St Louis has the Arch, Gateway to the West. That’s nothing compared to Al’s place, Gateway to Our Adventures. Al, who we’ve known for more than 30 years, holds the record for number of visits on our travels at 4. Whether we’re heading to or returning from the west or south, Al is nearby. Visits with Al are always comfortable. They always include conversation late into the night, Al’s super home cooking and some fun outdoor adventure.
Our friend John is the second person we met when we started skiing at Sugarbush in 1999. We’ve been friends ever since, sharing passions for skiing, biking and fine (ok, very good) dining, and Doug and I have occasionally served as marginally competent crew on John’s sailboat. Over the years, we’ve also become friends with John’s brother Phil and Phil’s wife Barb, who visit Vermont regularly. Since we found ourselves near where they live, we arranged to visit.
I was 6 years old when my Uncle Rod and Aunt Olive up and moved to California with my cousins Rick and Priscille. Priscille was my idol at the time – she was my only girl cousin in our little home town in New Hampshire. And she was so cool – she was 11. I asked ‘Mom, where’s California?’ ‘It’s far’ she said.
Fast forward 35 years. My brother reports that he’s visited our 4 cousins in California. You know, Rod’s kids. Wait a minute…
In the early 1940s my grandparents bought a cattle ranch on the San Francisco peninsula, in the Santa Cruz mountains west of Palo Alto, off of the California 35, which is also known as the Skyline Boulevard. My mom and her sisters and brother moved to the ranch at relatively young ages and did most of their growing up there. Eventually my grandfather left the ranch to pursue other ventures, while my grandmother decided to stay put and established on the ranch a nursery specializing in California native plants.
On our way back north, we stopped in Chico to visit David and Trudy. Dave is Katy’s brother and also Pete’s. Here in the Central Valley of California, folks grow food. Fruit, nuts, rice, cattle, and more. No surprise then that our sightseeing tour had a focus on food, with even some eating thrown in, and there were other aspects, as well.
Coming into California for me is kind of like coming home, since I was actually born here. I still have many connections to friends and family in this state, so we have some serious traveling ahead of us. Let us begin…
My list of people who were most influential on who I became as an adult certainly includes John and Sharon. They opened my eyes and heart to diversity, open-mindedness and life balance, allowing me to see a whole new world of possibilities. That’s a long story. The short version is that I was John’s tenant, renting the camper in his back yard in 1983-1984, when he met Sharon. Together with their kids Josh, then 5, and Michael, 7, and a few pets, we lived together as a funky alt-family. They married, and I met Doug and moved back to the east coast.
To round out her vacation and trip through Oregon, Mo wanted to visit a few specific places in Portland. On the last day of our week together, we set off on an urban adventure to see the city and find those places.