The November Rambling Bit

Blasket Islands in County Kerry, Ireland.

Lately, I’ve been gobbling up a collection of recorded Rick Steves travel shows like I’ll soon be gobbling Thanksgiving dinner!   Maybe it’s because even though this time of year I tend to dig in and stay close to home and loved ones, I still have this insatiable hunger for travel!  

A keen observation – except it turns out not to be quite true…

One of my favorite touches in the Rick Steves programs (next to the outtakes, of course!) is the final note indicating the month in which a show was taped.  It prompted me to try a “November” keyword search through my vast raft of digital photos – and the result kind of surprised me.  Because, in spite of my seasonal inclinations, I’ve actually done a fair bit of traveling around the end of October and through November – often along California’s and Oregon’s coast, but also well beyond!

So what tears me away from hearth and home around this time of year?  Often, it’s been something as random as a birthdate.  Like when my old friend Judy packed up her late-October birthday and moved with it to Ireland – as a result, I’d find myself not digging in around then but instead digging out hats, gloves and scarves and jetting off to bestow my birthday blessings in person.  Quite a length to go just to save on postage, but I highly recommend it!

In my last post, I recalled a memorable occasion in which a big group of us celebrated Judy’s birthday in an Irish castle in County Kerry.  It may have been bundling-up weather – but the recollections are all wonderfully warm!

Me and Castle Oliver!

On other birthday visits, it was just Judy and me – catching up and reminiscing as we rambled along Irish roads and through gorgeous and history-filled country!  And even when the weather tended toward the blustery, it somehow added to the magic!  Like when we got to explore the Iron Age fort of Dunbeg in County Kerry completely by ourselves – possibly because no one else would risk getting swept off such a squally swath of seashore!

Even the builders of Dunbeg (and the ticket taker) figured one ought to be indoors!

Fun and games until wind causes that metal doodad on the drawstring of your hood to whip up and slap you in a tooth…  Shockingly painful but yeah – pretty much still fun and games!

And this is a relatively mellow image of the mighty Cliffs of Moher compared to my visit six years earlier:

The Cliffs of Moher in County Clare while on the castle trip!

Despite being almost out of time and light on a road trip from Dublin to Galway, Judy had insisted that a detour to introduce me to the Cliffs had to come before a hotel and a hot meal.  Although I was skeptical (and a wee bit chilly…), we nevertheless made our way there through driving rain, and Judy kept the car idling while I hopped out and battled the elements to stand on the very brink of the island.  As I was taking in the dramatic view, a tenor-y wind began gusting through the pipes of a nearby railing, creating an eery musical underscore that made the moment absolutely perfect!  After a few minutes, I tumbled back into the car, shivering, sloshing rainwater everywhere – and gushing about the view and the cold and the green and the sea and the height and the pipes!  Judy just grinned, knowing her work was done.

Over an earlier period of years, I had the epic fun of visiting Vancouver, Canada every November!  It had to be then because every Remembrance Day weekend, a women’s hockey tournament used to be held in nearby Burnaby – and my travel team, the LA Chill, always attended.

Even though making it to the championship was the trip’s aim, our team always had no end of local fun along the way!

Strolling English Bay where a ship awaits its turn to enter the harbor.

Browsing for produce in the Granville Island market (since a player cannot live by Molson alone – although she can sure try)!

Cycling around beautiful Stanley Park!

Even after they stopped holding the tournament, I still felt a pull to the area (which I’ve written more about in a previous post) and have continued to visit when I can.  But nothing could approach those days of returning year after year with dear and delightful teammates to rekindle a romance with Vancouver – oh and, you know, to fit in a little hockey as well!

A big November date on the US calendar is Thanksgiving – and when the folks lived in Oregon, that meant happily heading north to spend my holidays by the Florence coast!

One time, Mum and Dad picked me up at the Portland Airport and we headed straight over to Astoria to stay right near the mouth of the Columbia River and explore the area where Lewis and Clark once dug in for a winter!

Astoria, Oregon – a tranquil spot despite being so near the treacherous Graveyard of the Pacific.

On another occasion, the folks drove south to meet up with me in Cambria, California where we got above the coastal cloud deck while touring Hearst Castle in nearby San Simeon!

At Hearst Castle – not your typical backyard pool!

While it was fun to visit a playground of the rich, we also enjoyed rubbing elbows with San Simeon residents of more modest means (assuming they actually had elbows…):

Local elephant seal (or me after Thanksgiving dinner – difficult to say).

Though these were great trips, it was equally special simply to spend Thanksgiving at the folks’ home in Florence where anytime at all we could grab a coat and hat from the rack by the door and stroll the beach or dunes just a few blocks away:

On the beach!

Dunes by the North Jetty.

Of course, it goes without saying that the most important date in November is Mum’s birthday!  And even though she’s in the same neighborhood now, we still have a habit of taking little celebratory getaways together around the time rather than my preparing a special dinner or birthday cake at home.  I don’t like to think this is a comment on my culinary abilities, but rather that it’s just good fun!

Oftentimes in choosing our November holiday destination, we’re still drawn to the constant yet unpredictable charms of the coast!

Laguna Beach, California.

Santa Barbara, California.

You know, now that I add it all up – maybe my initial observation wasn’t that far off the mark.

I do like to be close to home and loved ones – most especially as every year winds down to its close.  But all those travels around my country and abroad in the month of November were actually shared with people I hold dear, some of whom (like Mum) are still right close and ready to hit the road again!

Happy Almost Birthday, Mummy (last year at Ragged Point)!

As happens in life, I’m separated now from others by distance:

Vancouver hockey cohort and dear friend Kathryn (who took her winning smile to Texas).

And still others by fortune…:

The irrepressible Judy G at windy Dunbeg!

Duddy and the Turkey Day dressing in Florence!

Mum, the boys and me way back when we shared a Thanksgiving in Australia!

Yet I’m blessed to carry the memories of some marvelous adventures, and to have the feeling after all that when I’ve been with these people, I have been home – wherever we’ve happened to be!

Cheers and Happy November!


  1. The photos were amazing. Best days of a life. When we can travel.

    1. Thank you so much – and couldn’t agree more on the traveling!

  2. A very enjoyable walk through your November collection. What a perfect picture you have of the wharf in Astoria and the Irish country side looks just awesome.

    1. Many thanks! And yes, I’ve been very lucky to get to take November rambles around them!

  3. Jack Niemi · · Reply

    Hi Amy,

    Happy Halloween.

    Thanks for your post. Are you aware that Rick Steves is a Lutheran?

    I think another one of your November travels was when you brought your Mum up to worship at Hope.

    Ruth and I have been praying for all of you Californians as you deal with the tragic fires.

    If your travels bring you to Arizona this November, you are welcome to stay with us.

    Give your Mum hug and kiss from us.

    Love you,

    Pastor Jack

    Sent from my iPhone


    1. Hello Pastor Jack! Yes, I did know Rick Steves was a fellow Lutheran! Appreciate your prayers AND the invitation for a visit – we sure miss you two! Love, hugs and best wishes to y’all from both of us!

  4. Great theme! Such happy memories.

    1. Indeed! So pleased to share them – thanks for reading!

  5. Karen Zumsteg · · Reply

    Fantastic hat, Amy! Perfect for castle-visiting. I say blame any tooth damage on the hockey tournament, as opposed to the winds in Ireland. ; )

    1. Karen Z! Thanks for stopping by! Yes, the hockey alibi always made a better story than the truth… (“This big bruise on my leg? Well it sure wasn’t from stumbling into furniture in my own home!”)

  6. Yikes- Ireland in November. In can be dicey in summer. Go you. at least you miss the crowds!

    1. Yes, I always considered avoiding the crowds a big plus – worth a bit of damp in my book! Thanks for reading!

  7. Mike Jackson · · Reply

    Loved the pics from the west and southwest of Ireland. I first saw the Cliffs of Moher during a botany field course in 1968! Did you visit the Burren – another magical area close by. Very nice memories – for both of us it seems. 🙂

    1. You’re so right – that is a magically beautiful part of the world! Had to drive right past the Burren hills but they sure beckoned. Hope to get back one day to explore them but, yes, glad to have very nice memories of the region and glad you do too!

  8. The caption about being hit in the tooth by the metal bit from a hood made me flinch. I have a similar thing happen all the time where the hanging part of a zipper bashes into my thumbnail when I’m walking with my coat unzipped. It hurts way more than it should!

    1. Right? Maybe we need to put puff balls over them or something… Anyway, you know too that it’s funny until it happens to you! 😉

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