Two Oregon Tourists in Florence: The Basilica of San Croce

On our first day in Florence we set out on our adventure. I wanted to see and learn something about this historic city we had come to visit. 

And I have a confession to make here, I first learned about the Basilica of San Croce from the movie ‘A Room with a View’.  The heroine, Lucy Honeychurch, sets out to explore the city like we did, and finds herself at the Basilica San Croce. The movie doesn’t reveal much, but I knew I wanted to see it for myself. 

San Croce was commissioned to be built in 1294, and is the largest Franciscan church in the world. The nave (worship area) is covered with delicate and intricate artwork telling stories of  faith. Lined with alcoves, some are marked for prayer with candles – each has a separate story. The grand altar at the front if the church commands attention with the colorful frescos painted on the walls. The floors have many intricately decorated tombs. Some are so worn after centuries of worship the words and figures barely recognizable. The room is quite impressive with its size and all there is to see.

Passing through a chamber leading out of the main sactuary we saw these renderings of The Madonna and baby. The simplicity of the images is quite moving. 

The above series of photos was taken in the Medici Chapel of the novices, reserved for the novice monks. The paintings were created on such a grand scale! With life-like detail and rich colors they almost look three dimensional.  Its awe inspiring to think of the materials and processes the artists worked with in the 13th century to create such works. 

The hallmark of early churches and cathedrals is the beautiful stained glass and frescos that adorn the walls and ceilings. This display of these pieces allowed you to see the detail up close.  I was again struck by the rich colors and texture of the artwork, and the materials used to create them. 

This next series of photos tells a different story, not about the art, or the city, but of the men that created it. 

On the opposite side of the altar the massive room holds tributes to several great men. It was this section of the church that moved me the most. 

Galileo’s tomb, and a beautiful tribute to the man and his work. 

Dante’s cenotaph. Philosopher and son of Florence, he was exiled during the Inquisition and buried elsewhere. 

The most impressive of the tombs is Michelangelo’s, as you can see.

I feel awed to have had the opportunity to visit this beautiful place. The stories told here are so familar and told so often, but I don’t tire of the images and all the different mediums the artists use to tell the story. 

Two Oregon tourists in Florence, Italy

It was a week ago that T* and I flew out of our little corner of the world, looking for some new views, & to make some memories.And so far we have done both!


But I must say, this tourist gig is darn hard work! Between getting to our transportation on time (after figuring out how it works, that is), seeing the sites, then keeping up with all the photos we are taking to share with you all I am exhausted! But every night I fall asleep with a smile on my face, because we are in Italy!

And you can follow along on our visit. Enjoy the photos, and the story.

Our Florence adventure began when we opened the door to the B & B where we spent 3 nights. The house was built in the 1300’s. Holy wow! And the street it was located on is the oldest in the city.


Florence is built alongside the peaceful Arno river. The famous Ponte Vecchio spans the river, with it its shops and throngs of tourists. Our room was a block away from the river, and we found ourselves crossing the bridges countless times during our stay. We watched the sunset, found the famous Love Locks and even watched fireworks with the crowd.









There was so much to see in the many piazzas – modern art, centuries old churches with their classic domes and towers, a carousel, and so much people watching! Each hour the city walls echo with the music of the church bells tolling, and at night the historic buildings are bathed in light. We heard street music ranging from solo guitar players to an acapala mens group and symphony music. Chalk artists spend hours re-creating masterpieces on the ancient brick sidewalks, only to wash them away at the end of the night.










We spotted graffiti in many places. Of course there was the usual writing on the walls. Florence is home to a French graffiti artist called Clet. We spotted his work and enjoyed his sense of humor, no translation needed.




The views are classic, the buildings timeless. Even everyday views seem special in the jewel light of Florence.




On our first day we visited the Basilica of San Croce. It was breathtaking. Here are a few teaser pics. I have much to say about our time there, so I will devote another post to our visit.





How are you? Its been a while. I thought it was time to get my feet wet, and try a bit of blogging again!

You may remember that I volunteer as a Master Gardener? One of the projects that I am involved with is tending the gardens at the End of the Oregon Trail Pioneer Gardens in Oregon City. The roses have begun their once-a-year show, and I have never seen the blooms look so spectacular! So I decided to share…

*for even more glimpses of the gardens please checks out our blog page: EOT Pioneer Garden


Dog Rose


Rosa Mundi


Harison’s Yellow


Rosa Mundi


Columbine with multiflora Thunberg


Dog Rose with multiflora Thunberg


William Lobb moss rose


Cardinal de Richelieu aka Old Cardinal

Bonneville Salt Flats*

The drive west on I-80 in Utah is so strangely picturesque. The Great Salt Lake accompanies you for miles, then gives way to the Salt Flats. We had a wonderful blue sky day with high topped clouds in the background. The sand and salt mix comes right up to the road bed, and some creative drivers stop and write greetings using stones and bottles. There are also many tracks leading from the road to the horizon. We even saw some people stopped to walk on the surface. It didn’t look like they were leaving any tracks!

In the distance I could see a pavilion on the side of the road that turned out to be a rest area. “What a wonderful opportunity” I thought. So we stoped for about 45 minutes. There were many excited people enjoying themselves, and we happily joined them!

Walking on the salt, it was soft and crunchy, and the water was so warm and silky. I have to say, this was a favorite stop on the road trip. So if you find yourself traveling I- 80 outside Salt Lake City make the time to stop and play! (They even have a foot wash)

Summer travel * from the West Coast to Newfoundland

Summertime is perfect for daydreams, and made for traveling.  This summer we had the chance to make a travel daydream a reality!  You may know, I am married to a man with just a bit of wanderlust.  Not too much so he is gone a lot- but just enough to be willing to go that extra mile for a dream.  For as long as I can remember I have wanted to see the Canadian Province of Nova Scotia.  Hubby’s dream went just a few miles further, to Newfoundland.  This summer we decided to work our way across the country and two Canadian provinces to see what there was to see in Canada’s eastern-most country.

Traveling as we do, in a Semi tractor – working our way along isn’t the quickest way to travel.  And there are some challenges and limitations to what you can see and do along the way.  It took us 13 days and four loads to go from home in Oregon to deliver in California, pick up in California to deliver in Texas, pick up in Texas to deliver in Illinois, and finally pick up in Michigan to deliver in Newfoundland.  Altogether we drove roughly 6000 miles to get there, and put the semi truck on a ferry to cross the North Atlantic.

Now this post isn’t really about the lifestyle of being an over the road driver (though I hope to write about that subject soon).  It’s to share some of the amazing vistas that we did get to see, and a bit of the experience of traveling across such a rugged landscape.

It took us one whole day to drive across New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.  The landscape changed fast, and the countryside is wild with old towns and farms scattered along the horizon.  We saw plenty of “Beware of Moose” signs, and we later learned just how serious a warning these actually were.

Nova Scotia

This photo was taken as we crossed a river in Nova Scotia.  The hills are covered with woods and forestland.  The rivers are plentiful and the sky was just a gorgeous summer blue.


The ferry ride to Newfoundland was a comfortable 6 hour ride.  The ferry is 8 decks high, with 3 decks for cars, RV’s and semi-trucks.  The crossing over our truck rode on the top deck.

Foggy Cliff from window

We arrived on the island just after 6 p.m.  The weather was misty and cool, and the strange mountains were obscured by the low hanging clouds and fog.

Square house

Our first delivery was all the way across the island, in Trepassy.  It took us a full day and a half to drive cross country. The hot summer sun gave way to chilly fog in the southernmost peninsula of Newfoundland. (NL)  We spent the night in the parking lot of the customer, and took a walk in the small town.  Most of the houses were square like this one, and didn’t look occupied at all.

Pup on the rocks

We had a chance to walk on the beach too.  Rayne and I spent some time in the morning walking on the rocks and just enjoying the fresh but chilly air.

Fishing cove

After we made our delivery we drove north and finally out of the fog.  I try to take photos as we drive along – some aren’t very good but once in a while I do capture an interesting scene.  There are many bays and coves along the shore.  The local economies of many of the small towns we drove through runs on the seafood from the North Atlantic.  We saw countless scenes like this one as we traveled across the land.

pennisula view

The island seems to be made of rock and giant cliffs.  We would round the corner of the highway to see amazing vistas – cliffs cloaked in fog, shimmering in the summer sunshine and heat.

fishing boat

Our last delivery was in Witless Bay, where I had the chance to walk around.  This rocky beach was littered with herring rotting in the summer sun.  The odor was strong, and very tempting to the pup. I had to keep an eye on him, as he kept trying to eat the pungent fish!

rocky cove

We were very pleased with the sunny, warm weather.  And surprised to find out that they were experiencing record-high temps this year.


The wild landscape was dotted with wildflowers, and Fireweed was very common.  This field had Fireweed, Lupine gone to seed and something that may have been St. Johns Wort.


You know I can’t resist getting up close and personal with the flora.  This wildflower had raspberry shaped leaves and clusters of attractive popcorn looking blooms.  The moths were all over them!

cape spear

So I told Hubby that I really wanted to see a lighthouse and some Puffins when we took the time for some sight-seeing.  The puffins would have required a boat ride, which I wasn’t really up to.  So we opted for a trip out to see a light house.

eastern most point

Cape Spear also happens to be the easterly most point on the North American continent.

wale watching

While we were walking on the cliffs there were humpback wales spouting and breaking in the water offshore.

Pt Spear

This is Cape Spear lighthouse, 1836, the oldest surviving lighthouse in NL.  In 1912 modern equipment was installed, and is now in use in the Modern Lighthouse right next door.

Pt Spear w chairs

This is the Modern lighthouse (below), built and put to use in 1955, it’s still used today.

Pt Spear modern

Pt Spear modern w chairs

Pt Spear modern w fence


We also drove out to Signal Point to see the view over the bay in St. Johns. (The capitol city)

Signal Hill


North Atlantic

A freighter leaving the busy harbor and heading out to the North Atlantic.  At the top of this photo is Cape Spear.

harbor light

Another lighthouse at the mouth of the harbor.

harbor houses

The buildings were built on the sides of the cliffs, with roads running so close to the edge.

North Atlantic view

The locals even talked about the icebergs that travel to the island in late spring, clogging the harbor.


After a day delivering and looking around St. Johns it was time to take the long road across the island to the ferry.  In the 2 days we had been on the island we had seen the Beware of Moose signs, Moose fencing and even areas that were well lit with sensors to tell you that moose were on the road.  It’s really a big deal, for good reason.  We had seen moose along the side of the road during the day, but they really come out at night.  You are not advised to drive then.  But we were around an hour short of daylight, and found ourselves chasing the sun to get to the western end of the island to Port Au Basques.  We ran through a storm, and I captured this rainbow.

Just as we were leaving our last rest stop, around dusk, we came upon a long line of stopped cars.  There had been a collision involving a moose and a compact car.  The moose wasn’t very large, but it was dead by the side of the road and the car was totaled with a smashed front end and windshield.  And we still had about 2 hours left to drive.

I am happy to report we did arrive in one piece to the ferry.  But the drive was long and nerve-wracking.  We seemed to count the minutes of daylight we had left, and once we were traveling in the dark we wished for a set of the Moose Lights we had seen on the local drivers’ semi-trucks.  And a moose guard for the front of the truck.  Our little deer guard, which looks pretty solid, was just about half the size of the moose guards they were running.  At one point we saw a black shadow on the right side of the road that turned into a black bear heading to cross the highway.  He turned around just before the right wheel of the truck would have hit him.  Of course it only took a few seconds for that to occur, but that few seconds was burned into our minds the rest of the trip.  Aside from a whole bunch of frogs sitting on the roadway and a lone fox, we never saw another critter.

night ferry

We spent the night in the ferry parking lot, and boarded the next morning.  As we left I took some snapshots of the exotic looking harbor that had greeted us four days earlier.

Port lighthouse

Port houses


This last photo was taken as we stopped for the night in Nova Scotia.  It took us another day to drive back to the U.S. border in Maine.

Nova Scotia sunset

What an adventure we had!  We saw moose, fox, black bear and wildflowers.  We talked to some of the friendliest people you can ever know, and drove to the furthest point East in North America. On the ferry ride home we saw birds and porpoise along the ship as we ate our lunch.  We watched humpback whales off shore, and enjoyed some amazing summer weather.

I wonder where our next trip will take us?

Raindrops on Iris

It was a cool rainy June morning when we all climbed into our cars, heading out to view some iris.  The road led us to a farm along the Columbia River in Washington with views of the Columbia Gorge and the hills of Oregon.  Our host for the tour of his amazing gardens and Iris farm was Chad Harris.

Undaunted by the rain, he showed us around his personal gardens of trees and lovely perennials, all the while explaining how his garden came to be, and the plans he has for it in the future.  He shared with us tips for growing successful iris and just general gardening. We viewed his iris fields from every angle, walking on the soggy ground to see each planting.  After a picnic lunch in the shelter of his deck we once again headed out to the fields where he generously shared with us rhizomes of his wonderful work – all the while telling us about what he was doing and patiently answering our many questions. Thank you Chad for spending your day with us!  

Despite the chilly, rainy day we each had a wonderful time.  And brought home with us not just the iris cuttings but a memory of yet another beautiful time spent among friends.

Click the first image for the slideshow carousel. 

 Mt. Pleasant Iris Farm, Washougal ,Washington



1000 Mustangs*

The Mustang turned 50 this year.  An American Classic that has been loved by millions, including me and hubby.  And my Dad in his time, too.  He owned an original Pony car, the 1964 1/2.  I remember seeing photos of it, though I was too young to remember the actual car.  His was white with a red interior.

parade poster


We have owned a 1965, 1978, 1995 convertible and now a brand new 2014 convertible. So you could say that Pony Car is in our blood!  Shopping for our new car last weekend we heard about the Northwest Celebration happening in Woodburn, we decided to check it out!  One of the goals of this Parade was to break the worlds record for the largest parade of Mustangs. I am pretty sure they broke this record easily! (the previous record was 621)

It was a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon.  Enjoy the following photos with captions telling the story of the cars we saw.




1404 Mustangs_004 1st shot

We arrived about mid-morning.  The Woodburn Drag Strip was already teaming with Mustang enthusiasts; the lanes of the drag strip lined up with 4 rows of cars sparkling in the sunshine.


1404 Mustangs_012 50 years grilles

It was fun to see the similarities and the differences side by side.  These two blue beauties represent the original generation Mustang along side the 2014 Pony Car.  50 years, side by side.


1404 Mustangs_013 Pony gascap

It was fun to get up close and take a look at the details of the cars assembled here.  We are all so familiar with the Mustang Icons: the Pony logos, the Ford insignia and the lines of these cars. Remember when the gas caps were on the rear of cars?


1404 Mustangs_041 Rusty Blue emblem

There were a lot of pristine automobiles at the is get-together, but who doesn’t have a memory of that rusty, faded icon on the side of the car. Even though these cars were less than perfect, they were more than worthy of being part of this amazing group of cars.


1404 Mustangs_054 reflection on black

This car’s mirror-like paint did a good job reflecting me kneeling down to photograph the Pony emblem.


1404 Mustangs_074 rusty red pony

Another imperfect beauty.


1404 Mustangs_052_ 1st gen white tail lights

This familiar tail light is from the same generation of the first Mustang that we owned, a 1965 model, white with red interior.


1404 Mustangs_068 90s taillight

And this tail light is the same as the 1995 Lazer Red convertible we owned.  Ours had a white leather interior.


1404 Mustangs_048 1st gen white grill

I love the way the grille of the Mustangs has evolved. But there is just something about those early models, I can’t resist capturing.


1404 Mustangs_045 Black grill

Love the way the sunshine sparkled on the chrome.


1404 Mustangs_044 Rusty blue

Even the rust can’t take away from the authentic look of this American classic.


1404 Mustangs_020 70s gen grille

The 70’s grille, still features that classic Pony.


1404 Mustangs_021 Lindas Turquoise Mustang Grille

As I was bending down to take photos of this Turquoise 1964 the original owner walked up and began to talk to me.


1404 Mustangs_032  Lindas Turquiose Emblem

Her name was Linda; she had purchased the car in Lake Havasu, Arizona.


1404 Mustangs_034 Lindas turquoise

She told the story of how she had the car painted by Earl Sheib at one time.


1404 Mustangs_029 Lindas Turquoise Mustang Steering Wheel

And she added the air conditioning, which froze her out, but was better than driving in the heat.


1404 Mustangs_035 Lindas Mustang steering wheel

Thank you Linda, for sharing your beautiful Mustang with us.


1404 Mustangs_057 Blue Pony under hood

There was lots of fancy paint and striping to admire.


1404 Mustangs_064 Roberts Mustang

We ran into Robert with his 2007 Mustang.


1404 Mustangs_067 Happy 50th

Everyone there was enthusiastic about the cars and the reason for the parade, Mustang Turns 50!!


1404 Mustangs_078 parade begins

This shot was taken just as the parade began.  It took a while for the rows to file out.


1404 Mustangs_085 red and white x 3

These beauties caught our eye, red and white all in a row.


1404 Mustangs_088 line of Pony Cars

Something I am sure I will never see again, a rainbow of Mustangs in all styles and colors.


1404 Mustangs_096 driving out

Cars filing out, on the right of the photo and the 3 rows waiting to begin the parade.


1404 Mustangs_123 1st gen white

Classic White Mustang speeds by.


1404 Mustangs_080 American Classic

For me, it’s like looking a memory when I see a classic white Mustang.


1404 Mustangs_103 taillights

Here you can see the way they style has kept true to it’s roots:  Classic 60’s in the foreground with the 2000’s generation on the road ahead.


1404 Mustangs_135 racing Robert

Mustang isn’t just about looks and styling, it’s about the way they drive!  That’s Robert racing by with a wave.


1404 Mustangs_164 10 miles of mustangs

It was rumored that the cars lined up for 10 miles, twisting through the Oregon country roads.  Here you can see them shining in the distance, the chrome and paint reflecting the springtime sunshine.


1404 Mustangs_185 return line

And when they returned to the Woodburn Drag Strip we had the chance to see them all one more time.



1404 Mustangs_200 Robert

Here comes Robert, racing in with the rest of them.


1404 Mustangs_210 Robert



1404 Mustangs_211 Linda

And this is Linda, in her sharp ’64.

See you out on the road this summer. We will be in that Race Red Mustang, top down and hair flying in the wind!