Flying During a Pandemic

Things I haven’t seen in many months: Those fun post-it note illustrations on office windows. Because the kind of offices that have that kind of fun aren’t open right now. However, the airport supplied me with a nice view of Mt Hood, plus an airplane flying around the mountain.

No, thank you, airport, for being so uncrowded.

Aside from the fact that I could have caught a deadly virus and died, flying during a global pandemic was heavenly. It erased the number one thing I hate about traveling by air: feeling like cattle.

The seats in the waiting area had stickers on every other seat to promote social distancing. The plane was mostly empty. I had my entire row to myself, plus the row across the aisle, plus the row behind me. It was glorious. And I got some great pictures of the mountains.

On Your Mark, Get Out of Town, Go!

After several months of quarantining, I wanted a day trip. So Matt and I drove to Long Beach, Washington (I’d never been) for a quick day trip.

On the way, we stopped to take in the view and I found this graffiti. I googled “country bike tour 2009” and came up with this website, which probably has nothing to do with these vandals, but was fun to read about.

Look at that sun! Enjoy it now. Also, do enjoy the lovely Rolling Rock litter.

There’s that bridge that heads over to Washington. I’m not sure if I’ve ever crossed it. Today is not the day, though.

The first of many self portraits. Two pair of sunglasses, one mask.

And now we’re in Long Beach. The sun disappeared just as we got close to this lovely tourist town.

Two masks, one pair of sunglasses.

We walked down to get a picture of the crowds. I’m guessing this was a small fraction of the usual number of people here on a July Saturday. Then we walked the boardwalk, which I have no pictures of, but which surprised me by being very far away from both the ocean and the main strip.

Matt says hello from the world’s largest pair of chopsticks. One mask, one pair sunglasses.

After we walked the length of the main drag, we bought fish and chips and found a picnic table. One sunglasses, no mask.

Then we walked back across the boardwalk and drove home. But not before taking one more picture. Two masks, one pair of sunglasses.

The Most Delicious Vending Machine in a Crowded Seattle Airport

Airline schedules were such that I had to fly to Seattle before I could fly to Tuscon. Grumble, grumble, grumble. But grumbling was somewhat mitigated by this vending machine full of food that looked very, very good.

Salads! Sandwiches! All from Beecher’s Handmade Cheese!

Look at this though. No seats to be had at the gate.

And I’m back to grumble, grumble, grumble.

On the way back I had a grilled cheese from Beecher’s and I’m all in with them. Now there’s a good reason to fly through Seattle.


Magnets are my current favorite souvenirs. They are inexpensive, they have a task besides being a memory, and they don’t take up a lot of space. Here are the three that I bought on this trip.

I’ve been collecting pressed pennies since 1985. My first one was from the Oregon Coast. Here are four from this trip.

You can see that we had older pennies (pre-1986) for the Ferndale and Face Rock pressings, but had to use newer ones for the Sky Trail.

I should start keeping a stash of older pennies just for this purpose and I should also probably add “pennies” to my packing list.

Sara & Shawn in Northern California!

We had planned to visit northern California before Sara got a job at Humboldt State University, but it was a happy happenstance that she did, because we got to meet up.

We first visited McKinleyville, where Sara and Shawn are living temporarily while they get settled. It is a house full of boxes at this point because the moving company absconded with their stuff for many weeks before finally delivering it.

After picking up Shawn, we met up with Sara in Arcata, had dinner and walked to campus so we could see her new working environment including her office.

Sara told us that HSU, Humboldt’s initials are sometimes translated as, “hills, stairs and umbrellas.” While we had clear skies, we did climb a lot of stairs on those hills while walking around.

Including all the stairs to get to this building, the oldest on campus.

It was great to catch up with Sara and Shawn!

Arcata’s Charms

Post-beach walk, we headed into Arcata’s downtown area. First we stopped for a cupcake.

Downtown is bustling and includes enough bookstores that I could take a picture of two at once. The one on the left, (Northtown Books) plus the light blue building with the red awnings in the middle of the picture. (Tin Can Mailman)

I hung out in the square while Matt job spotted.

Then we took a walk and found a head in a hole.

We used Google Maps for directions on this trip and every time we entered our hotel address in Eureka, Maps always first suggested the same address, but in Arcadia. So we went to find it. It turned out to not actually exist, so I’m not sure what Google Maps was thinking. The closest thing to it was this barber shop.

And then it was time for the Finnish Country Spas and Tubs which was a thing Sara had alerted us about and which I was looking forward to.

Here’s the front entrance. Inside is a small coffee shop.

Through the back door of the coffee shop is this lovely oasis which leads to little cabins with hot tubs or saunas.

Here was our changing room and tub.

The design is very efficient. At your appointment time, you change in the changing room, then soak. When you are done, you go into a different changing room which allows you to change while the tub is being cleaned and reset for the next guest.

It was very relaxing and if I lived in Arcata, I would probably make time for this spa often.

Escape Eureka and Other Eureka Downtown Things

It turns out Eureka has an escape room and you can go there at nine in the morning. We did so!

The owner said that for the early morning slots, he mostly got tourists doing one last thing before they got out of town.

It was just the two of us, which was nice, as doing escape rooms with strangers is awkward. We escaped, and I enjoyed the variety of puzzles. The clues given came at just the right time.

We also happened upon the Wooden Sculpture Garden of Romano Gabriel, which is kept safe inside in a building downtown.

There was a lot to look at.

And I got my fortune told!

Dispatch from six months later: I do not believe I have yet received a letter that has changed the course of my life. Also, I think I’m hardwired already to avoid the flatterers. And I do wonder if I had played again, as the fortune teller commands me to do, would the next fortune have contradicted this one?

Humboldt County Fair!

Advantage to staying in Eureka instead of Crescent City? The Humbolt County Fair coincided with our visit. The Del Norte County Fair was the previous weekend.

To the fair we went!

After our hike and drive through the Avenue of the Giants, we started with some fair food. Matt got some Pad Thai and I got a street hot dog which I had to eat quickly because the stuff on it was making the bun get soggy, but it was quite delicious!

I love a good “any other vegetable” category

Waiting for the start of the Ukel Aliens concert.

The Ukel Aliens turned out to be rad. Someday I’m going to have enough time to be in a community band that plays and sings songs from my younger years.

Look at how much fun they are having! They sounded great too. The woman on the right is Spanky McFarlane who sang, among other things “Sunday Will Never be the Same” with Spanky and Our Gang. She was a guest singer.

Having enjoyed the Ukle Aliens, we headed into the 4-H barn to watch a bit of the pig judging. I love their 4-H uniforms.

This girl eventually sensed I was taking photos.

A picture of a cow is required for all fair visits with livestock shows. I love how pretty the animals look at the fair. And I know they do not look like that on a day-to-day basis.

Into the handmade goods, I found this quilt, which should probably be the eighth wonder of the world.

I’m quite curious as to how it’s maker came by all the crown royal bags. Just the 15 in the bottom row would be more than a lifetime’s consumption of the blended whisky for me. I stand in awe of this quilt.

Some good race car driving.

Then we discovered the Willamette Pie company, which is from our neck of the woods, but which we could not resist.

I got Marionberry pie a la mode, and Matt got an ice cream sandwich. I would have liked smaller portions. However, both items were delicious!

We attended a performance of Special Head. His website says that Special Head “is an Entertainer, specializing in Magic, Levitation, Music, and Performance art. ” (I question the capitalization in that sentence.)

We didn’t know who Special Head (the guy on the right) was, but free shows are fun. Partway through his act an “audience member” started heckling Special Head and eventually joined him on stage.

And eventually showed off his cowboy skills.

Special Head’s act was hampered by a light rain. A few tricks didn’t work because of it, but both performers played off the hitches in their routine as best they could, which made the comedy even funnier.

Although at one point, Special Head said to the cowboy guy, well, at least your mother thinks you are doing well.” And by “your mother” he meant me. Which was not exactly how I was picturing our age demographic breakdown.

Special Head eventually convinces the cowboy to help out with the routine and we get the head in a box.

Plus, this full-on levitation.

Because we arrived early to the Uke Aliens show, we had time to people watch. The girl on the left in the picture above, and her brother were talking with the cowboy about tricks. They both demonstrated to him that they new how to make a pebble disappear from their hand by tossing it behind them.

“Well, there’s a little more nuance than that, but that’s essentially it,” he told them.

Matt and I debated if the kids were also audience plants, or just people who glommed onto the show. I was on the glomming side, Matt was on the plant side.

Special Head and his cowboy friend were a great part of the Humboldt County Fair.