Category Archives: Travel

Lidia’s and the Strip District

I have to tell you a bit about Lidia’s.  Alan loves to watch cooking shows on Saturday mornings.  One of his favorites is ‘Lidia’s Italian Kitchen’ (or something like that…).   Well, when he found out she had a restaurant in Pittsburgh, and we just so happened to be going to Pittsburgh….!!  We just had to go there.  The food was great.  Very different from the Italian we usually get at a restaurant. 
Alan’s aunt took us to the "Strip District"…and no, it’s not what you think!    It is a strip of shops, mostly fresh foods from several different ethnicities.  Lots of old funky buildings full of old funky smells…. fun, seriously.  It just so happened that Lidia’s is in the Strip District, so that  worked out nicely! 

Pittsburgh – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Wow!  Did the week ever go fast!  I am sooooo tired!  Also, grateful that I don’t have a job to get up and go to in the morning! 
 I never thought I’d appreciate the heat we have here… but I finally understand what people mean when they say "yeah, but it’s a dry heat."   I don’t know how people survive living in an area with so much humidity.  We realized you can never cool off because although you sweat like crazy, it never dries…and it’s that process of evaporation that cools your body.  In Pittsburgh, you just stay wet and sticky.  And hot.  Uhg.  Fortunately, it was overcast most of the time we were there, so that did help.  It also rained a bit….although it didn’t change the temperature at all!  Where we live, if a storm blows in, even in summer, the temperature drops at least 10 degrees.  So a hot rain was a new experience for Kiki and I.  Alan remembers playing in it as a kid.   There was even a really wild storm on Thursday… floods, wind damage…sheesh.  Fun to be in, though.
Meeting Alan’s extended family was great.  We met Aunts, Uncles, cousins, second-cousins-once-removed….well, I don’t know the technical name for all those relations, actually – but there were a load of them!  Alan has three great-aunts who are sisters…who are also "sisters"…of the Catholic Nun variety.  I knew them through Christmas cards, which we have exchanged since Alan and I got married.  I have sent them pictures of Kiki every year since her birth…but this was our first time to meet.  (they also hadn’t seen Alan in probably 30 years!)  They are so great!  Funny as all heck.  We rented a 15 passenger van, and all of us, including the sisters, drove out to Ohio for a big family get-together.  It was a blast.  I now know where Alan gets the sassy sense of humor… and the nuns can dish it out with the rest of us!   Of course, they do it without a hint of meanness… they have this sweetness and serenity about them that you know comes from a life lived with God.  Kiki loved them to pieces, and the feeling was returned, I believe!   They gave us a tour of their convent…they have spent their entire adult lives there….wow.  Very cool.
One day we went to Kennywood Amusement Park.  Now, you need to understand, that for a girl growing up with Disneyland, nothing will ever compare.  Other places have more – and wilder – rides, but I have always loved Disneyland for the ambiance.  It’s all about the act of immersion into the "happiest place on earth" for me… I’ve never been to another amusement park that can rival that part.  That being said, Kennywood was a lot of fun!  It was Kiki’s first amusement park ever, so she was completely satisfied.  My little girl is a total thrill seeker!   She went on rides that I was afraid to go on!  Like the "Pitt Fall" which is one of those "200 foot pole up in the air with a free-fall" kind of rides …uh-ah, nooo way… but up she went – and loved it!  She actually surprised me.  Alan’s cousin and uncle thought she totally rocked!  The only thing that scared her??  Noah’s Ark.  Which is supposed to be like a ‘fun house’ kind of deal, but it was full of skeletons and stuff…like a haunted house.  She hates that sort of thing, and was in tears throughout.  What that has to do with Noah,…?? Well, I’ve read the Bible….  the death happened outside of the ark, dum-dums!!  We went on a couple rides that totally soaked us…and because of the humidity, we never did dry out.  Which was a little uncomfortable, to say the least.   I think the roller coasters totally wracked up my neck… my chiropractor will probably yell at me tomorrow!  Ah well, it was worth it!  The next day was the zoo…a very sunny and blazing day, so fortunately it isn’t a huge zoo!  One of the fun things was that so many of Alan’s relatives went with us to these places… they were just excited that we were there, and that was fun.  
 We also spent some time just driving around, seeing the places that Alan’s mom and dad grew up.  Amazing that it’s mostly still there.  You don’t find that in the west so much.  Things change all the time.  Pittsburgh (at least all that I saw of it) is a very old, depressed and ramshackle sort of place.  I’ve never driven through so many places that were downright scary… and I used to work and make deliveries all over Los Angeles!!  Where his aunt and uncle that we stayed with live, well, I’d be afraid to walk more than two houses down the street…yikes.  They’ve lived there for over 50 years, and it’s really gone downhill, I guess.  That must be sad for them.  There were some cool old buildings, but so many of them run down, even vacant.  They still have brick and even some cobblestone streets! 
The worst part of the trip?  Having to go downstairs and across the entire house to use the bathroom in the middle of the night…which at my age is pretty much every night.  I have a greater appreciation for the master bathroom concept now, lol! 
Gosh, there is so much, but I am tired of writing… I will try to post some pictures soon.   And jot down anything else of interest that I remember!  

It’s Off on Vacation We Go!!

Well folks, this is it.  Tomorrow morning (or I should say later this morning!) we will be boarding a plane to Pittsburgh.  With a short layover in Denver.  Kiki is so wound she is alternately talking a million miles an hour or crying.  It didn’t help her stress level that Alan and I were at each other’s throats as soon as he got home from work!  Later he apologized and said "I’m just a jerk".  I did not disagree.  It was all about what he "perceived" that I should have gotten done vs. what actually did get done and what still needed to be accomplished.  It’s like it’s never good enough, no matter how much I do and how hard I try.  Seriously, am I the only person who gets some stuff done at the very last moment?  Is everyone else packed 24 hours early, and every little chore, task and point on the "to do" list is taken care of at least 2 days before leaving??  I do not believe that.  I am sure some people are more organized than I (I had to make a last-minute run to the market tonight at 11pm!) but I am also the ONLY person around here preparing for the trip!!  I feel like I did a pretty dang good job, so I’m not feeling guilty about it.  Just irritated.    
On a bright note, Alan got his test results back (on the heart stuff) and he has a normal, healthy heart.  Good news!  Kiki was hoping that meant we could quit this boring healthy eating crap, lol.  Alan is being very good.  Almost too good.  He’s getting this "holier than thou" attitude and honestly, I’m getting tired of being told how to eat and how to feed my child.  No, we’re not doing "as good" as him, but it’s a thousand times better than it was!!  Besides, she is a young growing child who can do with a bit more than we grown-ups… 
Can you tell my husband has really been getting on my  nerves lately??  I guess we really need a vacation!  Hope this does the trick!   
I would appreciate everyone’s prayers, for safety, good health, lots of fun, and that our animals do fine.  Thanks.
I don’t think I will be getting online at all during our trip, so farewell for now!  Take care, stay safe, and I will "talk" to you all in about a week!

Cannon Beach, Oregon

Gosh, it already seems like it’s been ages since we were at the shore….I’d better write about the trip before I forget it all!!  (Just call me Dory – short-term memory loss!)  It was a super-nice trip.  This is my 3rd visit to the Oregon coast.  Growing up a Southern California girl, I have always believed the beach was all about hot sun, hot sand, laying out for a tan, splashing in the waves and beyond.  My first visit to Oregon’s coast was so disappointing!  It was summer, and it was….cold.  Grey, misty, and cold.  I found it totally disheartening to have to wear jeans and a jacket to the beach!  Our 2nd trip, I was ready for it.  I figured a cold shore was better than no shore at all.  I enjoyed the trip in spite of how it was.  This trip was different.  I found myself loving the Oregon coast for what it offers….crowd-free beaches definately tops the list.  The fact that I could sit on a large driftwood log as Kiki ran all over the beach collecting stuff for her sandcastle without once ever losing sight of her was nothing short of amazing.   There were times we had miles of beach to ourselves.  When there were others out, they were just like us, milling around… and lots of happy, happy dogs running here and there.  And the coldness?  Well, I am certainly at an age (and weight!) that wearing jeans and a jacket on the beach is actually a bonus.  There was not a bikini-clad strutter to be seen the entire week!    And the tidepools!  We saw some amazing, beautiful, and even bizarre stuff.   I watched storms roll past us as we did our beachcombing.  Yes, I have decided I could live there forever and not ever regret it.   Cannon Beach is particularly nice, in my opinion.  This was my first visit to this little town.  Lots of great shops, but small enough and not really ‘touristy’.   The locals were super friendly, rather than the type who make you feel like they wish you’d go away.  As for our particular trip….well, our beach house was more of a beach "shack".  There was definately a bit of an "ick" factor.  But, it was 1&1/2 blocks from the shore, so I’m not really complaining… who needs to take a shower, anyhow?!   (a bit too quaint, I believe….)  I mean, it had a shower…but I was not going in there!  Yeeks.  I ate so much seafood my stomach is just today beginning to lose the bloat.  Kiki and I found several nice sized sand dollars, which she hadn’t seen before.  We rescued every sand crab on the beach (good grief!) and Kiki felt so good about herself!    We walked…. and walked….. and walked….. geez my feet hurt.  Saturday was their annual sand castle competition.  It poured down rain that day.  Still fun.  We went to Seaside and visited the (tiny) aquarium.  The harbor seals were hilarious!  If I can figure out how, I’ve got a great video I could post.   We visited the Lewis and Clark state park and fort of Fort Clatsop where they over-wintered, the river where they landed their canoes, and saw the salt works where they boiled sea water to get salt for their journey.   We visited Astoria, which is on the Columbia River where it reaches the sea, and went to the Maritime museum.  Cool stuff.   A little bit of scary driving by my dad, but nothing too serious.  It was really great to spend the time with my parents.   There is a really large rock there, Haystack Rock, and it has grass growing on the upper parts; it is a great nesting site for seabirds.  We saw seagulls (yeah, big whoop) but also Common Murres and even Puffins!  Very cool.   


Our trip was great!  Cannon Beach is awesome!  When I am not so doggone tired, I will post all about it.  Right now, I just wanted to say ‘hello’; and, thanks to the newcomers who have left comments – it’s nice to meet you!  And, I will pop over on your sites to say hello.  To my old friends, thanks for checking in on me!  I will be over soon to see what’s going on with all of you as well
There really is no place like home, though.  It was sooo wonderful to sleep in my own bed last night.  And to walk barefoot inside.  (our beach ‘house’ – more like beach ‘shack’, lol, was a bit, umm, heebie-jeebie…if you know what I mean?)  Still, an amazing trip.  I am ready to sell everything I own and move to Cannon Beach.  Seriously.
For now, tho, I am off to bed…I’ve done tons of laundry today, I have an ankle that is extremely sore, and my gut is killing me (too much seafood??  I don’t know…) 
I have a bunch of photos I will post as well….. until then, Goodbye and Goodnite!! 

Going to the Ocean

Well, Kiki and I are heading out to the coast tomorrow morning.  We are going to share a beach house with my parents.  It is supposed to be grey and cool, but that’s better than no beach at all, I guess!  I love sunny and hot, though.  My only fear is that … my father is driving.  He loves driving, and actually use to be a road race driver; but, well, that was a looong time ago.  He still drives the same, but his reactions have slowed a bit.  Prayers for safety will be appreciated!!  The house we are renting has no phone, no tv, no ~gasp~ internet!!  I am taking my laptop and it’s set up for wireless, but I’m not holding my breath!  So, I just wanted you all to know that if I seem to have "gone missing" for the next week, I’m just out collecting sea shells!

Pacific Northwest Weekend

It was a lovely trip!  We all decided it would be nice to bring a playmate along for Kiki, so we invited her cousin H., the oldest daughter of my younger sister.  I was afraid she wouldn’t be able to go (she is homeschooled also, but her step-mom is pretty strict) but she did get to, and it was really good.  The girls are just over a year apart, age-wise.  They both are very much into "let’s pretend" so they get along great!   It gave Alan and I the opportunity to actually talk and be grown-ups, which was pretty cool.  The weather was beautiful on the drive, and on the first day there…the 2nd day was more of a typical Seattle day, very rainy.  The first day we went to IKEA….my fave store on the planet!!  Stuff-mart, we call it.  (Ever see "Madame Blueberry", the VeggieTale?)  Anyhow, like I need more stuff, but I just can’t help myself.  I cannot not go to that store!!  yep, another one of my addictions, like coffee….. I bought this lucite bird-on-a-stick…it glows blue at night….I mean, everyone needs one of those!!  Right?  The next day we drove on into Seattle, and we kicked around Pike’s Market awhile.  I hadn’t been there in ages, and H. hadn’t ever been (well, my sis and I went up when I was preggers and she was just a baby, but she can’t really remember that, ya’ know!)  Despite the rain, it was quite crowded, (maybe because it was St.Patrick’s day, and there had been a parade earlier in town) so the girls felt a bit overwhelmed…they still managed to find things to spend their money on!   This was the day we blew our diet!  You just can’t blame me, really….what with fresh roasted nuts and Piroshkies, I mean, really….you just have to eat your way thru the market!  I didn’t get my fried chicken gizzards, tho… you gotta draw the line somewhere.  We had plenty of fried foods when we had Chinese for dinner.  yyyuuuummmm….. That night after we put the girls to bed, we watched "Little Miss Sunshine".  I really liked the movie, except, honestly, if I had to hear the "F" word one more time, I think my head would’ve exploded!  I despise that word….. It seemed totally gratuitous, as well.  Why Alan Arkin got an Oscar for his role in the movie I will never understand… that one word was pretty much all he said… The other characters were good, and the point was good…. oh, well….. The drive back home was another beautiful day…a bit rainy, but not enough to ruin our trip to the Falls.  We arrived early enough for Sunday brunch at the restaurant, (an old stone lodge, very cool) and it was sooo good!   I actually had a Mimosa, and Kiki was enthralled (she heard about them from "The Incredibles", when Mr. Incredible was on the plane…) Then we saw several groups of  Bighorn Sheep on the cliffs!  I always thought the area looked like somewhere you’d see them, but in the many, many times I have passed that way, I’ve never seen any…how they can walk on a straight up&down cliff is just amazing to me.  Some were right next to the road – very cool.  Then we just cruised along in the car ’til our hind ends ached…Alan driving, the girls watching movies, me playing Solitaire and Mah-Johng on the laptop –  until we finally reached Home Sweet Home. 

Spotted on a Seattle Marquee

Ahh, Big City Life….. 
So, we are in the city, heading towards Pikes Market….Saturday, St. Patrick’s Day…. we pass a theatre…you may guess what sort of theatre if you like…  on the marquee it reads….."Happy Saint Panties Day!  Today’s show featuring Erin GoBraughless"……..
And I remembered why I like living in a small hick town…..