Salt & Fog

The Art of Veronica Casson

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Moving to Portland

Action & Adventures, Adventures & ParentingVeronica CassonComment
Setting off on our move with both cars loaded.

Setting off on our move with both cars loaded.

In mid-November - somewhat unexpectedly - we decided to move our family from the Bay Area to Portland.

The reasons we had were many and varied but for the most part, Portland seemed a better fit for our family than the Bay Area. Our son had yet to start kindergarten and we were both self-employed or looking for work, so if there was a time to go, it was now. A new adventure! Why not? We love adventure.

Admittedly, moving during the holidays was not the easiest choice, but once we decided to do it, we were both anxious to get there. Every day we delayed seem to be putting our future on hold.

Once Christmas was over, it was a mad dash to pack our belongings and get the cars ready to go. We left the day after New Years.

 

Unfortunately, ten minutes after we got on the road, our car died. We found ourselves and most of our bagage at a roadside auto shop.

stuck in garage

 

It took two more days before the car was ready to go. Originally we had planned to stretch the ten hour drive into three days. Due to the unexpected maintenance delay, we instead split the trip into two days.

 

The first night we stopped at the Best Western Tree House in Mount Shasta. We arrived just as night fell.

 

best western tree house

It was giant cozy log cabin of a hotel.  (more about this stop and two other fab hotel spots on this Travel Nueva post).

After warming up - it was 6 degrees there! - we had a celebratory dinner in which we shared a prime rib between the three of us. They had a wonderful indoor pool and hot tub which we used before going to bed.

lodge

The next day we ate a quick breakfast and got on the road, driving the entire day with only brief stops for snacks and bathroom breaks.

My view from the Prius following Julie and Luke all day.

My view from the Prius following Julie and Luke all day.

The adorable and delicious  Limestone coffee  shop in Medford, OR.

The adorable and delicious Limestone coffee shop in Medford, OR.

We made it to our sublet in the South West of Portland pretty late. The power to the keypad we had been given as a code to get in the place was not working. After some shivering in the cold, we knocked on the neighbor's door and asked for help.

Once we found our way inside, I put our very tired son to bed while Julie went out food shopping. We had heard there was a snow storm on the way and we wanted to be prepared in the case of us not being able to get out.

Thanks goodness we did! During our first breakfast it started snowing and did not let up for three days.

Watching the snow fall from our sublet's kitchen window while we eat our first breakfast.

Watching the snow fall from our sublet's kitchen window while we eat our first breakfast.

Blanketed with snow, the world outside our window on that first morning seemed strange and otherworldly. The perfect fresh start to begin the next chapters of our life.

Los Laureles Lodge

Adventures & Parenting, illustrationVeronica CassonComment
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Los Laureles Lodge, a historic country inn — located in Carmel Valley— has long been one of our family's favorite weekend escapes. Julie and I would visit once or twice a year before we had Luke and have since gone back about once a year (or try too). 

For my 40th birthday I thought it would be just the thing to spend the entire weekend there with some close friends. I was right! 

I had intended to drag my ipad around the property sketching the charming grounds, but I didn't. With out a child in not in tow I decided to sleep in, chat with out friends, swim, drink, eat, read and play dominoes. Which is a very successful birthday weekend.  I did spend part of the afternoon poolside doing the full on illustration of the lodge above. And then one more quick sketch (below).

loslaurles

We did manage to take some photos. I present to you, my birthday weekend in photos:

California Zephyr Sketchbook & Journal

Adventures & Parenting, Pen & PaperVeronica Casson1 Comment
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Last week we took the full three-day ride, from California to Chicago on the famous California Zephyr. And for you, dear reader, I documented the heck out of it.

Day One

Julie and I at the emeryville station.

Julie and I at the emeryville station.

Train arriving in SF/Emeryville early Friday Morning  

Train arriving in SF/Emeryville early Friday Morning  

The train was 30 minutes late and we were very eager to get on board when it arrived. After checking our bag, we raced down the corridor to our cabin.

Quick sketch of train hallway. 

Quick sketch of train hallway. 

Our cozy cabin. 

Our cozy cabin. 

The cabins were way smaller then we expected. Still, I liked  them and was impressed with their economic use of space.

Room features: 

 

Antiquated Control panel above my seat. 

Antiquated Control panel above my seat. 

Control above Julie's seat. 

Control above Julie's seat. 

The rooms temp control, which only kind of sort of worked. And the cabin's only outlet which red "120 volts- Razors Only." We went ahead and charged our phones anyhow.

We were very excited to see the view out the lounge so we quickly deposited are bags then headed to the "Sight Seer lounge" car.

The sightseer lounge, Julie on the right. 

The sightseer lounge, Julie on the right. 

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Well the train moved along California and sketching the scenery. I have never had to draw so fast and it was an interesting unique challenge that I came to really enjoy. 

 

Martinez & Vacaville  

Martinez & Vacaville  

Julie and I in the sihtseer lounge
Colfax, Donnor Summit, Trucker and Lovelock

Colfax, Donnor Summit, Trucker and Lovelock

After watching the view for awhile it was time to head to the dining car to get lunch.

Dining car

Dining car

An odd thing about eating on the train is the communal tables. Each one is a four-top and they fill every seat in order of arrival. Every meal we were placed with two strangers. Often, but not always, another couple.

The first time we got Lucky  

Our first lunch table mate. 

Our first lunch table mate. 

Her daughter  

Her daughter  

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The staff was generally super awesome. Most hailed from Chicago. This is Al who was our attendant. 

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Then back to the dining car for dinner. 

 

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That was followed by cards in the lounge and then we went back to the room. To try and sleep. It did not go well.

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I slept on the top bunk. It was very cramped, and the bed was above the window so there was no view (except of the ceiling). Large straps came down from the top and latched on the bottom to keep you from falling out. The bed was sturdy but as hard as a floor. I slept not at all. 

DAY TWO

Tired of trying to sleep I got up at 5:30 AM. I climbed out of bed and walked down the hall to the coffee machine (which was also usually stocked with orange juice and bottled water) .

 

The always on coffee maker at the end of the hall. 

The always on coffee maker at the end of the hall. 

Breakfast is served early so we headed to the dining car around 6;30. We were not so lucky with table mates this morning....

 

Breakfast day 2. 

Breakfast day 2. 

The first man was polite enough, though not interested in talking. The second we had seen the night before passed out on the table in the lounge. He had a gray hood covering his face and never looked up. He would alternately be shaking and start falling asleep- leaning against me. He smelled very sour. 

I shoveled my food in as fast as I could and  gave Julie the sign to hurry out into the lounge. 

 

Good day 2

Good day 2

More painting as the world brushed by. Having all of the sketching time throughout would be my favorite part of the train trip. 

 

Sketching Utah

Sketching Utah

A quick moment of fresh air as the train had a brief stop.

A quick moment of fresh air as the train had a brief stop.

Then it was back to the room where we tried to nap.  

 

Julie train napping

Julie train napping

I wasn't quite able too, but Julie was. Instead I did some more window sketching. 

 

Colorado at night & Nebraska

Colorado at night & Nebraska

It was about this time that the landscape started to settle into a similar pattern for the rest of the trip. Cornfields mostly. 

 

Then our last dinner in the dining car. 

 

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This night, knowing it was going to be a long one we set up our laptop and watched Darjeeling Limited in our cabin (we wanted to watch a "train movie while onboard."

darjeeling

 

DAY 3   

 

It is possible for me to fake being social for a bit, but after a while my introvert tendencies take over and I crave solitude. 

That, coupled with the uncomfortable breakfast the day before, we decided to eat breakfast in our room the last day. 

Day 3 food. 

Day 3 food. 

The train had been running late since the beginning of the trip. At every stop it seemed to get a little further behind. One of the consequences of this was at big stops we were not allowed to walk around the town for 30 or so minutes, like we had been told.

instead, we were allowed to stand out on the platform near the train for two or three minutes to get a breath of "fresh air"."

Julie on one of the many station platforms we hoped out at.

Julie on one of the many station platforms we hoped out at.

 

During consecutive stops I did this drawing of the coupler/passageway between each car.

 

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Later I drew the same area from the inside. 

 

Passageway between trains. 

Passageway between trains. 

At this point of the journey it was extremely rocky for the rest of the third day. Which ended up making reading tricky and my sketches to get even more jittery than normal.

 

 

Farm house. 

Farm house. 

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That was the last sketch I drew, at one of the stations before our final destination in Chicago. 

There were still a few hours left to go, but the train was rocking at such a capacity that we were no longer able to do anything except watch out the windows. All of the delays added up to the train arriving at our final stop in Chicago five hours late. We pulled in at 8:00 instead of 2:00 a very big difference when you have been on a train for three days. 

The tragic part of that is the extra time really soured us on the trip towards the end. A pity, the first two days felt like such a fun grand adventure. I would still recommend anyone interested to go ahead and book passage– But maybe only for two days/one night, not three.

 

 

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Petaluma trip

Adventures & Parenting, Pen & PaperVeronica CassonComment
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We have been traveling a bunch this year and we have more to come so I thought I would start sharing my journals here. This is the first, a recent long weekend trip to Petaluma.  I broke it into days to make it more accessible. Enjoy!

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We arrived at our little yellow rental house at in the late afternoon. The small yard in the front and back was entirely fenced in, one of the reasons we picked this location. It allowed Luke to play in the yard while we unpacked and later while we relaxed.

Once we were settled in the house Luke read some books the owners had left on the shelf of the kids room (his favorite was the Star Wars "I am A Pilot" Golden Book.   Julie did some work and we researched the best local spots to go.

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We had a truly amazing dinner of celery soup,  spinach salad (with prosciutto shaved Parmesan, blue cheese and pear), and artisanal pizza ( pine nuts, olive oil, butter nut squash and pancetta) at a place called the Wild Goat.

pizza

After we got home, Julie made us hot chocolate.  We went out back and stargazed with our cocoauntil it was Luke's bed time. Julie and I read comic books and sketched in the living room.