Yamhill County is gorgeous!!


Wow. It’s been a week and a half since my last post, and a lot has happened!

I was tickled to have the chance to perform at the Alberta Rose Theater for Mortified! which was a wonderful experience. The two Saturday night shows represented the fifth and sixth time I had performed this teenage-diary material onstage, and the two audiences were amazing. The early-show folks, in particular, seemed to eat up every sentence that I, and my fellow five performers, read. It was wonderfully gratifying.

One of the other performers took a photo of us all in the green room after the shows.

That night, I stayed in SE Portland with a dear friend—having completed my grumpy-cat sit that morning, although the kitty did finally allow me to pet her during the final hour of the sit—and my friend and I had wonderful deep conversations, both in the afternoon before the show, and then into the wee hours afterward.

The following day, Sunday, another dear friend picked me up from the house—with my rig—and drove me out to our other friend’s annual outdoor strawberry party at her family’s farm in Banks, far out to the west of Portland. The party—an annual tradition for more than 15 years—had sadly been canceled the previous three years due to COVID, so it was wonderful to get back and see so many old faces, and enjoy a beautiful, perfect-weather day.

After the party, I bicycled right before sunset along a beautiful ten-mile stretch south of Banks into Forest Grove, where I stayed the night with yet another friend—who had also attended the strawberry party—and I had some nice conversation with her and her housemates before collapsing onto the couch to sleep.

Then, Monday morning, it was time for my big adventure: bicycling 25 miles south of Forest Grove to McMinnville for a two-night mini-vacation.

I had visited that charming burg more than 30 years ago, when my college friend Laurie drove us out there to Linfield College to visit her friend Tony. Having recently discovered a three-day gap in my cat sitting schedule, I decided it was well past time for me to make another visit.

The ride through rural Yamhill County—including the small towns of Gaston, Yamhill, and Carlton—was hot (87F/30C that day) but beautiful. It felt good to be back out on the road, like I was during my year of travels.

When I arrived in McMinnville in the late afternoon, I was greeted by my wonderfully warm and hospitable Warmshowers hosts, Steve and Robin. At 70 years old, Steve had bicycled the entire span of the continental United States last year, from Washington, DC to Portland. (Except for the last little stretch—he got COVID in Cascade Locks, Oregon, and sadly had to bow out at that time.) He and Robin have a beautiful house, with an amazing pollinator-friendly back yard. They showed me birds and many kinds of insects, amongst the copious honeysuckle, strawberries, lettuce, and much more.

One of the highlights of my two-night stay with them was my guest quarters: a tiny house in the back yard, complete with a composting toilet, basin sink, and outdoor shower! (And electricity and wifi!) It was one of the most charming spaces I’ve had the privilege of occupying.

Another highlight was a small-world moment, when Robin and I went to get a drink at the McMenamins Hotel Oregon downtown. We sipped our beverages on the outdoor rooftop seating area, and during our conversation, discovered that we had both been living in Canberra, Australia in 1981. What are the odds??

Steve and Robin are also vegan, and they shared some delicious homemade meals with me while I was there. It was lovely to meet them, and I even managed to introduce them to another friend of mine—and fellow strawberry-party attendee—who recently bought a house in McMinnville and is wanting to create a pollinator-friendly habitat in her own back yard.

While in McMinnville, I visited three different nature parks, and basked in the lush green that filled all of them. What a magical place.

On Wednesday, I reluctantly packed up and said goodbye, and began my 32-mile return bike trip, this time through Forest Grove all the way to the MAX light rail stop in Hillsboro. I then took the MAX train all the way into Portland, then biked the final half-hour or so to my next cat sit in the Johns Landing neighborhood of SW Portland.

That 32-mile ride back was absolutely breathtaking. All the mint-green fields (wheat, I think?) completely mesmerized me. There is nothing like that view, especially with the sunlight dancing on the fields.

In the evening I reached my new sit, and was delighted to reacquaint myself with Nala, one of the first cats I sat when I began this new lifestyle last fall. She is one of the most affectionate cats I’ve ever met, which was a nice change after the couple of cold-shoulder kitties I’ve recently cared for.

I’ll be sad to say goodbye to her again tomorrow, although I’ll be heading back to my friend Sandi’s house in north Portland, to care for her cat Lima. Lima was the very first cat I sat, upon my return last September. So, lots of things are coming full circle.

And, today I met up with a new friend, Stuart, who is a fellow car-free nomad, having recently arrived in Portland from Hawaii. After hitting up Voodoo Doughnuts, where I enjoyed my standby vegan Portland Crème filled confection, we visited the Lan Su Classical Chinese Garden, which was beautiful as usual on this summery day.

What a packed week! I’m excited for what the coming week will bring, although I also hope it will include some rest and downtime.

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