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Monday, June 20, 2011

Cute Dogs, Good Golf and a Dramatic Veterans Memorial

Sergeant Preston
Packing… again. Ugh. Tomorrow I return to Texas to see my mom for a couple of weeks before our Fourth of July flight back to Costa Rica. Layne is staying here in Portland for those two weeks, at least. His sister Annie has suffered a couple of health issues of late, prompting Layne to consider the possibility of remaining here a bit longer to help her and her husband Jim -- as much in caring for their beloved little Bishon Frise, Sergeant Preston, as anything else. Tough duty. 

Knowing Layne, he will still find time for golf. We enjoyed a beautiful day on the greens recently with our nephew Jeff and his wife Lori at Tri Mountain Golf Club in Ridgefield, Washington. The name of the course is derived from spectacular views of three volcanic mountains on the horizon, including the infamous Mount St. Helens, which in May of 1980 experienced a catastrophic eruption, which literally blew the top of the peak into the stratosphere. Now, instead of its previously rounded dome, the mountain is flattened out in a poignant reminder of that deadly explosion.
Mount St. Helens from the 16th hole
Layne in the bunker
Personally, I can hardly wait to return to Costa Rica and the great weather, good friends and relaxed life we enjoy there. We have certainly enjoyed some happy times in our travels here in the States but the stresses of packing, unpacking, searching for lost clothes, books, glasses, sleeping on couches or floors, the expense of renting cars and eating out, all combine to add a film of fatigue to daily activities. It will be something of a relief to be back in my own comfortable bed, cooking in my own kitchen, eating mango and papaya and keeping an eye out for monkeys in the trees. Oh, and reading. Lots of reading, thanks to that wonderful free lending library at Kay’s Gringo Café in Atenas.

Washington County Library
But my reading habits will be changing now that I have purchased a Nook. Barnes & Noble just came out with a less expensive version of their high-end color Nook, and it seems perfect for my needs. Already I have downloaded a dozen or more free books from the website and I’m pretty wowed by the ease of use of this thing. With the new “e-ink” technology instead of a backlit LCD display, the screen will be easily visible for reading outdoors by the swimming pool. And unlike Amazon’s Kindle, the Nook reads text in the formats used by most libraries, offering me an almost unlimited collection of the world’s literature from which to choose. Along with my old Placer County, California, library card, I now have a Washington County, Oregon, card and hope to get a Tom Green County, Texas, card while I’m visiting my mom.

With all those literary options, it may be difficult to find time for travel writing but it won’t be for lack of subjects. On this trip alone, we have encountered some fascinating travel destinations, including a haunting veterans’ memorial just outside of Weed in Northern California, that’s worth a mention here. At the suggestion of our friends Penny and Joel (see my last post of our visit), we kept an eye out for the roadside sign they had described as we left their ranch in Central Oregon heading for California last week. Fortunately, they had pinpointed the location well or we might have easily missed the unobtrusive signboard.

Hot LZ Memorial Wall (photo from website)
The Veterans Living Memorial Sculpture Garden, located on 136 acres of forest in Siskiyou County, is a stunning collection of eleven huge metal sculptures by artist and veteran Dennis Smith. Used as a gathering place to honor veterans on Memorial Day and Veterans Day when names are added to an impressive granite wall, the garden labyrinth memorializes different aspects of warfare, including prisoners of war or missing in action, nurses, peaceful warriors, the wounded and coming home. One large piece set in the center of the maze asks the eternal question: Why?

The Nurses

Coming Home
Soaring ten to twelve feet in height and silhouetted against nature’s background of trees and mountains, the sculptures dominate the landscape. Traversing by foot or car along gravel trails from one circular venue to the next, the scenes are unsettling in their dramatic impact. It is a moving and memorable tribute to those who have fought our nation’s battles. If you ever drive along Highway 97 from Weed, don’t miss it.  

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