The Epistle of Q — Chapter 105 (a)

Sometimes it is good to retrace one’s steps!!

This year the Association of Moral Educators (AME) is meeting in Seattle. I’ve been a member of AME for over forty years but in recent years I have not been going to the AGM and Conference because I’ve felt it was drifting too far from its roots (Kohlberg & Moral Reasoning). This year, since it’s not a lengthy drive from the Okanagan, I thought I’d attend again. The nearness wasn’t the real draw though – rather it was the fact that the agenda was filled with a good deal of Kohlberg and his legacy and I figured it might be a bit of a refresher for me and thus improve my curriculum development activities around any teaching that I continue to do.

Since there was the final BC Lions home game last Saturday, and the conference didn’t kick off until Wednesday of this week, it seemed like a good idea to do a bit of traveling as well. So Sunday morning BC Ferries provided a lift to Vancouver Island and an opportunity to have lunch with Granddaughter Ciera who is attending UVIC. Even though she is attending school in BC, it is not an easy trip to try to schedule and then make regularly and this was actually the first time a visit had been arranged. It was neat to see her domicile – not a dark dungeon basement but a really bright and airy suite in a fairly new home. Lunch was at a spot called The Local and it was worth the drive downtown. Great food, great view and lengthy conversations. Got caught up on all her big plans and it is obvious this young lady will make a professional contribution to the world of education when she finally graduates. Moreover she is determined to become a special needs teacher which suggests to me that she is more than a wonderful human being – she really is intent in making the world a better place. It was a most delightful three hours spent in her company.

After dropping her off, it was a short drive to Lorna and Earle Anthony’s for a good visit, good dinner, good conversations (especially between Earle and I about the next steps that should be pursued in water management & study in the Okanagan). They have a wonderful home in a gated community near the university – very quiet and peaceful. After a restful sleep it was up and off to the waterfront to prepare to board the Coho Ferry to Port Angeles in the state of Washington. As Lorna had packed a breakfast treat, a stop at a Starbucks by the ferry terminal was in order for some steamed milk and quiet enjoyment looking at the BC Legislative Buildings coming to life on a Monday morning along with the Empress Hotel. The highlight of the sailing on a somewhat aged ship was passing a pod of frolicking whales. Don’t usually get to see a number of them all at once, so this was a special moment. Once in the USA, the route was unique as I had never been on the Olympic Peninsula. Highway 101 skirts the mountains (rather invisible due to fog and low-lying clouds at the start of the journey) and the edge of the Straight of Juan de Fuca and then Pugent Sound. Luckily the sun came out as the road turned south and there were some wonderful vistas along with travelling through some neat little villages. Eventually the road linked up with I-5 at the state capital (Olympia) and the rest of the drive to Portland was simply fast…

Why Portland? Well, I first visited that city in the 1950’s when my parents were visiting friends who lived south of the city (town of Woodburn). It had always struck me as a beautiful place but even when I returned with my Mother near the end of the last millennium I never had enough time to walk the old city. So since there were still a couple days before I had to be at AME, it seemed like a great time to park the car for a couple of days (parking is NOT cheap in Portland, nor as it turns out, in Seattle either: $50/night) and go exploring. Portland is a nice city, still growing but retaining lots of its charms I remembered. There’s Powell’s Books – the largest private book store in North America I think (takes up an entire city block) – and I managed to find a couple of books in excellent shape that interested me – one being Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy!! There are numerous craft breweries: the Deschutes was first on the list and they were a very friendly bunch. Good beer followed by good advice (they said I needed to also visit Breakside Brewery!!) which required getting an all-day pass on the street cars (Portland has really good street cars – articulated in two spots so they can easily turn sharp corners on narrow streets). Left the old town for the Pearl district and after getting off, then walked a very delightful Robson-street style shopping mecca but without all the traffic. The route lead directly to the Breakside Brewery and after the long walk, it was a sight for thirsty souls! They in turn said to go to a special food bar near the hotel for good mid-aft meals. After getting to the food bar – a place a great deal like the one I had experienced in Philadelphia where a variety of excellent chefs put their specialties out for eating – it was also possible to have another fine local craft beer before heading out to find another street car that would give a bit of a city tour. Took a bit of walking, but after crossing a bridge the tram was located and the resulting visual tour was well worth the walk to reach it.

The evening was to be a jazz concert that turned out to be a new music experiment – after one act it was deemed more useful to return to the hotel and drink bourbon. But that does bring up one other great feature of the Embassy Suites in Portland. Not only do they provide a full complimentary breakfast (including, should you desire, a custom-made omelet) but they host a wonderful happy hour (5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.) where the drinks are free and the food is plentiful and more than just snack-like. In addition, when the hour plus is concluding, they encourage you to take one last drink up to your room for a mid-evening night-cap!! Very civilized and will get me to return sometime in the future!!

Wednesday after another of the aforementioned substantive breakfasts, the car set off for Seattle. While I-5 is not without its scenic moments, including a great view of Mount St. Helen’s, it is a freeway and one much always be vigilant.

Arriving in Seattle well before check in time allowed for a quick visit to the Pike Street Market and lunch at the Steelhead Café as well as a walk along the waterfront. Seattle has a somewhat different waterfront walk than Vancouver – perhaps a bit more touristy but also more airy. However it is not as nice as walking around Stanley Park. Then it was off to register at the conference – a healthy walk which also gave a good sense of traffic flows during rush hour and maybe why I still am not thinking of ever moving to Seattle (besides the high cost of residential ownership!!).

And now it’s time to reflect on the conference itself…which will be in another component of this chapter!!