Travelogue: Fall 2004
West Coast of North America


This fall we decided to tour down the west coast of North America. As the weather gets cooler in Canada, we are heading for southern California!

We left home on September 1st, and spent most of September and October in Washington and Oregon, with a couple of glorious visits HOME to Victoria. I'm working on a quilt illustrating a song on the new CD called "Star and Plume", a story about the trials of Sunbonnet Sue told using 46 quilt block names! On our last trip home I spent all 10 days in the sewing room and actually finished the top. It's awaiting our return in a  couple of weeks so we can show it next year at our performances.

We've had quite a few amazing experiences so far on this trip.  One important one was the eruption of Mount St. Helens. We visited it when it was still sleeping on September 10th. Impressive. But less than a month later (a nanosecond in volcano time), it started to smoke and rumble. After the last explosion in 1980, it behooves us all to pay attention when mountains do this.

We came back to Canada to attend the Creston Valley Quilt Festival, sing at the banquet, and attend opening night (and closing night) of the premiere of the play that started it all for me towards "The Singing Quilter". The play is a musical murder mystery about women who quilt, and perhaps that description had put people off anyone mounting a production of it until now (it was written in 1991!) The group in Creston did a lovely job of the script and the music. It was great to see - not quite ready for Broadway yet, but maybe after a couple more rewrites - and well received by the audience.

We picked up our new-to-us 15 foot travel trailer in Oliver BC and headed back across the border. This vehicle replaces our trusty "house truck" that we've been travelling in for two years, and allows us to check into a campground, set up, and UNHITCH, so we can be normal people in a van for a while. It's been great, though a bit cramped at the beginning. We're getting used to it.

Our next performances were around the Seattle area. We have been so fortunate to be able to stay with our new friends Jan and Jack Crawford whom we met through Mary King in Oregon. They live in a lovely place just south of Seattle overlooking Puget Sound, and they were very gracious to allow us to use their yard as our home base for quite a few nights. We had a few days off, when Jan and I spent the day quilting.

John and I also got to explore Seattle and Tacoma. We went to Pike's Place Market (lots of people, lots of flowers!), took the tourist trolley to the Needle and  Experience Music Project (a Frank Gehry building of brightly-coloured moulded steel in unlikely and almost impossible shapes), and signed up for the Underground Tour. Seattle was originally built on the tidal flats next to Puget Sound. After a devastating fire wiped out a lot of  businesses, the city decided to raise the street level anywhere from 15 to 35 feet. But, as it took them 4 or 5 years to do it, many of the businesses had already rebuilt at the original street level. When the city raised the streets, they left the building accesses and the sidewalks at the original level, and built the streets up above. It led to some interesting times, I expect, including ladders down from street level to the sidewalks. The underground tour took us on a very entertaining tour of those times.  We walked along the old sidewalks under the current ones above, and got a glimpse into early Seattle.

The next day we explored Tacoma, south from Seattle. The two cities vie with each other for supremacy in container ships, which is not very picturesque. But we mostly wanted to see the Museum of Glass. It is a must-see for anyone in the area. I love blown glass, and there was certainly a lot there, of all descriptions.  One display was a collection of 20th Century glass from a Mecca in Italy for glassblowers. What caught our interest for well over an hour was the studio where a glassblower was working. It was fascinating to see beautiful bottles created before our eyes.

We sang at the Innovations conference in Tacoma - a gathering of professional "long-arm" quilters. There's a song from the new album: "You Can Quilt That Out", which has proven a favourite among this crowd. It was amazing to see the show of quilts at this event. They are doing some remarkable work.

We caught the Port Angeles ferry home amid the roar of powerboats in that WA town. Fast and loud, even if they only went around in circles. We were happier with our steady, solid ferry.  We almost never get to go home in the middle of a tour, so it was a real treat. We got caught up on our mail, cleared out the garden, and did some yard work.  And I quilted every day. A lovely rest.  

Our next show was at the American Quilt Study Group conference in Vancouver WA. This is an annual meeting of quilt historians hearing papers and discussing their work. I find it fascinating, and sometimes get inspirations for songs. We met up with three good friends: Bunny Jordan (VA), Diane Shink (QC) and Mary Bywater Cross (OR) who each told me they had a story for me! Our show concentrated on the history songs from all three albums. A first - usually there's only one or two of these songs per show.

Then we got to go home AGAIN! This is when I applied myself to finish the top for the "Star and Plume" quilt, and John made his SECOND quilt - has he got the bug now too? It was amazing to hear the house full of the sound of sewing machines!

We left home again for our jaunt to California, with a short stopover in Puyallup on the way. I made sure I wore my Hallowe'en pumpkin earring there, since Puyallup had just made it on the national CBC news, having disallowed Hallowe'en celebrations in the local schools. Everyone else had pumpkins on there, too.  Clearly the prohibition didn't extend to the quilt group!

Now we're in California. The weather is warm mostly and sunny. We've been to Chico (almond country, where we came out of the gig to see the end of the lunar eclipse), Manteca (almonds again, staying at the very quiet waterslide park - too cold!), Jackson (to visit a fellow SCQuilter whose husband is very ill. We are making healing hearts for her), Dublin (to visit a friend of John's from Queens University days), Salinas, Pacific Grove and Monterey (where we visited the wonderful John Steinbeck Museum and drove around the 17-mile drive to Pebble Beach. It's been closed for the Pro-Am golf tournaments the last two times we've been there), Newark (on election day), Ukiah (through the Napa Valley wine area) and Eureka last night (through the Redwoods). We are being very well received, and having a great time. 

We have two more weeks in California before we head home. We're heading south again now, to San Diego, hopefully to put on our shorts and t-shirts and enjoy some really warm weather, and maybe cross the border into Mexico!  We'll let you know!

We've seen lots of red trees here, which has been lovely.  And the grapevines are red, brown and rusty-gold at this time of the year. Beautiful..

cathy and john


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