Holi-daze 2020 with Pat, Felicity, Helen, Norris and Maisy❤️

Happy New Year! Hope you had a good holiday, what ever that means in these times. May your resolutions be easy: we all deserve that.

James and I have been living in our spiffy new camper van in my brother-in-law Patrick’s very flat driveway on Tenino Street in the East Moreland neighborhood of Portland, Oregon for three weeks. We formed a pod with his family of four, celebrating Christmas and New Year’s together. They generously have granted us shower privileges, a room with a desk and full use of the house. This includes access to to their reclusive cat and new puppy. It has been active and fun, and they are extremely kind.

Our van has a gratis water view of “Lake Tenino”. The street has flooded due to rain.. typical winter weather. Reflected in Lake Tenino is the color green: moss and towering Douglas Fir trees and rhododendrons and prehistoric looking flowers that actually bloom this time of year. There is a bonus amount of mud, too. When the sun comes out, as it does from time to time, is very pleasant, and there is no ice, or very rarely. That is a nice change-up from the usual.

A Holiday Season spent NOT in Boston and NOT with our kids was strange, but also strangely freeing. We had kind of a non-holiday; I am sure I am not alone in feeling that. At least we avoided replicating the recent holiday SNL Skit called “The Robe” which completely cracks me up because it is, or was, a little close to home:

Over the holiday a lot of our time was spent in masks on porches under heat lamps having socially distanced family gatherings or walking in the mist with old friends. We have been able to visit regularly with Laurie, James’ mother, taking her for walks or rides in the van with our masks on. James’ extended family all live here and it is good to catch up with them in a relaxed and unhurried way, without the familiar pressure of having to fly home soon after arrival.

Downtown Portland is post-apocalyptic. There are a few restaurants with outdoor dining, but the vibrant street life is gone. Stores are boarded up and there are homeless encampments everywhere. Iconic Powell’s bookstore is open for browsing if you get your temperature taken and wait in a socially distanced line to get in. Other establishments have not done as well. The plywood panels used for covering the windows of the upscale Pioneer Place Mall are covered with colorful, powerful protest murals. Inside the Apple store is open but empty. Sunday the city streets were quiet, broken only by young men and the clatter of their skateboards. Last summer the evenings were filled with 100 straight days of protest. According to my niece and nephew the “wall-of-Moms” at the Justice center stood firm, and were protected by a second “wall-of-Dads” using their leaf-blowers to disperse the tear gas thrown unprovoked into the crowds. Apparently it was an effective technique, especially when paired with ski googles. Can’t wait to see the movie.


We have had a couple of trips away away from town, including one to the Oregon Coast. A two-hour drive from the city brings you to wide beaches and the endless play of light and clouds on the Pacific. Eternity comes to mind. It is all very calming if you ignore the ubiquitous signs pointing to the Tsunami escape route. Another trip took us inland to Mt Hood for the new year, parking our van underneath towering Douglas Firs and trying to fall asleep to the sound of melting snow falling from three-hundred feet down onto our roof. The next morning we high-tailed it to Eastern Oregon away from the gloom to see the Warm Springs Indian salmon-hunting platforms over the Deschutes River, and the Rowena Plateau over the Columbia River. Beautiful!

Loose plans are we will be here for another week and then turn south to California. After a while there we will take a left and head East back home. Everyday requires a bit of emotional recalibration. Thanks for reading what has become my therapeutic journal!

Stay Safe, Julia

Porch Holiday Celebrations Laurie and the crew..

Waterfront living on Lake Tenino

Outings with Laurie.                           Cate, Tom and the incredible holiday pudding.

The Oregon coast

Mt. Hood

Views of downtown Portland:

Fellow Travelers:

(The AM wake-up potentially brutal if your rig is on a dump truck…)

The remnants Social Unrest…


🙁 On the other hand……

The City of Bridges: a pedestrian and trolley bridge over the Willamette

Rowena Plateau

Native American Fishing Platforms on the Deschutes River