Loading up

outside (2)Finally! It is Sunday and we are loading up the MoHo.  Tomorrow we will be on the road again, certainly not another long jaunt, but almost two weeks of ambling down the California coast with our new kayaks. The snow melted, and even though it’s raining today, the snow level is above 6500 feet or so, higher even than our pass crossing to Medford tomorrow.  Once over the pass (I can’t believe this pass doesn’t have a real name) we will be out of snow country. Of course, rain and fog are distinct possibilities, but with a cozy home, lots of fleece, and raincoats, that isn’t a problem either.  The ocean is wonderful even in the rain, and fog just makes the redwoods more mysterious.

I guess you can tell who takes the most pictures around here.  It looks like Mo does all the work, but not really.  I am just the one with the camera.  Mo has been raking and burning to hopefully get a head start on the pine needles that will accumulate in drifts by next spring when the snow melts.  I worked all last week, but managed a few work days at home, which gives me a chance to run laundry loads in between uploading data.  I also got the house all spiffy for our return in mid-November. 

Mo is checking the tires and the air shocks while I load up the food and clothes.  She also did a bit of retrofit on the cubbyhole that holds the DVR so it would stay in place.  The little wooden fence will keep the remotes from hitting the driver on the head when the road gets too curvy!10_31_2010 I stood in the MoHo for a minute and couldn’t for the life of me remember just what I needed to pack.  It’s only been a month since we landed, and I cleaned everything out back then to hopefully starve the mice.  Hmmm, what has to go back in? ??  I laugh when I read about everyone packing their computer cords, batteries, computers, cameras, all that techie paraphernalia.  Someday maybe batteries will be implanted in our bodies and run everything wirelessly?  I put in the dry foods, the kayak clothes, too many shoes, and started to get back into the routine of living in the MoHo.  Only took half an hour or so to get back in the groove.

trkrtrt 10-30-2008 8-40-16 AMOur new kayaks are coming from Canada.  It’s been a bit worrisome because of the bad weather this week, and the trucker was trapped in Montana for a couple of days.  I have to say that the company has worked extra hard to get them to us in time for our trip.  We are meeting the driver in Medford tomorrow (on our route) mid day to finally pick them up.  It is pretty exciting.  Of course, we could have taken our old trusty boats, but since we paid for these back in September, it sure will be nice to have them with us.

I have been reading the RV blogs  more and more lately, and thanks to some prolific writers who mention mine now and then, I am actually enjoying some readers following Mo and I as well. Welcome to these  new followers.  You inspire me to take better photos and write more often.  Gail Durham looks like she is enjoying Halloween very much and  Kathy talked about how unique each person’s story is, and I so agree with her.  The only problem I am having now is trying to read everything.  The list just keeps getting bigger and bigger!  whew!  Life and work and travel might get in the way now and then, but it certainly doesn’t mean I don’t really appreciate this great group of people. Hi and welcome as well to Randy and Pam who are working on a Habitat for Humanity home, and to Loree, tucked away on beach making gorgeous afghans.  Donna found me, both here and on Facebook, and I had to tell her I had been reading her blog a long time before she and Stu got together.  Pidge and Don,  The Frugal Travelers, go to some really great out of the way places I might never find without her blog.

Jeremy is watching me closely through the front window!

geetting_readyHappy Halloween everyone!  I am going into Klamath Falls tonight to celebrate with my daughter and her family.  They live in my home in a neighborhood known “the terrace”.  Pacific Terrace is a double boulevard with a grassy median lined on both sides of the street with old unique homes from the 40’s.  There are big beautiful trees, sidewalks for walking, and every year the entire street lights up for Halloween.  Almost every house is decorated, and there are lights and kettle corn, and one person has outdoor scary movies projected on his garage door.  People bring their kids from all over town to trick-or-treat here. It is like we all stepped back into the 50’s when kids could be out late and there were no scary people doing scary things to the treats.  On Pacific Terrace, Halloween is still fun and fabulous.


First Snow!


I thought I had nothing to really talk about, and promised myself I wouldn’t get caught up in trying to blog every day.  But then it snowed last night, and this morning it was just too gorgeous to miss. Especially since my last conversation involved the very same trees.  This morning the snow is frozen solid and weighing down the young ones.  Our back yard maple is just 8 years old and with the extensive shade, it doesn’t grow as quickly as it might in a warmer, sunnier climate.  It really lights up the forest at this time of year, and again in the spring.  Hopefully the weight of the snow won’t break any branches.  The little fern leaf maple is under the fir canopy and with it’s small leaves, a bit more resilient to the snows. 

                                                                                                                                    Jeremy knows better, but doesn’t he make a great still-life?catJeremy (1)       

Hopefully this late fall storm will pass.  Monday is our day to get the MoHo out of snow country, driving west to Medford over Highway 140 and a fairly high pass.  Either way out of Klamath Basin involves crossing a pass, so we are really hoping that the snow melts over the weekend and we can get her safely south without having to drive on icy roads. Can’t leave till the kayaks get here, anyway. Seems we are cutting things a bit close for this year if the snow really is coming to stay this early in the season.  Often it doesn’t really hang around on the ground until after Thanksgiving.

Jeremy is quite content to sit inside when it’s cold. Of course, on the table is a serious no-no, but does he look troubled at all?  The “still life with cat” was too much fun to miss before I scolded him and he ambled off to a more appropriate cat resting place.

It’s Saturday!

                            I had to run outside when the sun broke through the rain to catch the last of the fall colors in our yard10_23_2010

The rains are coming, with forecasts for high winds tonight, and it was a dark day at Rocky Point.  I have had an absolutely fabulous day doing absolutely nothing.  Well, almost nothing.  I made a killer good navy bean soup. I also managed to download and read Rick’s blogging tips file, and have been buried in Picasa most of the day tagging photos and organizing.  It’s easy to get sidetracked when doing this, especially when I find old scans of my children from the 60’s. 

DSCN4964Welcome to the Bayfield Bunch, it’s nice to be followed!  Thank you, although the blogging responsibility is starting to feel a bit bigger. I still really don’t plan to blog daily, but do hope to pay more attention to participating in this great community instead of just lurking around reading everything. After seeing all the photos of Al’s yard, I was inspired. Once or twice the sun tried to peak through the clouds and I ran outside to get some photos of the leaves turning before the winds blow them all away tonight.  Of course, I had to try out the Picasa collage tool.  I used this in the past, but had completely forgotten about it.  I also had a ton of fun erasing telephone lines from some of my photos with the retouch tool.  I can’t believe I never even saw that one before, since I used to use Photoshop a lot.  I had no idea it was the same thing.

This morning we also had great fun planning a possible route for our California coastal trip commencing on November 1st.  We are using the CampClub USA card and trying to find parks that will accept the discount.  It’s not a small task with so many restrictions, especially on weekends and months other than January.  Also, it seems that many of the campgrounds in the California state parks are closed after October. Somehow our trip is now scheduled with reservations and plans.  I don’t know quite how that one happens, since I keep thinking we can just wander off and land where we land.  But of course, that could put us in an unfriendly Wal-Mart with parking lot cops knocking on our doors in the middle of the night, so we opted for plans. While planning, I got lost in Google Earth, cruising around the estuaries on the coast.  Our new Canadian made Swift kayaks should be here any day now, and we are excited about trying them out on the upcoming trip. 

Winter is coming

DSCN1962Winter is coming to Rocky Point, and to the entire Northwest, maybe even this weekend according to the current weather forecast! We are in a La Nina year, and that portends a cold winter for the northern part of the country and a warm dry winter for the southern portion. Probably great for all the snowbirds heading south right now, and good as well for the Klamath Basin which has been struggling with drought this year. Hopefully a good snow pack will alleviate the situation a bit and our lakes and rivers will be full again in the coming season.

RockyPoint_weekend (9)

However, a cold winter in the northwest means deep snow at Rocky Point. The last few years I was working in California, with a convenient place to keep the MoHo during the winter. We didn’t have to winterize it and could take off on a spring time trip whenever the notion hit. Of course, I was working full time, so that often meant Mo took off without me. This year, since I am mostly retired, we now want to be sure that we can head for the beaches or the desert or southern mountains whenever we want.

I do love winter, though, especially when I know that I can escape when it drags on too long. Winter in late December in Rocky Point is gorgeous, with deep snows to sled with my grandkids, and a warm fire to accompany my knitting. It’s baking and soup time as well, my favorite kind of cooking. We spent the early part of last summer putting up 7 more cords of good dry firewood, so should be well equipped for whatever cold Old Man Winter sends our way.

RockyPoint_weekend (16)After some looking around, we came up with a plan. We are taking the MoHo to Redding for the winter, about 2.5 hours south over I-5 and Mt Shasta, and out of snow country. I don’t really want to shovel a few feet of snow and put chains on that rig during a winter storm.

The enclosed storage facility is just at the northern edge of Redding, an easy jaunt even in a snow storm with the Tracker. We are excited about this plan, and the extra cost of winter rent seems a small price to pay for the delight of February wildflowers in California and the Oregon Coast during spring storms. Last year was an exception, but the photo below shows just what Rocky Point can look like sometimes in March! With La Nina waiting, I have a feeling this could be the case this year as well. Redding only gets very occasional snows and rarely has temperatures below 30 degrees F.


Of course, now that we have a plan, and the rent is paid on the storage facility, we have to go there! Yaay! Another trip is in the making, and we will head south during the first couple weeks of November. Right now we are planning to use our CampClub USA pass for a park in Crescent City, and then will amble down the coast for a few days before traveling inland. My lifetime friend and her husband live in Oroville, so we will visit there, and my once upon a time mom-in-law is in Red Bluff. It’s a perfect travel loop from here to the Redding storage facility, just a bit of meandering and a couple hundred extra miles along the way.

You are a What??

I have been quiet the last few days, out of respect for the tragic loss of Margie and Bruce, two people living the full time rv life and sharing that life in their blog.  Their sudden, senseless death, caused by a crazed driver in Pismo Beach, California, saddened so many and reminded us all how precious life really is. I haven’t really followed blogs until recently and I am just now discovering what a great community is here.  Thank you especially to the people who have added my blog to their list, who have made comments, and who continue to inspire me. Rick and Paulette, I am learning from you in leaps and bounds, but I’ll never measure up. Karen, I love the South, and your stories of kayaking in Florida make me want to get up and go there right now! CeiPui, is that your given name?  You are such a sweetheart, and so full of kind thoughts.  Laurie, you are my morning addiction, as you know. I’m so lucky to have met you and Odel in person!

What follows is just another piece of my story, an attempt to continue writing, sharing, talking, and learning. 

Sue-1981-05 I was a mother, a wife, and a waitress for a gazillion years before I became a soil scientist in the late 1970’s. At the time, my career choice was based on a desire to be something OTHER than a waitress, and a vague idea that I wanted to “work outdoors in the soil”. I had a beautiful garden, loved being in the wild forests of Northern Idaho, and wanted to do something where I could actually make a decent living.

Hence, soil science. My journey from waitress to soil scientist is another story, much too long for this space, but the title “Soil Scientist” always brings up the same response.

“What do you do?”

“I am a soil scientist”.

“A what??”

“A soil scientist”.

“Oh” (drawn out silence that usually includes glazed eyes while the questioner envisions me in a lab coat somewhere hunched over test tubes filled with dirt.)

In reality, my particular niche in soil science is nothing like that. For 30 plus years I was part of the National Cooperative Soil Survey Program, an effort to map the occurrence of soils throughout the US. My work had two parts, collection of the soils information and managing that information.

07SMM042b Soils occur in the landscape as a natural entity, and soil in place is what I study. The maps I made were much like geology maps, and the soils themselves reflect not only the geology, but the vegetation, the landforms, and the climate. As a field soil scientist, I had to understand how all these factors came together to make different kinds of soil, and to use these clues to decide where the boundaries between soil types would occur. Then I dug holes, 5 to 8 foot deep holes unless I hit bedrock or water or some other limiting factor, and described all the layers of those soils in minute detail. And yes, most of the time those pits were dug by hand, by me, with a shovel! I marked the location on a map, filled in the hole and moved on.

The managing of this data has changed so dramatically over the last 50 years that it is nearly unrecognizable. In the 70’s, I drew soil boundaries on black and white aerial photos with a stereoscope so that I could see the landscape in 3D. Now I use sophisticated GIS and GPS tools to make soil maps and instead of handwritten soils descriptions, we now have one of the greatest databases in the world to store soils information. If you are interested, go to Web Soil Survey and you can actually see the soils mapped in your world, on your property, and see all the associated information that is part of the soil survey product.

My career was amazing, and gave me the opportunity to see the wild parts of the world in ways I never would have managed as a lay person. I also developed my understanding of the art and science of making soils maps enough that I could mentor young folks new to the field. With this in mind, I knew that continuing to participate in the process of soil mapping and soil survey was something I wanted to do.

My agency, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, has a great program for retired scientists that allow us to work part time and share our collective expertise. I am now working for the last two soil surveys that I managed, only with no management responsibilities and no stress. It is absolutely wonderful, and has the added benefit of providing extra income for me to travel. I don’t know just how long I will continue doing this, but for now it’s really great. Since sometimes in the blog I will talk about having to get back to Klamath for work, I thought it might be fun to share just what that work actually entails.