Sitka 

We again boarded the ferry in Ketchikan with our van for the 24 hour trip to Sitka.




This time, we book a cabin on the ferry for a good nights rest since we are performing a few hours after arriving in Sitka.
We even have a bathroom with a shower.


"All hands on deck!"The weather on the way is a little cool and rainy & walking on deck sure wakes you up if feeling a little sleepy.


We both agree that Sitka is our favorite town in SE Alaska.

We love all the communities we visited in SE, but the combination of life in Sitka, it's beautiful setting, maybe the fact that it was never a gold rush town gives it a different vibe.

There are fewer ocean liners coming to Sitka than other parts of SE Alaska, the community prefers this and when the ocean liners do come, they need to anchor away from the downtown area leaving the beautiful views of Sitka intact.


As all areas of SE Alaska, there is an active local arts and music scene, but Sitka has a fine arts campus at the historic Sheldon Jackson Campus.

On the day we arrived, we had a few hours to look around before our set-up time at the library which just happened to be on the same campus.

We lucked out because we were invited to attend the grand opening of the new performance center on campus in which much of the community had volunteered many thousands of hours to refurbish. 



We are sure glad we went!

This building is beautiful, inside and out.
The dedication and turn-out from the community gave us a great opportunity to see a good portion of the community as several hundred people attended.



The presentations and community response revealed a very cohesive group of people who are very committed to a full and rich life in Sitka and a great appreciation for, participation in and all around support for the arts.

After the initial dedication, everyone was invited to help themselves to excellent appetizers including local smoked salmon on polenta as one of many delicious choices.

We took our food upstairs to listen to the local young violin duo. ( brothers )


As we were leaving to get ready for our performance across the grounds, we were encouraged to take 2 plates of food with us to eat later.
How could we refuse?

The Kettleson Memorial Library for the city of Sitka is temporarily at the Sheldon Jackson Library.  We really liked this library.
Soon, they will move down to the waterfront to move into their new library overlooking their beautiful waterways, islands and volcano, Mt. Edgecombe. ( now extinct )

Robb Farmer is the new librarian in Sitka, at least fairly new.  He and his wife love Sitka.  They came up from Kentucky.
They told us they thought they had come to a very magical, beautiful  place & that Sitka was a very well educated community.
Robb also told us that the circulation of books in this library is higher than anywhere else in Alaska.

Robb took a few pictures for us during our performance.


Mt. Edgecombe

We had a total of 5 days on Sitka, mostly because we had to wait that long for the ferry.
Of all the places to wait, we were glad it was in this town.

We found a great camp spot just across The O'Connel Suspension Bridge on Japonski Island.

We were within walking distance of town, overlooking the harbor and fishing boats.

Sitka's location was originally settled by the Tlingit people over 10,000 years ago.
The Russians settled Old Sitka in 1799, calling it Redoubt Saint Michael.

The original Russian Orthodox Church burned, but later replaced by the new church.
Sitka has a beautiful National Historic Park set at the site of an historic battle. 

 The site, located near the mouth of the Indian River, served in 1804 as the location of an armed conflict between the native Tlingit people and Russian fur hunters (accompanied by their Aleut allies), known today as the Battle of Sitka.  This is fascinating history and a place that preserves the battle ground and the totems.
Battle ground
Sannaheit House Post
The grounds of the Sitka Historic Park included trails which linked up with other trails in Sitka which can take you across town on the outskirts, through the woods, bogs and meadows or up into the mountains.  Hiking from town seems to be a past-time for many Sitkans and certainly inspired us to check out the trails.
And look who we come across in the woods playing Shakahachie!
We talked about living in Sitka.
Sitka appeals to us for so many reasons, we continue on our journey for now, but who knows....

Next Stop, Juneau!



 

Ketchikan, Alaska 

We boarded the ferry at Hollis on Prince of Wales Island to make the 3 hour journey back to Ketchikan and find ourselves a room @ Eagle View Hostel before our our following day's performance at the Ketchikan Library.

Ketchikan is at the most southern point of the Alaska Marine Highways System in Alaska.
Ketchikan rains more than most SE Alaskan communities, about 162 inches of rain per year, but in some years, even topping 200 inches of rain.
We noticed that locals do not use umbrellas, and this seems to be true for all of SE Alaska.

Ketchikan is humming with tourists off the cruise ships.
When we were there, there were 5 ocean liners in town, and some say there are as many as 10,000 visitors daily from the Ocean Liners.
They pull up right downtown and totally block the views looking across the Tongass Narrows.
Most folks in town are happy for the business.

The largest collection of Native American totem poles in the world is in Ketchikan!



Ketchikan is also busy with many fishing & commercial boats, & float planes coming into and out of  the waterway.

In fact, Ketchikan seemed about the busiest place we've seen so far in the inside passage.

We walked and climbed stairs up from the downtown area as there is only one way to go if heading east, and that is UP!
Creek Street is built along the shores of Ketchikan Creek.
It was built over the water because it was simply too difficult to blast away the rocky hills surrounding the creek.
This is a common theme with Ketchikan as a large percentage of the town was built ‘over the water’.

The History of Creek Street can be summed up by fishermen, bootleggers, & prostitutes.
Creek Street is known as Ketchikan’s old red-light district. In the mid 1920’s there were over 20 bawdy houses on Creek Street alone!

Read more: http://www.experienceketchikan.com/creek-street-ketchikan.html#ixzz3fiOOjbjm

Ocean Liner dwarfs the Alaskan Gypsy
Hardy young people of Ketchikan.
It's not particularly warm out this day and the temperature of the water is about 50 degrees - brrrr!
We went to the library early to set up, and wow, what a beautiful library Ketchikan has. 

The new library is up the hill away from the hustle and bustle of downtown and has beautiful views of the mountains out the windows looking east.  The windows seem to cover the whole eastern wall of the library, from floor to ceiling.

An impressive, colorful & whimsical fabric covered tree sculpture fills a good portion of the children's library.

According to our librarian Lisa and written info fabric sculpture took hundreds of hours to make with commonly available materials.
The chicken wire base was covered with scraps of every imaginable fabric custom sewn in strips to fit tree shapes, embroidered and embellished.
Once installed, the artists used huge circular needles to “sew” the fabric to the wire base to give it shape.

The words on the tree are sayings about books, reading and libraries in many languages. The leaves are pressed newsprint shaped with wire and hand painted by artists and local school children. The branches to which the leaves are attached are covered with yarn. 

At the end of the branches are soft sculptures, dolls and paper mache figures of characters from popular books such as Charlotte’s Web, The Very Hungry Caterpillar and My Father’s Dragon.

It feels great to hug this tree because it is so soft and comfortable and our librarian assured us that this is encouraged and the children love their library tree. We also noticed a poem by Shel Sliverstein on the Poet Tree.

The community room we played in also had fabulous views and floor to ceiling windows on the east side.
Our librarian Lisa Pierson.We had a really nice time performing at the Ketchikan Library and meeting Lisa & the folks who came out!

After the performance, we were ready to relax with dinner and local music at a place recommended to us by Lisa, The New York Cafe.
The ambiance, food, beer and wine choices were very good and the local musicians were great!
In fact, we went back 2 other times as their coffee &  breakfasts are excellent!
The New York Cafe is a Primal Mates Pick for best place for coffee, food, ambiance & music.

Besides, the locals hang out here and a good way to tell they are locals is by the number of people who wear Rubber Boots.  (also known as "Sitka Sneakers" )

Next Stop, Sitka!
 

Inside Passage - SE Alaska, Prince of Wales Island 

We set off from Prince Rupert BC to Alaska's Inside Passage on the MSV Matanuska!

The weather was warm and sunny after the early morning clouds burned off and the experience of being on the water traveling through these waterways with over a thousand islands is about the most awesome way to travel!

This is Colleen's 5th trip through SE Alaska's inside passage and Chris' 2nd trip.

For both of us, this is our most favorite way to travel of all.
It has been almost 30 years since we traveled this way, so it felt both new but also beautifully familiar.

This group of islands through SE Alaska is called the Alexander Archipelago and spans hundreds of miles.

The Alaska Marine Highway takes us all the way to the northern portion of SE Alaska where we disembarked at Skagway  for our last performance in SE Alaska and then to drive through the Yukon to the main body of Alaska.

This marine highway actually continues on to south central Alaska and then to the Aleutian Islands.

Ferries on this system serve communities that have no road access, and the vessels can transport people, freight, and vehicles.

The Alaska Marine Highway spans a whopping 3,500 miles from Bellingham Washington to Dutch Harbor, Unalaska in the Aleutian Islands.

This marine highway system is a rare example (in the USA) of a shipping line offering regularly scheduled service for the primary purpose of transportation rather than of leisure or entertainment.

Voyages can last many days, but, in contrast to the luxury of a typical cruise line, cabins cost extra, and most food is served cafeteria-style.
The cost of ferry travel is more affordable, though taking a vehicle does add the largest amount to the price of ferry travel.

What we notice about traveling by ferry is that folks are more likely to be outside on deck then the Ocean Liner travelers.
We also noticed many more children on the ferries.

We did book a roomy outside cabin from Ketchikan to Sitka since this was the longest leg of traveling by ferry, ie 24 hours.

Ahh, quite nice to be able to be lulled to sleep by the gentle rocking motion of the ferry and quiet 'thrumming' of the engines.

The picture below is taken on the inter-island ferry headed towards Prince of Wales Island which is the 5th largest Island in the US.
The Island is behind the smaller islands in the front, the mountains in the distance are on Prince of Wales Island.


PRINCE OF WALES ISLAND

We were so happy to be invited to come to Prince of Wales Island by the director of the library in Craig on Prince of Wales.
Craig library just won a medal from the National Library & Museum Services.

According to their website: "The National Medal is the nation’s highest honor given to museums and libraries for service to the community.
For 21 years, the award has celebrated institutions that demonstrate extraordinary and innovative approaches to public service to make a difference for individuals, families, and communities.

The 2015 National Medal finalists have made real and lasting contributions to their local communities through programs that engage and inspire the public.
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums.
Their mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement."

Craig Library was one of 30 finalists and just before our arrival on Prince of Wales Island, they were one of 5 winners.

Amy Marshall, director of the Craig Library was awarded the medal for her library by Michelle Obama.

Amy was instrumental in making it possible for us to come to Alaska through SE Alaska to present our Music in Poetry Program.

We played 2 concerts, one in Craig and one in Thorne Bay, and we presented an informal workshop for locals at Craig library which included a group discussion about integrating poetry and music.  We created a song with melody and chords based on a poem.

Below is a picture of Amy with us on Craig's High School Auditorium stage.
This is a beautiful school and the auditorium has great acoustics.
We went to Kasaan Village on the way to our Thorne Bay performance.
The road was gravel and quite bumpy in places, but totally worth the time and bumps.
Kasaan is one of the main historical communities of the Kaigani Haida.
Residents moved from their former village on Skowl Arm, now called Old Kasaan, starting in 1893 and mostly in the period 1902-1904.
This migration was prompted by the promise of jobs and a school occasioned by development of copper mining and a cannery near the present location. Kasaan was established as a city in 1976.

We initially visited the carving shed before hiking to the Old Village of Kasaan.
We met Eric and Harley who were involved in many projects.
Both told us they are 1st Nation members of the Kaigani Haidi Community.
They have been working on a canoe, masks and working to restore the Whale House in Old Kasaan.

They say they are apprentices of a master carver and that they are learning both traditional forms and finding new methods to build.

Eric agreed to model the war helmet as Harley threw a rock at his head to show how effective the war helmet is.
These 2 were quite engaging, funny and very dedicated to their work!.
We took the 1 mile hike through the rain forest to the Old Village of Kasaan - there was no-one else visiting while we were there, it was as if we stumbled into an ancient, mysterious, beautiful place.

Dozens of totems are scattered throughout this old village. 
One of our favorites was the Whale Totem.
The Whale House Is being restored.


One of the many totems in the Old Village of Kasaan.  Eric tells us these totems were made in the mid 1800's.
We were surprised how well they have held up given that they are in a rain forest.
We head back to the van to make our journey back to the main road to Thorne Bay.

The person opening for us is Sophia Martin, "The Girl From the North Country".
Sophia is 10 years old, and wow, what a voice!
She also plays the ukulele well and writes great songs!
Our Vista Volunteer  Jamie did a great job getting the word out for the performance which took place at the High School.

We had a little time to check out other places in Prince of Wales, this is in Klawock.
Looking North from Old Town Craig.




We were so fortunate to be staying in a beautiful B & B right on the water in Craig with water views in all directions and near walks through the woods to the beach.



We'd like to thank Amy Marshall for inviting us to Prince of Wales Island! We had a great time!

Next stop, Ketchikan!

 

North to Alaska 

We headed into British Columbia, Canada for the long trek north to Prince Rupert where we planned to catch our ferry to SE Alaska.

Just like our first day on the road leaving our home in Eldorado Springs, Colorado last August, we saw several rainbows in the Okanagan Valley area of BC.
We took this as another good omen for our travels!

The most awesome part of the travels through BC so far was the Yellowknife Highway from Prince George to Prince Rupert. ( 446 miles )
We saw several large rivers on the way, at least a dozen.  The Skeena is a wild river and wider than the Columbia River in parts.



Besides more rivers in one area than we have ever seen, there were incredible mountains, valleys and meadows along this route. 

Just as we thought we saw a group of mountains more beautiful than any seen before, there would be more mountains at least as or more beautiful than the others.
It didn't take long to figure out we could not drive 100 mph:)

We found a nice campsite along the Bulkley River.

Chris builds a nice hot fire!

This fire helps to keep the giant, numerous mosquitoes at bay and keeps us warm after sunset. 

We have also placed another order for a natural mosquito repellent to our friend Jill who has created a potion which works very well indeed!
She has assured us she will send our much needed repellent ahead to Juneau where we have a friend's address for forwarded mail & packages.
We may just have enough potion left for this leg of our journey.

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The long light of summer in the north country is becoming more prominent as sunset at this point is about 10 pm.
The light continues to linger until after 11 pm and starts coming back around 2:30 am. 

We drove about 3 days and over 1,000 miles to get to Prince Rupert from Ellensburg, Washington.

We finally arrive in Prince Rupert, along the northern BC Coast and just south of SE Alaska.
Disclaimer - this pic is not our photo, but just want to give a perspective regarding Prince Rupert's location and surrounding environs.
Canadians consider Prince Rupert in Northern BC but it is still just a little over mid-way up if you look at a map.  BC is a huge province!

We love Prince Rupert, it's a bustling port town with future plans for becoming a major trade route hub.

The Port of Prince Rupert enjoys significant competitive advantages over other west coast ports.

A few of these advantages include:

-Shortest Trade Route Between North America and Asia's fast growing economies.
-This port is North America's closest port to key Asian markets by up to three days - it's 36 hours closer to Shanghai than Vancouver and over 68 hours closer than Los Angeles.
-The Port of Prince Rupert has one of the deepest natural harbors in the world and the deepest & safest ice free inner harbour entrance of any port.
-The Port is a terminus station of CN Rail, a major Class 1 North American carrier. CN is the only railway to serve ports on the Pacific, Atlantic and Gulf Coasts which means greater efficiencies for shippers, importers and exporters.

OK, enough of shipping and the port advantages, not actually trying to plug commerce for Prince Rupert - Just fascinated that it is the shortest trade route to Asia.
(We are actually against the TPP as it stands now!)

This town is in a beautiful setting, offers many great eateries, seafood, walks and more.

Our lodgings for 3 days in Prince Rupert is the Pioneer  Guesthouse.
This is more of a hostel with access to a nice, fully furnished & functional kitchen with all utilities provided.
This is close in to downtown and in the Cow Bay District of Prince Rupert.
We did not need to move our van once as we were able to walk to everything we needed or wanted in PR.
We were able to bring in our instruments and rehearse for our upcoming performances in SE Alaska.

The Pioneer Guesthouse is a Primal Mates Pic for best Inn.





Scenes on the water and around town -

Chris' favorite pier house B & B!


At this point, we are excited to get on the ferry which will take us into SE Alaska, even though we have to get up at 3 am and wait in line for check-in and customs. 

We are told to get rid of our eggs, fruit and some vegetables - but are reassured that the food will go to a food kitchen and be served to those in need.
We wonder why the food we bought in the US will be taken as we head back into the US from Canada - go figure!

North to Alaska!

Back to the Great Pacific Northwest! 

In mid-April we headed back to the Pacific NW where we had 16 performances scheduled in libraries and a few other venues.
It helped that April was Poetry Month!

At this point we have been out 8 months on the road and feel a renewed energy as we start heading north on our way to Alaska.
Thanks to our friends and family in the area, we have been treated to great home stays with the best hospitality & food anyone can ask for!

The libraries and venues were all unique & diverse.

We were very happy to meet the many librarians, and all who came to our performances and gave us such focused attention to the program and offered up great questions.

We were particularly impressed with Medford Library and librarian Laura Kimberly who shows great enthusiasm for presenting programs for her community.
She has great ideas for enticing people to come to the Medford Library.
For poetry month, she had a "Pie for Poetry" event in which people could get a piece of pie for reading a poem.
Through the month of April, she gave out raffle tickets with a prize of books of poems.
Our friends Kathy & Kon happened to win this raffle - congrats K & K!

One of our performance highlights include the Kala performance space in Astoria.
This space has great acoustics and a warm, intimate ambiance.
KALA is the ground floor presentation space and upper loft production office of HIPFiSHmonthly, the Columbia Pacific Region's free alternative monthly newspaper. KALA features monthly exhibits in conjunction with Astoria's Second Saturday Art Walk, and live performance; including music, theater, authors and more. For events at KALA, visit our website.

- See more at: http://www.coastarts.org/directory/venues/k/kala@hipfish-monthly/#sthash.bcbmegnc.dpuf
We'd like to thank Dinah Urell for presenting our concert for her community & for turning us on the the best pizza we have ever had at the Voodoo Room!
We had the smoked Salmon Pizza - wow, delicious, not at all what we expected.  The secret they say is baking the pizza at a higher temperature.
The crust was the best - this place is a Primal Mates pick for best pizza!

Astoria has become a hip little town.
We enjoyed  all the changes happening along the river & piers including the new restaurants, tasting rooms and local residents hanging out in great numbers!Then onto Manzanita to play at the Hoffman Center for the Performing Arts.
Manzanita is one of our favorite beach towns and beaches along the Oregon Coast.
We especially appreciate how long the beach is here and how far we can walk!
And we really appreciate our friends Martha & Bill who took us in for a 2nd time on this journey.
It was great to catch up and share all that has gone on since we last saw them in September.
In McMinnville, the librarians decided to present our concert in a local tasting room - the sound was fantastic in this old building which used to be the old power house.


What a great  blend, ie Oregon Pinot Noir , music & poetry.....ahhhh!!

Our friends Jack and Bobbi surprised as they came in the door because we thought they were out of town - so we spent a great night with them at their house with delicious food and wine and we were finally able to get a picture of one of our favorite posters which we used to see @ Noah's Wine Bar. 

Another highlight was playing at the beautiful main Salem Library Auditorium - the best acoustics so far of all auditoriums we have been in.
It's design and intimate size makes for a very comfortable space & sound.

On our way back from Salem, we took "The Road Less Traveled" through some of western Oregon's beautiful countryside.


We stopped at Champoeg State Park to take a walk along the Willamette River.

Downtown Vancouver Washington has a beautiful fairly new library and a great room for music and events just off the main entrance to the library.



Just after our program, the League of Women Voters meeting was to take place to develop strategies for upcoming elections and "Get Out the Vote Campaigns".

We were happy to see a gentlemen gathering signatures outside the library to amend the constitution to firmly establish that money is NOT speech, and that human beings, NOT corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights. 

This is in regard to the ruling by the Supreme Court on January 21, 2010, in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations are persons, entitled by the U.S. Constitution to buy elections and run our government.

We agreed with this gentleman that Human beings are people & corporations are legal fictions.

And that the Supreme Court is misguided in principle, and wrong on the law. In a democracy, the people rule.

We are thankful the library community rooms offers a democratic space for folks to come together for the common good!

-------------------------

In Portland, near the end of our stay, we were able to play at our favorite Portland Venue, O'Connor's in Multnomah Village.
Steve Arel, longtime owner, has a strong love of music and offers musicians a chance to play in the Vault, next to the restaurant.
We had a fantastic night - lots of friends, family and musician friends we played with years ago came to this event, plus several folks we had not met yet.
A wonderful last evening / gig in Portland before heading back up to the Seattle area.

Colleen with her niece Maggie!

During our time in the NW, we visited Seattle area 2 different times for performances in 4 area libraries and one home concert.
The weather was warm and sunny for both visits.
The last visit took us to Bainbridge and Vashon Islands and Sylvan Way Library near Bremerton Washington.

Sylvan Way has a beautiful library and a community room where we did our performance.
We were so happy to see one of our youngest fans, Max with his mom Sherie at the performance.
Max and Sherie knew us from Boulder when they started to come hear us play at The Rock & Soul.
Max was 6 months old at that time, and from the first time he heard us, he was super attentive and interested in the music.
In fact, he would sit through much of our 2 hours of playing, watching, listening, smiling!
Max, Sherie and Max's dad Richard moved to Bainbridge Island when Max was about 2 1/2 years old.
We had not seen them since then until now.

Sherie graciously invited us to stay with them the night before our Sylvan Way Library performance.
Max was so happy to see us, now 8 years old, he ran up and gave us big hugs and lots of attention as if we were long lost friends - which we were!

Here's Max and his mom Sherie with us at Sylvan Way Library.
Thanks to Sherie, Richard & Max for the great stay on Bainbridge Island!

Then onto Vashon Island where our good friend Paula Hendricks lives.
Paula is a friend from our Bolinas days back in mid- 80's.
She hosted a home concert for us in her sweet home.
We met her friends and a long ago friend of ours, Susan Kernes came over from Seattle WA.
We had met Susan in Homer Alaska in 1985 when she was the KBBI Homer radio program director. ( The best radio station ever! )
2 past lives converge on Vashon as Susan and Paula meet each other.

It was wonderful to catch up with Susan after the concert, it had been about 30 years ago since we were all together.
What a great day it was, also sunny & warm.....of course!! 

Thanks Paula!!
And thanks to Bill for all the help in preparing for this cozy event!


Now, on to our very last library concert in the "lower 48" in Richland Washington.
Richland has a very beautiful library with a great community room for performance and presentations!

Chris is telling the story of Ophelia.


We were having some technical difficulties with interfacing the main computer with Colleen's remote control by i-pad, so we asked for volunteers.
Al Ankrum immediately raised his hand and offered to be our "remote" and he barely blinked an eye when he learned the cord was so short, he needed to be on-stage with us.  Thanks Al!



Richland also had a great turn-out including many children who came to this event thanks to Lisa Adams, librarian.
One little boy raised his hand at the end of our performance and asked "are you done yet so we can play the instruments?"


Al & Claire Ankrum are O'Brien family friends and they kindly offered us a place to stay during our time in Richland.
Great food, wine and conversations abound during our home stay.
Thanks Al & Claire for your gracioiusness & superb hospitality!

One last stop before we head North to Alaska.
We travel north to Ellensburg Washington to visit with Jon & Paula.  Jon is Colleen's nephew.
Jon & Paula live in paradise with a beautiful home, acreage, fruit trees and a river running through it. 
Jon & Paula had welcomed us previously back in September at the start of our journey so we'd like to doubly thank them for another great hang in paradise.


So, does it look like we avoided camping on this part of our journey?

For those who do not know us personally, you may have gathered that we are from Portland and most our family and many old friends still reside in the area.

We'd like to share our gratitude for family and friends who have helped to support us on this part of our journey -
Those not in the blog are no less appreciated, we just didn't have the camera at hand, probably having too much fun!.

Many thanks to Chris' folks, Bob & Donna Lee, my brother Pat & Jocelyn, Teedy Lee for bringing the Lee family together on Mother's Day and made it one of the most memorable Mothers day ever! 

Thanks also to  Jerry & Judy Hahn, JoJo Linden, Kathy and Kon Damas, Al and Alexis Lee, Sue & Walt Gordinier, Jack Thornton & Bobbi Paris and many more for just being good friends & family.  We are truly fortunate & love you!

Next up- "North to Alaska"








 

Blue in Green 


We left the desert behind in late March & headed back to California for several performances around the Bay Area, Central Coast and in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. 

What a contrast of colors from the desert, as our world turned primarily to blue & green as seen below in this picture of the hills NE of Morro Bay.

We feature 4 of Mark Miller's compositions in our spring program and two of them seem to ring out to us as we explore these environments.

A phrase in Shirley Graham's poem Blue Ophelia sings "I think it was the flowers that sent her over the edge".
And Robert Bly's Poem "Indigo Bunting"  with the phrase ...."the granite holding up walls"
Yosemite Park is a phenomenal place with many granite walls .
This picture is a mirror image of one of the many granite walls from "Mirror Lake".
Half Dome - Yosemite National Park

At this point we are not only integrating music in poetry, but also poetry in life and life in poetry and the music is our soundtrack. It's quite wonderful!

This spring green seems to belie the state of California's predicament with their severe drought.
We have spent almost 5 months in California and have crossed the state from west to east, east to west, north to south and now southeast to north.
We have seen her deserts, mountains, foothills, valleys and coastal areas and been through the wine country.
We have seen dozens of low and almost empty reservoirs & lakes across the state - it is alarming, but it seems California is taking this drought seriously.
What a delicate balance it is between nature and human beings.
On the one hand, nature can drastically impact human beings.
And on the other hand, especially now, with so many people and so many demands on our precious resources, human beings are having a drastic impact on nature.
Then back to the ocean and bays where boating & sailing seems more normal as compared to the picture above.
And we certainly enjoyed sitting on the dock looking over this bay while eating excellent seafood and sampling local beer @ Rose's Grill On The Water.We loved Morro Bay and enjoyed playing at their newly remodeled library.

After leaving Morro Bay, We traveled up to the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains for a few performances. 
One of our favorite little towns we've seen so far is Forest Hills, California.

They had a small library, so our librarian had arranged to have us play in a very beautiful community building made with logs named the Veterans Memorial Hall. The acoustics here were wonderful.

Everyone loves it when Chris plays the Melodica!

Before movin on down the road, we were close enough to go visit our friend & one of our favorite bass players, Bill Douglas and his wife Nora near Grass Valley.
A great night of reminiscing, sharing and laughing.  Plus we loved sleeping in their yurt!  Thanks Bill & Nora!

Then, on to Napa Valley. 
If anyone would like an inexpensive way to stay close to the vines in Napa Valley, and you like to camp, check out Bothe-Napa Valley State Park.
This is a beautiful area and the campsites are spacious and private. 
The temperatures at night were quite chilly, into the low 30's the night we stayed here.
Chris is quite good at building a campfire, so we stayed toasty warm before bedtime!

We finally made our way down to Napa to get ready to play at the Napa County Library.
We arrived early enough to go downtown and walk around the area.
We remembered that there had been a significant earthquake in this area not long ago ( September 2014, 7 months ago )  as evidenced by many buildings cordoned off with tape and fencing to keep people out of the unsafe areas.
The earthquake was magnitude-6.0 temblor.
Napa identified 294 sites in its street and sidewalk network needing post-quake repairs with costs for repairs estimated at about $300,000,000.

We were impressed by how beautiful the downtown and surrounding area are in Napa, with many old buildings still intact.

The Napa County Library performance turned out several local writers and poets with great questions & responses regarding integrating music in poetry.

Next stop, Foster City just south of San Francisco. 
The librarians at Foster City really know how to get people to their events.
Our night was a part of a series of music in the Foster City Library & they served wine and cheese.
We were happy to see the great turnout, the age range from children, young adults to elders and the diversity of the people.
And these folks loved the music in poetry program and were especially attentive!
Well, ok, this is one child who dozed off during our concert.
Our friend Jim Hudak made the long drive during the worst of traffic to come to our concert and he also took the pictures for this event, so for that Jim, you get a picture in our blog!



Colleen played and sang in several incarnations of Jim Hudak's bands in the early 70's.

"The Midnight Ridge" was Colleen's favorite named band of this era.
Colleen & Jim were also in a musical together "The Mikado" during their high school days.
Lots of reminiscing going on about the olden days, about life and about music.

We'd like to thank Jim & Linda for another great stop - over at their home in Clayton, CA.

On our way to our next performance in Carson City Nevada - we were able to visit our son Eric living near Tahoe City.
Eric even gave up his bed and slept on a couch for his "aging" parents, and what a comfortable bed it was!
We had a nice 2 days to enjoy hiking in the woods, eating together and we were able to watch a couple of movies.

Charlie is about the sweetest of dogs in the whole world, he makes friends easily and people know him far and wide as he makes his way around the Tahoe area, Bay area and the NW.  

Eric, your really sweet too!!

Here's Charlie aka "Chuck" with his coveted stick.
And our sweet family!

On to Carson City Library on a Sunday afternoon.  Colleen's cousin Patty came to this event and had invited us to stay with her and her husband John in their beautiful home in Minden, NV.  Thanks Patty and John for a memorable evening of stories, laughter and catching up while good food and the wine flowed into the night.

At this point, we are heading back to Oregon for our next performance in Medford.
We follow a road ( Highway 89 ) that takes us through some beautiful country between California and Oregon and past the southern flank of Mt. Shasta - what a gorgeous mountain!
OK, we didn't take the above picture, but gives you an idea of what it looks like from McCleod.

We stop in McCloud California and find this to be our most favorite little town in California - how can anyone beat McCloud, in fact we thought this could be a town for us to move to.  The forests are beautiful around here with drop dead views of Mt. Shasta.
The locals say that a few minutes from town, one can hike and not see a soul on many of the trails around this area.

McCloud has some great old buildings from it's heyday as a timber and railroad town.

Here is a picture we did take of the old Inn which has been refurbished.


Next stop - Ashland, Oregon!

The Ides of March 

March 15th marks 6 months since we left Colorado on our current tour.
We have performances booked in Colorado in late summer, 2015 which will be 1 year "on the road" if all goes as planned.

What can we say?

The libraries & librarians have been wonderful!
The weather has mostly been great!
The music & poetry continue to inspire us!
We are still having fun!
We still like each other!
We are thankful our friend Mark Miller continues to write compositions for poems and sends them to us.

So, in March we headed to Las Vegas from Phoenix, AZ.
Las Vegas is a city that we usually pass through quickly.... without stopping.
This time we finally stopped and played in 2 beautiful libraries, both with state of the art auditoriums.
We figure the taxes from all the gambling help the libraries.
We also had a great tech team and would like to thank Mike and Jody for their assistance!

Summerlin Library Concert


We also crossed paths with our son Eric who was coming back from a big mountain ski competition near Taos, NM.
We met for breakfast near a replica of the Eiffel Tower.   Eric's passion for skiing reminds us of our passion for music. ( without the risks:)

Las Vegas has a metro area population of close to 2 million people, but the surrounding landscape is vast, mountainous and unpopulated.
Just to the west of Las Vegas is an awesome area called Red Rock Canyon which we saw for the 1st time.
We took a day between our performances to hike & explore this area.


Our 3rd performance in Nevada was in Boulder City.  We loved this little town, it's in a beautiful setting near Hoover Dam and overlooks Lake Meade.
There is no gambling in Boulder City, which also added to it's character and quaintness compared to other Nevada towns.
They have a lovely library and Lynn the librarian has a keen interest in music & poetry & theater.

We camped nearLake Meade in a beautiful park within the Lake Meade National Recreation Area.After Boulder City, we visited Nevada's oldest & largest state park, "Valley of Fire" about 55 miles NE of Las Vegas.
This area reminded us of southern Utah - Incredibly beautiful!

The multiple colors within the rocks varies from beige to red.
Rock Sculpture abounds out here!

We enjoy hiking the slot canyons!


Hole in the Rock!
Living the Good Life!
Next up, Back to California!

Phoenix in February 

We headed out to Arizona from southern California in mid February. 
We had a few days before our busy schedule in Phoenix to see some beautiful desert / mountain country in a remote part of southern Arizona near the Mexican border. 

Organ Pipe National Monument encompasses a vast area of some of the most beautiful desert country we have seen so far on our tour. 
The Saguaro Cactus are huge, up to 60 feet tall.
The Organ Pipe Cactus grows in a small area of the Sonoran Desert from southwestern Arizona to western Sonora, Mexico.
The hikes & camping were great here, as was the weather. 
The benefits of being in this part of the country during the winter gradually began to sink in. 

Then on to Phoenix where we had one of our busiest weeks so far, playing 6 libraries in Phoenix and 1 library in Prescott before heading out to Nevada.
The libraries in this area continue to be a great venue, both large and small.
Each library having their own unique characteristics, offerings and architecture.
The librarians here are all tuned in to their communities.

We were fortunate to have good friends in the Phoenix area, Dwight & Sandy who generously offered us a place to stay during our time in Phoenix.
Dwight is also a fantastic bass player / musician, and both of us had played with Dwight back in Colorado in the 90's.
He has played music in this area for about 15 years and he & Sandy have watched and experienced the incredible growth in the Phoenix area.
Dwight told us that the diameter of the metro area has grown to around 150 miles across at this point.

We began to understand the nature of commuting in this huge megapolis. 

Despite the increasing population here, Phoenix still has a unique environment with rugged, spiny mountains rising up from the valley floor which separate neighborhoods and areas of Phoenix.  The sky is very predominant here as most buildings are low.

There are many pockets of undeveloped land within this huge metropolis with some irrigation, & man - made lakes providing a more hospitable habitat & shelter for birds, animals, fish, plants, grasses and trees.


We ended our time in Arizona going to Pleasant Lake, one of Dwight and Sandy's favorite places to camp and to take their boat out.
And sure enough, this lake and surrounding environs was very pleasant indeed!

We camped in a nice private spot near the lake, built camp fires, roasted marshmallows and ate "S'mores" using the best dark chocolate.
Soooo good, Hershey's no more with S'mores!  We listened to cowboy music and jazz, howled at the moon and saw wild burros.

Thank you Dwight & Sandy for your great hospitality and fun weekend on Lake Pleasant!


 

January - Early February 2015 - Music & Poetry & travels in SoCal, Salton Sea 

We developed a new set of music / poetry pieces for our winter presentations during our time in the desert.
Our new favorite poem music piece is called “Blue Ophelia”.
The music is by our friend Mark Miller and poem by Shirley Graham from Salt Spring Island, BC, Canada.  


We project the poems with some images behind us while performing.


We wondered if seeing the poems and imagery would take away from a personal experience of hearing the sung poems.
The general consensus seems to be that seeing the poems and images enhances the program.

We made 2 treks to San Diego & LA from  Desert Shores near the Salton Sea to perform in 9 libraries through the month of January.
During this time, we were able to enjoy lots of beach time and camped in several of SoCal's State Parks right on or near the beach.
Many of these State Park Beaches are right in town, and a few are more remote like one of our favorite's, Leo Carillo State Park north of Malibu.
Colleen's favorite beach house, Encinitas, CA

The weather was pleasant & perfect for beach camping.

The integration of camping and performing has worked quite well for us - sometimes we book a motel on the night of a performance, but otherwise, we mostly camp in our van.


The library venue has become one of the best venues for us for many reasons.
First, librarians are great, we love the librarians, and their communities love  their librarians and libraries too!
Second, those who come to these concerts are great listeners and ask great questions.
More reasons:  We love the music & the poems and find ourselves finding new ways of expression through this form.
The acoustics are almost always quite good, sometimes superb.
Sometimes we play right in the library amongst the "stacks", and often, the libraries have community rooms and sometimes very nice state of the art auditoriums.

Last night, we played in the most beautiful library on our tour so far, in Redlands, CA.


As we walked around the library, every perspective was unique and beautiful, including the grounds.
Daniel is the adult programs and reference librarian and he gave us a tour, including a private tour of the library tower. 
There are many comfy nooks and crannies in this old beautiful library to sit down with a book.
Our performance was in a beautiful old room next to one of the 2 gardens.
There is great art on the walls, including original signed lithographs of Norman Rockwell paintings of Huck Finn in the children's library room.




Daniel told us of the history of this library and the effort made by prominent citizens of the day and especially the effort of A.K. Smiley back in 1890's.
Today, this library continues to have great support from the community and excellent leadership & stewardship from library directors.

Daniel, like many of the librarians we have met, has a keen interest in all people from the community, including the homeless.
The public library is a space where people can still share in the best of what our society supports.
Our libraries are the great equalizer, bringing us all together, rich & poor, young and old. 

Most librarians are acutely aware of the great needs of folks with mental illness and homelessness who often times spend their days in their libraries.
There is a consensus among librarians that the libraries fill an important role for these folks and that they are welcome.
And for those unemployed & underemployed, there are resources and access to the internet to keep them abreast of potential training & education programs and to keep up with the constantly changing computer / internet world.

SALTON SEA

We were fortunate to have a home base from which to travel to San Diego & LA.
Colleen's brother Jim lives right next to the Salton Sea, the largest body of water in California. 

Jim care takes a community park & he graciously invited us to come and go from here as much as we would like.
We pulled up near Jim's trailer and dubbed our encampment, " Camp JimO " .




This area is quite unique and a place where there is much debate about how to save the Salton Sea.
The Salton Sea is a shallow, saline, endorheic rift lake located directly on the San Andreas Fault, predominantly in California's Imperial and Coachella valleys.
The lake occupies the lowest elevations of the Salton Sink in the Colorado Desert of Imperial and Riverside counties in Southern California.

There is a lot of pollution from agricultural run-off, and the sea is shrinking precipitously.
Sometimes the smell from the lake is overwhelming, but most times, it is reminiscent of the smells from the ocean.
The "beach" is mostly made up of bones from die offs of fish and birds.


At first we were overwhelmed by the degrading sea, and during a rare wind-storm, the dust became unbearable at times.
But, we gradually became more attracted to the Salton Sea for there is a beauty here unlike anywhere else.
The birds we have seen on and above this lake are impressive.
They are so graceful and seem very content & relaxed in this environment.
They seem to have plenty of food from the sea, mostly Tilapia, which has so far survived the salinity of the water.



Our favorite time to walk next to the sea is near and just after sunset.  The sea often times takes on a pink glow along with the sky creating an ethereal, dreamlike world.


It has been wonderful to hang out with Jim and we thank him for his kindness, gentle spirit & the great support he provided for this part of our tour.

We're heading out today on the 3:10 to Yuma!


 

December in the Desert 

We had a break from our library performances in December, so we decided to take some time to see the deserts in southern California / Nevada. The contrasts, colors, geology & desert plants reveal a stark & prickly beauty.


Hiking in these deserts at this time of year has been really incredible.... showing us how diverse & beautiful the desert can be. 
We even saw our first tarantula in nature in the desert near the Salton Sea.
In the Anza - Borrego Desert, there are 6 types of rattlesnakes. 

We've seen a few rattlers on our hikes and we are relieved that they are not at all aggressive, and will not likely bite unless closely disturbed ie: if we picked one up or stepped on one...we hope to avoid both:)
.
We are practicing our mindfulness meditation walking in these deserts.

Our favorite areas to hike are the slot canyons, sand dunes and in or near oasis and wetland areas.


One of our favorite oasis areas so far is China Ranch just outside the SE corner of Death Valley NP. ( Chinaranch.com )

China Ranch has a fascinating history and walks both in the oasis and in the desert outside of the oasis are incredibly beautiful with a great variety of terrain & landscapes, including a slot canyon. 

The following picture we took looks almost like a mural, but this is how it really looks when looking out towards the desert from inside the date palm groves.



There are at least 12 types of dates grown on the organic date farm at China Ranch and we sampled each and everyone...umm...delicious sweetness!
China Ranch makes the best date shakes we've ever had and taste the best after our hikes in the desert!


Just outside this oasis, the desert floor is surrounded by mountains with rock falls that are carried down to the valley floors.
The incredible range of colors in the rocks of this area are outstanding.
We learned that many folks come out to these areas to look for rocks, crystals and we met amateur to professional geologists fascinated by this area.


The Amargosa River runs through China Ranch and Tecopa.
This area is one of the few places along the Amargosa where the river is above ground, except during heavy rains and floods.
It seemed as if we had this valley to ourselves as we hiked several miles into the valley until the trail was engulfed by willows & cats claw....ouch!

We were fortunate to find a desert bungalow near the town of Tecopa, CA with the help of our friend Dana back in Boulder.

The weather became chilly in December so we are very happy to have our little bungalow to stay warm and to use as our base of operations in exploring the surrounding desert & to have a place to prepare for our upcoming performances in January.

Tecopa area has several hot spring choices from natural pools in a wetland area of the desert to the county park hot spring pools which are currently offered free to the public.  How lucky can we get?


Tecopa is a remote little town and one of the most unique towns we've been through on this journey.
There is a tiny library, and a small community center where the spotty local wifi is centered.
There is no cell coverage in this area, so this month did remind us of what it was like before all our connectivity through the internet.
Unplugging was a nice change.

The only restaurant in town is Pastel's Bistro which happens to serve up great tasting food. 
John is the Bistro's chef extraordinaire and his partner Shelley is the hostess with the mostest.
They create a homey, comfortable environment, almost as if you are coming to dinner at their home.

The Bistro is part of Tecopa Hot Springs Resort which offers lodging, hot spring soaking pools, art gallery, labyrinth, camping, hookups for travel trailers and RV's, star gazing and campfires at night. 

We played a well attended concert towards the end of our stay at Tecopa Hot Springs Resort Art Gallery.
 - this pic was taken inside the gallery before the performance.
The Gypsy Time Travelers were holed up during our time in Tecopa.
We were happy to be able to see a couple performances, and we agreed that their vehicle was way cooler than ours.


"Michel Olson and Christy Horne are the husband and wife team who have history ringing in the ears of millions of people across the USA!
They travel all across the United States in "Florence" their Recreational Castle, Blacksmith Shop and Stage Rig. 
They combine fabulous storytelling with anvil accompaniment and have created an award winning Stage Show that has been called "The Best in Family EDUTAINMENT."

We traded travel stories with Michel and just as we were leaving Tecopa, Michael came over to our van and gave us one of his lucky horseshoes he had made to carry along on our travels.  Kindred Spirits!

Tecopa Public Golf Coarse
Ken developed this spot when he could no longer afford the fees @ Pahrump Nevada's golf course.
He shares the course with anyone who would like to hit balls out into the desert, as long as they will go and retrieve them...watch out for the scorpions and snakes!


Tecopa Community Church.
Tasty selection of draft beer @ Death Valley Brewing.


We were fortunate pick up a gig at Death Valley's Inn @ Furnace Creek about 70 miles NW of Tecopa.
What a beautiful old hotel!

We were treated to a 2 night stay, including food and spirits for 2 performances.
One for the managers holiday luncheon and one for Christmas dinner.

Wow, lovely old hotel & beautiful gardens in this oasis paradise.
The historic Furnace Creek Inn was built in 1927 by the Pacific Coast Borax Company as a means to save their newly built Death Valley Railroad.
The Inn opened for business on February 1, 1927 with 12 guest rooms, a dining room and lobby area. Room rates were $10 per night and included meals.

All materials were local and workers came from around the area, including Shoshone Indians, who made the tiles for the roof of the Inn.
For us, it had the feel of Timberline Lodge, not in architecture certainly, but in the feel of the place and artisan touches.
Old rail tracks were used for much of the rod iron work made into light fixtures and beautifully designed rod iron fences.

Travertine Springs were tapped for electricity and water for the swimming pool.
The spring water is still used for irrigating the Inn’s gardens and flow-through pool.

We had this beautiful pool to ourselves.  The water reminded us of Eldorado Springs Pool back in Colorado, but warmer.
Of course we made use of the saunas right next to the pool.


After Furnace Creek Inn , we headed back to Tecopa for our last week in our desert bungalow.
We waited for the coldest morning to go to the natural hot springs just outside of Tecopa, it was 15 degrees out.
The water was nice and warm - the sunrise was beautiful, a great way to start our last day in Tecopa.
Time to move on down the road!
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