Woody Guthrie’s famous song written in 1941 to extoll the virtues of dam building on the Columbia River and its tributaries is not the subject of this story although the effect of all that damn dam building (some eighty) is one of the causes of the demise of the salmon fishing and canning industry that once powered the booming economy of historic Astoria Oregon.
The small city sits a few miles from the mouth of the Columbia where the river empties into the Pacific Ocean in a roiling combination of swift and silty fresh water fighting the ocean tides and storms.… Read more
Tired, oh so tired by our semi-lockdown due to Covid, we decided to take a quick getaway to an island we can see from our living room. An island with almost no virus cases. Feeling secure, we joined the line at the ferry dock in the nearby town of Mukilteo for the twenty-minute cruise to the tiny town of Clinton on the south end of Whidbey Island.
Named for Joseph Whidbey, Master of HMS Discovery, who along with expedition leader Captain George Vancouver, explored the island in 1792.… Read more
I’ve always wanted to see the cranberry harvest on the Washington Coast. So, when it looked like the weather gods would smile for a few days on the usually rainy Long Beach Peninsula in the far southwest corner of the state, we decided to drive four hours from our home. In no hurry, we took secondary roads, more scenic than the freeway. They wind through logging country where we dodged the loaded trucks whipping down the road toward mills to add to the piles of logs (called cold decks around here) waiting to be turned into lumber.… Read more
After experiencing the wild exuberance of the Vigeland Sculpture complex, the Oslo City Hall is a model of sobriety with its red-brick exterior and rational layout, entrance courtyard with fountain and carvings from Norse myths, and long central hall flanked by two towers. Instead of naked writhing people, the artwork is reflective of the Norwegian character based on foundation myths and history.
While there are oil paintings and ceramic plaques, such as these honoring women,
much of the artwork in the interior of the grand building is in the form of fresco, a medium I particularly like.… Read more
While I would never count the number of statues on display in any other museum I’ve visited, it’s hard not to count when describing the Norwegian sculptor Gustav Vigeland’s work on display in the 80-acre sculpture garden set in the lovely Frogner Park in Oslo. To sum up: the individual works total 220 bronze and granite human forms plus some strangely compelling wrought iron work. The entrance gates were the first to capture my eye.
Vigeland, was a well-known sculptor in Norway by 1924 when he began his monumental effort to depict the naked human form from childhood to old age in all its beauty and ugliness.… Read more
Everyone loves a beach town in summer. Each town has a different personality, although all specialize in food, fun, sand, and sunburn. We enjoyed two wildly different experiences last summer, both very different from my hometown on the shores of Puget Sound north of Seattle.
The first was Skagen, strategically placed on the sandy tip of Denmark where the channels from the North Sea (Skagrrak) and the Kattegat, leading to the Baltic Sea, meet. It’s been a fishing and shipping town for some 600 years as the colorful fishing nets still attest.
A triptych of short stories about trains during the golden age of Eurail Passes, cheap travel, and no digital cameras.
It was Eastertime, the start of the European travel season, and the packed train from Paris to the French-Spanish border was hours behind schedule.
We missed our onward connection to Lisbon and ended up running to catch a local, the only train going in our direction until the following day. There was no time to buy provisions but we assumed that there would be a dining car.
One of the major reasons to visit Norway is to see the magnificent fjords, sea arms that stretch far into the landscape. One of the most spectacular is Lysefjorden, not far from Stravanger, a city between Bergen and Oslo, the capital. The 26-mile long fjord with waters 1600 feet deep is hemmed in by cliffs rising to 3000 feet. It’s no wonder that Victor Hugo used it as a setting in his 1886 novel, Toilers of the Sea, where he wrote that “Lyse-Fjord is the most terrible of all the gut rocks of the ocean.”
Bergen, Norway, has a reputation for rain. Lots of rain: 83 inches over 230 days each year. But the weather gods smiled when were there. Located on the southerly portion of Norway’s fiord-fringedcoast, the city originally gained prominence as part of the Hanseatic League, a commercial and defensive confederation of merchant guilds and market towns fromthe late 1100s until the mid-1600s. Now it’s a busy and beautiful university city.
The old traders’ warehouses divided by narrow alleys line the waterfront.