Posts Tagged ‘travel’

The Traveling Cats Tour: Kidney stones, mental stress, Anacortes, Blaine, here I am.

October 16, 2014

[/caption]DSC_0037The Peace Arch at the Blaine border crossing

You know the saying “Time flies when you’re having fun”? The same applies to when you’re not sometimes. I was amazed and a bit dismayed when I saw how long it had been since my last entry here! Life has been a bit too interesting lately …

I have kidney stones. Ugh. While I was staying with my good friend Mike and his family in Kent, WA at the beginning of this journey, I had a kidney stone pass. I ended up in the ER at 4AM begging for pain meds to combat the worst pain I’ve ever had. I’m not one to take a lot of pain meds but I took the full maximum dosage for the 2 days after my ER visit. The CT scan showed that I have more stones in both kidneys so I have to make sure I stay well hydrated and avoid high calcium, sodium and acidic foods and beverages. Not all that hard really since I’m financially challenged. That’s the hardest part of this situation …

While I was staying in Kent trying to get my head together enough to start this northward journey, I found myself obsessing over all the things that could go wrong and how impossible it would be to overcome them with the extremely limited money I have. I played out scenario after scenario of devastating illnesses, car wrecks, cat illnesses, break-ins, towing, getting stranded on deserted highways in Canada etc etc etc. I drove myself crazy. I would cry in the middle of the night after waking from a dead sleep with my heart pounding and my thoughts racing. I was on the brink of panic attacks all the time but, oddly enough, it was after I took the plunge and left my safe haven in Kent and got on the road to Kirkland, my next stop, that all that quieted down a bit. Strange, since I was now on my way to the scary unknown. I think just making that final commitment to the journey was what helped me get my head together. And so we come to Kirkland …

This little lake is very close to Heather's house and made for some epic reflection shots!

This little lake is very close to Heather’s house and made for some epic reflection shots!

My friend Heather Dutra is an amazing woman! She’s an Aussie with 2 kids, a husband who works for Microsoft and a beautiful house in the woods. Top that off with the fact that she’s a brilliant photographer and you have Heather! It was a bit unnerving at first to stay in an area so quiet after living by the airport for so many years. I had to keep a fan on just for noise LOL Thing were going along nicely and we were looking forward to more shooting together when the worst thing possible happened. Her husband is deathly allergic to cats and I mean deathly. Not just the sneezing, runny nose and itchy eyes kind of allergic but the throat swelling, asthma attack kind. He was taking his mother to the airport to send her on her way back to Boston when it hit him. He called Heather and told her about it and she immediately came out to tell me that all the cat hair on me was too much for him and I’d have to leave in the morning. So off I went the next day on my way to Anacortes …

This shot was taken from Cap Sante just after sunset.

This shot was taken from Cap Sante just after sunset.

I love my friend Eddie Murdock and his family! His wife Mandy and I were instant friends and I was so happy to see his 16 year old daughter Zoe again and meet his 7 year old daughter Ava. Meeting Mandy’s son Avery was an unexpected bonus and pleasure! Such a great kid! I got there in the evening and parked behind the pop-up camper (which would be my home for the next week and a half) and felt immediately at home. We all slept in the truck the first couple of nights until I figured out how long we would stay and then moved into the camper lock, stock and 3 (still cranky) cats. It was really wonderful to have so much room! Until the wind storms hit. The camper walls would ‘breathe’ these huge breaths and I could hear the next gust coming to us like a freight train! The cats were scared and so was I a couple of time. I thought we were going to end up in Kansas! Or at least the hospital when the camper blew over! But we survived all 3 of the storms.

Shooting in Anacortes is amazing! I got to run around with Marianne Stickles, who I love dearly, and see her incredible home. Mandy and I went over for dinner one night and wandered around the house for a bit. All local woods, local beach pebble inlay floor in the kitchen, a flying buttress office overlooking the living room, maze-like entrances and exits through the bathrooms and a view that’s worth the entire asking price of house. I couldn’t believe that they want to sell it but it’s the old story of ‘now our house is too big since it’s only the 2 of us’ story. The asking price is $1.2 million! Yup, you heard it right. And it’s worth every penny or even more with the beautiful grounds and view! Marianne and I went to Oak Harbor and stopped at several places along the way including the Deception Pass bridge which is awe inspiring even if the day was cloudy and gray! I need to go back and do a bunch more shooting there after I get myself all squared away in Canada. It was a totally perfect day though. Marianne knows all the backroads and took me to places where I swear I heard the Deliverance banjo opening in the wind LOL And then I discovered Washington Park …

This is the view of Sunset Beach from the beginning of the loop that goes around Washington Park.

This is the view of Sunset Beach from the beginning of the loop that goes around Washington Park.

Washington Park is brilliant! There are dozens of trails and little beaches to explore and it’s one big wooded wonderland! I finally got a photo of my nemesis bird there, the Northern Flicker. Apparently none of his southern cousins sent him the memo about not letting me get a clear shot of any of them LOL I went and walked the entire loop once and then went back and hiked the bluff trail. I’m seriously out of shape! I definitely need to do more walking! (And I have been) One of the reasons I stayed so long in Anacortes was the Oyster Run. You gotta see it to believe it! The estimated number of motorcycles that passed through town that day was upwards of 25,000! Yup 25K! I shot from the beginning of the main way into town for a couple of hours before heading down to shoot the mayhem, er I mean celebrations in downtown. What a wonderful day of shooting! Great weather, motorcycles and a bunch of old guys that were easy on the eyes LOL

One of my favorite shots taken during the Oyster Run.

One of my favorite shots taken during the Oyster Run.

Then Eddie, Carl Nickerson and I went night shooting …


But more about that in the next post.

So that brings you up to date with what’s happened since I left Kent, WA and the Gardner family. I’m in Blaine now staying with my friend Monica and her son and having a wonderful time! Or at least I was until the biblical deluge a couple of nights ago. I have leaks. I was supposed to be on my way to Abbotsford today but I have to stay and fix them before real winter hits.

I know this was a lot to read and I thank you for hangin’ in there. I’ll try to keep up with this better now that I’m more settled in my head about becoming Canadian again. Things to look forward to hearing about in the posts to come … night shooting with Eddie and Carl, monsters in the dark, I’m not afraid to put it all out there (on the bridge), mushroom hunting and what happens soon. 😀

I went here! At night! Alone! (Eddie and Carl weren't going anywhere near it!) I went here! At night! Alone! (Eddie and Carl weren’t going anywhere near it!)

Thanks for visiting my crazy life,

Donna Read Visions
The Traveling Cats Tour

How the Traveling Cats Tour got its name: A Canadian Photographer On the Road

July 23, 2014


So, for the second time in my life, I’m becoming homeless. It’s not all bad though. At 60 years old, I have become a bit complacent and pot bound. Part of me agrees that it’s time to shake it up a bit. Just how much is a complete surprise to me though! Here’s a quick recap of how this all came about …

I am Canadian. I came to the US right after I lost the last close family member in 1975 and lived in Cali for a bit. In 1979, I came to Seattle and lived under the radar long before it was an issue like it is today. In 1988, I filed for Temporary Residence under the Amnesty Act of 1986 and was approved. In 1992, I filed for Permanent Residence and was approved. Or at least I thought I was. Last year, I applied for a replacement Permanent Resident’s car at the advice of Homeland Security in Tukwila, WA and was approved. Or at least I thought I was. This application went through several hands and survived an FBI check but in January 2014 I got a letter from Homeland Security stating that they had no record of my PR. I know right! I immediately went to the DHS office in Tukwila where I was told that they had been advised by their in-house legal counsel to discontinue any help and give me a list of immigration attorneys. I lost my mind! How can this happen? I actually asked the woman who started helping me that question and she let slip that whoever looked at my file (numerous people) was supposed to verify my status but no one did. And then she said it was possible that my info had been corrupted when they switched from analog to digital. Regardless of how this happened, there is no appeal. None. Nada. Enter the immigration attorneys….

I actually went to an immigration attorney, explained the series of events and asked if they could help me. Oh, one other piece of information…I was unemployed and going to school. They told me that for $1200 they would do a FOIA search for my paperwork from the 90’s. Now, anyone who understands what a FOIA is knows that it’s free! I mentioned that and was told that I probably wouldn’t ask for the right information. Really? I told the woman considering my case that I would do the FOIA myself and asked how much she would charge to help me after that if it came back with what Homeland Security found. She told me that it probably couldn’t be fixed and then added that I could live and work in the US as an undocumented alien for the rest of my life without getting caught! What? Needless to say, I left the office and never went back. What kind of attorney suggests that a prospective client break the law? And then we come to what happened with my financial aid and school…

I was working towards my BA in Human Services so that I could work with homeless teens at the time this was all coming down on me. I was into my fifth quarter and was almost done with my AA. Was is the operative word here. Once I was classified as an undoc, I lost my financial aid so Spring quarter was the last quarter I could complete. Game over. Now I had zero money. None. Nada. Enter my friends …

I love my friends. I’ve never had friends like this. Or any kind. That’s another story though. I was amazed at how my friends rallied behind me and tried to find ways to make this right. In the end though, the only realistic option is for me to go back to Canada and come back to the US and visit. A lot. No one wanted to take my case because I’m not newsworthy. You never hear about old white women from Canada who are losing everything because of INS/DHS incompetence, do you? No. So here I am….

Why the Traveling Cats Tour? Because I’m packing up my truck and my 3 cranky cats and hitting the road. Not exactly what I had in mind for an adventure at 60 years old but it IS kind of exciting! And scary as hell. I’m trying to raise money by selling prints of my work and most of my belongings. I needed to downsize anyway, pack rat that I am. Where am I going and how will I live? Well ….

I have big truck. Really big. Her name is Betty Gardner (yes, there’s a story behind it but it’s personal) and I’m still working on getting a canopy or camper for her. That way I can live quite comfortably in said truck until the weather gets too cold. Then I have to implement plan B which I really haven’t figured out yet. I have a lot of things necessary to survive including experience with staying safe and sane. As for the cats…well we’ll see.

So that brings you up to date. The Traveling Cats Tour hits the road at the beginning of August and the first stop is actually south at Hood River. I want to shoot the kite and wind surfers there before I go. I hope to meet my good Facebook friend Jock Bradley who was the first pro kite surfing photographer to like my first attempts at shooting kite surfers at Jetty Island. Then it’s back to Everett to work on my friend Roberto Soza’s kite surfing video. After that, up to Anacortes to visit another good friend, Eddie Murdock, and hopefully meet all the togs around that area that I’ve followed on Facebook for the past year. And then ….. we’ll see how the border crossing goes.

This blog will be about the adventures on the road. Watch for updates and thanks for stopping by!

Donna Read
Donna Read Visions
Traveling Cats Tour

%d bloggers like this: