Monday, September 15, 2014

Catbird Scouting While Traveling


She is a friend of mind. She gather me, man. The pieces I am, she gather them and give them back to me in all the right order. It's good, you know, when you got a woman who is a friend of your mind.
Toni Morrison, Beloved

Last month I went on a Road Trip with some of my girlfriends. Three of those Bunco Bitches* I've known for 25 years. We had a purpose. One of those bitches recently bought an apartment in Portland for seasonal use. She wanted a car up there for her visits. Always up for an adventure, three of us volunteered to help navigate.

*For those of you new to my blog, or not aware, the Bunco Bitches are a group of 14 women that met 25 years ago at the neighborhood park. Not only new to the hood, (most of us from other parts of the country) we were also new at being moms and staying at home. We began meeting the second Tuesday night of the month, sans children, to play this stupid game called Bunco. It saved us from having to rely on babies and toddlers for keeping up our communication skills.

Another Bunco group in our neighborhood formed and those women were much nicer than us. They hugged and remembered each other's birthdays. They called themselves the Bunco Babes.  My group all looked at each other and said, "Wow, we don't do that. That must make us a bunch of bitches." Hence, the Bunco Bitches. It just stuck.

Although we haven't played Bunco in over 16 years, we still meet the second Tuesday of every month (or for an occasional weekend somewhere else) and we're still a bunch of bitches.

Back to the story, we began our trek in Los Angeles and meandered along the Pacific Coast Highway (HWY 1 and 101) through


Santa Barbara


Big Sur


Santa Cruz


San Francisco


the Sonoma wine country

and a sea glass beach.


 We marveled at the Avenue of the Giants and
the incredible Oregon coast






before driving into Portland and a little beyond.



Armed with guidebooks and maps, we didn't plan it all out and I must say, some of our spur of the  moment hotels proved rather interesting and fun. 



We stayed at The Bluebird Inn.



The Coastal Inn and Spa had an herbal store in the lobby, Korean clay on the ceiling and cell phone service if you walked behind the hotel and hung out by the herb garden. I think the hot tub was the spa part.


Our Crescent City hotel had a very organized trailer park behind it, plus, a view of the ocean.


The Fireside Inn faced the most beautiful, lava beach complete with a four-woman bench to watch the incoming tide.

Since we were cramming all four of us into one hotel room and splitting the cost, that left more room for great meals. Whether someone else made it for us 

Duck Confit

Artichokes (Artichoke capital of world nearby.)

Steamers

Best Oyster Shooters EVER!

Fish and Chips

Marionberry Crisp

Pok Pok Wings
Or we shopped and prepared it ourselves.
Leftover Pok Pok in scrambled duck eggs








What would a Bunco gathering be without wine? Okay, so we broke it up with a martini here and there.


However, road trips don't always have to end upon arriving at the final destination. 

On my last day in Portland I stood in front of my friend's apartment house while a car pulled up and stopped right in the middle of the street. Someone I'd never met before, who looked just as I knew she would, jumped out of her car to give me a warm hug.

 Yup, in the flesh -- Catbird Scout -- one of the finest essay writers I know.  Known only to me through blogging and email.

With a quick introduction and wave to my girlfriends hanging out the apartment window above, I climbed into Catbird Scout's car. Just like that.

Two people who had never met. Two people who knew each other very well.

Catbird Scout had a plan for the day. Off we went. Off as in walking my ass off - literally. That catbird scout lured me by parking at a restaurant and then walking in the other direction. I caught up to her and kept a pace I hadn't reached since my days as a sauntering jogger. By the time we finally landed back at the restaurant door, the pedometer in my pocket had registered 8800 steps toward my 10,000 daily goal (rarely reached.)

Catbird Scout and I did not lack for conversation. So quickly the time flew, the conversation fueled by topics far beyond what we already knew about one another.  Writing, teaching, family, travel, pain, sorrow, love, laughter. Even my mom. Catbird followed my mom's blog, Old? Who? Me? and they were friends as well. I found I talked of my mom as I hadn't since she died. I liked that.

By afternoon's end, I wished for more time, that we lived closer for I delighted in her company. The ease of talking and sharing with her. That she knew my mind.

Even that pedometer in my pocket was happy. With my walking in Portland that night, my little meter was acting like a jumping bean in my pocket. By day's end it registered almost 14,000 steps. A little figure next to that magic number was jumping up and down and I could hear it saying "Julie, oh Julie? If you did this everyday, you wouldn't look the way you do. "

I took offense to that. But I must say that after all the walking I did on the trip with my husband and then this trip with all my girlfriends, there does seem to be a little extra room in the ass of my shorts. I hate that. Exercise. Why does that have to be the answer?  Especially now that I'm back to my 4000-6000 step most days.

I've lost my train of thought and all my essay training is screaming at me that I really have two or three essays here and I need to pull it together. Probably not possible, but I don't want to separate these trains too much for the only complete excess in this discussion is the discussion of my ass. The rest all relates to friendship.

Especially to those that know my mind.  

Friends, be they bloggers, book clubbers, writers, men, neighbors, old classmates and old roommates, family or bitches, I'm grateful for how you share your lives and wonderment, your questions and answers, and the worlds around you. I can't imagine any journey without that.

How incredible is that.

  Thanks, Catbird Scout. Sucha and Shucka. Bohemians.


Thanks Bunco women. Enjoyed the ride.

40 comments:

  1. Every picture delicious. Every one.
    What a beautiful, amazing trip and how incredible you are all still those Bunco Bitches. I salute you!

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  2. What a bounty! All that food, all those beaches, and then... Catbird Scout! I've also met her twice (soon to be three times), all through the wonders of Blogland! Thanks for a great trip that you invited me to be on with you. I had a great time, even if it was only virtual. :-)

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    1. I'm glad you came along. Too much fun. You most certainly enjoyed Catbird as did I. Lucky you getting to write with her.

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  3. What an amazing journey. I have a niece in Portland and enjoy visiting the area, it is totally different from the rural one I live in.

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    1. Yes, it was very different. Very welcoming and easy to get around. Good food, too.

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  4. Well documented lovely trip of friendship. I envy you that!

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  5. I am most grateful for those friendships.

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  6. Wonderful!
    Had I known, we could have met too, as I live on the Southern Oregon Coast.

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    Replies
    1. Thinking I need another trip up there. Would love to meet you.

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  7. Wow.. what an amazing ride. Lovely sights, fabulous friends and meeting up with a blogging buddy. All this PLUS you walked your ass off. ;) Looks like a great time, Julie. I'm glad you enjoyed.

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  8. First, thanks for stopping. Then, incredible photography. I now am in awe of both you and Tabor. And now, small world; I followed your mom's blog. How did I never look here, too? Ah, well.
    This was a wonderful trip up the coast; I made it from Washington State down to San Francisco in a van full of children in 1980. It was so magnificent we agreed to stay an extra day and no one would complain crossing the country home to NE Ohio in three days.

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    1. Such a lovely comment. Thanks for the comparison to Tabor in regard to the photography. I’m flattered as I think she is really good. Small world indeed. I miss my mom’s posts and the blogging life we shared.

      I had to laugh at your driving cross country in a van with kids. I did that too. Three of my boys, plus a couple more sometimes traveling from Texas up to see my mom and dad in Green Bay. I know every stop of interest within 100 miles either side of I-35. All the museums in Chicago, Springfield. etc. And the long ride back after all the stops.

      A pleasure to meet you.

      Julie

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  9. What a rich read this was--from the huge arcs of friendship over the decades to driving the 101 to amazing meals to open-air markets to meeting a fellow blogger. WOW.

    I want to live your life. And: great job with wearing that pedometer. I need to do that again.

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    1. I enjoyed living it, too. Now I'm bored though. Need to get used to the mundane again.

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  10. Humbly Triumphant, is the overall theme I was left with. You all deserve some recognition for forming and maintaining friendships. That doesn't happen without some nurturing. Your trip looked fabulous.

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    1. Thank you for this comment. I, too, find that long-term group quite exceptional. (I won't tell them that, though.)

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  11. What a terrific trip! The companionship, the views, the experiences--stories like these do my heart good when I'm feeling a little trapped and overwhelmed. This is the kind of escape that heals and sustains.

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    1. Glad to oblige, Green Girl. Thanksgiving is almost here, teacher.

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  12. Awesome trip! So glad you shared, though of course I am now extremely jealous…nothing like the company of good friends with a little serendipity thrown in. Grand.

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    1. Thanks, ds. It was most fun. A bit of a letdown once home, however. Kept looking for the fun to continue. Oh, well. Life.

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  13. Okay, what group calls themselves "babes". Seriously? Who does that? I can tell I'd much rather be part of your bitches. :)
    What a fun trip! The food looks AMAZING!!!! Wow.
    Thank you for sharing it with us!

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    1. Yes, the bitches are MUCH MORE fun! Trust me.

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  14. Wow, what a ride this write is!!! Loved every word and picture. I know the territories you covered and it really is an amazing stretch of land...so wild and free. And I love that you've kept up with old friends while collecting new ones. Room for all in your heart :) Thanks, Julie for the fun read.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed it. I certainly did and loved sharing it. Now, what to do....

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  15. What an incredible trip this was. Beautiful scenery. The food looked amazing. And friends....priceless....

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    1. It was truly fun. Travel. Such a fun diversion.

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  16. I think I'm jealous. I have some wonderful old friends, but no traveling group.... Also, you got to spend time with Catbird Scout, surely one of the most insightful and generous people around. And I've often thought that you have a lot in common with her, so it seems appropriate that you should meet!

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    1. Yes, Catbird Scout was such a pleasure to meet. I found your comment that we should meet most interesting. It seemed to right.

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  17. Love the views and especially the tall trees and the friends with their arms around the base of the thickest one and the seascapes....... not to mention the delicious foods.
    Sounds like a good way to travel with friends.
    Maggie x

    Nuts in May

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    1. It was most fun. So different traveling with women.

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  18. How wonderful! Every. Single. Word. and Photograph! I've always wanted to take that trip, up the coastal highway and if I never get the chance, you've shown me what I'll miss. I am grateful! I need to come back and read this again...slowly. To savor it all. All over again.

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    1. Aw, you need to take that trip. Pictures can't tell how beautiful it was.

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  19. I love your title!!! And I loved spending time with you. It was a truly magical day, and so easy. I'm really glad I got to be a part of this incredible summer's journey you took. I'm still mulling your advice, and hearing your laughter. Even though blogging isn't as big a part of my life as it was a few years ago, the friends it's brought me are priceless. You are a gift!

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  20. What an amazing trip you had!! Not only that, but I so admire that you have a group of women that you see so regularly. Good friends are such a gift.

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    1. Very blessed to have them. We get to be who we are. Probably the best part of all.

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  21. Wow! What a wonderful road trip with close friends...

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