It has been a while

We have definitely settled back in to our Corvallis life after our European adventure.  Emily’s parents and sister came to visit but other than that I have been really busy at work and staying close to home.  Emily has taken a couple of short trips to see friends but mostly we have been homebodies.

We had a wonderful trip to Bandon Dunes with Emily’s folks.  I don’t have any pictures of the dunes but took some pictures of the coast on the way back and on a run while we were there.





I got a new camera and started playing around with taking some hummingbird pictures.

We have also gone out for a few hikes this season.  The pictures below are from a Mary’s peak hike.

DSC_0102 DSC_0112

And Fitton Green


Our friend Kelley is staying with us during testing for my work and we all went to the coast a couple of weekends ago. It was a really nice day and tons of fun!




And finally, our friends Chris and Nikki left for Alaska this week. Best of luck you guys on your new adventure!

We are off to Costa Rica soon, so hopefully we will have some updates from that trip after the new year!

More Greece Photos

Our trip to Greece was amazing as Emily has already blogged.  Thanks to Jim and Debbie for being such great hosts.


Morpheus, our home for the week


The islands are dotted with these old grain windmills


View from our hotel on Ios


Typical city street on the islands


City on the island of Ios


View from the top of the previous picture


Beach on Ios


Cites on Santorini



Cave on Antiparos

DSC_8025 DSC_8027

Jim kiteboarding


The Acropolis


From our hotel


And did Emily mention the food.  It was fantastic!  Lots of fresh seafood eaten right on the water.



a couple more picture from Les Machines de l’Ile

When I dropped Bret off in Nantes on a rainy day, I felt bad that he would be stuck there for three weeks while I got to travel around.  Turns out I was really glad to have a few days to explore around there myself.  So many cool things in town… a castle with a serious moat, some underground canals as well as some surface level ones that were nice to explore, an old shipping terminal that had been updated with bars and restaurants, lots of cool art all over the town.  However, Les Machines d l’ile really made the visit there special.  Seriously, this place could not be cooler!  We got to ride the elephant.

DSC_1000 DSC_1001 DSC_1007

the inside is big enough for stairs


This is the hall where it lives.  It is an old flea market that was converted to the workshop/ museum for the machines.


The museum was worth a visit as well.  I loved that they had ‘specimen labels’ for all the creations.

DSC_0985 DSC_0984 DSC_1016

I was sad I was too old to ride the carousel.


We are definitely going back to Nantes when the full scale version of this is complete:



Greece with Jim and Debbie!

We had such a fantastic final week of our European Adventure 2015 in Greece with our friends, Jim and Debbie.

Greece is amazing.  The food is delicious and cheap.  Everyone we met spoke at least a little English which made getting around pretty easy.  Except the buses… apparently you have to watch for your bus number coming, then jump out in front of it to get it to actually stop at a designated bus stop.  We did not do that, so we waited for a long time, then eventually took a different bus that someone else got to stop.

We arrived in Greece in the middle of the night and made it to a hotel neat the Piraeus Port.  After sleeping in the next morning, we jumped on an afternoon ferry to Paros Island.  We celebrated with our first Greek beer!


We made to Paros in time to settle into our bunks on the good ship Morpheus before enjoying an incredible dinner right on the water in Paros.  Did I mention that the food was REALLY, REALLY good!  Standard fair included Tzatziki and pita bread, Greek salad, stuffed grape leaves, so much seafood, and yummy veggie dishes.  We often went for Gyros when we wanted something quick instead of a big meal. mmmmmmmmm.

Day one, the winds were supposed to pick up and our friend, Jim, was itching to get some kite boarding in.  We dropped Jim off at the kite boarding beach and Bret, Debbie, and I circumnavigated the island of Paros.  We stopped for an incredible lunch in a small, beach town (calamari and octopus) and made it to the mountain town mid-afternoon.  Things tend to shut down in the late afternoon in Paros (then they pick up again in the early evening), so there was not much to see other than views of the ocean.  We cruised back to the kite boarding beach and had evening cocktails on the beach.

Day two, Bret was feeling a little under the weather and the winds were up.  Debbie, Bret, and I again dropped Jim off for some kite surfing and we hopped on the ferry to Antiparos (claim to fame…  Tom Hanks has a house there).  We had a nice lunch in the ferry town, then explored a giant cave.  The cave is apparently home to the oldest stalagmite in Europe!  It has been an attraction since the late 1600s and there are signatures from all sorts of visitors all over the cave.  The oldest date we could find was 1776.

DSC_1028 DSC_1031 DSC_1035 DSC_1036 DSC_1039

We made it back to town in time for sunset cocktails.


The next day, the winds were still up and the forecast was looking at more of the same for at least a few more days.  It wood be at best uncomfortable and at worst dangerous to try to sail outside of the protected port in Paros.  It looked like our best chance to see another island would be to take a ferry, so Bret and I jumped on a ferry for the island of Ios.  We stayed at a nice hotel in the port town and hiked up to the mountain town for dinner. We stumbled upon the prime sunset watching spot at exactly the right time.


We ate dinner at Sally’s place!


The next day, we hiked over to a really beautiful beach for a morning swim before we caught the afternoon ferry.


We had a long ferry ride back to Paros, but it gave us a chance to see some other islands (and put them on the list of places we need to get back to someday!).  Don’t worry, we made it back into for sunset cocktails!


The weather, stubbornly, remained unchanged for our final two days in the Cyclades.   Luckily, there was plenty to do on Paros to keep us happy.  We even went for a couple of train runs along the coast.  We ate well, and enjoyed a couple more incredible sunsets before heading back to Piraeus on the ferry.

After a long, crowded ferry ride, we had a really nice afternoon in Athens.  We explored the ancient Agora and had great views of the Acropolis and saw lots of torsos.

DSC_1073 DSC_1074 DSC_1075

There was lots of good and bad graffiti near our hotel.  From our window we could see this homage to both my mother and my niece!


We got our last sunset cocktail on the roof of our hotel… pretty sweet view.

DSC_1085 DSC_1086 DSC_1087

After another dinner that could not be beat, we flew back to Paris the following morning and started the long journey home.  Pretty nice view of the Alps from the plane though.


We can’t thank Jim and Debbie enough for hosting us on their beautiful sailboat.  Although it would have been real fun to get to sail around on Morpheus… the gods were not on our side.  Or maybe they were, Paros was a pretty nice place to be ‘stuck’ for a week.

Les Machines de l’île

As I posted before, I was very impressed with the city of Nantes.  Of all the cool things in the city, my favorite was Les Machines de l’île.  The biggest attraction is The Grand Éléphant.

P1020713 P1020716 P1020732 P1020727

It is a free attraction to look at, and wanders around the industrial park.  It costs to ride the elephant, and for the carousels, and the indoor park with many other mechanical animals.

DSC_0191 DSC_0176 DSC_0160 DSC_0153 DSC_0149

The conference I was attending hosted their Gala dinner here and it was very nice.  First, they opened up the inside part up for us to explore, then The Grand Éléphant made a dramatic entrance.  Then we were seated, where a 20 piece jazz band played for us while we ate with the elephant in the background.  Luckily, I was able to get a ticket for Emily to join us for the dinner.  Over the top nice…



They have big plans for expansion and we have talked about definitely trying to get back…

Geneva and back again

I wrote this post on my phone a couple weeks ago, but I could never get it to upload… more coming soon!


It has been a couple weeks with lots of fun and adventures!!

I was in Saulieu for my last post, two weeks ago. I drove from there to Geneva, passing through Pommard. I didn’t stop for wine, but the Pommard pinot noir clone is pretty popular back in Oregon.

It seemed like a lovely little town!

pommard vineyard2

I had such a fabulous time in Geneva with my cousin, Cinda, and her family.
I saw the sights…

The jet D’eau


Where Lac Leman turns into the Rhone river.


Morrison and Quentin after their back to school haircuts.


After a wonderful weekend, I hit the road again. Next stop Chateauneuf du Papes.

I loved! Wish I could have stayed longer (and drank more wine)!

DSC_0798 DSC_0799 DSC_0803 DSC_0808

I then stayed two nights in Carcassonne. It is a medieval castle town near Toulouse. It was pretty neat, but apparently a lot of people thought so, because it was also very crowded.

DSC_0863 DSC_0828

Glass of wine and cassoulet with a view

DSC_0844 DSC_0847

From Carcassonne, I started making my way north and stopped a couple days in St. Cirq Lapopie. It was a sort of random stop I chose from the map. It looked like a nice stop between Carcassonne and Saumer (where I was meeting back up with Bret) where I would be able to find some nice hiking and few crowds. It was absolutely spectacular. My hotel was actually across the river from the ancient town, but had great views and offered an evening shuttle to a couple restaurants for dinner.






I had a really nice time wandering in the woods and eating delicious food!

After my mellow days in nature, it was time to meet back up With Bret and taste some Lorre Valley wines! Bret and his colleague, Belinda, met me in Saumer just in time to celebrate his birthday! I had so much fun, I forgot to take any pictures… So I will leave that up to Bret.

From there, we headed back to Nantes for a few last days in France, but I will give Nantes its own post because it is really a neat town with lots of cool stuff.

Today, we took the train out of Nantes to Paris and now we are waiting to board our flight to Athens!!! Next adventure has already begun.




Having never heard of Nantes, France before, I was not sure what to expect when I was to be there for three weeks for a short course and conference.  Wow was I surprised.  It is a great city with lots of fun things to do.  I somehow managed to get by despite not knowing any French at all.  The hotel I stayed at was nothing special, but was on the river and had a pretty nice view.


Lots of nice old buildings and sculptures

P1020651 P1020650


I even found a sculpture by an American artist who also did a sculpture at Oregon State University that was just taken down


There is also a great park with a great arboretum and some other pretty cool living sculptures.

P1020790 P1020800 P1020787DSC_0129

Emily had a slightly embarrassing run in with a goat in the park…


There was also an amazing jazz festival while I was there and during my short course we got to go to the beach and see a little of the French coast.


In between the course and conference we got to go wine tasting in the Loire valley with Belinda from Oregon State University.



The highlight, however, was the Machines of the Isle of Nantes which I will post about in the near future.