Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Trip Remembered...


We have been home since October 20.  We didn't know we were tired and road-weary until we got to our respective homes.  Rae started getting sick with a virus while we were in Sacramento.  She is still coughing but getting better.  I am glad to be home but very grateful for the good times we had.  In 46 days, we traveled 7200 miles and were in 20 states and D C. We met and spent time with wonderful people. 

The last days of our trip were very special, "icing on the cake", you might say.  In Nevada, we visited with Rae's 97-year-old Aunt Mildred and cousin Louise who were absolutely delightful to be with.  Then we drove through South Lake Tahoe to Sacramento to spend 2 1/2days with my daughter Emily, her husband Micah, and my grandchildren,  Isabella, Noah and Kai. The family left this week on a mission on behalf of Restoration Life Church in Sacramento to Las Glorias, Sinaloa, Mexico. I was glad to see them before they went.  If you would like to know more about what they are doing, they will be updating their blog at

The fall colors were spectacular coming home to Oregon.  We stopped at Pioneer Quilts new location in Clackamas before even going home.  It is a wonderful, spacious, well appointed location, and with the same friendly people and atmostphere as before!  We were asked "are you two still speaking to each other?".  I guess after such a long trip together, you might wonder.  The trip was great, we are still friends, and in fact, we are already talking about the next trip...

My son Steve is celebrating his 40th birthday this weekend with a Halloween Party here in Portland. It will be fun to celebrate with him and his friends. Rae and I will be hosting a Fall Celebration and potluck on November 8 at her house for our friends from Pioneer Quilts.  As busy as we were on the road, we haven't skipped a beat back here at home.  Each of us is back at our sewing machines, and I am organizing years worth of photographs...a long overdue project.  Thanksgiving and Christmas are right around the corner...

A big "Thank you" to all our hosts, family and friends, who made our trip so enjoyable!  You and our good times together will not be forgotten.  Love,

Kai celebrated his first birthday
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Noah likes to sleep next to Grammy
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Isabella plays for us...
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Thursday, October 15, 2009

She Who Dies With the Most Fabric Wins...

You probably thought we would talk about our journey today.  And maybe I will...but it occurs to me that we have more to share than just our travels.  A couple days ago, in an effort to be organized, I combined all of the fabric I have collected from at least 13 quilt shops and 2 quilt museums we have visited along the way.  I am frankly quite embarrassed by my apparent lack of self control when I am surrounded by so many beautiful fabrics.  Rae took a picture of me with my stack(s?!).  She has threatened me with blackmail but that is only because she has shamelessly refused to make a similar disclosure.  I think we are good candidates for a 12-step program, but for now we are taking a pledge of total abstinence!  No more quilt shops!!!  At least until we get back to our own favorite shop, Pioneer Quilts.  There!  I feel much better with confession...

Yesterday when we left Evanston, Wyoming, we were treated to a full rainbow across the sky.  Then Rae saw three antelope  running down the street.  The rest of the day was equally incredible!  We drove through Utah on I-80 on our way to our night's destination of Elko, Nevada.  Beautiful mountains, farms, and we caught of glimpse of Temple Square as we passed Salt Lake City, drove along the Great Salt Lake, and eventually stopped at the Bonneville Salt Flats to walk out on the Flats.  Today we will arrive in Silver Springs, NV to visit Rae's aunt.  Tomorrow we will go to Sacramento to visit my daughter Emily's family and my 3 grandchildren, Isabella, Noah, and Kai.  We are in the Pacific time zone at last, and feel closer to home.   We should be home by Tuesday, October 20.  Today is a gorgeous day!  Ellen

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Cheyenne, Wyoming

We arrived safely in Cheyenne last night.  There is still lots of snow on the ground but I-80 was clear from Lincoln, Nebraska to Cheyenne.  The countryside looked so pristine with white ground and a similar white sky.  Here and there were black cattle dotted against the white.  The horizon was broken at times by windmills in Nebraska and by oil wells in Wyoming.  Cheyenne had a 15 inch snowfall just two days ago.  It is unseasonably cold, currently 25 degrees.  We spent last night at a little RV Park.  The owner checked us in, then said she needed to get back to cutting up an antelope...

We are watching the road conditions, would like to travel some today, but could easily spend the day here in our cozy and warm "home away from home", stitching or reading.  I have been reading aloud Willa Cather's book "O! Pioneers" while Rae drives.  It takes place in Nebraska in the late 1800's so there is much we can relate to (the place, not the time).  I also took my turns at driving.  We came 450 miles yesterday.  We continue to make our way west with another time change yesterday. It is now Mountain Time.  We are loving this adventure...            Ellen

Monday, October 12, 2009

Winterset, Iowa

We had to visit the Fons and Porter shop... a must, the day was very crisp, cold and the colorful trees stood out against the bright blue sky, like a brilliant quilt.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Amana and Winterset, Iowa

One of our pleasures on the return trip to Oregon is a leisurely pace. Or at least more so than our trip east. We have been able to see some sights not in our original plan and to drive less each day and to be " in the moment". We are reminded that this is one of the great benefits of retirement...

One stop not in our plan was the Amana Colonies in Iowa, just north of US 80. Along the way to Amana, we noticed a small sign at one rural intersection which pointed the way to a quilt shop just 8 miles away. We decided to check it out. We found the most delightful small shop in a separate building behind a farm house in the middle of corn fields. Barb, the owner, was having a familiar discussion with her 16 year old daughter about whether or not she could go with a friend to a town nearby. There was a black lab to meet us, and probably a million cats and kittens. Zander went nuts! We enjoyed this chance meeting and the opportunity to observe this vignette of rural life. Barb invited us to hook up to her electricity and stay on their property for the night. So generous. We did not accept as we hoped to see some of Amana before ending the day and it was still about 20 miles away. Rae and I have remarked that seeing this part of the country and its people, seeing many, many churches, American Flags, and community spirit, that we have renewed hope for the future. Values are alive here and lived each day.

The small towns that comprise the Amana Colonies are charming and picturesque, with an old world feel of the German settlers who originally lived here. They have tried to preserve this atmosphere while keeping their economy based on crafts and handmade items. There is still an operating woolen mill, handmade brooms and baskets, lots of crafted furniture and woodworking, antiques, baked goods, etc. Of course, we visited the quilt shop which was featured in the 2009 Spring/Summer APQ Quilt Sampler Magazine. It was wonderful!

The sky when we arrived was blue and there were beautiful fall colors, flowers and pumpkins to remind us of the season. We parked for the night at the Amana RV Park. We had the heater on all night for the first time. Imagine our surprise when we awoke next morning to find it was snowing!

We began to wonder if our time for a leisurely pace was running out. But thankfully, it did warm up as the day went on and the day ended with blue skies and sunshine again.

We took a brief trip south of Des Moines to the little town of Winterset. Winterset is in the middle of Madison County, Iowa, where the book and movie "Bridges of Madison County" takes place. They were celebrating a festival of "The Bridges" which are scattered around the county.
It was so nice of them to provide so much entertainment for our visit. We went to the Fons and Porter Quilt Shop right across from City Hall. This is also the site of their publishing offices. We drove into town on John Wayne Road. John Wayne grew up in Winterset, Iowa.

We are about to leave this morning for Lincoln, Nebraska, and the International Quilt Study Center located on the University of Nebraska, Lincoln campus. From there, we will begin to drive more each day so we can eventually arrive in Oregon. We are having a great time.


My Old Kentucky Home

It is frustrating when we can't get wi-fi, because there is so much to share... After leaving West Virginia and entering Kentucky, Ellen programed in Kentucky "by-ways" including the Bluegrass Parkway. It was beautiful and an education, growing up on a farm in South Dakota, there were many differences, the crops and as Ellen mentioned, the fences and barns were for the most part painted black. The black fences seemed to stand out against the lush green fields and the brilliant trees turns bright Fall colors. Since we weren't in a hurry, it didn't seem to matter when we were caught following a oversized tractor and wagon carrying tobacco to the barns to dry. All of the farms were neat and well kept, not fancy, but well lived in, and cared for, dispelling the ideas many have about West Virginia and Kentucky.

Our destination was Paduca, the site of the National Quilt Museum, Handcocks of Paduca, Eleanor Burns shop, and Quilt Alley...what a day. I couldn't believe it, I found a parking place, or two parking places right in the middle of town, between the Museum and Eleanor Burns Shop and a block away from the other shop. When walking into the Museum our first words were, unbelievable... the World War II Show was being taken down, but the 25 Years of Quilt Best of Show winners was on display. They were all beautiful and displayed great craftsmanship... Ellen pointed out the progression of sophistication in pattern, color, style and difficulty that could be seen from the earlier quilts to the more current quilts. The gallery that stopped us and everyone in the museum in their tracks and using the magnifying glasses provided was the incredible display of miniature quilts... and the comments over and over, how did they do that? Unfortunately, we were prohibited from using cameras so we couldn't share the wonderful experience.

Our trip to Springfield, Il. was rainy and we could tell the the temperatures were dropping... we got into Springfield mid-afternoon in plenty of time to visit the Lincoln Museum, it was very impressive and a must visit...even if you have to weave through bus loads of overactive school children. The Museum has several theaters that present short films on Lincoln's life and administration...The first film, "From Lincoln's Eyes," was 18 minutes long and punctuated with sound effects, flashing lights and to simulate the burst of cannon, the floor had motion devises throughout the theater to give the feeling that the earth was shaking from battle. It was a very dramatic presentation. The second film was shorter and called the "Ghost in the Library," a young man in period clothes took the stage and discussed the purpose of the Library and the importance of archiving "stuff." At the end of the presentation, he pointed to the wall and a tattered flag and explained that it was from a battle that he was in, and putting on a coat and hat of the Union Army, he stood at attention and explained that the flag returned, but that he did not, he then began to fade from sight. The Museum was well presented and there were many volunteers available to assist visitors around the museum

Our next stop is Amana... thanks to Ellen's planning, we are seeing so much of the country off the Interstates...and Zander loves the new trees everywhere...Rae and Zander

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Berea, Kentucky

We spent our second night in Berea, a small college town south of Lexington. KY.  Berea is home to a thriving arts community and we spent yesterday visiting the workshops of potters, jewelry makers, woodworkers and a glass blower.  There are also a number of galleries and shops that feature the work of Kentucky artists and craftspeople (including some quilters). We are in blue grass country, with rolling hills, green grass and trees, and blue blue sky.  One thing that stands out here is that many fences and barns are painted black.  We took our own survey to discover why this is.  So far we have been told that black paint costs less, is available in very large quantities, is traditional here, and that it is the perfect color for drying tobacco inside, although we have not seen any tobacco. There are many black barns over the countryside in Madison County, KY with painted quilt blocks above the doors.  Finding them is like finding little treasures. 

After leaving Alexandria on Thursday, we drove 25.6 miles to our first stop at Lake Fairfax, VA.  Since then we have been to Harper's Ferry, WV; the Skyline Drive through Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, Staunton, VA, and White Sulphur Springs, WV. We saw a black bear and dozens of deer in Shenandoah.  The campgrounds in SNP and at Greenbriar State Forest near White Sulphur Springs, WV have been two of our favorite places.  They were peaceful, with  trees changing to fall colors and dropping leaves.  People we meet are friendly and proud of their states, campgrounds, etc. Zander met a Wheaton terrior named Riley at Greenbriar.  They chased and played until Zander was exhausted.  He has been a good little traveler and we are glad he came with us.

We are having fun and finding new and interesting people and places on our journey.  Today we will drive 270 miles to see the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, KY, and then on to Springfield, Il to visit the Lincoln Library.  More later...


Thursday, October 1, 2009

Congrats to our Friends at Pioneer Quilts

We have stopped to see a number of quilt shops in our travels.  Some of them are very nice and different from each other.  But Rae and I agree that our favorite quilt shop is Pioneer Quilts where we have made so many friends, taken classes, and just plain like to hang out!  Pioneer Quilts has moved from Damascus to Clackamas into a much larger space.  They are so much in our hearts and we wish the shop good luck and congratulations in their new location.  We can't wait to see it and to see our friends again.  We miss you!  Ellen and Rae

Leaving Alexandria

Hi, y'all...

We are loading up to start the trek west after a marvelous two weeks in Virginia.  Rae has kissed Brooke, Leah, and Sarah goodbye this morning and Derrick made our breakfast.  Our plan for today is to drive 25 miles to Lake Fairfax and an RV dump site.  We may stay there for the day if we like it to enjoy a down day before going to Harper's Ferry, WV and driving through Shenandoah National Park to see the fall colors.  Our trip home is not on a schedule.  We would like to drive fewer miles per day than on the way out and if we love a place it would be great to stay a day or two.  We will do our best to hook up to WiFi but it was not always available when we wanted it coming east.

Rae was just the best guide here in the area.  I arrived from Hampton last Friday.  Brooke and Rae picked me up at the depot and we had lunch at the Chart House on the Potomac River in old town Alexandria.  Rae and I went to an Art Fair in Occoquan on Saturday, DC on Sunday (lots of statues, the Museum of the American Indian/Smithsonian, saw the Capitol, Washington Monument and the National Mall.  Monday and Tuesday we returned to DC to see Arlington National Cemetary, the Tomb of the Unknowns with changing of the guard, the Eternal Flame and graves of JFK, RFK and Teddy Kennedy, Mt Vernon (home of George Washington), Jefferson and FDR Memorials, the Iwu Jima Memorial, and Teddy Roosevelt Island.  We spent yesterday again in Old Town Alexandria (old and charming buildings, shops, restaurants).
We have enjoyed being here with Brooke and family so much.  I know it is hard for Rae to leave...

We will share pictures as soon as we can.  More later...bye for now.  Ellen, Rae and Zander