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Thursday, May 18, 2017

Plates of Travels

**Update at the end!**

My kitchen is being remodeled, so I have taken down the decorative plates to wash and store until the major work is done. This is a good time to reflect on the memories stored in those plates.

My son wanted to go to Hawaii to celebrate graduating from high school, but after we booked a cruise, we were informed that the ship had sunk at its dock in San Diego, and we canceled. Instead, we drove down to Los Angeles and visited relatives, and then we drove slowly north along the Pacific coast from there to Astoria, Oregon. Here are the first plates from our trip, one of the incredible Hearst Castle near San Simeon, and another commemorating Monterey, where I spent an awful lot of weekends when I was growing up.

My favorite place at Hearst Castle was the indoor swimming pool. If you have never seen it, here is one of my photographs of a part of it. My second favorite place there was the library, but it’s all roped off so you can’t even browse the book spines through their decorative glass case doors. Ah well. One can dream of a library like that anyway.

Before we got to Monterey, we spent some time in Mission San Carlos Borromeo del río Carmelo—more familiarly known as Mission Carmel. As a child I hadn’t appreciated the terrible times inflicted on the native peoples by the Spanish conquistadors. Learning it now was scary as I can’t think the human race has improved any.

In Monterey we walked down Cannery Row and played on the shore a little. We met a baby seal who was begging for attention. Nobody got too close of course, except a funny seagull that walked right up to the baby and turned its head this way and that as if to ask what all the fuss was about—meanwhile, we all took a lot of pictures. Teams of rowers were practicing out on the bay, and we ate dinner on the pier, watching the sunset out the windows of the restaurant.

The next set of plates are from Oregon, obviously. Since most of my parents’ families lived there (and most still do), we spent a lot of time there on vacations, and after my younger sister graduated from high school, my parents moved back there for about ten years, so I went there a lot more. I ended up doing some of my graduate work at University of Oregon as well. I love Oregon. Two of my favorite places there are Cannon Beach and Multnomah Falls.

I love the ocean and can sit looking at the surf for hours. I especially like sitting on the beach at night, listening to the breakers and watching the stars if it’s clear, and waiting for the rain if it’s not.

Meanwhile, Multnomah Falls is simply awesome. The best thing to do is to get off the interstate highway and take the old Columbia River Highway scenic drive, stopping at each of the waterfalls along the way. You start in Troutdale and head up to Crown Point, where there’s a lovely little vista house. Then come Latourell Falls, Shepperd’s Dell, Bridal Veil Falls, Wahkeena Falls, and the great Multnomah Falls. Then Horsetail Falls, Ponytail Falls, Oneonta Falls, Upper Oneonta, and Triple Falls. At Bonneville Dam and Lock, you can go in and see Herman the Sturgeon, who is more than 60 years old—I saw him when we were both young and my brothers told me if I fell in his pool he’d eat me—and now he is ten feet long. Awesome.

We were in Germany twelve years ago. I’d been the southern parts many years ago, but this was when we returned to the cities where my husband had served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He spent ten months in each of three cities: Flensburg, Celle, and Berlin (he was there before the Wall was built). These wooden plates come from his time there, and the porcelain plates are the ones we bought all those years later.

Flensburg was where my husband met a boy who badly wanted to be sponsored to come to the United States, and my husband’s aunt agreed to sponsor him. The boy was serving his apprenticeship and had to finish before he could leave, and that was just two months after my husband’s missionary service was finished, so my husband traveled around Europe on a shoestring until time to pick up Heinz and take the boat to New York.

Celle is a beautiful city with a lovely castle, a church with a high tower, and medieval houses everywhere. It was untouched by the bombs of World War Two, fortunately. We found the people there especially warm and kind, and we ended up returning there for another few days toward the end of our travels. On our way back there, we went off the beaten track and met a wonderful couple who put us up in their home and sent us to one of their favorite places, Hachmühlen, for dinner and entertainment. It was wonderful. If you are ever in Hamelin (of Pied Piper fame), head northeast on the 217 and you will come to Hachmühlen.

Berlin is a city nobody should miss. It is vibrant and beautiful and at the time we were there, filled with building cranes as if the city couldn’t wait to finish rising from its ashes like the phoenix. We stayed in the Tempelhof district, where my husband had long ago served as a branch president for the LDS Church. Going to church there was quite fun. Our son knew only two or three words of German, but my husband is still fluent and I know enough to follow speeches and conversation, even if I can’t join in very well anymore. So we had fun meeting lovely people and talking with them. Touring was great. There is so much to see that the city needs weeks and weeks, not just one week, to see a good sampling of what it has to offer. I would love to go back there.

The next summer after we’d gone to Germany, we went to Israel. The Jerusalem plate reminds me of the colors and busy-ness of the city. It is an intense experience to walk through the streets and streets of markets, and to visit all the historic sites that Christians like to see. We bought these plates actually in Bethlehem, where we were given a sales lecture on how the Christian community there is being slowly eradicated by social and financial conditions. So I felt that I had to buy something, and of course I wanted to add to my plate collection. Bethlehem was the only place where we met up with anti-American violence. Some youths began throwing rocks at us and yelling, but they were hustled away by seemingly dozens of uniformed officers who appeared immediately. In fact, most of our group were unaware that anything had happened. We were accompanied by young soldiers one day as we walked around the walls of the city of Jerusalem. They were really assigned to accompany a group of schoolchildren, but there were fewer children than had been expected, so a couple of the soldiers attached themselves to us and told us all about their service and conditions as they saw them. It was most interesting.

In July 2012 we stayed in Dublin for ten days and spent a number of days seeing sights in that fair city, after which we spent a few days taking day trips out around the countryside. My favorite time there was an afternoon at the Rock of Dunamase in pouring rain, running around the ruins laughing as we became simply drenched, slipping on the wet grass, and laughing harder when our son came around a corner and presented us with an umbrella with a V-shaped handle after he had used it to catch himself from falling. Unlike in the Irish blessing on this plate, the rain did not fall softly that day, but we enjoyed it nevertheless.

We took a fast ferry boat over to Anglesey and then the train to Windermere. The Lake District is one of my very favorite places, as I spent a couple of summers there studying Wordsworth and the Romantic poets when I was in college. We had a few perfect days there, and then traveled to Bath, where we acquired these plates. We wanted to go to Wales, but nobody wanted to drive this time, so we signed up for a tour, we thought, of the Black Mountains. But it turned out to be a sort of old-folks’ excursion, with stops in Abergavenny and Crickhowell. Still, we had a lovely time with the people on the coach and an interesting time looking at things. There was a film crew doing a scene in the tea shop in Abergavenny, and several of the tour group managed to inveigle their way into the shot and regaled us with their dreams of being spotted and handed lucrative contracts in the future, very tongue-in-cheek. Oh, and we can’t forget the lunch of the very best fish and chips and mushy peas ever, in Crickhowell, made and served by two Arabic brothers. We foreigners do love assimilating British culture!

Here are a few of my favorite photographs of that trip.
Rock of Dunamase in the rain
Esthwaite Water -- enroute to Hawkshead
The angel in the Crickhowell churchyard

1 comment:

  1. I love the Irish Blessing. There is another one that is quite funny.
    "May those that love us, love us and those that don't, may the Good Lord turn their hearts. And if He can't turn their hearts, may He turn their ankles, so that we will know them by their limping."


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