Thursday, November 30, 2023

England's oldest operational theater, Georgian Theatre Royal, is a gem

Elegant boxes and beautiful curtains, ornate original design touches and perhaps the oldest known
theatrical set piece mark the historic Georgian Theatre Royal in Richmond, Yorkshire, England.


Richmond's Georgian Theatre Royal is among the country's
 most revered theaters, and the oldest still operational one.



THEATER is as much a part of life in England as steak and kidney pie, pub life and the Royal Family. Whether you spell it with an "er" or an "re" you can be sure that Richmond's Georgian Theatre Royal is worth a visit if you're anywhere near north Yorkshire.

We sat for a few minutes in the Royal Box,
during an afternoon guided tour
Then Prince Charles and
Camilla, before he became
King, in the Royal Box.
THE THEATRE Royal is the oldest still operational theater in England, a charming, small venue where regular performances and concerts are held as they have been since 1899 -- with a few interruptions.  Its official handle is the Georgian Theatre Royal and it opened with "As You Like It," written by William Shakespeare in 1599. The theater continues to offer classical works, as well as concerts and a variety of productions including  recent sold-out presentations of  "The Buddy Holly Story" and "Northern Soul."
WITH ONLY 154 seats, everyone in the house is practically "ringside." We recently enjoyed beautiful orchestra seats with our hosts and Yorkshire residents, John and Sue, who are regulars at the theater.
The streets of Richmond suit the historic look and feel of the
intimate Theatre Royal, the city's pride, a beautiful venue.
The venue is beloved by Yorkshire residents who are rightly proud of its history and life as both a thriving community playhouse and a living theater museum. No wonder it is revered, for famed actor Edmund Kean is among luminaries to act on the historic stage.
Building on the theater began in 1788 with actor-manager Samuel Butler and his first wife Tryphosa Brockhill Butler in command.  It was a "circuit theater" then, with actors traveling the countryside to play other houses -- in Beverley, Harrogate, Kendal, Northallerton, Ripon, Ulverston and Whitby.  All those theater venues are long gone, giving more meaning to Theatre Royal's longevity.
FOLLOWING TRYPHOSA's death, then Butler's demise, his second wife, Francis Maria Jefferson, took over the operation. Following her run, for more than the next100 years, the building housed other enterprises, including a wine warehouse and an auction house.  A determined fundraising effort allowed a return to its original purpose and it reopened as a non-profit trust in 1963.  An expansion followed in 1996, then a major restoration in 2002. More than 1.6 million pounds was raised, with a gala reopening in 2003.
A view of the theater's interior from the stage,
looking back, to show the compact house.
We marveled at the artwork in this sturdy old theater, which hosted performances by Dame Sybil Thorndike in the 1960s and famed contemporary actor Dame Judi Dench in more recent times. Dench is also president of the theater.
Famed actor Edmund Kean
had star billings in the
theater's early days.

The neighborhood of Richmond's
Theatre Royal houses many
interesting buildings, including
shops, hotels and restaurants.

 OUR GUIDED tour included viewing of some of the prized artifacts, organized in 2016 with the opening of "The Georgian Theatre Royal Experience." Within the theater is a museum detailing the history of the building and displaying artifacts from the theatre's collection, as well as The Woodland Scene, reported to be the oldest surviving stage scenery in the world. The "Experience" is run by an educated, engaging group of theater loving volunteers, including retired teachers and businessmen, all theater buffs. They are proud of the theater's outreach through the Paul Iles Learning Centre, named after its patron. It  houses The Georgian Theatre Royal Youth Theatre and hosts myriad events including volunteer open days, book groups and costume making sessions.
THE THEATER's most precious possession is what is that aforementioned world's oldest piece of theatrical scenery.
"The Woodland Scene" was painted in a workshop in Royston, Hertfordshire, in around 1820.
The theater in preparation for a performance of
"Northern Soul." Here, stage, backstage and props.
 The cozy theater also houses a bar, box office, office space and storage space.
The theater's pantomime productions are a huge audience hit, with giant set pieces and characters from children's literature, folk and fairy tales. "Rapunzel" is running now. 
Surely Edmund Kean's ghost is smiling down.
For more on performances or tours:

Veteran actor, director and a charming Scrooge (in night cap),
Sean Murray stars in Cygnet Theatre's "A Christmas Carol."
It is one of a dozen holiday treats on the boards in San Diego
NEXT UP: While we're in a theater mood, holiday time is upon us and in southern California, that means theater and a variety of fabulous productions.  From dueling pianos on a holiday theme at North Coast Rep, to  Lamb's Players spirited seasonal twist on their wildly popular "RESPECT," to "Elf, the Musical" at Welk Theatre and Sean Murray a delightfully pensive Scrooge in Cygnet's "A Christmas Carol," there is something for every holiday spirit. More next week, as we explore, learn and live: 

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Thanksgiving blessings abound; be grateful, loving, generous all year

Gratitude comes in family size for Christene "Cookie" Meyers, in center, surrounded by
her clan of siblings, cousins, nieces, nephews, adopted family and the next generation.


Editor's Note: Our annual Thanksgiving essay is dedicated to
Cookie and Grandpa Gus
on Thanksgiving Day, 1950.
(Gus is amused at Cookie's
attempt to open a bottle
of Coke with bare hands.)
American friends and family and extended clan and pals abroad who celebrate their thanks on other days.



(and from family archives)

Yesterday is done, See the pretty countryside
Merrily we roll along, roll along, Bursting with dreams...
Traveling’s the fun, Flashing by the countryside
Everybody merrily, merrily, Catching at dreams
From Stephen Sondheim's "Merrily We Roll Along, in revival at Hudson Theatre, New York City, a story about friendship, change, loyalty, loss and gratitude. The three characters are a composer, playwright and theater critic.

WE SANG "Over the River and Through the Woods" years ago, to please our grandmother Olive who taught us the melody and lyrics. Today I'm humming Sondheim, whose musical, "Merrily We Roll Along," I saw during its short original run in 1981 and recently in a splendid revival. Perhaps it was ahead of its time, as director Hal Prince said 40 years ago. Now it is receiving raves and I know why. It's a story about love and enduring friendship. We need friends and family now more than ever, so celebrate them and let them know.

We give thanks for our family, gathered to
celebrate at our late summer wedding.
I think of Gran Olive and the lessons she passed on. Thanksgiving came on the heels of her Nov. 19 birthday, so it was an extension of that -- a bonus time to play music, Scrabble, cribbage and pinochle, to visit, cook together, gossip and feast.
Thanksgiving aboard Celebrity Century, with niece
Amarylla, mum Ellen, sister Robbie, and Cookie.
Friends were invited -- "strays," as gran called them. That included the Catholic priest, widowed neighbors, a favorite teacher -- divorced and alone -- and later college and newspaper friends whose families lived on the other side of the country.
Cookie entertains on cruise
ships, often during the
Thanksgiving holidays.

MY GRANDPARENTS lived next door, so we didn't have far to go -- not "over the river" or "through the wood" but "down the steps and across the grass," our revised lyric. We were lucky to grow up with grandpa
Bruce Keller and Christene
"Cookie" Meyers in 2007,
celebrating Thanksgiving
at a Cuban restaurant.
rents.  Having two homes was a luxury and our
 grandparents' plant and antique-filled house was safe haven from the tumult of our own hectic digs.
But there was joy in the chaos of our home, and I miss the holiday activity -- rehearsing in the music room for our traditional after-dinner concert, the wallop of ping pong paddles and balls in the garage game room, the milkman's faithful trudge up the back steps bringing  beverages, cheeses 
One of Gran's beautiful tables.
and butter right into the kitchen. I remember the reassuring slap of the morning paper against the front door, cats jumping on our beds to awaken us, dogs bringing their favorite fetch toys, fish to feed, plants to water, phone calls from those who couldn't make it.
OUR PARENTS would chat and tease, making appetizers and drinks for their open house. Next door, grandpa Gus whistled "Red River Valley" while helping gran Olive stuff and tie the the bird.
We relished that alluring smell of turkey roasting, pumpkin pies baking, her famous mincemeat cookies cooling. I was in charge of setting several tables in the dining room, living room and kitchen-- two or three small ones for the kids. Granddad carved after sharpening his knife on a slick black stone.
Cookie and Keller on Thanksgiving Day at 
Malta's Blue Lagoon. Thanksgiving tradition
now is a trip somewhere for these travel writers.

Then, a weekend of leisurely prepared leftovers, including gran's famous "Turkey Wiggle." Everyone raided the frig for sandwiches -- turkey, cranberry, mayonnaise, lettuce, cheese, stuffing, sweet potatoes and pear chutney. Tupperware with green and black olives, radishes, dill pickles, cucumber chips.
IT ALL SEEMS very Norman Rockwell, a "Father Knows Best" recollection.  Naturally, our lives were more complex than that. There were arguments, losses,

At left, Thanksgiving for Keller and Cookie is usually on the road, here in the Bellagio, on the Las Vegas strip.
disappointments, illness, sorrow. As I grew older, married and embarked on my newspaper career, there were more empty chairs at the family's home table. The loss of two husbands, three siblings, parents and grandparents has changed my holidays. For Keller and me, Thanksgiving means a trip somewhere. Siblings and friends are scattered across the U.S., so as our Thanksgivings split into smaller groups, not one massive gathering as in days of yore, we hit the road.
THIS THANKSGIVING, we're exploring in Kauai. We'll soon be relaxing with my Georgia sister and brother-in-law, meeting a pair of great nephews, enjoying our 
Bruce Keller and Christene "Cookie"
Meyers, thankful for theater.
southern family. I'm thankful for memories -- corny, sentimental, glorified by time, knighted by my affection for those departed and still on Earth.
SO LET US CELEBRATE friendships and family, those old and deep bonds with people we may not see or talk to except on holidays, but hold dear in our hearts and memories.   
We're thankful to be fit enough to exercise, walk, travel, explore the world. We're thankful for our recent honeymoon to Europe, and the hope that we have many traveling years ahead.

NOW, BOTH Keller and I are orphans, the senior members of our families -- his small one and my giant, scattered clan. We miss our elders, and sometimes don't feel ready for our positions.
This photo is from Thanksgiving 2021: We'll be back in
Atlanta soon to celebrate with David and Misha
Minesinger, Georgia based sister and brother-in-law. 
Our friends feel the same -- all miss their families and carry sentimental memories of
Thanksgiving on the Napali Coast, 2022.
Give thanks for the beauty of nature.  

Thanksgiving Day. Although I've not been a regular church goer for decades, I always play this wonderful old Dutch hymn on the nearest piano -- whether on a ship, or a host's home
We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing;
He chastens and hastens His will to make known;
The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing; Sing praises to His Name; He forgets not His own.
FOR ALL our blessings, I am thankful: health, travel, music, nature, friends, family. In my heart,  I have Thanksgiving 365 days a year.

Richmond's Georgian Theatre Royal in Richmond,
Yorkshire, is England's longest running theater, dating
to 1899, with a few years of silence during the war
and when the building served other purposes. It is
beautifully restored and a grand, popular venue.

UP NEXT: Richmond's Theatre Royal is the oldest still operational theater in England, a charming, small venue where regular performances and concerts are held as they have been since 1899.  Known officially as the Georgian Theatre Royal, it opened with "As You Like It" and continues to offer classical works, concerts and a variety of productions including a recent sold-out presentation of  "The Buddy Holly Story." We sat for a few minutes in the "Royal Box" where we admired the stage and house of the country's oldest working theatre in its original form. It is both a thriving community playhouse and a living theater museum. Remember to explore, learn, live!

Thursday, November 16, 2023

Take a train if you're a world traveler: efficient, clean, punctual, fun

London's King's Cross Train Station is usually abuzz with people.  Bruce Keller removed the crowd
from this spectacular photo, to show two splendid trains next to one another in a recent UK visit. 

Bruce Keller and Christene "Cookie" Meyers
prepare to board a London train for Oxford.


Trains are efficient worldwide, running in many
cities and into the country. Here in the UK, trains
give travelers a peek into British life and scenery.

WE HAVE long admired the world's railway system. We've logged thousands of pleasant train miles from Australia to the United Kingdom, from Tokyo to Paris, Edinburgh to Milan and Rome.
The British are particularly proud of their train system. From York to Brighton, it's an efficient, comfortable and reliable way to travel.
Theirs is the oldest train system in the world, and provides a reasonably priced way to get around, often to places where renting and parking a car would be expensive, burdensome and difficult.
We recently took a few pleasant train trips in England, exploring both the countryside and a major city, sampling only a small part of the UK's elaborate train system. It's a network of thousands of kilometers with many lines variously operated.
Dunedin's train station is a highlight of a
visit to New Zealand, an architectural treat.

WHAT FIRST catches the eye in the UK is the beauty of the train stations. Stupendous, stately architecture with unique touches. You'll find large and small railway stations all over the country. Our friends in Yorkshire took us this time to the Selby station for our two-hour trip to London. With only three platforms, it's just 20 minutes from their farm house and more accessible than the much larger York station. 

The late Queen Elizabeth  spent many happy hours
touring her realm on trains. She invited the famous
Paddington Bear to tea in her last jubilee.

We caught a comfy train for our recent two-hour
 trip  to London, departing from Selby. The small
 station in north Yorkshire is very user friendly.
Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Japan are full of gorgeous train stations, too -- from sleek and contemporary to quaint and ornate.  English train stations can rival cathedrals in their grandeur.  They are an important part of the country's heritage, mentioned in plays and novels.
THE ROYALS USE trains, too. Remember Paddington Bear and the story of how he was found and rescued?  The late Queen Elizabeth paid tribute to that story and invited the loveable bear to tea and a marmalade sandwich she just happened to have in her purse.  It was an endearing highlight of her last Jubilee. Paddington and St. Pancras are two of our favorite London stations.
THE LARGE ones are grand, but the world's smaller train stations impress with their history, compact efficiency and friendly service. We found cheerful help in both Selby and Oxford, on recent train gambols. We've also taken pleasant train trips to Brighton, Stratford and up into Scotland villages and
Edinburgh. The Waverly there is a beauty, as is Grange-over-Sands on the Furness Line. Both are right out of a storybook, gorgeous and eye-catching, stunning in their architectural touches. In Australia, the Katoomba Train Station is charming and right in city center, walking distance to our hotel. 

Happy on a train to Oxford...
Cookie relaxes and orders
a glass of wine to enhance
the short journey from London.

Enjoying himself is Bruce Keller,
who prefers train travel to renting
a car and driving. Here he is
traveling from Sydney to 
Katoomba, in Australlia.
MANY of the world's smaller stations even feature  cozy tea rooms or pubs, 
making a short wait a pleasant way to spend an hour or two. 

Seeing Keller and Cookie off are their good
friends and hosts in a Yorkshire visit,
John and Sue Speight of Primrose Farm.

Edinburgh's Waverley Station is a gorgeous building, with
restaurants, pubs, shopping and beauty to enhance the journey.
WHEN WE travel by train, security and boarding are faster and simpler than at the airport. Luggage limitations disappear  and there's twice as much leg room on a train even in the cheapest class. We don't have to worry about the size of liquids or whether our bag fits above or below. There's always plenty of space for bags.
Prices are fair, too. Various passes are available, from 96 pounds sterling for two days, to 250 pounds for a week. So if you're planning to do a reasonable amount of travel, a pass is a good buy. The smart way to save money on  rail travel for anyone aged 60 and over is a senior card, available in many countries. In England, it's  £30 a year, and saves a third on  off-peak journeys. A 3-year rail card is a bargain £70.We recommend contacting ACP Rail with its international reach, for its ease in booking in advance at good prices, flexibility and many choices and packages. The on-line service is straight forward and there's an app to help you hop on and off with ease. The service is pleasant, friendly and accommodating and can get you around the world, literally -- from Japan to Scotland, Switzerland, Australia and of course Britain.
Surrounded by family late this summer, Christene "Cookie"
Meyers and Bruce Keller tied the knot. Yes, they are wed
after 17 years together.  It was a surprise, one of many
 reasons they give thanks as the holidays kick off!

UP NEXT: This year, we have much for which to be thankful, as always. But we do it as "man and wife" -- just back from an epic honeymoon to 11 countries, and catching our breath between sojourns. The story of the wedding is part of our annual Thanksgiving ode, with a nod to families and friendship, a bit of the holiday's history, a pinch of Thanksgiving lore and a few fun memories which we hope you'll enjoy as you recall your own. Meanwhile, remember to explore, learn and live and catch us weekly for a fresh spin on travel, performance, family, nature and the arts:    


Thursday, November 9, 2023

Portland Grotto is a beloved shrine, a place of peace, prayer, beauty

The Grotto in Portland, Oregon, is a place of meditation, prayer and
reflection, in lovely gardens surrounded by sculpture and beauty.





This bird's eye view of Portland may be enjoyed
from a viewpoint in the Grotto's upper garden.
A stroll past St. Anne's Chapel, red
at left, under a majestic canopy of
trees native to the northwest.

100 YEARS AGO, in 1923, a visionary priest  determined to create a garden oasis in the middle of a bustling city in the Pacific Northwest.  Father Ambrose Mayer was intent on keeping a promise he made to God as a worried child in a parish church in Ontario, Canada.

Strolling the sunny Grotto, from left: Christene
"Cookie" Meyers, Kira Hill and Bruce Keller.
His mother was gravely ill and not expected to live. The bereft boy ran to the church, praying and pleading for her recovery. She lived.  And years later, as a priest, Mayer was sent by his Servite superiors to minister in Portland, Oregon. where he fulfilled his promise.

Father Ambrose Mayer:
he fulfilled his promise,
created an elegant shrine. 

IN PORTLAND, a then quiet  Oregon town on the Columbia River, Father Mayer began looking for a piece of property to create something wonderful, to thank God for hearing his prayer and saving his mother's life.

A replica of the famous
Pieta is part of the beauty.

The young priest found land ideal for his intent to thank God, and honor Mary, mother of Jesus. His vow to do something great for the Church materialized in a gorgeous art-filled garden and shrine, now a beloved grotto, hewn from the base of a dramatic 110-foot basalt cliff. There an altar was constructed and eventually a replica of Michelangelo's famed Pieta was placed. Thousands come from around the world since its 1924 dedication as "the Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother," by Portland Archbishop Alexander Christie. It is an inspiring, calm place to meditate, stroll, contemplate and enjoy the grounds, maintained by volunteers and people of faith. Weddings, celebrations, concerts and special holiday shows and light displays endear it to legions.

The Grotto Cave and Outdoor Altar host masses and other events; special
arrangements may be made for weddings and celebrations. This photo
shows the basalt cliff where Father Mayer envisioned an altar.

AN ELEVATOR takes visitors form the lower to the upper garden and a spectacular platform for viewing the city. Sculpture and art from around the world reflect a global yearning for peace, beauty and honoring the benefits of mindful meditation. The shrine became a National Sanctuary in 1983, thanks to Mayer's inspiration and the collaboration of architects, gardeners, believers.  All are welcome.

THE GROTTO's  international fame is for its artistic merging of art, religious icons, flowers, trees, ponds and welcoming paths to enjoy statuary and in a joyful setting

The Portland landmark, at North 85th Street and Sandy Boulevard, is one of the world's few to combine museum, gardens and memorials. Among those honored are John F. Kennedy, Our Lady of Lourdes, St. Jude, St. Francis and many other saints. It is a rejuvenating, art-filled anchor in the city's life.  

A free, short video in the Visitor Center gives a good overview to the ambitious project and its many collaborators. 

 A gift shop contains religious artifacts and memorabilia.  

St Francis and his animal friends attract many
seeking peace and solitude. It is one of the eye
catching works of art enjoyed by global visitors.
The place shineswith festivelights and  mass is held, weather and time of year allowing.  Mass is usually held spring through autumn most Sundays, at 10 a.m. and noon. The noon mass is sometimes held in the outdoor Grotto Plaza. Masses are also offered for special events, such as a St. Peregrine mass,  first Saturdays at noon. Masses are also celebrated in the Chapel of Mary, an old church on the lower level. The outdoor grotto area hosts celebrations. Check the website for more information:; 503 254-7371;

Bruce Keller and Christene "Cookie" Meyers are all aboard
at King's Cross Station in London, for train travel in the UK
UP NEXT: Trains are as much a part of British life as afternoon tea, the royal family and Big Ben. We take to the rails next, with trips to York, London and Oxford aboard the well run British train system. What's not to love about the world's oldest rail system, expertly run, on time, and dependable -- even when occasional strikes occur. Remember to explore, learn and live and catch us weekly for a fresh spin on travel, performance, nature, family and more:

Thursday, November 2, 2023

Florida zoo wins kudos for education, exhibits and its exotic critters

Birds are plentiful at Brevard Zoo, where guests can feed lorikeets and cockatiels. Heron and
other birds native to Florida and other places enjoy the sun in beautifully landscaped grounds.

These handsome longhorns snooze while
Brevard Zoo visitors admire them.They are also
known as Florida Scrub or Florida Native.


Flamingos are a favorite display at Brevard Zoo, where
more than 100 live. Enjoy the video at story's end.


IT BEGAN with a dream, and blossomed into a thriving enterprise attracting more than a half-million visitors last year.

The 75-acre Brevard Zoo in Melbourne, Florida, is testimony to what a few determined people can do.

The beautifully designed, nonprofit facility is home to more than 900 animals representing more than 195 species. Zoo residents come from Florida, South America, Africa, Asia, and Australia. The zoo has won awards and kudos for its responsible and professional care of its animals. We happened upon some of the critters at feeding time and the passion the staff has for the animals was obvious and fun to see.
Bruce Keller enjoys a kayak
experience, above, and below,
Cookie paddles nearby.

The beautiful zebras at Brevard Zoo are from
Kenya and Ethiopia and can live up to 30 years.

Whales take up residency on Oregon coast
One of the zoo attractions is an area that can be
enjoyed from a kayak, as Cookie shows.

A pair of injured bald eagles were rescued and "rehabbed"
at Brevard Zoo and are living out their lives in protected
environment because they would not survive in the wild.

THERE'S SOMETHING magical about a fine zoo, and Brevard is that. It is the proud result of the work of 16,000 Brevard County residents who came together in the early 1990s to design and construct it. Their efforts make it the largest volunteer built zoo in the world and the locals are justifiably proud.
People pause, chat, notice, point and discuss the animals and birds.  They  learn and grow, appreciating nature and recognizing how precious the non-human inhabitants of our planet are.
Bruce Keller and Christene "Cookie" Meyers
 enjoy the end of a perfect afternoon at Florida's
award winning Brevard Zoo in Melbourne.
Enjoy the flamingo video at left. 
INFO, tickets, special

THE ZOO has also developed a series of remarkable conservation programs, increasing the numbers of many Florida species, supporting international programs and developing training programs and workshops. It is proud of its first-ever breeding season for the country's most endangered bird: the Florida grasshopper sparrow. Bravo, Brevard!
IT WAS FUN to watch children the day we were there. Many came, in organized school outings, to admire the animals, ask questions, feed the birds. The zoo is proud of its long established partnership with Brevard Public Schools.
Through memberships and contributions, the zoo also boosts the region's financial health.
And it is internationally accredited, which means it meets stringent standards in caring for its to giraffes, rhinos, big cats, hundreds of colorful parrots and more. Its well presented interactive experiences include giraffe and bird feedings, a children's water play area and kayaking.
WE THOROUGHLY enjoyed our four hours there, strolling the well marked grounds, taking a kayak trip into the mangroves, pausing for lunch at one of the welcoming picnic areas. 
Most of all, admiring fellow inhabitants of the planet, appreciating  the meticulous care they get here at Brevard Zoo. 


From left,  Bruce Turk, Katie MacNichol, Conner Marx,
   Jacob Bruce, Ciarra Stroud, Christopher M. Williams in
 a masterful take on the classic Robert Louis Stevenson tale.

 --Aaron Rumley photo
BEST BET: A brilliant production of "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" is held over through Nov. 19 at San Diego's North Coast Repertory Theatre. Six gifted actors are directed with imagination by Shana Wride, in Jeffrey Hatcher's intriguing adaptation of the Stevenson classic. Wride, accomplished on both sides of the footlights, guides a versatile ensemble in a stylish retelling of the story of a good man's struggle with his evil twin. Evocative lighting, a dramatic and minimal set and handsome Victorian top-hats and tails enhance the savvy production, with Bruce Turk and Conner Marx superb as Jekyll and Hyde. Spot-on music, striking costumes and versatile actors shining in multiple roles make this a play-goer's gem. Director Wride and her gifted cast illuminate the story’s good-versus-evil theme in all its complexity. Delightful dialects add to the drama of this well told tale, an interpretation exciting to behold.  

The Grotto in Portland, Oregon, is a sanctuary for many, a
beautifully landscaped retreat conceived by a priest 100 
years ago to fulfill his promise to God if his mother survived.
UP NEXT: A calming, quiet place for meditation and admiration of nature can be visited in Portland, Oregon, where The Grotto attracts our garden loving road trippers.  Developed by a priest in 1923, the beloved Grotto is a sanctuary for Portland residents, and visitors and pilgrims from around the world.  The beautiful creation atop a dramatic bluff includes sculpture, gardens, ponds, pathways and meditation benches, paying tribute to faith and the power of prayer. It is a popular wedding setting and regular mass is held, weather permitting. Remember to explore, learn and live and catch us weekly for a fresh spin on travel, nature, the arts and more.