Beautiful trip to Corvallis and surrounds


What a full week! It’s actually been more like a week and a half, I think, so there is a decent amount to report, and also more photos than usual to share. Spring is so lush and beautiful here!

I noticed a cat sit in Corvallis a week or two ago, and thought it might be the perfect opportunity for a low-cost local “vacation.” I’m so glad I did it!

I had several friends in Corvallis, and was especially looking forward to connecting with Judy and Jeff (who, as you may recall, hosted me not once but twice, starting almost two years ago.) Sadly, after I confirmed the cat sit, I learned they would be in California celebrating Judy’s birthday, so I missed them this time around.

I did meet up with two other Corvallis-connected friends, though, and also met some great new folks.

I stayed with a lovely Servas couple, Hector and Carole, who hosted me in their comfortable “garage suite” behind their house. We shared several wonderful meals, and talked about life, travel, dreams, writing, and many more topics. These are the sort of people I love to meet wherever I go!

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

On the way down, I had a wonderful train journey of about an hour and a half on the Amtrak Coast Starlight.

I had an engaging seat partner, a young man named Dylan on his first-ever train trip. Then later, in the lounge, I met a really cool young German man named Sven, who was just finishing up several cross-country train trips via his Amtrak USA Rail pass. He was heading to San Francisco for the last part of his US travels, looking for inspiration from locals to help him decide how he may next want to proceed in his life of Effective Altruism (EA). This was a new term for me, but it seems to mirror almost exactly my own life’s goal!

He really impressed me when he told me that he had arrived in the US—after having traveled around Europe for some months—via a sailing ship! I had no idea that was a thing one could do, unless one happened to be Greta Thunberg. He said the Atlantic crossing had taken about a month and a half, and he was hoping to be able to return in the same way, albeit via a different route.

I introduced him to my wonderful East Bay friends (and hosts from my year’s loop of travels) Mimi (and her partner Steven) and Thomas, who also happens to be German. The four of them ended up meeting up for a dinner to talk about EA, living car free in the US, and similar topics.

I love connecting people like that!

I disembarked the train in Albany, Oregon, and hopped on my rig for a bike ride of about an hour to Hector and Carole’s place on the east edge of Corvallis.

During my time with them, I also found a few hours to set up my What Is Your Dream/Free Listening stand downtown, along the lushly beautiful riverfront bike path.

As usual, I found that I didn’t have many people stopping, and in this case that was partly because there wasn’t much foot traffic on the path, compared to Portland’s relatively busy Eastbank Esplanade.

However, toward the end I did get two “takers.” One was a young man who skateboarded by to let me know he had an “ecological dream” of people collaborating globally—similarly to how computer programmers collaborate globally—to solve various ecological problems.

The next person was an older man who shared a variety of stories from his life, as well as some information I hadn’t known about local Oregon flora and fauna. Specifically, he told me that he kept local snakes and lizards as pets. I didn’t even know that there were lizards in western Oregon, but he said there are alligator lizards here(!) I had only known of those from the America song Ventura Highway, and assumed they only lived in southern California’s desert climate. Not so.

He also told me about a snake called a rubber boa (a boa! A boa constrictor! In Oregon!) It is a small/short snake. I had never heard of it, and was shocked to learn that it also makes its home here.

When I mentioned this new herpetological information to my friend Karen over dinner that night, she further surprised me by sharing that when she and her siblings were growing up in Corvallis in the 1970s, they also kept both rubber boas and alligator lizards as pets!

Mind. Blown.

The next day, I bicycled three easy miles over to the apartment where I would be doing my cat sit for the next three nights. The host, Courtney, met me ahead of time to show me the ropes and give me the key, so I was familiar with the cats when I arrived.

Those two cats—a tortie named Piper and one of the most beautiful, sleek black cats I’ve ever met, named LeeRoy—were two of the sweetest, most affectionate cats I have cared for. They were an absolute delight, and I felt so sad when I had to leave three days later.

But pack up and leave I did… and the journey back to Portland couldn’t have been more beautiful.

I retraced my bicycling route back to Albany, but the northbound train—which originates in Los Angeles—was running two to three hours late. So, I had plenty of time to stash the trailer at the station and take off on my bike to explore several nearby hiking and biking trails. The weather was incredible, and all the lush green of the foliage filled my senses with bliss.

With spring having arrived, I feel like my life can begin again!

(I haven’t even mentioned my Corvallis jaunts to Central and Avery Parks, which were also filled with beautiful spring trees and flowers, as these photos illustrate.)

The train ride back from Albany to Portland was pretty uneventful, but I made sure to once again enjoy my traditional Amtrak cocktail of sweet tea and vodka—paired with the café car’s vegan blue corn tamale—while taking in the Willamette Valley scenery from the observation car.

We pulled into Portland while it was still light, and I pedaled about three miles to my current cat sit, with a kitty who unfortunately is not happy with my presence. It was a bit of a rude awakening—after Piper and LeeRoy’s affections—to be met at the door with hissing and a swipe, but I’m giving her a wide berth, and crossing my fingers that at some point this coming week she will warm up to me.

Meanwhile, I began an exciting online symposium today about animal communication—perfect timing, it would seem! I’m hoping to learn from animal communicators all around the globe who are also attending.

I hope that the spring—or autumn, if you’re reading this from south of the equator—is treating you well!

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