Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Epic Trip - Portugal & Southern Spain

It's time for another epic 'girls (and Lowry) trip'.  This one we've been planning for about a year, and it's finally coming together.

Part 1 - walking from Porto to Santiago de Compostela.

After walking part of the French Way from Saint Jean Pied de Port to Santiago with Liz some years ago (I only got a little past Pamplona before I ran out of time), I've been wanting to walk more of the "Way of St. James".  So we decided to do the last 2 weeks of the Portuguese Camino de Santiago.  It starts in Porto and runs mostly inland up through northern Portugal then into Spain.  And instead of carrying our packs and staying in the hostels (albergues) we decided to book a pre-planned trip, using Portugal Green Walks.  Jose set up all of our hotel rooms and will transport our luggage each day, so we only need to carry day packs.

If you aren't familiar with the Way of St. James, there is a lot of info about it on-line.  And the movie "The Way" with Martin Sheen is an interesting introduction to the main route, the French Way.

Anyway, after a couple of days exploring Porto (and visiting a couple of the port tasting cellars), we depart on Wednesday October 3rd on our hike.  Here is a link to our itinerary, the only change we made was to add an extra day in Valenca/Tui as a rest day  So we'll do the approx 150 miles in 13 days.  We plan to arrive in Santiago on Monday October 15th and will spend 2 nights so we get a chance to explore Santiago for a day.

Part 2 - Southern Spain

After exploring Santiago, we fly to Seville on Wed Oct 17th, to meet up with the rest of our group (who will have been touring other parts of Spain including Madrid and Barcelona).  Most of us will spend a week in Seville (a few of the hikers need to leave early and head back to work, bummer).  We've used VRBO and rented a beautiful townhouse in the old town, to use as our base for exploring.

I'm really looking forward to eating tapas and drinking morning coffee on the roof top terrace.

While in Seville we have booked 2 walking tours to get oriented to the city.  Both on Thursday booked through "Not Just a Tourist".  The first is a 2 hour panoramic walking tour, then later in the afternoon we have a guided tour of Alcazar and Cathedral.

On Saturday we plan to take the train to Cordoba for the day and do some exploring.  Then on Monday we've booked another private day long tour of the White Villages which includes a lunch and wine tasting.  The rest of the time in Seville we'll spend exploring the city.

Wednesday October 24th, we catch a train to Cadiz for 2 nights, with a hotel right on the beach.  This should be a good break, and I'm interested in spending part of the day walking through the old part of the city.

Friday October 26th we head over to Tarifa, about 1.5 hours from Cadiz.  We've booked rooms at very cute hotel across from the port.  

Saturday we're going to take the ferry over to Tangiers and have booked a day long private tour with Said Tours.  By this point there will just be 8 of us, but exploring Tangiers for a day should be really interesting  Though I'm not sure I'm interested in riding a camel...lol.

Then on Sunday we have a private transfer booked with "Not Just a Tourist" to take us from Tarifa to Granada, with a lunch stop in Arcos.  It's about a 5 hour drive if we do it without a stop, so the lunch stop in Arcos will be welcome.

We have another VRBO house rented in Granada for 3 nights, which gives us some time to explore the Alhambra and the city.  And it has a rooftop terrace, great for morning coffee and evening wine.

Using our trusty Rick Steve's guide to Sevilla, Granada & Southern Spain, we booked a private guided tour of the Alhambra on Monday with Margarita Ortiz de Landazuri.  Then on Tuesday we have a 2nd private tour with Margarita to see the rest of old Granada.

Wednesday is October 31st, so our trip will be drawing to a close.  We'll be headed to Madrid for 2 nights, and then we all fly home on Friday Nov 2nd.  After a full month of touring, I'm not sure how much of Madrid we will see, but I'm sure we will get into the old city for most of the day, to wander around.  Currently I'm mostly looking forward to one last good meal, the specialty seems to be suckling pig

Thursday, June 14, 2018

2018 Spring Painting Update

Not long after I moved into my house, I had an idea to paint my long hallway wall in gradiated shades of blue. I must have painted that wall 4 times, but it just didn't turn out the way I wanted, so I left if alone for a few years. This year I finally got back to that project and talked Rob into painting it for me. He does great artwork using the wall texture mud.  We decided on a new idea, I wanted a big frothy wave on that wall. Then we decided it would look better if we wrapped the blue paint around the corner into the entry hall. And then we decided to add a dolphin.

In addition I've been wanting to replace the barn door hardware with something more modern, so I ordered new hardware and once the paint was dry, Rob installed the new hardware and re-hung my door.

There were also a few settling cracks in the living room that I'd been ignoring for years, so Rob fixed those and repainted the affected walls. Somehow that all morphed into adding some trees and branches to the living room.

 It's really been a fun project and I'm glad to have it all done so I can enjoy it for a while.

Starting the Dolphin
Finished Dolphin
New Door Hardware


Trees still wet

Trees Painted

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Fall 2017 Update

It's been a busy but short summer.  I've worked a lot and not been at home enough.  And it's also been very wet and cool.  I didn't get near enough done.  The fall rains have started early, in fact right now it is POURING and getting windy.  I got my potatoes dug up this afternoon, and the rains stared about 10 minutes later.  It's a good afternoon just to hibernate.

Here are some pics of my vegi's.  I'm happy with the potatoes this year.  Though it's a good thing I like beet greens, since that's all I got from my beets.

I picked a few of the carrots, and I'll get the rest picked next week.  I'm hoping for a couple of days of sunshine over the weekend.

The strawberries are also doing pretty well, they're nice and healthy.  I should get a decent crop of berries next year.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Fun with spray paint!

It's spring again and I spent the last week cleaning up my yard and getting my flowers planted.  But since it could be a while before they really start to bloom, I decided to paint all of my planters for a little extra color.

And then I decided I should paint the coffee table I bought for my deck.  It was supposed to be black, but looked dark brown.  I'm not too happy with the blue, I may have to change that to yellow next year.
Table Legs

Table Top

And I got some scraps out of the basement, stuff left over from building and put together a little potting bench.  It's a good thing it sits in the gravel since none of the legs are exactly the same length.
Potting Table

But my flowers are all planted on the deck.

And the strawberries, potatoes, carrots & beets are planted in the raised beds.

I cleaned up my hillside and marked all the different plants coming up.  I think the shooting stars will bloom any day, but some others are just barely coming up.  Plus I got my garden spinners put together.  Those came in bright colors so I didn't have to paint them.

Garden Spinners

After 10 days of clouds and rain, it finally cleared up yesterday and got sunny.  Today was the first warm day, it was really beautiful.
May 30, 2017 - view

Next time I'm home, I'll need to work more on my rock 'garden'.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Summer Projects 2016

I got a lot more work done on my green roof project this summer.  The modules I planted this spring did quite well, and they are finally up on the roof (thanks Greg!).  This is the last set of modules, so next summer I'll work on replanting the ones that didn't make it through the winter.  I think I'm pretty much done trying sedums, and am going to start trying different types of grasses.  Also the Aleutian Speedwell is not growing well enough to save, so all of those modules from last year need to be replanted.

Anyway, I also got the rest to the rubber tiles up on the roof and my walkways between the different modules laid out.

Rubber Walkways In Place

Looking West
Looking East
The second project underway is the backyard.   I haven't done much with it and the alders were starting to grow too tall.  The lower end was very rough and rutted, running the brush hog over it didn't work, so in June I had Danny with Dutchboy Landscaping come out and tear up the weeds, then smooth out the dirt.  Then he hydroseeded it.  In July I wasn't sure the new grass was going to grow, but by the end of Aug it was 2+ feet tall and coming in pretty thickly.  We'll keep it mowed the next couple of summers so it chokes out the alders.

Clearing 1
Clearing 2

Hydroseeded and starting to grow

In addition I removed the crushed rock from the fire pit area (which I never bothered to use) and covered that area with some typar road fabric.  This week I added some galvanized steel raised beds with typar liners and today we got a pickup load of soil and filled them up.  Next spring I'll plant strawberries in the 3 smaller beds, then potatoes and beets, and maybe carrots in the bigger bed.
'Lawn' mowed

Raised beds

Liners and Dirt added

Monday, July 11, 2016

Summer Update

Wow, it's already July.  This summer is flying by and I have a lot to get done.

Last week Danny from Dutchboy Landscaping came out and re-contoured my back yard.  He smoothed out all the big lumps and ridges left from installing the drain field and then hydro seeded it.  Now the grass is just starting to come up.  I'm still going to have to deal with some of the weeds, but should be able to shape this up into a nice yard over the next couple of summer.

And the new modules I planted for my roof this summer are doing really well.  I wish the ones from last summer were, but most of them were winter killed.  So I have a lot of re-planting to do.

Then today after running some errands in town I decided I really needed to get a step built for my front porch.  It's only been 7 years....lol.   It took me a couple of hours but should work just fine once the paint dries.  The guys at the SBS yard where I purchased the lumber were very good about cutting the 2x6 an 2x4 exactly as I asked, so it all went together quite well.

2x6 pieces

Getting started
Mostly done
Waiting for the paint to dry

And the flowers I've been planting out front are starting to look pretty good.  It's a constant battle with the weeds.  And moose stomping through them or the cranes digging them up.  But progress is being made.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Floor Mosaic Beginning

Back in 2009 when I was building my house, I had the concrete guys put a plywood spacer in the floor, just in front of the french doors that open on to my deck.  The plan is to have Shari create and install a tile mosaic.  Shari has finally decided on a plan and has started the mosaic.  So I needed to remove the spacer and get her some exact measurements.

So today Robert was kind enough to stop by with a saw and an old blade and remove the space for me.  It only took a couple of minutes, once he could get a small hole and a crowbar under the plywood, it just popped right out.

So now I have a 2 ft by 3 ft hole in my hallway floor, and I'm very excited and happy to have it, and I'll be even more excited to get it filled in, hopefully this fall.

Plywood Spacer



Open Space for Mosaic