Hello again! Technical problems prevailed and have slowed my progress with the blog. Funny enough, the efficiency of the Philippine internet was a topic in the paper today here in Manila’s issue of The Business Mirror. The difficulty with speed, according to this article, has to do with the Philippines being an archipelago. No surprise then I had trouble in Bali, another member of an archipelago.
Also keeping with my theme of last year, my iPhone has become the default camera for this trip. I thought the higher quality “retina display” iPad would have a better camera than my 2, or 3-year old iPhone. That’s not the case. Moving on…
I loved Vancouver!
I had planned to bicycle around Vancouver, but honestly, the air was nippy and clouds seemed to threaten rain so bicycling didn’t seem like the appropriate choice. I did find downtown Vancouver to be very walkable so long as you have a bit of time to get where you’re going. Walking across the bridge to Granville island I passed quite a few people also on foot.
My “hotel” for this part of the trip was a woman’s high rise apartment. I couldn’t have chosen a better location. I was totally made to feel at home and received excellent suggestions on everything from dining to day trips to technical gadgetry.
Rosanna lives on the 26th floor of a building in downtown Vancouver. Built adjacent to a mall, the roof below her living room window (and the room I stayed in) sports a sundial-looking clock. As luck would have it, surrounding buildings are all quite low and seem to be arranged in ascending levels of height away from hers. There are no close towers to make you feel like someone can look right in. Even more advantageous are the low buildings between her, the river and the mountains beyond. Her office view gets the full benefit.
Roz’ building is situated on the edge of Vancouver’s Chinatown, and also very near to another neighborhood called Gastown. Gastown, marked by an unusual steaming clock, is quite trendy with numerous bars and restaurants that make the ‘cool’ list. My first evening in Vancouver, Roz and I checked out a few of these places and every single one was packed.
Roz had suggested I try going to Grouse Mountain. This ended up being easier than I thought. A short walk to the waterfront and I was on a swift aqua bus crossing to Lonsdale in no time. The aqua bus took less than 15 min. from start to finish. You then exit this station directly to where several buses are waiting to depart for various locations. A regular city bus takes you up into a very nice hillside neighborhood and terminates at the cable car for Grouse Mountain.
I also learned about something called The Grouse Grind. Stairs had been built into the hillside, straight up the mountain. An adventure group had originally created the stairs for the purpose of making a challenging course but it must have realized mutual benefit for Grouse Mountain because they had taken on helping maintain the course. FYI – these are not cement steps but from what I saw in the cable car, well-kept steps of dirt reinforced by wood and rocks. There is a website that can be Googled for anyone so inclined. Several people rode down on a cable car with me who had obviously just completed a hike up the hill.
This shot of the Vancouver Stadium is from a little aquabus I took from Granville Island to Yaletown, a closer point from which to walk back to where I was staying. I really enjoyed the methods of transportation available in the Pacific Northwest. It was so easy to get around cities, or between cities in an efficient, affordable fashion sans car. Roz doesn’t even own a car and I can see with such amazing infrastructure, why would you?!?
My next post will map my coming course of travel. Stay tuned!
My trip to Port Townsend would not have been complete without a trip to the sail loft where Bonnie has been apprenticing since March. Those who don’t know her can better appreciate her path to sail making since she has worked on several tall ships. She initially worked with the Hindu (based in Key West, FL) and I believe her last ship was Lynx, based out of Newport Beach, CA. Landing in Port Townsend, Washington was a series of chance happenings and who-knows-whos and she’s enjoying the town and learning her new trade.
I accompanied her on her daily walk to work that morning from her cute little house. She declined a speedy trip in my rented car. She said she prefers to walk since that is about the only exercise she manages to get right now.
The walk took us along a ridge above the town and bay. We passed a number of houses, some of them victorian and painted with colors that highlight their details but you know they would be fussy to do (I think they call these painted ladies). Most of the houses we passed had yards that had pride of ownership written all over them.
The street descends into town and takes you past several blocks of the cute architecture I mentioned in my last post. Once we were at the port Bonnie steered me toward her favorite coffee shop, Velocity Coffee where I could grab some breakfast. She continued on to work (essentially across a parking lot).
The coffee shop was attached to a store that carried a variety of items that make sense to sailors. There were bins of brass hardware, books, foul weather clothing, cards and gift items and hanging from the ceiling were two very beautiful wooden kayaks with labels that explained they had been made as a community project. The wooden ship connection to Port Townsend suggests that wood artisans may gravitate to the town. I noticed this tiny shed of a gallery that flowed it’s wood creativity right out onto it’s shingles:
I arranged to meet Bonnie at the end of the day for my tour. I had some initial confusion as there are two tenants in this building, one being a canvas company. The canvas company door is directly off the parking lot so I assumed this was the entrance. Canvas and sail making also sound interchangeable to a sailor neophyte like me so I was on the verge of going into the wrong place. I learned later that the canvas company did serve boaters, but they made items like cushions as opposed to sails. Luckily, a discussion with someone in the coffee shop had reinforced the name “Hasse”. I chose to investigate a bit more and found the Hasse entrance on the opposite side.
The Hasse sail loft is on the second floor of a long building facing the small Point Hudson Marina. The space feels a bit like a narrow gymnasium with varnished wooden floors, long windows along each wall and a very open concept.
When I arrived, it was end of the day on a Friday and one of the sewing machines was getting a good cleaning & oiling. I was told this was regularly scheduled maintenance but if they happened to miss a week or two it wasn’t serious. One of the very experienced sail makers was preparing to smudge one of the machines as it had been ‘acting up’. For those that aren’t familiar with this treatment, smudging is the ritual of burning a bundle of dried herbs (often sage) as a method of cleansing. The bundle is lit at one end, the flame is put out and then the smoke from the embers is directed around whatever needs to be cleansed. This ritual is borrowed from Native American ceremonies.
Each sail maker has a designated stool for their work. Bonnie said sail making is quite physically taxing so anything that can help to provide leverage, protection, or just ease the process is welcomed. However, it seems no one has figured out how to overcome the crouched, bent-over position one assumes for much of the day.
The sail maker’s palm is a leather strap that fits the hand like brass knuckles. In the center of the palm is a metal disc sewn into the leather strap which provides protection and a hard surface with which to help force the needle through the fabric. Anyone who has tried sewing leather or multiple layers of fabric with an inappropriate needle will recognize the value of this tool!
This unusual tool which looks like a soldering iron connected to a vacuum hose had copies of itself hung throughout the sail loft. The vacuum was a centralized system so all the “guns” were attached to hoses strung about the ceiling and they dangled down within easy reach.
Some of you may have already made the leap of understanding as to the marriage of the soldering iron and a vacuum. If I say this is used for sealing nylon edges, perhaps it becomes clearer. It seems the vacuum attachment was a way around needing to use a fume hood. Rather than trying to carry whatever you are working on (which may be large) to a site with a fume hood, this creation was designed to suck up the nylon fumes while you remain in place.
I was not initially aware of the centralization of the vacuum until I noticed other guns with corks in the end of their vacuum nozzles. Bonnie explained that the strength of the vacuum is reduced with every nozzle that remains open. If no corks were in the other nozzles, there wouldn’t be enough suction for it to be of any use.
Many people who sew have experienced insufficient space to lay out their fabric. It takes little imagination then to realize the difficulties that may be present trying to work on sails. I caught the tail end of the procession of sail makers carrying this rolled up sail into the next room on video but I can’t seem to get it to upload correctly. Instead, here is Bonnie posing next to the sail in it’s temporary storage place on this cutting table. What you may not see here is that this l-o-o-o-o-o-ng table looks pretty much like a huge air hockey table. The top appears as a plexi-type material that is perforated throughout the entire surface. Rather than blowing air like an air hockey table, this unit creates a suction that pulls the fabric flat.
This room also had a pull-up bar. My initial thought was that it was used to drape fabric or hold things off the floor. Nope. It was a pull-up bar. Bonnie decided to try a few herself and then offered me the option. Ha ha.
Hasse Sails are a desired product as evidenced by their 1-year waiting list for new sails. I was told that some minor repairs can happen fairly quickly but the rule of thumb is that you will be on a waiting list of some kind no matter what you plan to have done. Hasse sail makers do create a few other items like totes out of sail cloth, ditty bags (can be in different sizes) and I was also told they do custom peace flags (I think you really have to know someone to accomplish this request).
I wanted to wrap up this post with this sign I saw in the sail loft. I had a brief discussion with one of the other sail makers about it. Anyone who has learned to sew from their mother can relate to that sentimentality of having Mom there to answer any questions. It reads: “Sewing Problems? We share ideas and help with each problem. It is just like Mom is right there helping you!”
I generally like to theme my posts. It also takes a while to formulate themes. After last years trip to Indonesia I ended up having a bunch of photos I wanted to post but couldn’t work them into a theme or couldn’t find the time to make enough posts to cover everything. As time passed photos seemed less relevant to where I was at the time (not that anyone would know, but I would know!) So, now that I have left Portland but still have photos I want to put out there I’ve decided to create a Photo Dump Post 🙂 I would prefer to call it a photo bomb post but photo bomb has a definition these days and would not be an appropriate word choice. I know, who cares? But that’s me, and it’s my blog.
The lobby walls are entirely glass yet industrial, perforated metal panels hanging in front of the windows create space to display artwork. Three different local artists are featured all sharing similar soft palettes and use encaustic media. A long coffee table and another side table double as displays for custom metal jewelry.
Red Bull was holding some sort of small conference here during my stay. The hotel offers nice small options for meeting spaces. They are labeled ThinkTANK, DreamBOX, or DreamTent. Connected to the Doug Fir Restaurant was also a nice long conference table with glass etched doors offering an enclosed but very visible venue.
My first night here I was introduced to their performance venue which is below the bar & restaurant. I had eaten dinner in their bar called Doug Fir and then wandered outside to the patio area where a fire was burning. A couple were standing there and asked if I was going to ‘the show’. I didn’t know there was a show but when I glanced toward the entrance I noticed a queue had formed. They explained it was a fund raiser put on by Planned Parenthood and Bitch Media called “Babies and Bananas”. It included a comedian and was expected to be entertaining as it covered the history of sex education. Just $10 and for a good cause. Why not?
The show was entertaining and sold out so I had to stand near the back. But it was also amazing to listen to the ridiculousness that has been handed down through the years as fact about sexual education. One well-meaning woman explained that light exercise was ok during menstruation but square dancing was far too vigorous and should be avoided. Several guest panelists were brought up to address questions put to them by the host. The variety of perspectives was impressive and included a transgender, someone with aids and even a disabled guy in a wheelchair. His speech was so affected by his disability that he had a translator relaying what he said. That in itself was amazing since I couldn’t make out diddly from what he was saying. It was pretty comical when the disabled guy explained that following college he had been diagnosed with an STD. His parents were surprised and said, ” How did that happen?” He replied, “I guess disabled people have sex too!”
I continued to scope out the neighborhood in a different direction yesterday. Imagine my surprise when just 2 blocks east of my hotel I stumbled upon my favorite hardware store in Portland, Hippo Hardware!
Why would a hardware store be my favorite? Because it is one of those places that is more like a salvage yard than a regular store and carries architectural elements (columns, stained glass, ornate metal fittings, claw foot tubs). I texted my friend here, Mike Wardwell, “OMG! I’m 2 blocks from my fav store Hippo Hardware!” He reminded me that anyone who has seen Jackass the movie, or Portlandia would also be familiar with Hippo. It was then that I remembered the scene from Jackass where that guy takes a dump in one of the toilets. Ewww! I will have to look for Portlandia episodes that feature Hippo 🙂
Do you suppose the movie was the inspiration for this sealed lid?
I finally figured out how to post multiple photos!! The time involved to create this mini photo post was out of proportion to the simplicity of the presentation. Truly frustrating.
I discovered I know someone else in Portland! For those who grew up with the Fanta family, Carol Fanta is out here and saw my Facebook post from Jupiter Hotel. She picked me up last night and took me to a wonderful little restaurant called “Mother’s” in downtown Portland. The premise behind the restaurant’s name is very cool… every month the restaurant features a page of recipes from a different mother! The restaurant has a fine dining air to it with “crystal ” chandeliers throughout and white table cloths but you quickly sense the relaxed vibe. I would recommend it to anyone.
I don’t know why WordPress is so temperamental on an iPad, but even something simple like placing my cursor in a sentence to edit is proving to be a challenge. For the life of me, I can’t seem to put any text below the last photo to wrap up this post. So I will end this cobbled mess for now and hope successive posts will flow smoothly!
My day started early, the alarm sounding at 3:30 AM. The Super Shuttle was slotted for 6:00 AM but I was determined to be ready at 5:30 since they had a 15 minute leeway pick up window. By 5:35AM my bags were packed and at the door. I was wrapping up last minute things like taking out the garbage and unplugging the computer modem when the call came from the guard house. Sh*t! They’re early! I grabbed my bags and the garbage and ran from my apartment crossing my fingers in hopes I wasn’t forgetting anything.
We rolled down Biscayne Boulevard toward the highway that would take us west toward the airport. Climbing the on-ramp, my stomach knotted up with the realization that everything I had printed out… that morning’s plane tickets, hotel and flight schedules, bus tickets, information for the Philippines, had all been forgotten on my desk at the apartment. I mentally assessed. Thank goodness I’m anal about organizing my email. I have folders for everything… airlines, hotels, communication with hotels I’ve never even stayed at… I even duplicated emails where necessary so I could have a folder dedicated to this trip (not creatively titled: “2014 Trip”). Whew! I think I can find anything I need so long as I have internet!
Anyone have seat preferences when flying? I prefer window seats. But I now choose aisle seats for any flights over 3 hours. I can’t stand feeling captive to the people in the aisle seats when I have to go to the bathroom. International flights where people have taken sleeping pills are the worst. I’ll take the aisle, thanks. (P.S. This photo: I got a rare window seat… thankfully all women in the row. Women always go to the bathroom at some point).
A morning of jangled nerves has gently morphed in to my return to a favorite city of wisteria, coffee houses, brewpubs and beach-to-mountain possibilities. I promise to figure out how to post more than one photo tomorrow!
Has it been a year already since you followed me around Bali? Well, fasten your seat belt on your favorite surfing chair – – this year’s trip launches tomorrow!
My learning curve this year includes a new way of traveling with technology. This first post is coming to you from my new iPad and it isn’t all rainbows and unicorns. As a 20 year veteran using the Macintosh computer, confusion has replaced confidence. I don’t know exactly where to locate information, how to make things happen the way I want them to, and I’m crossing my fingers that I will manage to access all the information I will need while traveling. It’s disconcerting, or exciting, and I will opt to remind myself of the latter as often as possible!
Departing from MIA (Miami), I expect to land on Jupiter by mid-afternoon. Actually, I will be landing in Portland but staying in Jupiter Hotel, a qualified “Jody” hotel based on reviews, their self-described boutique-ness and the Buddha image painted on the wall in one of their room photos. I hope to meet up with a friend from college, absorb some of the Portland vibe, and I will surely hang out in a few coffee shops while pecking away at my iPad informing all of you about my travels.
Then it is on to Port Townsend, WA via BoltBus and Budget rentals. An acquaintance from Key West, FL has found herself relocated to the exact opposite corner of the country. I gave her little room to refuse me so she has generously opened her home for a couple of nights. I hope to see the shop where she is learning sail making ( a shout-out to her own blog: http://www.sailmakersapprentice.squarespace.com) as well as commune with Mother Nature’s brilliant Olympic National Forest.
My final stop on the North American continent is Vancouver, BC Canada. I have arranged a stay with a graphic designer who offers her home from the 26th floor in a downtown high rise through AirB&B.com. I plan to rent a bike and take in whatever I can reach while perched on 2 wheels.
Finally , I will make my first leap to a new country: Manila, Philippines! Stay tuned.