Sunday, September 30, 2012

A Cinderella Story

The ballet performance of Cinderella that my good friend Brendan and I attended yesterday -- to see his wife Maria Chapman dance the lead -- was a Saturday matinee. Typical for such a performance day and time, the audience was at least one-quarter composed of little girls dressed in all manner of Cinderella-like outfits, dreaming of being the fairytale girl herself.

We were blessed -- and quite entertained -- to have one such little girl sitting right in front of us. Throughout the performance, she swayed in her seat to the music and dance, quietly asked her mother a million questions and had her eyes riveted on Cinderella.

During the intermissions, we chatted briefly with her mom about how fun it was to see her daughter caught up in the magic, and to acknowledge that her daughter is destined to be "quite a handful."

As the curtain calls were wrapping up, Brendan tapped the mom on her shoulder, explained that Maria is his wife and asked, "Would your daughter like to meet Cinderella?" The answer was an emphatic "Yes!" and we hustled backstage.

At first the little girl was a bit overwhelmed, but quickly adjusted and beamed from ear to ear while posing for a photo with her fairytale idol. Could it be any sweeter than this?

When Maria went into her dressing room to change, the prop mistress brought out her tiara and asked the little girl if she'd like to wear "Cinderella's crown."

Her answer was another emphatic "Yes!" and I got this shot which is surely destined to be a lifetime memento... Perfect!

I've since corresponded with the girl's mom to share my photos and get her approval to post this story. In one of her emails she wrote:

"Thank you so much for the rare and special opportunity to meet 'the real' Cinderella. It was very exciting for both me and my daughter. I find it so interesting to see how, for a 4 yr old, the line between reality and make believe is so blurry. I'm not sure yet how much she really understands. What I do know is that she thinks that she met Cinderella and wore her crown!"

I replied that I believe her daughter is right: She did meet Cinderella and wore her crown. I think the difference "between reality and make believe" is highly over-rated. Life is about what's possible, and we have photos to prove it.

Let's all take a lesson from this: If you get a chance to meet Cinderella and wear her crown, do it and don't let anybody tell you it wasn't real. Later in life -- whenever you get the opportunity -- give young people the chance to meet their Cinderellas, too. Life really is about what's possible.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

My Date With Cinderella

What is Cinderella thinking about as she sits in her carriage and dreamily stares into the distance?

She's thinking about her dinner date with me, of course!

Okay, okay… She's not really Cinderella, I'm clearly not Prince Charming, and our dinner definitely wasn't a date!

But, fairly tales aren't just for little girls, you know. Broken down old guys like me can dabble in a little make-believe now and then, too.

So, I trust you will forgive my little bit of whimsy... Here's the real story:

Maria Chapman is my absolute favorite ballerina. I first noticed her many years ago when she was in the corps of the Pacific Northwest Ballet. She is now a principal dancer.

There is something special about the way Maria moves that is different from most ballerinas I've ever seen. None of that stiff, edgy, fussy feeling I often get from dancers. Maria is much more flowing, relaxed and just plain enjoyable to watch. I think that has a lot to do with her popularity.

A few years ago, Maria married a young client/friend of mine, and I have had the pleasure of getting to know her socially. She is just as charming and delightful in person as she is on the stage.

Whenever I'm in Seattle, her husband and I make it a point to attend whatever ballet she is in at the time. Today, we saw her dance the lead role in Cinderella, with plans to have dinner together after the performance.

Backstage after the curtain calls, I asked Maria if I could get a photo with Cinderella and she was gracious enough to humor me.

As you can see, Maria is a perfect ballerina: Stunning beauty, exquisite posture, radiant smile and that special ability to look perfect in every photo ever taken of her!

Maria made a quick change into street clothes, then did an after-performance Q&A session with members of the audience. Despite being asked questions which she's been asked a zillion times before -- e.g. When did you start dancing? What is your favorite role? -- she answered each one as if it was the first time she'd ever been asked.

With all of Maria's celebrity responsibilities fulfilled, the three of us walked to a nearby restaurant and had a nice dinner together. (Note: Another thing that distinguishes Maria from many other dancers is that she eats like a normal person!) After coffee, we all took a "real-life" photo together.

You will no doubt notice that Maria looks beautiful in street clothes, without makeup or costume, while her husband Brendan and I look like a couple of guys she might have picked up at the pound!

There you have it, my "date" with Cinderella. What's even better than make-believe is when I get to have a great visit with two of my real-life friends, both of whom I am honored and privileged to know!

Seattle Weekend Camp

I recently posted a photo taken from the rooftop deck of my Anacortes "transition" camp. Now, here's a shot from the rooftop deck of my Seattle "weekend" camp!

While my good friend Archie McPhee is out of the country this month, I've been doing a little house-sitting for him. Actually, houseBOAT-sitting is more accurate, since his home is a houseboat that floats on Lake Union. As you can see, it's got a pretty nice view of the iconic Seattle skyline.

I have to admit that it's been a bit of a shock for me to be in a big city again. I've become such a "small town guy" that I struggle a little with all the traffic, noise, hustle, bustle and people in the city.

What's more of a shock for me, frankly, is that I've gone from being essentially "homeless" to having two houses! It's kinda fun for a while, but I'm looking forward to establishing myself in my winter camp next month.

More about that soon... Stay tuned!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Flashback: AlCan Road Trip!

I have finally finished posting my epic AlCan highway road trip! It's required a ridiculous amount of work, and taken me almost three years to compile, edit and post!

My coverage of the eight day journey includes 90 minutes of video, featuring narrated live footage and dash-cam still photos of almost every one of the 2,000+ grueling miles.

I think it's been worth it, though, because the AlCan is an important part of the ongoing Voyages of Macgellan!

I recommend you use one of these two methods for viewing my AlCan coverage:

1) If you want to pace yourself -- perhaps over a similar eight day period! -- you can view each day's post separately by clicking on the links below. (Note: It will take you about 15 minutes to read the post and view the video for each day)
Day 1 -- Seattle, WA to Hope, BC
Day 2 -- Hope, BC to Quesnel, BC
Day 3 -- Quesnel, BC to Chetwynd, BC
Day 4 -- Chetwynd, BC to Fort Nelson, BC
Day 5 -- Fort Nelson, BC to Watson Lake, YT
Day 6 -- Watson Lake, YT to Haines Junction, YT
Day 7 -- Haines Junction, YT to Tok, AK
Day 8 -- Tok, AK to Fairbanks, AK
2) If you want to have more of a marathon experience -- more like the road trip itself! -- you can hunker down with a pot of coffee (or maybe a bottle of whiskey!) and view the coverage all in one chronological post by clicking the link below. (Note: It will take you about two hours to read the entire post and view all the videos)
AlCan: Eight Day Road Trip from Seattle to Fairbanks
Whichever method you choose, I'm confident the only way you can get a better, fuller experience of the famous AlCan highway road trip is to drive it yourself!... Enjoy your journey!

(Note: This set of posts is also significant because it means that I am now entirely caught up with everything on this website! The entire Macgellan story is now up to date... Stay tuned!)

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Anacortes Transition Camp

I'm in Anacortes, Washington, and have set myself up in a "transition camp." I'm calling it that since I expect to be here -- staying in the "renovation in process" house of some friends -- only through October. Then I'll either establish a true "winter camp" in the area or move on with a new expedition.

Meanwhile, I'm very comfy here and have an absolutely fantastic view to enjoy with my morning coffee... and any other time I feel like enjoying a spectacular visual treat!

I've got quite a bit of personal business to attend to here in the Pacific Northwest, so I probably won't have much to post here for a while. On the other hand, you just never know… Stay tuned!

Click here to see exactly where I am posting this from on Google Maps.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

US Hwy 30: Completion

To wrap things up this morning, I visited Fort Clatsop, the recreated over-winter fort of Lewis & Clark. It's a pretty spartan affair by modern standards, but it must have been welcomed quarters for members of the party after their long and grueling trek. Despite the almost continual rain and cold they had that winter, it was at least a place they could call home for a while.

The fort is one of many attraction in the Astoria area, a region I highly recommend. There's a lot of history and culture here, all pretty well presented. One of the main features of the area is the presence of the Columbia River on one side of the peninsula and the Pacific Ocean on another. As is my custom, I went to the beach and spent some time there. Some walking and some just sitting, but all very good for my soul.

Probably more than any other road in America, US Highway 30 is a road rich in history. Including large parts of the Lincoln Highway -- the first trans-continental road in the country -- as well as much of the Oregon Trail and Lewis & Clark's route, driving it has been an ongoing homage to early American History.

That's been helpful for me to keep in mind, because I can't really say that the road itself has been particularly enjoyable. Poor road conditions through long stretches combined with many broken down old towns and being subsumed into various interstates to give a sense that this famous, historic road has been left to rot.

That said, however, it's been an excellent road trip. I've had many good experiences along the way and gained many valuable insights. Those are my primary criteria for exploration, so I happily declare the successful completion of another Macgellan expedition. Thanks for riding along with me.

In the morning, I'll be heading north and plan to reach Anacortes, Washington. There I will establish my own winter camp. What's next for Macgellan?… Stay tuned!

Click here to see exactly where I am posting this from on Google Maps.

Monday, September 03, 2012

US Hwy 30: Western Terminus

An hour's drive to Portland, a few minutes through the big city and another two hours to the coast. That pretty much sums up my drive today. After so many days -- weeks! -- without trees, they pretty well hemmed in the roadway on both sides throughout the ride. As a result, I don't have any of my customary scenic photos. What I do have is a photo of what we've all been heading toward!

Thus, I have arrived in Astoria, Oregon, the western terminus of US Highway 30 and the physical end of this road trip.

I have a few things in mind for tomorrow that will serve as a sort of ceremonial wrap-up, but today it seemed appropriate simply to have an espresso shot at the Journey's End.

Congratulations to all of us on another successful coast-to-coast journey!

What's next you wonder?... Stay tuned!

(PS - Also tomorrow, I've also got a good shot at working out a special bit of fun to share with you!)

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Sunday, September 02, 2012

US Hwy 30: Gorge-ous

I've had a couple of very nice, mixed-use days here in the Columbia River Gorge. The weather has been absolutely fantastic, with clear skies and bright sun being augmented by cool -- even crisp! -- temperatures. The whole area is simply gorgeous, and it's great just to sit and enjoy the view.

I've done a few short hikes, driven a few scenic roads and checked out a few of the historical and cultural attractions. I've even taken the scenic river cruise on a sternwheeler boat!

I've also enjoyed just being in one place for a few days, a clear signal that I'm ready to finish up this road trip and take a break from the more or less constant movement. Tomorrow, I will drive from here to Astoria, Oregon, which is the western terminus of US Highway 30. Once there, I will put my feet in the Pacific Ocean, have a little completion ceremony and call it a wrap… Stay tuned!

Click here to see exactly where I am posting this from on Google Maps.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

US Hwy 30: Cascade Locks, Oregon

When Lewis & Clark first came through this area, they encountered a section of very wild rapids on the Columbia River which they were forced to portage around. Subsequent travelers faced the same problem, and a small river town evolved in the area to serve their portaging needs. Originally named "Whiskey Flats" -- a place known for its taverns and other unsavory businesses -- the town was renamed Cascade Locks after a series of locks which were built in the area to facilitate shipping.

Those locks were submerged when the Bonneville Dam was built a few miles downstream, raising the water level by sixty feet and taming the river in this area. The town of Cascade Locks no longer had an economic vitality, and settled down to become only the very small, historic river town it is today. The dam went on to play a large role in the region's economic development, and the facility offers a very informative visitor's center and tour.

The area offers other notable attractions, my favorite being this sculpture.

It shows Sacagawea pointing the way west for Lewis & Clark and -- even more to my liking -- the lesser known Seaman, the Newfoundland dog who was constant companion to Lewis throughout the Voyage of Discovery.

For once, at least, the characters who actually knew what they were doing are recognized in full, absent the headliners!

The town's most prominent feature, however, is the impressive and somewhat daunting "Bridge of the Gods."

The weather is absolutely spectacular -- clear, sunny and cool! -- so I'm heading out to do some more exploring… Stay tuned!

Click here to see exactly where I am posting this from on Google Maps.