Tanzanian Adventures: Unexpected Hike

Hiking in Tanzania was an unexpected adventure with a whole lot of people. I was talked into going on this hike with a whole bunch of people because we could have a view of Mount Meru from the top of a hill just behind the hotel. The said hike was to hike to the top of Suye hill before sunset. We did all make it up just as the sun was setting, and we all got a great view of Mount Meru and the rest of Arusha valley below.

It all started with crossing the busy road full of crazy motorcycles and cars. Not something for the faint of heart in this country! The beginning part of the trail started up a steep muddy rock step between a cluster of houses along the slope of the lower part of the hill. Once in the tree line, it was climbing up the steep embankments with slippery mud clinging to our shoes, getting almost lost in the brush when the group was split up, and finding out the cobblestone path was not complete enough to take anyone to the top. It took around an hour to hike up this trail to the top to see the sunset over the valley and to see an unobstructed view of Mount Meru. The guide from the hotel said Mount Kilimanjaro could be seen from the top as well, but it was hidden by cloud cover and this was true for the whole time I was in Tanzania. Most interesting part of this hike was seeing two people living in the shack on top of the hill. Remind me of people living deep in the jungles of South America.

Now going down the hill was an adventure in the dark. I have never hiked in the dark, and hiking down this hill in the dark was not an easy task. What made it easier for me and those around me in the group was the headlamp I had packed just in case. Going down the side of the hill was a challenge with all the slippery mud on the steep parts, and the vegetation that liked to reach out to catch us as we passed by. People were slipping and falling at times. I even when down hard after I had told the people behind me to watch out for a slippery part. Slowly we all made if safely to the bottom with a few scraps, scratches, mud caked on clothing and shoes. It was worth it in the end! I earned the dinner back at the hotel, and it was one adventure worth going on.

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Art and Cheese-A Sunday In Seattle


To get me in an art museum is to bribe me. Really bribe me. So when it came to a Facebook event posting about a free three days at the Seattle Art Museum, I believed it was a bribe enough. This past Sunday I went on one of the free days with my Mom to see what the whole collection is about. While there I got to see the newest exhibit to got on displace Jacob Lawrence: The Migration Series. Overall it was fascinating to see a series of paintings dispiriting the great migration of African-Americans moving from the South to the North and West parts of the country. Worth a look.


While touring the museum I realized I am not much of a fan for contemporary art. Some of those things look like a kindergartener painted them. The mouse versus man was interesting, but a bunch wooden stick wrapped in barbwire is something I just don’t get. The room full of china had a few pieces I am familiar with or seen in some of the great houses in England. A lot of art comes from old masters of European paintings. One such paintings are the Greek Orthodox Christian painting depicting Christ’s birth and crucifixion, along with statues of saints (some I have never heard about) on display.


After seeing all of Seattle Art Museum, we headed to Pikes Place Market for some lunch and to walk through the stalls. The weather as always was cloudy with a some sprinkles. We both decided to try out Beecher’s Mac n Cheese for the first time. An 8oz is the smallest they have, and boy is the mac n cheese very rich (yes it is not Whole30 compliant but it is worth the cheat!). There is reason this is world-famous, the cheese is real wholesome cheese.

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Beecher’s Mac n Cheese

After a filling lunch of mac n cheese, we both had to walk some of it off by ambling along in the Pike Market Stalls checking out all the flowers, produce, and even the fish stalls (no fish throwing at all). There was even tulips at one flower stall, and dried flowers for sale as well. Since the rain was holding off, we decided to go visit the park down the road to have a glimpse of Elliot Bay and the Seattle Wheel before the Viaduct come down for good.

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Seattle Wheel and Seattle Aquarium

 

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Victorian Murder Mystery: The International Sherlock Holmes Exhibition

The game is afoot….

Sherlock Holmes is a much-loved “high functioning sociopath” we all are very familiar with. I would not call me a fan girl of the show Sherlock, but I cannot wait for the new season to come in the BBC in January 2017. So I could not resist going to see The International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes at the Pacific Science Center instead of braving the Black Friday craziness.

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Outside the exhibition

The day was a crisp cold day in downtown Seattle with some sunshine peeking out from the clouds. With a peppermint mocha in hand, I made my way to line gathering outside the entrance to be the first few people inside. The exhibition is about how the character of Sherlock became, the author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle life (he was one of many who contribute to the beginnings of forensic science), and taking the visitor on a hunt for clues to solve a mystery using the same basic techniques as Sherlock would use during the Victorian times.

At the beginning of the exhibition you are given a small detective notebook with pages for activities within the exhibit to solve a crime. Each part of the exhibit has the background on how the field of forensic started, how those techniques are still in use today and the background knowledge on some of the clues you will encounter while solving the crime. As you walk through the exhibition you are deducting clues and facts in order to figure out what happened at the scene of a crime.

Towards the end of the exhibition there is a section devoted to various shows and movies spun out of the books known to many. One thing I did learn from this section is the phrase “elementary” was never a line uttered by Sherlock or Watson in any of the books written by Conan Doyle. It was added as an effect for a movie back in 1937.

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Horseless buggy

At times I was a little confused on how you are supposed to go about collecting the clues. At one point I had a hard time finding one of articles in 221b Baker Street home of Sherlock Holmes. I had to ask a volunteer for help. It ended up being one of those ah ha moments that should have happened sooner (palm to forehead). One thing I thought was missing was how forensic scientist today use Sherlock Holmes’ techniques to solve crimes. Oh well the scientist in me is always trying to get more young kids interested in sciences (especially young girls).

Overall the exhibition is worth exploring especially if a fan of Sherlock Holmes and you want to put those amateur sleuthing skills to good use. I enjoyed learning about how forensic science came about in Victorian London England, and knowing more about a great-great grandfather who was a London “bobby” on the streets of London around the same time as Jack the Ripper was roaming around.

…. as for whodunit, you will have come see for yourself for the answer.

More Information:
Pacific Science Center Pacific Science Center Exhibit runs until January 8, 2017.

Never theorize before you have data. Invariably you end up twisting fact to suit…:

Where The Sky Is Blue – Southern Oregon: Part 2

and the vacation continued…..

Day 3

The day started with smoky conditions from the Trail-Cleveland Ridge wildfire burning nearby. The smell of faint burning timber could be smelled throughout the day. The fire was burning in remote public timber and privet timber land up along the west fork of Trail Creek road. Fortunately no homes were destroyed in the surrounding area, and the whole community is grateful for it. It did make for some smoky conditions throughout the day, but not enough to hamper being outside.

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Photo Credit: NBC 5 News

After a small culinary trip in Medford Oregon on day two, we decided to continue on our culinary adventure by picking some apples early in the morning for the local food bank who desperately needed some for apple sauce and healthy lunches for kids going back to school. A total of 20lbs of apples were donated along with plastic bags (Ashland has a plastic bag ban) to the Ashland Emergency Food Bank.

mmm…apples

After unloading our apples, we all headed for the Ashland Weekday Farmer’s Market for fresh produce. There was endless stands of fresh produces, fruits, baked goods, and dairy products to sample. Reasonable prices compare to some farmer’s markets I have been to, and all farms local to the area. All four of us hauled home peaches (49ers and Princess), more cheese curds, flowers, and fresh baked rustic bread for later.

Once filled on lunch, us girls went into Ashland to do some shopping. Our favorite store in Ashland is Paddington Station on main street. Here you can find anything fun, cute, chic, and unique. The best part is of this store now is it has two other stores on the same street each with different things. In the store Made in Oregon I bought a shirt to display my “Oregon state of mind”while walking down the street in Washington. Let’s see how funny this will get once I start wearing the tee. In Paddington Jewelry Box there was all these cute 50s dresses I would see myself wear, but I could not justify the purchase of one.

I did find myself in a local shoe store with this cat….

One friendly kitty I met

He just climbed into my lap while I was waiting for Mom as she tried on some shoes. This ginger boy is the same breed as Maddie-a Maine Coon. He was such a happy camper on my lap!

Day 4

Since Dad and I could not go fishing as planned because of all the wildfires burning around the area, and not wanting to be caught in remote place during a wildfire, we all decided to play it safe and go to Lithia Park. This park is vast, and has lots of nature trails to explore. Both of us made it all the way to the reservoir and back before noon. Along the way there were sightings of city deer (aka: Bambi Monster), wild turkeys, and ducks hanging out in the ponds.

Bridge across Lithia Spring

For lunch Caldera Brewery and Restaurant was calling my name. I loves this brewery, and every time I am down here I stop by for a craft brew. Everything on the menu and tap is a great choice, you cannot go wrong. I ordered the Tap House Burger with Lemon Caesar Salad and an Ashland Amber beer. OMG!! Best burger in a long time! Better than In-N-Out Burger! As for the Ashland Amber is one of my favorites by this brewery. Caldera is one of the few breweries I favor in Oregon. I seem to prefer the Oregon brews over Washington ones. I think it has to do with the flavor of the hops.

Later that night I found myself sitting out on the back porch listening to crickets chirping in the background under starry night sky. I have been missing this slice of heaven for quite some time, and some how wish I could take it with me when I go back to Seattle.

Day 5

On our last day we all headed up to Valley View Orchards to pick peaches. Driving up the country roads towards the orchard brought back memories of running through fields full of cows. Once we had our picking buckets, we split into two groups and started filling our buckets. After 30 minutes of picking we had 44lbs (20lbs of each) of two types of peaches (Elberta and Sweet Sue). Now what in the world am I going to do with 44lbs of peaches? Haul them back to Washington to make peach jam, diced peaches freeze for homemade yogurt cups, fruit cups and whatever I need peaches for. Truth is I only hauled ~20lbs.

10 + 10 = 20lbs of Peaches

Later in the evening we attended a play put on by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. The play in question was Great Expectations by Charles Dickens and boy was it a long play! Three hours long of old Victorian era speak, and about 80% in I started to want it to end soon. Just seemed towards the end to drag on just as the book did, but overall the play was great. The way it was staged was interesting with the narrators on the stage like old Victorian carolers as part of the scene and made it easier to follow what was happening on stage.

Great Expectations
(C) Oregon Shakespeare Festival

More Info:
Oregon Shakespeare Festival
Valley View Orchards

Caldera Brewery
Paddington Station
Lithia Park

….blue forever.- MØ

 

 

 

 

 

Where The Sky Is Blue -Southern Oregon: Part 1

After a jam-packed summer this year, I wanted to end the summer with a trip down to Southern Oregon. On the last week of August I head down with family to have one last vacation before college started up again, and a much needed break after working hard all summer. On a Saturday morning I headed straight down I-5 towards the California-Oregon border and didn’t look back at the heat wave coming towards Seattle.

{On the trip down to Rogue Valley Oregon I went from 90°F (~70% humidity) sweating buckets in Seattle to stepping into an oven of 104°F of dry heat within eight hours. And this heat lasted all week with upper 90s and lower 100°! If the people of Seattle thought they were dying, I was shriveling up every-time I walked out the door from the moisture being sucked out of every pour on my body!}

Day 1

Since the weather called for 101°F sunny day, I headed out as early as possible to beat the heat. First stop was to the Eagle Point National Cemetery to visit both my Grandad and Grandpa who are buried there. While there I was treated to beautiful bells playing out the hour over the cemetery. In the last two years since I have been here, the place has been filling up quite fast.

On my way to Trail, I stopped by where the old Butte Creek Mill was in Eagle Point. Last Christmas the mill burned down in early hours of Christmas morning, and now all that remains of this historical landmark is a burned out shell of a historical structure. The signs say the mill will be rebuilt again, but who knows when this will happen. Sad for this small town since this was their only tourist attraction and no more pancake mix.

After a quick stop at the Mill, I headed up to Trail to the old pioneer cemetery with the family where my grandma and a few of my family are buried. The “town” is really a ghost town with a post office (strange!) outside of Shady Cove. The cemetery is down a dirt road up in the pine brush. Dad wanted to leave an old fishing pole at my grandma’s grave site since she loved fishing. As we were all leaving, I noticed how very dry it was up in these parts. Seemed there was so much dry kindling to start a fire. Well this happened a day later when a wildfire broke out in the remote part of the forest around Trail and Shady Cove. I was glad we all did this adventure before, or we would not be able to later.

Day 2

The morning was spent picking blackberries up on the irrigation ditch. Blackberries are one of those crops that is never easy to pick! I think at one point I ended up in the irrigation ditch just trying to get to the really good branches of berries. After two hours of picking, and having scratches all over myself, I decide to call it a day to have lunch.

In-N-Out Burger…..does it need anymore explanation? Apparently it does. I didn’t have to go all the way to California to have an In-N-Out burger because there is one in Medford Oregon and I was stoked to finally try it after hearing how wonderful the burgers are. So I tried it out, and was……a complete disappointed. Yep you read that correctly. The burger (regular hamburger) was good just like Dick’s in Seattle, but the fries were stale, under cooked, too starchy, and wimpy as heck. Mc. Donald’s has better fries than In-N-Out fries we had. I just hope this was just a one off, because if not, the fries are not worth it.

When in the area I always want to stop at the Harry and David Country store to stock up on all the yummy goodies. In the past I have taken the tour around the facility that makes all the mail order stuff you see in their catalog. A major must have is Moose Munch in any form. Another favorite is the BBQ sauce, the truffles in many flavors, pears from the orchard, and just about anything chocolate.

Just down the street is the Rogue Creamery where the famous Caveman Blue and Echo Mountain Blue cheese is made. When it is cheese making day you can watch how they make their cheese through a viewing window in the store. The one cheese I was not particularly fond of was the Lavender cheese (LaDiDa Lavender). I just cannot wrap my brain around the flavor in anything dairy, especially in ice cream. My favorite cheese by them is the Mt. Mazama Cheddar, and it is one of the best cheddar I have eaten. I did pick up some cheese curds while there along with a homemade grilled cheese sandwich that is very much like the ones at Beecher’s in Seattle.

What is great with cheese? Chocolate! Just a few feet from Rogue Creamery is the  Lillie Bell Farms Chocolates. Here I found chocolate covered fortune cookies and those fancy chocolate covered roasted almonds. Bought one of each for those moments when….aw heck I had them before I left Oregon. I could not save them for a rainy day…OH WELL.

After a culinary tour, we all headed back to Ashland to sit in the backyard and digest all this yummy-ness. Later in the evening I “waddled” back up the hill to the irrigation ditch to pick more blackberries.

Part 2 ( Day 3-5) in the next few days!

More Info:
Rogue CreameryLillie Bell Farms Chocolates
Harry and David Country Store
Butte Creek Mill (*NOTE: Does not sell product at this time)
Shady Cove & Trail

Where the sky is…..