Emmy and I first started planing a London trip almost two years ago. We can thank Harry Styles, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne and the rest of One Direction for the inspiration of the destination. They were a gateway for Emmy getting into other British acts and British fashion. Emmy says, “I was thinking of London as this perfect place. And it was.”
Other than Canada, I hadn’t traveled internationally since 1997, when Nancy and I got engaged in Lisbon and Wesley and I traveled to Prague.
To be honest, the UK was not the top of my travel bucket list for travel. But it should have been. We had an all around great trip. I was very pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to travel in London, and how much I enjoyed the green spaces alongside the cosmopolitan urban culture and amenities. Public transit is extremely convenient; we took the tube everywhere except a cab to our flat on arrival and when we took the train to Windsor and to the Harry Potter studio tour.
We were both especially pleased at the ease (and quality) of vegetarian dining in London, something that is always stressful while traveling, particularly in continental Europe (maybe it’s better there now) and Latin America. It seems like almost every restaurant in London has a selection vegetarian items, all nicely marked with a “V” or in their own category on menu. (Even in supposedly prog Portland, we often don’t get this courtesy.) I assumed we’d be eating a lot of Indian food (no complaints there, mate!), but we never did, and we didn’t find the need to look for vegetarian restaurants, either (of which there are plenty). Somebody even rated London the number one vegan city in the world. I would have scoffed at that notion prior to this trip.
For a while we considered splitting the trip between London and Paris, even entertaining the crazy notion of a day or overnight trip to Paris. We decided this would be too much hassle and not enough time in either city, and decided to focus a full 10 days on London. We rented a flat instead of a hotel so we could just unpack and move in and have a full home base. This turned out to be a really good decision. It was less expensive than a hotel, still very conveniently located, and extremely comfortable and convenient (separate bedrooms, kitchen, laundry, and a huge terrace overlooking the neighborhood).
If you’re not me or Emmy or directly related to us, the rest of this may be boring. I’m just recording it from my hand-written journal for posterity. If you just want to see photos, you can see them all on Flickr (pictures of me and Emmy are protected; if you’re family drop me a line and I’ll send you a special link so you can see us).
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We’ve been busy busy busy this summer, so we only managed to get the canoe down last weekend. We took Junior out last Sunday and put in at Rivergrove, where we left off last year, and paddled downstream almost to Wanker’s Corner (yes, that’s a real place name).
There is a put-in spot at Wanker’s Corner, so yesterday we decided to check it out (it’s labeled “Shipley Bridge” on the Tualatin Riverkeepers’ map). It turned out to be a bit too primitive and dicey, so we went back to Rivergrove and paddled the full two miles downstream to Wanker’s Corner (river mile 7.4 – 5.4) and back, hoping to see a blue heron or… something…
Coming around a bend, we first saw some other paddlers, then, above, a big bird with a white underbelly: an osprey. It flew back and forth a couple times then landed in a tree right next to us.
Just steps from our door, three new segments of the Westside Regional Trail are nearing completion. The project will join existing trails to form a six mile bike and pedestrian corridor from the north side of Tigard through the Tualatin Hills Nature Park in Beaverton. Eventually the trail will continue north and south connecting western Portland metro area communities between the Tualatin River and the Willamette River.
The new segments of the trail cross some difficult terrain, including steep hillsides with switchbacks and bridges over wetlands. Construction began in the summer of 2012, but was suspended for the wet season. At the approach to a new bridge, a large puddle formed over the winter, and in the spring we noticed tadpoles.
By summer, the construction crews returned with their heavy machines and piles of gravel. The tadpoles had turned into Pacific Chorus Frogs, but they weren’t ready to leave their birthplace on their own. We also discovered immature salamanders, still with gills.
Since it was clear their world would soon be buried under tons of gravel and pavement, son Z and I embarked on an emergency relocation project. Three evenings in a row, we took nets and plastic containers to their little pond and caught as many as we could. We walked them to another wetland and set them free. We got 19 in all; 12 frogs and 7 salamanders. We think we got most of the frogs, but the salamanders were really hard to catch. On the third night, we were assisted by daughter E and Grandma L.
When we came back from a short trip to Iowa, we found that crews had resumed work on the approach to the bridge, destroying the little world as we expected. Some of the puddle remained, so we hope any remaining salamanders and frogs were able to flee.
1 Red bell pepper, sliced
1 handful fresh carrots, sliced thinly on a diagonal
2 handfuls snow peas, sliced into bite-size chunks
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, sliced
1 handful sun-dried tomatoes, chopped (I like the kind packed with olive oil)
1/2 cup pesto
Zest of 1 lemon
Saute onion, carrot and pepper in olive oil over medium heat until soft. Add peas, garlic and sun-dried tomatoes. Saute until soft, then turn up heat and sear. When carrots and onions are browned a little, turn off heat and toss in pesto. Serve over capellini, top with a sprinkle of Parmesan and another sprinkle of lemon zest.