Posts Tagged With: travel

Umpqua Lighthouse Paints The Sky

The camp host encouraged us to make the short walk to see the Umpqua Lighthouse not just during daylight, but also after dark. Intrigued, we bundled up last night and headed out to the coast, curious to discover what mysterious sights we might behold.Once the sun went down and dark settled over us, the signature beams (two white-one red) lit up the sky, continuously sweeping a circle overhead. As we turned and looked over the ocean we could see the light stretching out toward the horizon…visible more than 20 miles out to sea.

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Umpqua Discovery Center Not Just For Kids

While the first heatwave of summer bakes the Rogue Valley back home, we awoke to day four of our cool 2 1/2 week coastal escape. A note in our hiking book suggested the “not to be missed” Umpqua Discovery Center located on “Reedsport’s scenic riverfront boardwalk.” Somewhat skeptical, but wanting to stick close to our home base at Umpqua Lighthouse State Park today, we made the short drive north.Built entirely with grants and donations, the center is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Impressive displays, some interactive, explain the Natural and Cultural History of the Oregon Coast. Massive murals, painted by artist Peggy O’Neal, are beautifully done and anchor each of the many displays. We were told each mural took about a year to complete. Take in the views up and down the river from the boardwalk or grab a bite to eat at one of the neighboring restaurants. The Umpqua Discovery Center is located just off Highway 101 and Highway 38 in Reedsport, Oregon. Open daily with a reasonable admission charge.

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The Way of St. Francis: Why is Trevi dry?

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Standing with our backs to Rome’s Trevi Fountain six years ago, we tossed coins into the water, wishing for our return to Rome.

Our dream has come true, but when we returned to the fountain Monday, it was closed. Why? Three days a week, the Trevi Fountain goes dry and the coins are vacuumed and packed into white bags that fill the back of a small white truck.

What happens to the piles of cash? The money goes to the Roman Catholic charity Caritas, which helps feed the needy in 200 nations and territories.

How much coin is tossed into the Trevi Fountain each year? About a million and a quarter dollars worth.

So when you are in Rome, toss those coins into the fountain, for good luck —- and a good cause.

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Minutes after the coins were sucked up, the Trevi Fountain returned to life. Money immediately began raining down, perhaps bringing good luck, but, more certainly, help for those in need.

 

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The Way of St. Francis: A View Through Two Countries

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Were it not for the line of curiosity seekers, we might never have found the peephole we were looking for.  It’s there, just to the right of the white hat brim, looking very much like a round keyhole.  It is, in fact, known as The Aventine Keyhole and is part of the property owned by the Priory of the Knights of Malta, one of the last surviving orders of knights left from the Crusades.

It was the rumored view through this peephole that led us to climb Aventine Hill to the piazza Cavalieri di Malta.

Was it worth it?  I don’t know…what do you think?

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The Way of St. Francis: Finito!

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The Way of St. Francis: The End is Near

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Reg blazed another trail through the tall grass and thistle today, our last day of walking through the countryside.  Tomorrow we’ll aim our boots towards Saint Peter’s Square, Vatican City, a ten mile walk that will officially complete our journey.

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The Way of St. Francis: Surprises lead our way

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A castle tower caught our eye today, but this sculpture made us wonder why it was standing in this trailside field.

Intermittent showers followed us Tuesday on the Way of St. Francis from Montelibretti to Monterotondo, a busy city of 41,000 that makes us feel like we leaped forward hundreds of years.

It is how we got here that is the day’s story. About noon, we turned from a lazy, tree-canopied lane onto a busy two-lane highway where cars zoomed by at motorway speeds. It was a shock after several hours of countryside trekking. Then the rain decided to fall faster too.

A loud noise snapped us back to the future further. Through the drips from our hats, we saw the source: a motorway filled with speeding vehicles. How do we get to the other side, where our apartment awaits? Harder rain confused us until we spotted a yellow stripe painted uphill on a pole to our right. Is that where St. Francis went? It must have been, because after climbing through knee-high weeds over a berm, along a strip of aging asphalt under tree branches that we ducked under, we found bent grasses that told us someone had walked this way.

Down we went until the motorway blocked us again. More bent grass led us down a steep slope along a fence to a rickety, five-foot-long, 18-inch-wide wooden walkway with no railings that crossed a concrete culvert. The rain followed us across, then down farther to a road — and an underpass!

As we walked on a soggy path to Monterontondo, we paused for a selfie. A few twists and crosswalks brought us to salvation: an Italian bar, where a young man and woman made us tall cups of coffee to go with our flaky-crusted berry torte. They worked so hard to make us feel welcome, a trait that helps make this country great in our eyes.

Now I sit in our modern one-bedroom apartment. I hear faint sounds of Italian voices from the apartment above. I sip a glass of wine as Sue prepares our dinner.

The Way of St. Francis is full of surprises. That’s one reason why I want it to last forever.

 

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The Way of St. Francis: A deserted pilgrimage

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The red line has led us through trials and celebrations, more medieval villages than we can count, and memorable meetings with gracious Italians brimming with enthusiasm. We have met friendly and fascinating fellow trekkers, but many days we have not seen even one. We have yet to meet another American walker. We have not talked to anyone going as far as we hope to go.

How far have we come? After 20 days of trekking on the Way of St. Francis, we have come 226 miles with our backpacks (and many more exploring places without them, especially on rest days). More than 71,000 feet of elevation change, including 6,000 on Sunday. The steepness has been a surprise — there have been times it has been so steep that it has been difficult to stand when we stopped to take a breath.

A few scenes from the past two days:

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The bridge carrying highway travelers reminds us Rome is near, but the trail quickly takes us back into remote places.

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The guidebook today said to turn left at the fountain and two pine trees, but for us it was time for lunch.

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We are staying Monday in Montelibretti, barely visible from its mountaintop perch.

The Way of St. Francis is unique and especially tough, but it shares one characteristic with the other long treks we have done: the closer we get to finishing, the more we don’t want it to end.

 

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The Way of St. Francis: Are We There Yet?

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The dawn of a new day found us three days out from our last rest day in Rieti, with just three more days to walk until we reach Rome, our final destination.  Our feet are tired, our hips are sore and barking dogs are getting on our nerves.

But we’re still doing it…uphill and down, along miles of ribbon-thin trails through wet thigh-high grass, trails of sticky, gooey mud and trails so steep they must be paved to keep from washing away…and we are having the time of our lives!

But, there are still miles to go and much to see before we’ll feel lucky enough to relax and truly celebrate.

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The Way of St. Francis: Trattoria Favorita is a Favorite

B & B Piazza Cavour in Rieti has been a perfect place to rest our packs as we ready ourselves for the last 6 days to Rome.  Our corner balcony (one down from the top) overlooked the piazza and was just a short walk across the river to the Historic City Center.

We discovered a great little place to eat this evening, just across the square from our place. It could have been the family atmosphere, but we felt the folks at the aptly named Trattoria Favorita served us one of the best pasta meals of the trip.

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As usual, we were the first to be seated for an early (by Italian standards) evening meal, but Mariannina (left) greeted us warmly, and with limited English, made us feel right at home.  Francesca (a daughter?) was every bit as warm and welcoming and we had a wonderful time pantomiming our conversations.  Lots of smiles, nodding and laughter!  If you have the chance, Trattoria Favorita on Piazza Cavour offers good food, a warm welcome and a comfortable atmosphere.

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