Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Morning Hike Highlight: Historic Queen Anne Farm House on Lacamas Lake

When walking the tree-shaded Lacamas Heritage Trail in Camas, Washington we enjoyed a view across the lake of a red Queen Anne style farmhouse listed in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

It was a bit large for a farmhouse. And the architectural detailing indicated there was some taste and expense involved in the building of the home. We found out that the 2,700 square foot, two-story home is known locally as Pittock House, Lakeside or Leadbetter House.

The imposing lake house was a wedding gift from Henry L. and Georgiana Pittock to their son, Frederick, and bride, Bertha Leadbetter Pittock. Henry L. Pittock owned the Oregonian Newspaper and the La Camas Colony Company, which included the first paper mill on the west coast. There was, indeed, money invested in this lovely home on Lacamas Lake.

It currently is privately owned however, there is some talk of making it a museum. It currently is viewable from the Lacamas Heritage Trail. You can reach the trail by parking in the large Lackamas Lake Park lot (free) at NE Lake Road and NE Everett Street. The trail is 3.5 miles long and is not a loop so you must turn around at the end and re-trace your steps. The house is viewable about mid-way.

Thank you to the All Weather Walkers for including this trail in their year-round map guided walks.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Portland Oregon: Ideas for Cool Outings on Hot Days

Photo: Portland Kayak Company
They offer classes and tours
It’s been in the 90’s here in Portland, Oregon for eons (well, maybe a week or so).

So what do do? If you are in Portland you can take advantage of summer sunshine while keeping your cool thanks to the many local outfitters geared for adventure on the water. 

Willamette Jetboat Excursions speeds along the Willamette River, taking in the city’s bridges and harbor and venturing out toward Oregon City for tours that highlight the waterway’s history, wildlife and waterfalls.

For those seeking a hands-on experience, classes and tours for kayaking, canoeing, rafting and stand-up paddleboarding are plentiful. Portland Kayak Company and Alder Creek Kayak & Canoe offer popular Ross Island tours that investigate the waters near Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge; sunset and full-moon tours are also available.

Oregon City’s eNRG Kayaking offers 90-minute flatwater kayaking adventures to Willamette Falls, as well as whitewater rafting trips along the Clackamas River, just 20 minutes from Portland.

North of Portland, Scappoose Bay Paddling Center provides rentals and guided excursions ranging from day tours of Warrior Rock Lighthouse and Scappoose Bay wetlands to overnight stays under the stars on Bachelor Island. Many outfitters provide customized tours as well.

And for visitors with a DIY mentality, The Big Float (July 26) invites one and all to bring an inflatable and a life jacket to the city’s biggest party on the water, complete with bands playing live music on barges. Whether looking for unique views of the city or immersive experiences, it’s easy to make a memorable splash.

More Information
Travel Portland

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Double Cataract Surgery? The Procedure on the Second Eye Might be Different

I fully anticipated ending this discussion of my cataract surgery after recovering from having my left eye done. All went well. Why would I want to write about the second surgery. Wouldn't it go just the same?

Not necessarily. I felt very little during my first eye surgery. Preparation was the same for the second surgery. But after the incision was made and work began on the cataract, I could feel "something." I told the surgeon and she said she would explain things to me the next day at my post-op appointment.

Fortunately the recovery was just as quick and painless as with my first eye. At the appointment, the surgeon explained that my body was primed to react to eye surgery and therefore more sensation during the second cataract surgery (remember this is in the other eye) is not unusual. I've tried to find an article on the Internet about this but have come up with nothing.

Any one else have a similar experience or can point me to resources?

Meanwhile I am no longer a hazard on the road, can write more travel articles and look forward to being fitted with glasses giving me better mid-range and close-up eyesight.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Recovering from Cataract Surgery: Beyond Expectations

So it's been close to a month since I had my surgery. I curtailed my activities the first week and babied my "new eye." I used drops as prescribed the entire month. But what I found out, surprised me.

The first evening, after returning home from surgery, I could see! My left eye saw things at a distance clearly. That was the first time I had clear vision for years. No matter it was only in one eye. That night I found out what High Definition TV actually looks like.... crisp and clear. Such modern marvels!

I couldn't wear my glasses as the prescription clouded my clear vision in the one eye. So I abandoned them. The next day I accepted a ride to my post-op appointment and was told I was doing just great. But I'd better not even think of mowing the lawn until the end of the week (that was Tuesday and I mowed on Friday... carefully, with safety glasses).

After returning from the post-op appointment, I decided to head to the drug store and try on readers. Low and behold, the lowest prescription helped me with reading and computer work. And, I purchased some inexpensive sun glasses.... with no prescription.

I spent the month driving only locally. I really only had one good eye. I felt eye strain due to the bad eye coordinating with the new good eye. I also rested more than usual. I think the eye strain had something to do with it.

I gave up hiking and had a bit of trouble navigating curbs due to wonky depth perception. I struggled with gardening and reading. Things were just too fuzzy.

I had one more post-op appointment... about a week later. And this turned out to be my pre-op appointment for my right eye as well. All was going as expected.

Drops to reduce any swelling were instilled first four times a day, then three and finally once.

My successful recovery from surgery on eye #1 is making me look forward to tomorrow's surgery on eye #2. I don't like any medical procedure but this one... is one that improves my life. It's totally worth it!

My expectation now is that in a month or so, I'll be fitted with permanent glasses and I'll have my sight back better than ever. I now have a renewed motivation to travel and write. After all, I'll have two good eyes to see the sights with.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Portland’s Homeless: The Effect on Tourism

Walkers from across the United States and Canada
enjoyed a marked trail through downtown Portland
(or did they?)
It was a wonderful sunny morning. In town were several hundred visitors on their last day of a walking convention. They had walked in the scenic areas of Bend, Lincoln City, Salem and Vancouver, WA. This Sunday was the last walking event for most of them before they left for their homes across the United States and Canada.

Organizers had mapped out routes taking the recreational walkers to major points of interest in Portland. They routed the 12K walkers through downtown to the Rose Garden and back through Old Town. The shorter route, 6K, just routed walkers through The Pearl and Old Town (mostly Old Town). 

The route was map guided and marked with arrows. Walkers were on their own to walk at their preferred pace and see the sights. Organizers did their best to provide walkers with a positive experience. They gave them a list of points of interest. It was well organized. I know because I walked the 6K myself.

But what remained with many of these visitors, especially the 6K walkers, were visions of the homeless population of Portland, the littered streets and the stench. Sunday morning comes after Saturday night. Revelers left remnants of their late night snacks on the streets. The homeless were bedded down on corners and in doorways. Many had their worldly possessions with them in shopping carts, plastic bags and crates. It was early morning so they were still trying to sleep. It was a mess. It was sad. And it didn’t smell very good.

Some homeless are creative in the way they
request money.
This man makes small sculptures out of cans. 
As a local, I was well aware of the issue of homelessness in Portland. I knew that there were shelters, transitional programs and many resources to help. I also knew that these services were overloaded and many homeless came to Portland in the warmer months because the city was known as tolerant and sometimes welcoming to those with social problems. The seasonal homeless are called “travelers.” My walking friends are called “tourists.”

As we walked… past the iconic Voodoo Donuts, past the Lan Su Chinese Gardens, shouting erupted. Two women were arguing. Their profanity echoed in the empty streets.

One woman from Virginia walked alone. She was approached by a panhandler. He was aggressive and she, a retired Air Force Officer, was intimidated. The walk left her with an unsettled feeling.

On went the walk route toward the historic train station, passing the Greyhound Station where many more disheveled people loitered in the sun.
Portland has beautiful architecture to enjoy.

This wasn’t the first time I had walked in central Portland early in the morning. But it was the first time I was hit so hard by homelessness. I saw things through the eyes of visitors… from small Midwest towns, large eastern cities and pristine mountain villages. They felt that this was the worst they had seen in their travels. All towns and cities have social problems. But are Portland’s the worst?

I thought of how Portland’s social problems must impact tourism. Certainly tourists want to go to Powell’s Bookstore, walk along the waterfront, visit the Lan Su Chinese Garden and take home a coveted pink box of Voodoo Donuts. For them, there is no escaping visions of the homeless. There is no avoiding being asked for money by panhandlers. Not unless you skip Portland!
Summer attracts out of town travelers with no funds who add to the
homeless population.

Do I have the answer? Certainly not. But I now know that street issues can do nothing good for tourism. And, apparently, all the resources in place now are not making a visible impact. 

The walkers who stepped over garbage and felt twinges of compassion as they passed the homeless men and women huddled in their sleeping bags that beautiful Sunday morning were left with a rather haunting memory of Portland.

Here is what the City of Portland is doing for the homeless. They see the problem. But are their interventions soon enough?

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Take your kids to Santa Fe: Hotel packages and savings this summer

Four-hundred year old Santa Fe has an abundance of hands-on arts exhibits, miles of free biking and hiking, and a line-up of open-air festivals and celebrations—including the inaugural season-long Summer Of Color celebration. 

The city is a multifaceted cultural playground for travelers of all ages. Families who take the opportunity to explore The City Different can choose among a full range of accommodations: from exemplary, award-winning resorts and hotels to comfortable and convenient budget options and uniquely-appointed bed and breakfasts.

Here is a sample of hotel packages for families:

Kids Eat Free Package at The Lodge at Santa Fe
Valid now through December 31, 2015
Families can relax and indulge in Santa Fe’s award-winning cuisine with this package, starting at $99 that includes:
·         Deluxe overnight accommodations
·         Two (2) kid-menu vouchers valid with the purchase of adult entrĂ©e
·         Local Treasures 15 percent discount card—valid at local shops, restaurants, attractions and more
·         Complimentary WiFi

Rates are based on availability and subject to change. Not valid with any other discount or promotion. Black-out dates may apply. For reservations, visit or call (888) 563-4373.

Play & Stay in Santa Fe Package at Drury Plaza Hotel
Valid now through December 31, 2015
Families looking for adventure are inspired with this package from the new Drury Plaza Hotel, rates start at $102 and include:
·         15 percent discount on all room types
·         15 percent discount on adventures booked through Santa Fe Mountain Adventures Adventures include:
o   Mountain Treasure Hunt
o   Whitewater Rafting
o   Geocaching Challenge
o   Bandelier Adventure Hike
·         Free hot food and cold beverages at the 5:30 kickback
·         Complimentary breakfast and popcorn in the lobby daily 3:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Rates are per room, per night (plus tax) and subject to availability. Some blackout dates may apply. Guests are responsible for coordinating their own adventure reservation through Santa Fe Mountain Adventures. For reservations, visit or call (505) 424-2175.

Family Fun Package at Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Santa Fe
Valid now through March 31, 2016
Families will start each morning of their vacation on a full stomach and after the day’s adventures are done, relax at the comfortable hotel with the famous indoor/outdoor pool. Package rates start at $139 and include:
·         Daily breakfast for four
·         Complimentary Internet access

Rates vary by season and do not include resort/service fee, taxes or gratuities. Children must be 12 in the Americas or under 18 in other countries. For reservations, visit or call (505) 473-4646.

Photography copyright: Elizabeth Rose Photography

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

What it Feels Like to Have Cataract Surgery (Video)

Like I said, it was my time. My eyesight had deteriorated due to cataracts and I was having a tough time doing my photography and travel writing.

So the day came for my surgery. I arrived at the surgi-center at the appointed time accompanied by my good friend, also a food and travel writer. I was checked in, given my patient bracelet (asked about my spiritual needs, even) and sent to the waiting room, interestingly named after a local park. I guess that was to comfort me!

I was told that I would be there at the surgi-center two to three hours. And, my surgeon added, "you'll be in the OR at 11 a.m. and out the door at 11:30 a.m." Wow! Of course I didn't believe it. Doesn't something always come up?

At 9:30 I was called in, weighed and taken to the back where a crisp-sheeted gurney awaited me. I think that was about the third time I had been asked my name, DOB and what I was there for. It was the left eye... left eye!

I was hooked up to a blood pressure monitor, my finger was clipped by a device that measured oxygen saturation in my blood and then leads were applied to my chest so my heart could be monitored. All that for a 15 minute surgery, I thought!  But one never knows what will happen, I guess. I had given the admitting clerk my Advance Directive forms. All was in order. If today was to be my last day, I could honestly say I had lived a good life.

I laid down and felt relaxed under the warm blanket. The nursing assistant and nurse positioned pillows under my head and legs so I'd be comfy. (Actually, I'd be most comfy lying on my own couch after it was all over!).

They were great. They explained everything. I expected the IV and the RN inserted the IV line into my hand. It barely hurt. She also asked me which eye was going to be done. The left eye... left eye! And marked it on my brow over the left eye, of course. I was sure no mistakes could be made. She said the surgeon would come in and mark my eye too!

And, then the nurse said she'd be giving me some sedative.... just a little bit. She did. I didn't feel any different. I thought I was relaxed any way. In a while she said she'd give me a bit more. I still didn't feel much different. I closed my eyes and listened to all the conversations around me.

Eye drops were instilled, everything was checked and re-checked. And then my surgeon came in to say hello and make sure to mark over the correct eye... the left eye... left eye! I now had two marks over my left brow.

I felt fine as they wheeled me into the operating room. It was cold. I had a full team there. I think there were three nurses and my surgeon. Everyone was very professional and had introduced themselves. I was ready.

My surgeon explained everything, step by step. Of course I had watched cataract surgeries on You Tube (my favorite is above) so I pretty much knew what to expect. My main fear was that I would feel something I didn't expect and not know how to react. I told my surgeon that I wasn't sure what "pressure on my eye" would feel like or if I would react. The nurse had advised me that if I felt uncomfortable, had to sneeze or anything, just to say "Doctor" and the surgeon would make sure I was cared for.

So the procedure went on. My eye was gooped up good with a not very watery substance that would keep me from feeling anything. A plastic drape was put over my eye to catch the water they would be using in my eye, a device to keep air circulating was put there and then the surgeon made a slit in the plastic so she could access my eyeball.

Once they got all that done, it was time for the microscope with the bright lights. She said, "look at the three lights." Heck, that was my bad eye. All I saw was one blurry light. So I stared at it trying my best to be a good patient. Before I knew it, the incision was made. (I only knew because my surgeon told me!).

Then the destruction of the lens with the cataract began. Then the washing out and scraping out of the destroyed lens commenced. And, finally the "polishing" of the sac. Then, the highly awaited event.... the placement of my new lens! Yay! Throughout the process I kept my gaze fixed on the lights. Colors changed but it wasn't uncomfortable.

All that took about 15 minutes and the lights were removed, the drape removed and... ugh!, the removal of the adhesive around my eye socket. That was all that hurt! Rip....

And then, I was wheeled out to the recovery nurse who got rid of my leads, IV and "party hat." As I sat up and transferred to the chair, I was offered juice and crackers. I was very hungry and needed something in my stomach. My friend was invited in to hear the discharge instructions with me and... just as I had been told, I was out the door at 11:30 a.m.

I was walking just fine although the ugly cataract glasses they gave me made me unsure of my vision in either eye. There was no bandage on the left eye. Just my now ineffective glasses and the fit over sunglasses. I was glad no one except my friend could see me. I was certain I was not looking a bit fashionable!

Then it was into the elevator and into the car. As we drove onto the busy street I thought... "I'm free... it's over and I survived!"
This is the thank you note given to me upon discharge.
A well-oiled machine!

Next: The Recovery Process

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Crummy Cataracts Put a Glitch in my Adventuring

I'm a visual person whose eyesight was deteriorating due to cataracts. Complicating things was the fact that I am a travel writer and photographer. I need my eyes for my work. And my work is my passion.

I drove less and less and took public transportation
more and more.
Was the Airport sign really out of focus or was it
my eyesight?
Fortunately, my eye problems were correctable. My problem was cataracts, probably fueled by those glorious sunny days traveling in the desert Southwest.

I didn't have surgery right away because I had press trips to enjoy, restaurants to review and, of course the Northwest Travel Writers Conference in Bend, Oregon (couldn't miss that!). But as I toured, wrote and photographed, my eyesight got worse and worse.

So how did I cope?  I rarely drove at night in unfamiliar territory due to the glare. I wrote exclusively on my gigantic screen desktop computer (backlighting was my friend) and published exclusively on the Internet. Flying was avoided for many reasons. One of which was the fact I could no longer read gate and flight information no matter how huge!

How did I take photos? Well I could still compose photos and snap away but never knew what I had captured until I got home and looked at my work on that gigantic screen. But, forget shooting on manual!

So I was emotionally ready for surgery once I met with my opthamologist. One eye was scheduled at the beginning of the month and the second about 4 weeks later. I put my affairs in order, drove less and less and accepted the offer of a dear friend to accompany me to surgery and follow up appointments. I even watched YouTube videos of cataract surgeries. I was more than ready when I got that phone call. My surgeon's father had passed and, of course, my surgery was postponed... A month.

During that month my eyesight got even worse! I could no longer identify birds without photographing them first. I reflected on what it would be like to permanently lose eyesight. I coped by walking for exercise. I could see enough to do that! I enjoyed architectural walking tours. (My right eye still had fair distance vision with glasses.)

I thought about what it might be like to really lose my sight.
At the travel writers conference the use of Instagram was recommended. But I couldn't trust my eyesight enough to take photos on a teeny smart phone and, without review or editing, post them for all the world to see. So I fell behind my colleagues in the world of social media.

So when the day came to check in to the surgi-center I was feeling more relieved than scared. I wanted to see my world again. I wanted to write more. And perhaps I would be able to read books again.

After all I was a travel writer and photographer.