Tag Archives: Armchair Traveler

Sharing Your Travel Experience with Other OLLI Members

A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.—John A. Shedd

Many OLLI members enjoy traveling, returning to family roots, exploring our northwest region or adventuring overseas. For foreign destinations, we like to prepare with knowledge and advice from multiple sources—travel websites, Google Earth, Rick Steves, or friends who have been there. Collecting country information is no problem, but then how to organize it? I start by using six trusted headings:

  • Geo-Nature is my combination of geography and the natural environment. I include information on country borders, climate, topography, flora and fauna, water, and pollution.
  • History—How the country was settled or colonized, important leaders, key milestones such as year of independence, a recent earthquake, or when the national team won Olympic gold in soccer.
  • People and Culture—The population, urban v. rural, major ethnic groups, education, literacy, birthrate, life  expectancy, healthcare, and sanitation. Languages, food, religion, and values reflected in predominant national culture; this is my favorite section.
  • Politics and Law—Governance system, legal system, how power is shared, and results of the last election. External relations: foreign policy, disputes with neighboring countries, and relations with the U.S.
  • Economics— Manufacturing, agriculture, services, and tourism. GNP growth and GDP per capita, employment, currency exchange rates, major imports and exports.
  • Tech and Transport—How is electricity generated—oil and coal v. renewable? Are wall plug adapters needed? Internet and Wifi availability? Infrastructure and roadways, domestic airports, buses, and ferry systems.

If you plan to share your travel experience with other OLLI members, then consider this kind of country profile method to help organize your data, photos, and slides. Your written profile can also be turned into a useful handout.

Randall Donohue,
Eugene-Springfield Council President

Junts pel Sí (Together for Yes): Three Months in Barcelona Neighborhoods

Central Oregon–Barcelona’s neighborhoods, such as l’Eixample or El Raval, are known for their architectural and artistic innovations. Besides being a platform for expression by Gaudí, Dalí, Picasso, and Miró, and a place of social experience, Barcelona engenders community and spirit that offers a model of community organization for other areas. Its Catalan spirit creates vital places for smaller communities to stimulate intergenerational participation in cultural traditions and civic actions.

Join Jon and Lisa Bouknight as they share original photographs and research from three months in Spain with Central Oregon Community College study abroad students. A variety of cultural activities, such as celebrations, contests, and even emergency preparedness highlight the importance of neighborhoods.

As a professor of speech and writing at COCC, Jon Bouknight enjoys teaching intercultural communication and media ecology. Spending the fall term in Spain with his wife Lisa fulfilled a goal that began when, as a teenager, Jon first finished Don Quixote, Part 1.

Lisa Goetz-Bouknight, also in the Humanities department at COCC, has connected with the needs of smaller communities through arts education, transitional education, ADA advocacy, and emergency preparedness. Along with Jon—and the generous support of COCC’s study abroad program and its participating students and sponsors (Barcelona Study Abroad Experience), Lisa learned to focus her camera’s eye on the wonders of long-term international experiences.

This presentation is open to the public and will be held at the Riverbend Community Room, Bend Parks and Recreation District, 799 SW Columbia.

Armchair Traveler: Portugal, the Azores, and Madeira

Central Oregon–Join OLLI-UO member Larry Weinberg for a presentation on his 2016 hiking trip to Portugal, the Azores, and Madeira. Located on the western side of the Iberian Peninsula, the relatively small country of Portugal had a major impact on the European discovery of the so-called New World.

Portuguese sailors and navigators traversed the oceans of the world in ships that most of us would not get on board to cross a lake! In the process, they discovered the islands that constitute the Azores and Madeira. This was a true discovery because the islands were uninhabited and are located in the Atlantic Ocean, quite a ways off of the coast of North Africa. Both island chains are volcanic and subtropical. Several of the hikes on Madeira felt like hikes in our own Cascades near Bend. Flowers abound on the islands as well as in Portugal itself, and many gardens can be found throughout the region. Larry’s travels took him from the shores of the Atlantic to the highest point on Madeira. The trip was sponsored by the Central Oregon Nordic Club. Now Weinberg gives members an opportunity to see sights that most people don’t have an opportunity to visit.

Larry Weinberg retired to Bend in 2005 and has since been involved with OLLI-UO. He also volunteers with the Deschutes Land Trust, and is currently teaching mathematics at the new OSU-Cascades campus in Bend at an almost half-time position. “So much for retirement!” says Larry.

Members are encouraged to bring guests to this presentation; preregistration is not required.

Armchair Traveler: Cuba— Experience with Pictures


Eugene/Springfield–Susan Johnson will show photos of her January trip to Cuba with Road Scholar. Her group was led by Pulitzer Prize winning photographer Essdras Suarez, a native Cuban/Panamanian. His fun and easy connections with local residents provided an invaluable peek into contemporary life.

The tour started in Havana and ended in Trinidad, a scenic rural town on the southern coast with seemingly as many horses as people. Much of it felt like a step back in time, with old American cars, cobblestone streets, rundown buildings, sketchy plumbing and electricity, and a near cyber blackout.

Aside from a few photos borrowed from fellow tour mates, photographs were taken with an iPhone 6, as Susan was between cameras. Although they will include some of Havana’s landmarks, the majority will focus on everyday street life. Johnson retired at the end of the 2015 after 30 years as a psychotherapist. Her previous work as a photographer focused primarily on flowers. Seeing Cuba was a longtime dream come true.

Want to become a member of OLLI UO? Click here.

Armchair Traveler: Cycling the Loire Valley—450 Miles Through the Heart of France


Eugene/Springfield–Ruthy Kanagy will present photos of her June 2015 bike trip to France along the Loire River—the longest river in France. She began her journey in Le Puy en Velay, a medieval town in the Massif Central Mountains near the source of the Loire. For two weeks she and a friend pedaled over mountains and gorges to the Loire Valley, stopping in picturesque villages, farms, cathedrals, and castles. She traveled light and stayed in B&Bs and small hotels. A bike demo is included. Come see her adventure!

Kanagy is convinced that the best way to visit and explore another culture is at the speed of a bicycle. Traveling by bike opens up opportunities to connect with ordinary people. Since she discovered cycling 15 years ago, she has pedaled from Eugene to Vancouver, B.C. (not all at once), ridden Cycle Oregon, and has toured many regions of Japan.

In 2006, she founded Japan Cycle Tours LLC, offering personalized tours of Japan, while introducing others to the joy of bicycle touring. Her book, Living Abroad in Japan (Avalon Travel, 3d ed., 2013) is recommended for armchair travelers as well as those planning to go.

Not a member of OLLI UO? Join today.

Armchair Traveler: Flipping on the Futeleufu: or Why Suzie Gets to Choose Our Next Three Vacations

Armchair Traveler: Flipping the FuteleufuOLLI UO Central Oregon—According to the website exchile.com, the “Futeleufu River is known in whitewater circles as one of the most beautiful, exciting, and challenging rivers in the world. It is an exhilarating whitewater power storm of turquoise champagne like water. Riding the spine of this river as it flows through this isolated portion of the glaciated Chilean Andes is an unparalleled experience.” (http://www.exchile.com/fachome.html)

The destination is also hard to get to! Dick and Suzie Linford flew from Redmond, Oregon, to Dallas, Texas, to Buenos Aires, to San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina, then took a seven-hour van ride to northern Patagonia to get to their destination.

As part of the presentation, a video of their trip will show the beautiful scenery and the base camp they operated out of—and the boat in which Dick and Suzie were flipping.  In some of the photos, they are “ghost boating.” This is where the rapid is too wild to run and a portage is too difficult; rafters send the boats through the rapids empty and recover them on the other end.

Join OLLI member Dick Linford as he recounts his adventures on the waters of the Futeleufu—and hear how Suzie secured the right to choose their next vacation destinations.