A condo in the clouds

It’s snowing. I am enveloped in a cloud. The Wind whistles. All I see is white, and a few nearby buildings. The rest is lost in the swirling mists.  

Our Airbnb condo is in downtown Montreal, and when our contact pressed the button for the 39th floor (in a 40 story building), I was shocked.  Yesterday, the sky was clear; sun flooded the living room. We were blinded and the temperature rose inside. But it was 12 degrees Fahrenheit outside.  Montreal lay at our feet (39 floors down).  To stay inside or brave the cold?  Hint: we brought a lot of base layers for this trip. 

  
  
 

 

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It’s been awhile…

but I’ve decided it’s time to revisit and restart the travel blog. We have been distracted for a number of years with work and life generally, but it is time to get out and change our perspective once again.  And to write about it!

And with this restart comes a new “branding,” if you will. I obviously love The Odyssey, But as I tried to sign Penelope to a new post, it just didn’t feel right. Our mascot Bacon will continue to make appearances, but Penelope and Ulysses will be names of the past. From now on, we will just sign with our middle names and call it good.

I also have a few travels and stories stored up to write about, so you can look forward to some highlights of our travels to Spain in the fall of 2015 once I have some time to type up my musings!

Anne

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Cliche Travel Photos

Slate has published a slide show of cliché tourist photos, available here. I must admit, I was expecting the Leaning Tower of Pisa picture, and wasn’t surprised by the Taj Mahal or Rocky Balboa.

But would you want to kiss a gravestone that hundreds of other people wearing red lipstick had kissed? Only if there’s Purel available.

And what about a family photo at the Abbey Road zebra crossing?  Those children/teenagers do NOT look happy.  I wonder how many times they’ve crossed that road?  Note to self: if ever driving in London, do not try to drive down that road!

Now, for a few things I think might be missing from the list:

1. Tourist pretending to fall into Grand Canyon (beware, can lead to actually falling)

2. Tourist on camel in front of any of the following locations: Pyramids at Giza, Sphinx at Giza, general arid desert region.

3. Tourist pinching the top of the Eiffel Tower (perhaps a bit too similar to pinching the Taj Mahal to be included in Slate’s list).

4. Tourist on all-fours at the Four Corners (where Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona meet), with one limb in each state.

5. Picture taken at the Tower of London or Windsor Castle with the impassive Queen’s Guard.  This picture could either be of a stoic tourist standing at attention or a tourist trying to get a response from the Guard.

What are your favorite cliché tourist photos?

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Homebound

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Do you have a symbol for your home? I do. Everyday when I come home from work, I cross the St. Johns bridge. Dedicated in 1931, the St. Johns Bridge crosses the Willamette River in North Portland. St. Johns itself was once a separate city, but was annexed by Portland in 1915. Now it is a cute, partially gentrified neighborhood with a main street, antique shops, restaurants and even a few bars. This is Portland after all.

The Bridge itself is graceful, with gothic towers and sweeping suspension cables. On a clear day, as I cross from West to East, I can see at least 3 snow-covered peaks and I know how lucky I am to live in my home near the Bridge.

While I’m on the topic of luck, there have been a few changes in my employment. I’m not sure I’d call them “lucky” per se, but I strive to be positive. Due to these changes, our ability to travel has been diminished and this blog has obviously fallen by the wayside. I do still want to write something other than legal memos and briefs, however, so the focus of the blog will be shifting to reflect more on past travels, travel news, and Portland itself. I hate the term “staycation,” but given our travel limitations, When Pigs Fly will now focus more on travels in and near Portland, Oregon, reasons to come here, things to do, and places to eat. My only hope is that it is interesting and (sometimes) informative!

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Chicharron

Eating is a big part of travel, or at least it is for me.  When I was young, I traveled quite a bit and was very lucky to have parents who coerced me (maybe forced me) to try everything once.  I’ve carried that motto through my own travels. I will try any food item once, unless I know that doing so will actually harm me. Most of the time, this works out just fine and I get some fun stories out of it.

I was looking at one of my favorite websites today and came across a beautiful picture of Filipino Chicharron from Cherrie Moore at sweetcherriepie.com. My memories of Chicharron, however, are quite different from the heart-stopping, artery-clogging, crispy, salty snack (think really good pork rinds) enjoyed by Ms. Moore and her family.

It was Summer 2002. I was studying in Cuernavaca, Mexico, but was on a weekend trip to Oaxaca, with a brief bus stop in Puebla. You know how everyone advises against eating from local taquerias while in Mexico, because our weak American stomachs don’t have the proper flora (or fauna)? I was with a Mexican student, wandering Puebla for an hour, and decided to ignore that advice. Surprisingly, this story does not end with me experiencing the effects of Montezuma’s revenge. Instead, the problem was simply ordering.

We stood on the sidewalk in the sun and ordered through a window. There was not another gringa in sight. My Mexican friend (let’s call him…Juan) placed his order for 2 tacos de chicharrones. I had no idea what chicharrones were, so I just said I’d have the same. Juan asked me if I was sure, and the lady in the window looked at my dubiously. This should have been a warning. I plowed on, pretending I actually knew what I was doing. I don’t think I was very convincing, and the lady in the window said I could trade one of the tacos back if I didn’t like it.

Our tacos were passed through the window. The tortillas were amazing, fresh and hot. The filling was….unidentifiable, red blobs of fattiness. I later learned that chicharrones, at least in this context, are basically pork rinds stewed in a spicy, red sauce. All eyes were on me; the locals seemed to be wondering if I would make it through two of these tacos. I suspect I was the first gringa to order the tacos de chicharrones. I noticed the eyes, but picked up the taco and took my first bite. It was INCREDIBLY spicy. And squishy, and slimy, with a little bit of toughness that made it difficult to chew. Did I mention that this was basically pork fat and skin? Tears came to my eyes with the effort of keeping my gag reflex in check, and sweat broke out on my forehead from the spiciness.

After I made it through one taco, I traded the second one in to the kitchen for something a little less adventurous. My motto is “try anything once” not “punish myself by eating something I don’t like.” I think I gained a measure of respect for eating one whole taco, and they happily obliged me. To be honest, I don’t remember the other taco I ate (although I’m sure it was quite good)–I only remember the taco that I conquered!

We got back on the bus and continued the trip to Oaxaca. More on that another time (hint: I ate more weird things).

Penelope

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Perfect Hottub Weather

Local Severe Weather Alert for Lincoln City, OR

…HIGH WIND WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM 8 PM THIS EVENING TO 8 AM PDT SUNDAY FOR THE SOUTH WASHINGTON AND NORTH AND CENTRAL OREGON COAST… A HIGH WIND WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM 8 PM THIS EVENING TO 8 AM PDT SUNDAY. * WINDS: WIND GUSTS TO 75 MPH ARE EXPECTED AT COASTAL HEADLANDS AND BEACHES…WITH GUSTS TO 60 MPH IN THE COASTAL COMMUNITIES. THE STRONGEST OF THE WINDS WILL BE ON THE CENTRAL OREGON COAST. * TIMING: STRONGEST WINDS SHOULD OCCUR BETWEEN 11 PM SATURDAY AND 5 AM SUNDAY. * LOCATIONS INCLUDE: LINCOLN CITY…NEWPORT…CAPE FOULWEATHER…YACHATS…FLORENCE…ASTORIA… CANNON BEACH… TILLAMOOK…NETARTS…PACIFIC CITY… RAYMOND…LONG BEACH… CAPE DISAPPOINTMENT * IMPACTS: STRONG WINDS CAN DAMAGE TREES AND CAUSE POWER OUTAGES. PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS… A HIGH WIND WARNING MEANS A HAZARDOUS HIGH WIND EVENT IS EXPECTED OR OCCURRING. SUSTAINED WIND SPEEDS OF AT LEAST 40 MPH OR GUSTS OF 58 MPH OR MORE CAN LEAD TO PROPERTY DAMAGE.

The ocean is roaring outside. We await the storm.

In the meantime, the rain falls and the hottub feels wonderful. Finally those knots in my shoulders dissolving.

Penelope

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Post-Vacation Funk

I’ve been a bad blogger.

We got back from Hawaii almost a month ago. I still have several topics from that trip to blog about (including the near-confiscation of Homer and an embarrassing fall near a waterfall) and I just haven’t been able to bring myself to do it. But I will soon.

As Fall begins in the lovely Northwest, we start our day trips to the beach and foraging for mushrooms near Mount St. Helens. I think I will stagger my memories of Hawaii with these newer, colder trips. Nothing like memories of the sun to keep you warm during these cold, wet months!

Penelope

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A Message to Old Ulysses from Young Ulysses

Twenty years from now, when we come back to Maui, walk your fat ass into the water to put on your snorkel fins. If you put them on when you’re on dry land, there are two options: (1) you walk forward and look like a member of Snorkel Bob’s High-Steppin’ Marching Band or (2) you walk backwards and break a hip.

If you do choose to put on your fins on dry land and think it’s a good idea to walk backwards down the stairs to the beach/water, perhaps you should rethink snorkeling in the first place.

Ulysses

*Note: This rant is the result of real events seen at Kapalua Bay, Maui. No old men were harmed in the creation of this post. As far as we know.

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Maui Mornings

We sit on the lanai watching the sky lighten as the birds greet the day with loud “chirrups.” It is sticky, but not yet hot. A gentle breeze ruffles the leaves of a tree just beyond the railing and it tells me to slow down with a subtle “shhhh.”

I am not a morning person under normal circumstances, but I haven’t adjusted to the time change yet in Hawaii and I love these quiet Maui mornings.

Penelope

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Luau!

A trip to Hawaii just wouldn’t be right without a luau! I know they can be cheesy, have mediocre food and incredibly weak drinks, but The Feast at Lele broke all of these stereotypes.

There were four (yes, four) courses PLUS dessert. We had two servers bringing us drinks and food. Each course was themed for a Pacific island, Hawaii, New Zealand, Tahiti and Samoa, and was accompanied by the dances of that island.

We had no complaints. The setting was beautiful, on the beach in Lahaina, the food was good, and the drinks were sufficiently strong. Even the Mai Tais offered upon arrival had a dark rum float and acted as a festive start to the party. This was the perfect way to start a Maui vacation!

Penelope

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