Baptism in the Winchuck River

(The rest of the photos for this day are HERE on my SmugMug site)

morning hike to Harris ButteAs I mentioned previously, Brookings is in a sort of “Banana Belt”.  Most of the Oregon Coast is chilly and windy much of the year.  There are often beautiful days with sunny skies in the fall, and sometimes when it is least expected.  Those clear warm fog free days happen more often in Brookings than farther north, and even more than in Crescent City to the south in California.  The rainfall here is around 74 inches a year, with precipitation falling on 150 days.  I am comparing notes and paying attention because while we were at Fred Meyer the other day, Mo just happened to throw out the thought that Brookings might be a nice place to live. 

Harris Beach Day 2 (4)The original plan when Mo built her house was to live there ten years or so and then move on to something smaller and more manageable, perhaps a condo in a place where there was no winter snow.  She chose Brookings once, and having lived on the California coast for more than 25 years, the chilly fogs don’t bother her in the least.  I, on the other hand, am a sun worshiper.  I need light and warmth.  I often think I could live in Florida.  I love green and flowers and plants.  Brookings right now is filled with green and flowers, and it looks terribly tempting.

Harris Beach Day 2 (11)Thank goodness a decision isn’t imminent.  Mo has lived in the big house at Rocky Point for almost nine years now, and the “ten years” has evolved.  So many things to love about Rocky Point, and Mo’s home is lovely, with her assistance throughout the building process, it is a very personal space.  The large beam in the living room and much of the woodwork came from huge Douglas firs milled right there on the property. So now the plan is 2020.  Instead of a certain number of years, we picked a date.  Arbitrary to be sure, but in our 80’s, the thought of shoveling snow isn’t a good one.  So, again, somewhere in Southern Oregon, but it could be just about anywhere.  It’s kind of exciting to have this change out there in the future, something fun to think about and now I look at Brookings in a completely different way.

Harris Beach Day 2 (22)Yesterday was one of those gorgeous, sunny days, with temperatures climbing into the 60’s. We hiked a couple of the trails in the park, first to the Harris Butte, and then again down to the beach in the early morning sunshine.  It was a perfect day for our plan to get the kayaks in the water.  We have a copy of the “Canoe and Kayak Guide” for Oregon South Coast, covering the sloughs and rivers from Newport to the California border.  Our choice for yesterday was the Winchuck River, a smaller river near the southern border with an outlet to the ocean.  The guide warned of low water, but this time of year we thought things would be in good shape.  The suggestion was to launch before high tide, paddle upriver till the tide shift, and then follow the tide back to the launch site near the ocean. 

keeping Abby safeThe launch was lovely, on a sandy beach with shallow water that deepened quickly.  We paddled upstream under the Highway 101 bridge and followed the river along the farmlands and river homes along the way.  Even this close to the ocean, the water was really shallow, with some gravel bars and areas that  were less than 4 inches deep.  We managed to get through it without grounding, a good test of the new kayaks, but then as we reached some very shallow riffles the current got very strong as the river made what looked like a gentle drop.

paddling upstream against the currentI think we paddled for a good 20 minutes, going absolutely nowhere, before we decided to get out and portage the riffles along the rocky beach.  We thought if we could get around the riffles, we could continue upriver a bit more.  I held Mo’s boat in the strong current while she got back in with Abby, and then attempted to launch into the current myself.  I thought of my friend Jeanne, a whitewater kayaker who launches her tiny shoe kayak off rocks and over waterfalls.  I, on the other hand, couldn’t manage getting into my boat in a simple fast current.  I must have hit the current sideways, or still wasn’t balanced in the middle, and over I went into the very cold water.  Even though it was only a couple of feet deep, the current was incredibly strong, and it took every bit of strength I had to hold on to my boat and paddle to keep it from going downriver.  Our cockpits are large, open things, and even if we had skirts on, these aren’t the kind of kayaks that you roll over and back up in deep water.  Instead, my cockpit filled with water, and my boat banged on the rocky bottom until I could get it hauled up on shore and dump all the water out. 

shallows and a swift current stopped us just beyond this stony beachI’m glad it wasn’t terribly cold out, with sunny skies, and I again remembered some kayaking advice, “Dress for the water, not the weather”.  Of course, I probably won’t ever do that, since a wet suit seems to be a huge pain in the neck, and I like easy fun comfortable kayaking.  It definitely taught me another lesson, though.  I saw just how easy it is to roll over in a kayak.  In all our years of boating, this has never happened to me, and I get cocky and sometimes don’t wear my lifejacket.  I had it on yesterday, since I usually do wear it in unknown water, but now I will wear it all the time, even in gentle Recreation Creek.  Good lesson.  I didn’t need it yesterday, but I could have.

outgoing tide and the confluence of the river and the oceanAmazingly, I had the camera around my neck and inside the jacket and it didn’t get wet.  The water and 2 bottles of beer were safely stashed inside the closed hull with wallets in a dry bag so all was well.  Once back in the boat, we decided it might be time to go back downstream.  Paddling up, I don’t think we really realized how strong the current actually was.  In no time at all we were back at the launch site, floating easily and quickly by all those cute little river houses out to the sea.

We also read about the danger zone where a river meets the sea, and now instead of heading into the waves to play, we stayed back cautiously.  Again I think of Jeanne, who reads my blog faithfully, who will probably laugh at my caution.  Jeanne climbs mountains in Nepal, jumps off waterfalls in Costa Rica and skis down back country cliffs in wild British Columbia.  I love watching her adventures, but I have no plans to ever try any of those things. In Harris Beach Day 2 (49)fact, yesterday looking at the surf, I wondered out loud how people manage to take kayaks out there.  I think true sea kayaks are more nimble creatures than our comfortable, big cockpit, wide, stable boats.  Maybe someday I’ll go take a surf lesson on a warm day with an instructor.  Maybe.

We saw no sign of the recent tsunami damage at Brookings Harbor

no sign of the tsunami damage last monthWe didn’t get back to camp till 4 or so, and after a very late lunch of egg salad, we both fell into a weary nap. The evening was long and warm, and a bit later Mo built a great campfire that we enjoyed long into the dark night. There wasn’t a bit of wind and the fire felt wonderful.  It is nice that in this state park, campfires are allowed, but don’t plan to bring any firewood from any other area.  It’s called “Burn it Where You Buy It”, and is important to keep beetles and other pests from traveling from one place to another.  The California check station now asks specifically if you are carrying firewood as well as certain kinds of produce.

Off to Brookings on May 2

That is Mo’s old condo over on the cliff across from that is Mo's old condo across the bay (the blue ones on the cliff)our campsite at Harris Beach

C3 at Harris Beach State parkThe trip to Brookings is a familiar one.  I didn’t even plug in Garmin Girl to show us the way.  The route is the fastest way to get to ocean from where we live, less than 200 miles, and we know it well.  Over 140 to Medford, north on I-5 to Grants Pass, then west on the beautiful Highway 199 toward Crescent City in California before turning north on 101.  After meandering through the pastoral Illinois Valley, the road descends along the wild and winding Smith River and is designated a Scenic Highway for many miles. The route passes the magnificent Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park a few miles east of Crescent City, but we had other fish to fry and just passed through. Even with a few errands to run in Medford, our 10 am departure dropped us into Brookings by 2:30 in the afternoon.

Oregon Coast Day 1We had reservations at Harris Beach, not wanting to take any chances, but they really weren’t necessary.  While the front A loop with ocean views was all full, the rest of the park was very nearly empty.  Our site was perfect.  Just one space in from the view sites with a lot more privacy, and I can see a “peep” of the ocean from the bedroom window.  It’s quite enough, and the big open private site is lovely.  After settling in and setting up, we took the baby car to town to look around a bit and see how much has changed since Mo sold her condo a few years ago.  The condos look just fine, with new paint, and only one for sale.  Surprisingly, the prices are only about 25 percent less than they were in 2006. 

Oregon Coast Day 11We drove up to Azalea Park, a special pride of Brookings. Even though we have been here many times, I haven’t seen the rhodies in bloom the way there were on Monday afternoon. The park is lovely, and a special treat is a small chapel that seems to be some kind of memorial, with a view of the ocean in the distance. It was closed when we were there, but the architecture is amazing, even from the outside, with soaring windows, and glass and wood and metal woven together in a magical work of art.

soaring roofline with glass and woodBrookings is a great little town, in what is called the “banana belt” of the Oregon Coast.  When we arrived on Monday, there was just a bit of residual cloudiness in the skies, but by the time the sun set, it was beautifully clear.  After a stop at the very large Fred Meyer store for some minor supplies (chips!) we settled in to a beautiful sunny evening.

We took Abby for a walk on the beach, and I took way too many photos of breaking waves.  I always think I will delete most of them, but then I have a terrible time with that cutting knife.  I like first one, then the next, then another, and before you know it, I have a dozen photos of the same rocks with a different wave breaking just a little bit differently than the first.  ah well.  It’s digital, and doesn’t hurt anyone but me when I try to organize my photos and make sure I have enough storage for all of them.

Oregon Coast Day 1 (61)Oregon Coast Day 1 (92)Mo built a great campfire and I heated up leftover turkey pie brought from home for supper. Jeremy joined us outdoors to explore the campsite, (on his leash of course). Even though it was 8pm and the sun was shining, the breeze came up and I had to give up and go inside before the fire was all the way down.  With cable tv for an extra buck, we enjoyed an episode of Dancing with the Stars before falling into a great night’s sleep.  I do think I probably missed about half the show, since I was all worn out with the fresh air and relaxation.  Amazing how relaxing can wear one out, isn’t it. Of course, I took many photos, so if you want to see lots of flowers and rocky Oregon coast, click here. Oregon Coast Day 1 (67)


Spring snows and off to the beach!

Spring snow (24)Spring snow (9)It’s been a week and a half since I had the chance to sit down to my personal computer and think about writing something about the passing days.  They have been so full. The sadness in the southeast, and the devastation and lost lives was heartbreaking.  With no time for blogging or reading blogs, the news about Al and Kelly’s Max still came in through Facebook and I was saddened again. Somehow when sadness intervenes I go quiet, it’s hard to write about my “stuff” when others are going through so much.  This morning the sun is shining, and Mo and I are packing the MoHo for a trip to the Oregon Coast, and it’s time to start writing again!

Of course, as mentioned in the last post, I have been working three weeks straight through, with last week requiring a trip to town every single day.  It was time for the formal Progress Review for the Klamath Soil Survey, and I couldn’t manage that Spring snow (14)one from home.  I loved every minute of it, long days going over all the details of years of mapping the basin, and this time I was only a participant, with no stress, no management responsibilities.  Yeah, I am still working after retirement, but I don’t have any of the stress of the job.  Chris is a great project leader, had the review well prepared, and the regional specialist who reviewed us is one of my favorites.  We have a long history going back many years. 

Spring snow (19)The daily trip to town was a bit daunting, for a couple of reasons.  Spring keeps trying to show up around here, but as the joke going around the internet says, it isn’t installing properly.  I woke up on Thursday to an inch of frozen snow and ice, and slid all the way to town on that stuff.  Ugh. Since I left early, I had time to slow down and appreciate the gorgeous skies and blue waters of Klamath Lake, and even pulled over a few times for photos.  I kept thinking, “Just slow down and appreciate the beauty instead of complaining about the snow”.  Then I slipped on the ice and managed to keep from sliding under the car with some fairly weird body moves. I was rewarded for my efforts by suddenly looking into the eyes of a blue heron right in front of me, trying to fish, and wondering where the snow came from.  Of course, 30 miles each way isn’t bad when the weather is good and the sun is shining, but when gas is at 3.95 per gallon and I am driving my Dakota it gets a bit depressing.  The Dakota gets about 15 mpg, so you do the math. 

second location for the greenhouseFamily Easter (40)While I was intently focused on work stuff, Mo was valiantly working away on the greenhouse.  We had a bit of a funny start with the project, funny unless you are the one wielding the shovel.  We decided on a location for the house, and my job was to remove the sod from the 10×12 space.  Took me a couple of partial days to get the job done and I was extremely proud of myself.  Mo came in the house after I was done, looking sheepish.  Seems as though we had located the house straddling the official property line, and half of it would be in the “road” if the county ever decided to enforce the rules.  We thought the house would be something we could move around at will, but after reviewing the complex directions, Mo decided that she didn’t really want to ever move it once it was built.  So, I got out the trusty sharp shooter spade, and once again lifted a 10 x 12 square foot area of sod.  This time, Mo helped move it all after I did the cutting and it only took us a day.  When I came home from work the following night, Mo had faithfully replaced all the sod squares in the original site.  By mid summer, no one will ever know we tried to build a greenhouse in the road.

Family Easter (41)The rest of the week, while I worked, Mo patiently fiddled with the instructions and put that thing together.  I swear it was like some sort of evil erector set. The directions were ok, but the drawings were a bit weird.  I think Mo spent 3 hours trying to understand just how to put the top beam together.  The kit is all screws and bolts and straight pieces of aluminum.  It’s a good thing I wasn’t the one doing it, or it would still be in a pile somewhere!

Spring snow (4)I am excited about the project, though.  When I got home from work on Friday it was completely finished, and now we are going to town today to buy the raised bed materials for the interior.  We also decided to put down a floor of 1/2 inch hardware cloth wire to try to keep out the voles and rabbits.  The sun was shining beautifully yesterday, but the wind was cold.  I stepped into the greenhouse and reveled in the warm, humid air.  I will have at least one 10×12 space of deer free, frost free gardening, at least as long as I remember to never leave that wide door open!

Family Easter (8)Last weekend we took some time out from work and greenhouse building to celebrate Easter with family.  My daughter and son-in-law, my two grandkids, and my sister and niece all came out to Rocky Point for a celebratory brunch and Easter Egg hunt.  We had a great time, and I made Mo’s favorite orange walnut coffee cake to go with the zip-lock bag omelets.  I love those crazy things, always perfect for fun and laughs in a crowd. The kids then colored all the eggs and Kevin and Melody played Easter Bunny hiding them in the yard.  We had some moments of snow flurries, but the sun came out warm and bright in time for our festivities.  Then the kids decided to hide the eggs for the adults and we had lots of laughs together over that one.

Family Easter (20)I think the funniest moment of the day, however, was trying to explain to my daughter’s Thai exchange student why a rabbit would lay eggs.  It’s hard enough to explain to our own kids, but when you add the cultural differences it’s even funnier.  We finally went to the internet to discover that the tradition goes back to the middle ages and morphed into the Easter Rabbit sometime during the 18th century in Germany. It was perfect family time, even though I rarely manage to get all my family together at once, I am still so grateful for the ones that live close by.

Family Easter (26)The sun finally came out and in spite of the cold temperatures, Mo managed to get the MoHo all washed and shiny and I cleaned out the interior.  The MoHo is five years old, and now and then something needs replaced.  We had the original CO2 detector that is supposed to only last five years.  Sure enough, it started screaming at strange moments having nothing to do whatsoever with CO2.  The problem is that the original unit is no longer made, and the new one is a different size than our original.  Mo had to cut out a bigger square in the wall to install the new one, but now all the green lights are on and there are no weird screams in the night. She had to find the replacement on the internet, since the local RV shops only carry the type that have both CO2 and propane detectors in one unit.  Dumb.  We already have a propane detector near the floor and the refrigerator, where propane might actually show up. Now we are all good to go, with safe detectors.  I remember the explosion in an RV at the Sands RV Resort in Desert Hot Springs last winter that was caused by leaking propane.  Good detectors are important!

why don't they make these things the same sizeworking on the MoHoI now have a whole week without work, and Mo and I decided it was a perfect time to head for the coast.  We miss the beach, and this time we are going to Brookings, where Mo once had a condo overlooking the ocean.  We will camp at Harris Beach State Park for a few days, and then drive north to South Beach where we will meet her brother and his wife for a couple of days of more family fun.  Of course the kayaks are going on this trip, and we hope to test the waters in the Chetko and Pistol Rivers and maybe Brookings Harbor.  The best part of this plan is that we have sunshine and temperatures predicted in the 70’s!  On the Oregon Coast!!  Some of our fellow RV’rs haven’t been so lucky lately, so our timing is perfect.