

In early October, Hubby announce it was time for us to leave Massachusetts and move back home to Oregon. Since we were using ABS to move (you pack the truck, they drive it, you unpack), I decided to drive across the country so my car would be with me. I asked my sister if she wanted to come along on the trip, and we agreed that, due to our schedules, the trip would take place in early December. We agreed to take a southerly route, both to avoid snow, and because neither of us had been to many southern states, so we agreed to “check them off our lists.”

Dec. 5, after packing the truck, we left Quincy, driving south through Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and we stopped for the night in Delaware. It was dark for much of the trip, and we didn’t make any stops, other than for fuel and food. No pictures were made that day.

The following day, we continued south, driving through Maryland and Virginia, and on to West Virginia. In Virginia, we stopped at Mt. Vernon, then, on our way to James Madison’s Montpelier, we were stopped by road blocks in the town of Orange. They were having a Christmas parade. We stopped to watch and photograph the parade. I, naturally, had left my jackets at the house in Massachusetts, so we were in shirtsleeves for this dusk parade. The cooler the evening became, the more people in this small town commented that we needed jackets. Many of them were wearing full winter gear, including gloves and scarves. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, especially when Santa, bringing up the rear of the parade, yelled to us, “You need to ask Santa for coats!”

After the parade, we got back into the car and headed to West Virginia (to “check it off the list). Got there in full darkness, so sadly, we were not able to see anything of the state. Then, we turned around and headed back to Virginia to sleep.

In the morning, we left Virginia, drove through a corner of Tennessee, then on to North Carolina. We spent quite a bit of time in Asheville, visiting the Basilica of St. Lawrence, and the Biltmore.

On to South Carolina, then a westward turn through Georgia (where we both experienced Waffle House for the first time) and on to Alabama where we detoured to see Talladega racetrack. We were alone on the tour, and enjoyed trying to decipher our guide’s words through his heavy accent.

 

From there, on to Mississippi, where a woman at the state Visitor’s Center gave us a recommendation for a restaurant, as well as a coupon for 10 percent off our meal. By this time, we had decided to try local foods, and since Julie had read about Comeback Sauce, we ordered an appetizer of fried green tomatoes, which came with Comeback Sauce. We’re both in love with both items. How did we not know of this before?

From there to Louisiana, where we again got a great restaurant recommendation at a Visitor’s Center. This one came with a coupon for free bread pudding. Once again stepping outside our comfort zone, and jumping on board the “local food” train, we tried alligator. It truly did taste like rubbery chicken, and it’s not something I need to experience again. Then, we split a Cajun chicken sandwich. Delicious! Neither of us loves bread pudding, but we split one (because it was free) and enjoyed it immensely. So good! We also split an order of Beignets (which we couldn’t finish) and when they rolled us out of there, we had a second bread pudding and half the Beignets in take-out bags to give to our hostess for the evening. From Louisiana, we headed north to Arkansas, and Texarcana, because Julie wanted to do the “two states” thing, before heading back to Dallas to visit one of my old college friends, and Fort Worth to stay with a relative of my sister’s husband.

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Once we left Fort Worth, we headed to Oklahoma, where we met up with Route 66. Visited the Route 66 Museum, then the route took us back to Texas, and Cadillac Ranch.

Having been raised in Adrian, Oregon, we were happy to spend time in Adrian, Texas, the mid-point of Route 66. We spoke with a delightful woman at a convenience store, and shared tidbits about our two Adrians.

From there, we entered New Mexico, where we visited Tucumcari, a cute little town with murals painted on buildings, celebrating Route 66. We also enjoyed some time at Abo Mission, the ruins of an old Spanish mission on Pueblo lands in New Mexico. And our latest restaurant recommendation took us to a Pueblo restaurant in Albuquerque. Not as great as the previous recommendations, but still quite good.

Woke up the next morning in Gallup, NM, to four inches of snow. Our maps showed that it would take 13 hours to get home, and because of predicted storms in Salt Lake (which was about half-way), we decided to power through. Stopped at Four Corners National Monument, and for a few minutes outside Arches National Park, and we managed to avoid further bad weather until we were three hours from home (and it was dark). Made it through that unscathed, and hit home about 1 a.m. on our eighth day of driving.

We drove a total of 4, 192 miles, through 25 states. I have 8 US states yet to see, and Julie has 9 (we also got her Maine and New Hampshire when she was in Mass with us, a few days before departing. She didn’t get into Vermont).

The trip of a lifetime, really, and great for Julie and me to have the opportunity to spend so much time together. The truck arrived six days after we did, and two days after Julie had gone back home to her family. The truck was emptied and taken away, but the boxes remain. I was able to unpack enough to host several family members and friends for Christmas dinner, but now I need to get the half-empty boxes out of our spare bedroom before my friend comes for a visit this weekend.

Next sister trip (which might include a couple cousins): the Dakotas. Spring, I’m thinking.

Fluff Festival

Every year, the streets of Somerville, Mass., are filled with revelers celebrating Fluff, the marshmallow cream product invented in the city. This year, we were there to document some of the fun.

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Festival royalty.

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Marshmallow Toss.

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Fluff Jousting wasn’t as sticky as it was the last time we watched.

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Listening to a brass band.

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More jousting.

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An entry in the fluff cooking contest.

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Blind Man’s Fluff – a team Fluffernutter building and eating contest.

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More Blind Man’s Fluff.

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Thanks for visiting. If you want to see any of the images larger, click on the image.

Observations from the Piazza

For our writing assignment, we were asked to observe a scene on Cagli’s piazza, take notes, write a few paragraphs, and leave ourselves out of the story. Unfortunately, I did not make any images of the scene about which I wrote, so I’ll give you a few of my favorite photos from our time here, instead.

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He moved as fast as his short legs could take him, pulling his hand from his mother’s and running to the gelato stand. His curly red hair sticking out in all directions, the boy strained to reach high enough to see into the glass display case. He stands his blue tennis shoes on end.

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His mother, in her bright, multi-colored top, stood away from the tables, blowing cigarette smoke away from the groups of people. Her long, tanned, shorts-clad legs crossed as she casually surveyed the scene on the piazza.

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She dropped her burned-out cigarette to the cobblestones and strode to a table where another woman and baby waited. She called to the boy, who reluctantly shuffled away from the gelato display to join the women, his feet moving much more slowly, the toes of his shoes dragging on the cobblestones.

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Shortly after, the women and children walked slowly away from the gelato stand, one woman pushing a red stroller, the other carrying the baby. They talked animatedly while the boy hung his head in silent lament. No gelato today.

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Stranger in Milan

I’m having a battle with my computer, so allow me to pre-apologize for the errors which are bound to happen.

Once again, my graduate program has provided me the opportunity for a fantastic study abroad program (not study a broad – I checked); this time, in Florence and Cagli, Italy. I flew into Milan late last night and spent much of today walking around, exploring, and crashing a wedding.

Some of my favorite images are here:

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OK, you got me. This was not Milan. It was the Boston-to-Istanbul leg of the journey, and this little one was enthralled by Turkish Air’s flight safety video.

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Flower girls. I did mention I crashed a wedding, right?

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No idea what this little one’s role was. She walked down the aisle just before the bride’s parents, and stole the show.

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Bridegroom, awaiting permission to enter the church.

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The bride, in all her glory. That veil kept going, and going, and going …

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The couple at the altar of a fabulous church.

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Some detail from the church.

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If someone can explain to me why Baby Jesus lives inside Saturn, I’m listening.

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A little public art in the piazza in front of the church.

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Looking down a side street at men selling knock-off purses.

That’s it for today. Tomorrow involves a train trip to Florence, and the possibility of photos along the way.

As always, click on any picture to see it larger. Thanks for visiting!