07-05-2018 Playing Close to Home

Current Location: Grants Pass Oregon at 86 degrees F with strong breezes and mostly clear skies

It has been a precious summer so far.  For the entire month of June I breathed in the blue skies and fresh air without a touch of smoke from wildfires to mar the loveliness.  Sometimes during a simple quick run to the grocery store I would be completely awed by the technicolor blues and greens that made me wonder if I hadn’t perhaps ingested some sort of mind altering substance without knowing it. 

The colors were almost psychedelic, cartoonish, so brilliant that I would just breathe and drive and gasp out loud all alone in the car.  I know the fires will come eventually, the clear air will go gray and dingy when the smoke from the wildfires that are already beginning to dot the maps of the west finds our valley once again.  Then again…could we really be lucky enough to skip the smoke this year?  I haven’t lived here long enough to really know if that is a possibility.  Smoke always seems to come when everything is at its most beautiful.  Maybe not this year, I’ll wait and see.

This is our first summer actually living in Grants Pass full time.  Mo and I are enjoying having more time to fiddle around with projects.  Mo’s most recent creation was an arbor for the old front gate area, where she used two old doors that we saved from the cottage as side walls.  Thank you, Pinterest, for the ideas!  We loved the old doors in the cottage, built in 1926, and I think these doors were originals.  Mo cut and sanded and painted, figuring out the puzzle of using the old existing gate posts as standards, and making the whole thing fit in, level and even.

I love the arbor, and the old gate that it surrounds.  Somehow it feels like a portal to me, a portal from the outside world into a magical world of our own making.  I love the feeling of memories of the old cottage contained in those old doors.

July 4th was quiet this year.  Daughter Melody and her family had other plans.  For years she has missed sharing time with her old theater friends from the days she lived in Albany, and now that she is in Eugene, just an hour away from Albany where those friends live, she was able to attend the annual Fourth of July party with the theater group.  She told me a year ago that she would NOT be available this year for our traditional family time.  

Instead she and Robert drove down from Eugene on Saturday to spend the weekend with us, and on Sunday daughter Deborah showed up for yummy brunch, family time, and the traditional game of Bocci Ball, which seems to show up every year on the 4th, no matter where we are.

On the actual 4th, Mo and I decided that we needed some sort of entertainment that was out of the ordinary house work, yard work, book work, and such, and decided to try out the trails in our nearby county and BLM park.

Cathedral Hills is a big park, with several miles of trails for mountain bikes, hiking, and horseback riding, no motorized vehicles allowed.  Still, when hiking, a mountain biker barreling down those trails can seem quite fearsome, especially when getting off the trail involves negotiating the thick stands of poison oak and corralling Mattie!

This view from the Hogback Trail is facing east toward our house, which lies on that terrace at the base of the mountain to the right of the big pine tree.

Close friends know that Mo has been having some ankle trouble lately, and it has kept our hikes short and to a minimum.  She has been seeing a physical therapist and felt good enough that she thought she could handle at least a couple of miles of walking.

We started early in the day, while it was still cool, and found our way to the main entrance to the park, farther west than the Walker trailhead that is just half a mile down the road from our house.  I hiked the Walker trail a couple of years ago, and knew it was terrifically steep with tight switchbacks to the Hogback trail on the ridge.

There were quite a few people in the parking lot when we arrived, but the multiple trails were not the least bit crowded.  In our entire 3.5 mile hike we passed just a few people, horses, and dogs.  Mo’s ankle held up well, and she was only a little bit sore the next day.  Both of us were encouraged, since for the past 16 years one of our major forms of entertainment has included hiking and walking.  We surely don’t want to give that up!

My crazy hip did fine as well, with the buckets of Aleve that the doctor said I should take, insisting that my kidneys were strong.

After our hike, we came home and relaxed a bit, did some chores, had a early supper, and decided to brave the city crowds for the fireworks show at Reinhart All Sports Park in Grants Pass.  Once a long time ago, when we first bought the property in Grants Pass, I discovered the pedestrian bridge, but hadn’t explored the park.

Official parking was less than a mile from the park grounds where the fireworks were going to be set, and the walk through the park and across the river was lovely.  Mo’s ankle did start barking, and we decided that if we do this again, we will save the big hike for another day and save our steps for the park.

The music was loud, but in the distance, the crowds were pleasant, and not too thick, the police presence was there but not intrusive.  We set up our chairs and waited, hoping we were in the right place.  Many people around us hoped for the same thing since the city fireworks show hadn’t been in this location in the past.  In fact, last year, Grants Pass didn’t even have a fireworks show.

The show itself was interesting, and quite different from any I had seen before.  Gone were the big loud booms, with the wait, and then the bursting flower of color high in the sky.  Instead, some sort of machine shot out many bursts at once, in all directions.  They were lower in the sky, but very colorful and there were a LOT of them.  We enjoyed the show, but I did miss the big ones.  There were no fireworks allowed in the park, so the scary prospect of a firecracker set off underfoot by some crazy person wasn’t a problem.

The parking was handled exceptionally well, and we were surprised at how orderly and easy it was to exit the parking area and within minutes afterward we were back home.  It wasn’t a typical July 4th celebration for us, and I did miss the family time on a lake somewhere, but it was still very nice.  My kids know I get all silly about July 4th if I don’t have family around, but this time I was perfectly fine.

When Mo and I returned from our trip to South Beach, we left the kayaks on top the baby car, thinking that we would find a lake to kayak soon enough.  On the last Wednesday in June, we traveled south through the Applegate Valley beyond Ruch and the wineries, to Applegate Lake.  It is actually a reservoir, with only a little bit of shoreline showing and the water wasn’t terribly low as is the case in some of the other reservoirs in this area on the west side of the mountains.

I remember a couple of decades ago when Melody lived in Ruch, and saw Applegate Lake for the first time.  I still lived in Idaho, and she called me in a panic saying, “What is wrong with this lake??  It has a huge bathtub ring?!!”.  She had the luxury of being raised in the Northern Idaho Eastern Washington lake country, where every lake is real, and very few have dams that let out the water to levels that make for those ugly steep brown exposed shorelines.  Here on the west side, every lake we have found is actually a reservoir, with associated levels that are affected by the spring rains, snowmelt, and irrigation.  This year, with a drought officially claimed, those levels are going down fast.

Still, our day on the Applegate was perfect.  The skies were again that technicolor blue, with only a light breeze.  We first checked out the official campground and boat launch site, but it really didn’t have much to offer and was at the northern edge of the lake, without much to see on the shoreline.  There was also a $7.00 fee to launch and the manager of the place was rather rude.  I told him nicely we would look for another launch, and he said, “Your stuff won’t be safe there, why in the world would you want to be on that end of the lake?!”  Duh, we are kayakers, not boaters, and we want complex shoreline, little coves, and no big fast boats getting in our way!

The Copper launch was just about perfect.  Clear water, no silty mud, and nice long paved launch where we could take the car right to the water. Something I read on Wiki was fascinating.  The boat ramp is the upper part of the road that once went to the town of Copper, buried forever when the lake was filled in 1980.

Once on the lake we traveled south, and found a beautiful little cove the meandered back into the forest, shrouded with shady firs, and huge rock cliffs.  It was back here that we did see some birdlife, mostly geese, but with their little ones they were very entertaining.

There were a few more kayakers on the water, but they weren’t intrusive, and told us about another cove farther south past a place they called “The Orchard”.  Sure enough, we continued south and found this inlet, along with a big open park that looked like a campground.  Still planning to check if it is a day use area only or includes overnight camping. 

We spent about 2 1/2 hours on the water, enjoying every single moment of crystal clear skies. clear clean water, and brilliant sunshine. I am sure we will return to this lake in the future, since it is the best place so far on this side of the mountains for kayaking.  As I said before, the mighty Rogue River is a bit much for us, with a strong, fast current.  It is a big river, with lots of rapids in between the quiet places, and neither of us is particularly interested in that kind of kayaking in our long lake boats. 

I packed a picnic for us and we shared it on a real picnic table overlooking the lake.  I have no clue what we did for the rest of the afternoon, but were back home by 2. 

Being on the road and traveling in the summer can get so tiresome, with overcrowding, parks full of kids, hot weather, and no vacancies plaguing so many folks any more.  Our idea of good summer times is enjoying all the beauty of our own local world.  I think we are off to a good start.

June 4 Escape to Howard Prairie Lake

Just a reminder, words that are in bold print are links that might interest you.  If you click on the photos, you will be redirected to the smugmug gallery where that photo resides.

Escaping is easy, it just requires a moment and a bit of planning and the commitment to put it on the calendar.  Somehow if it’s on the calendar, we manage to do it.  The original plan was for a trip to the desert, to the east side of Oregon, basking in the high dry gorgeousness of the Steens Mountains. I can’t believe it has been so many years since we were there.  It seemed like a lovely thing to do in early June.

Company gone, chores caught up, we put a week of escape days into the calendar.  I mapped the route, looked at Page Campground near French Glen, checked the weather, read the blog about our last trip to the Steens over Labor Day one year.  Then something happened.  Seven hours of driving, no water to play on, gorgeous high desert that is known for gnats in June at the campground, hiking the main entertainment.  Off grid.  For no reason I can explain, I said to Mo, “Why don’t we go to Howard Prairie instead?  We can kayak and have a campfire and enjoy the forest again.”  That is how a long trip to the high desert turned into a short trip into the western slope of the nearby Cascades.

On the map, you can see Rocky Point on the upper right corner, where we used to live, on the left, our home in Grants Pass.  It somewhat explains why we never managed to get to Howard Prairie again, even though Mo and her family used to have family camping and boating get togethers there many years ago, before I knew them. Living in Rocky Point, we were so close to so many outdoor options, lakes, rivers, the refuges, that we forgot about Howard Prairie.

Now that we live in town, on the west side, we have to be a bit more creative in finding good places to kayak, and that most often leads us back to the mountains east of Grants Pass.

Time surely does have a way of disappearing.  We had good memories of a camping trip to Grizzly Campground at Howard Prairie, but when was that?  Not in the blog?  Oh no!  It was before I started blogging. No journal of the trip?  Oh my!  I finally found the photos, from the summer of 2006, the first year I moved  from Klamath Falls Oregon to Sonora California for my work.  I drove the truck back to Oregon and Mo met me at Howard Prairie with our baby MoHo.  I wish I had written about the trip then, because we spent a lot of the time trying to remember which site we were in, and where we had kayaked. 

What we did remember, however, was that we went to the Britt Music Festival in Ashland, and then drove back up to the mountain lake to spend the rest of the weekend.  That first night we were all alone in the campground, and as we drove in the pitch darkness was a bit disconcerting.  The campground isn’t terribly small, 19 sites, and is located right next to the main road.  It was one of the few times in our RVing experience where we were definitely a bit spooked.

That year we had a lovely day on the lake, with water flowers, pelicans, gorgeous views of the mountains, but this time when we got out in our boats, nothing looked familiar.  Howard Prairie Lake is actually a reservoir, and is currently at less than 60 percent of capacity due to the low snow pack from the previous winter.  The shoreline is so far down that the lake is significantly smaller. 

The only factor that wasn’t particularly nice about that low water was the mucky bottom along the shoreline.  Our site was adjacent to the water, and we carried the boats down, hunting for a place to launch.  Mo chose the rocky lower bottom of the closed boat launch, and I chose the mucky bottom.  Still, once we were on the water, everything felt wonderful.

Our morning kayak on the lovely lake was filled with birds, especially the Canada geese with literally hundreds of babies.  The American white pelicans were around, not more than half a dozen at a time, but they entertained us perfectly with their F15 type flying maneuvers low over the water.  I filmed one of them feeding, and he basically ignored me as he dumped over and over into the water in search of goodies.

We saw eagles and ospreys, too high to photograph well from the rocking kayak, and what I later discovered was a spotted sandpiper.  We heard kingfishers, and killdeer.  It is what we love best about our Oregon waterways, all the amazing birdlife.

Once again we had the entire campground almost entirely to ourselves.  The first night a lone camper drifted in and the next morning we met him after his morning yoga on the beach.  He and a friend had just graduated from Berkeley and they were celebrating by driving around the Pacific Northwest.  He rushed over when we saw us approaching the landing area, offering to help us if needed. I guess maybe he was worried because we looked too old to get out of the kayaks alone?  Ha!  It might be funny to watch, but we can still manage it.

The second night we were joined late in the evening by a lone camper in a white truck who quietly set up his hammock and disappeared early the next morning.  On Wednesday night, during a sunny pleasant week in June, we had the entire campground completely to ourselves.  Totally dark and totally silent and totally alone.  For some reason, it wasn’t the least bit spooky this time. 

We woke in the mornings with the eastern sunshine pouring in through the forest and the lake mists, to chilly temperatures.  Waiting an hour or so for the sun to warm up the air a bit, we launched the kayaks for time on the water before the winds came up.  Still, the paddles back home were more challenging because even by 10 or 11 on the lake, the breezes made for choppy water.

We would return from our boating forays before noon and cook a nice breakfast, which served as a great lunch as well.  Two meals a day is perfect when camping it seems. Although one afternoon we did supplement our home cooking with some ice cream from the resort grocery store.

In the afternoons we explored the other campgrounds around Howard Prairie, checked out the resort, with its big campground with hookups, a store, and a marina.  Even the fancy campgrounds were not even close to full, with lots of space.

Another afternoon we drove south to Hyatt Lake, a smaller reservoir nearby, with water that was even lower than that at Howard Prairie.  Hyatt is a lovely little lake, and unlike the Jackson County campgrounds that are around Howard Prairie, the Hyatt campgrounds are administered by the BLM, and are reservation only sites.  On each campsite is a number to call to get a reservation, which you can do on the same day.  Although cell service is basically unavailable, so we decided that if we ever wanted to camp at Hyatt, we would have to really plan ahead.

Sometimes we just say “no” even with 4 wheel drive

I didn’t realize that the infamous Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument boundary actually included the eastern and southern shoreline of both of these lakes.  We started up the rough dirt road, crossing the Pacific Crest Trail, toward the Yew Springs Road, but without maps, the forests looked all the same and we had no idea how far the road went through the same kind of landscape.  Later I did some research and discovered an entirely new world of amazing places to hike and explore right here in our own back yard Cascades Monument.  The hike to Hobart Bluff is definitely on our list of things to do.

The monument is only infamous if you are among my friends who have tracked some of the issues surrounding National Monuments in our country at this time.  This is one slated for reduction, and is the subject of much controversy in the area, some pro, some against, but everyone has a strong opinion.  Much to say here, but I’ll save that for private conversations.

Another lovely feature at Howard Prairie is the beautiful trail that encircles the entire lake, with several sections that are accessible from different points.  We walked part of the trail between our Grizzly Campground and the main Howard Prairie Resort, and another part of the trail that surrounded the upper part of what was once lake but now is only meadow.  The nice thing about the low water was that at this time of year, the exposed banks were covered with thick green vegetation and tons of wildflowers, including huge drifts of yellow monkeyflower.  It was breathtaking.

Wandering through the woods, I was tickled inside to find so many little forbs and flowers familiar from my soil mapping days in Northern Idaho.  Similar species, and even some that are the same, and many that are indicators of moist soils from which they spring. Recognizing some, remembering their names, and seeing others that I had no clue about reminded me that it has been awhile since identifying all those little forbs and flowers was part of my job.

Mo made a great campfire every single night, with well seasoned wood from trees we had taken down on the Grants Pass property a few years ago.  We sat outside by the fire for our supper, without a single pesty mosquito or fly or any kind of bug to bother us.  Still can’t quite figure that one out, but there are very few bugs around the upper end of Howard Prairie, even down by the water.  When we were out in the boats, on the larger portion of the lake, we did encounter a few bugs, but nothing like what we have experienced in the Klamath Basin.

Calypso bulbosa var. occidentalis, the Western Fairy Slipper

During our entire respite, we had no cell service to speak of, except a few notifications that would pop up now and then.  I couldn’t actually see them, so unless I was trying to use the maps, I turned off the pesky phone with it’s irritating notification noises.  No internet of course, no email, nothing.  I love that time for completely shutting off the electronic world, and while it can be a bit of a withdrawal, it has wonderful rewards.  I found myself a bit reluctant to move back into the connected world which seems so full of “stuff”.  It is easy to simply hide away in your own little bubble in the mountains and pay no attention whatsoever to the dramas ensuing in the outside world.

Anemone Piperi, Piper’s Windflower

Delphineum menziesii Larkspur

We ran the generator each morning to keep the batteries charged up, paid attention to our water use and did all the dry camping things that one does for saving water, knowing that we only had a few days back to long hot showers at home  It’s easy to do for a short time, but of course a longer stay would require a bit more care.  Our rig is small, without the huge holding tanks that the big guys have, so boondocking for us is limited to about 5 days reasonably.  We could do more, but so far haven’t really needed to.

We returned to Grants Pass by way of a circular route back east to Lake of the Woods.  I wanted to see if that campground was as empty as the camps around Howard Prairie and Hyatt Lake.  Sunset Campground, where we have spent July 4th and have never been able to get a reservation to camp, no matter when I try, was half empty.  However all the sites were reserved for the weekend.  In the past, people usually reserve sites for two full weeks before the 4th in order to have them for that day.  Crazy stuff. 

We enjoyed our short camping trip thoroughly, driving a bit reluctantly back to civilization and regular life. It was great to get back to our sweet comfy home, but it is all the sweeter when we know that magical escapes like this one are so nearby.

April Delight

Just a reminder, if you click on any of these photos, you will be taken to the SmugMug album where you can view many more scenes from Sunset House and all the gorgeous kayak views. 

As often happens, I can only seem to begin writing by paying attention to what is happening right now.  Get in the moment, so to speak.  I started this blog a week ago, going back over my calendar, reviewing my photos, thinking and remembering what early April felt like.  It seems like a VERY long time in the past.  The cliché is that time flies the older we get, but I am grateful that the month of April seemed very nice and long to me.

Pansies at the front porch like the cooler weather

At the moment we are having days in the low 80’s followed by days that never manage to get to 60 degrees F.  Nights are cool, but no longer frosty, and the flowers here at Sunset House are thriving.  I am watching the weather today, because we are planning some outdoor activities with famous fabulous guests in town, and the skies go from blue to gray and back to blue in a matter of moments.  Crater Lake awaits.  Today we will do the classic round trip tour over the mountains hoping for sunlight to highlight that fabulous blue.  That is another story, one that will evolve over the next week that we get to share with long time friends, Erin and Mui, from Two to Travel, who are on the road in the west for the first time in a long time.

We had time for a bit of travel ourselves this month, with a quick trip to the Oregon Coast to share a couple of days with other blogging friends, John and Carol, from Our Trip Around the Sun.  They are on their way north to Alaska, and passed so close to our home that we couldn’t miss the opportunity to spend some time with them.  The last time we visited, Carol and John were volunteering at Ding Darling NWR in Florida.  They showed us a fabulous time with tours of the refuge, time at the beach together, and a truly fabulous dinner that lasted well into the night.  Some people are just right, and laughter is often the key.  We shared a lot of laughter with them.  Their love of Jimmy Buffett, good margueritas, and a joyous approach to life is contagious.

We met at Harris Beach State Park, where they found a site big enough for their rig along the back row in the trees.  Harris Beach is in the process of some renovations, so we weren’t able to snag a spot there, and instead Mo and I camped down on the waterfront at a private campground.  I loved listening to the sound of the surf all night long, and the wind and rain on the roof lulled me to sleep.

The sun came out for our beach walk with the dogs, a rather funny time for Mattie and Jimmy who are not exactly similar in style.  Mattie is crazy about the beach, runs like a wild thing in the sand, and gets very excited.  Jimmy, a precious and very sweet dog, didn’t think much of Mattie’s exuberance, and learned to hide behind John’s leg when Mattie came tearing at him, trying to get him to play.


I was a bit embarrassed, because there is just no stopping Mattie when she gets like that.  Play with me, NOW!  I think Mo and I made a big mistake when we let her play with the huge bloodhound that used to wander over to our house for doggie visits.  Mattie learned to play rough to keep up with him, and he loved it.  Jimmy, not so much.  In fairness, Mattie does great at the dog park, and at doggie day care she was a hit, so she isn’t mean, just very high energy.

We had dinner at the Sporthaven Grill, on the patio in the threatening rain, where the waitstaff brought us warming blankets and turned on the big propane heater.  It was quite delightful. We also spent most of a rainy day in their home, with snacks and drinks and a new game called Skip-Bo.  I guess it isn’t a new game, but it was new to us and created more opportunities for lots of laughter.

We came back home to spend more time fiddling around on the property here at Sunset House.  Mo built a beautiful arbor for a treasured vine that I have babied and coddled along since I first bought it in 2002.  She is finally happy here in the wonderful Grants Pass climate, protected from the sun and the heat on the east side of the house where she now lives with our new rhododendrons.

I have loved rhodies ever since I saw my first huge bloom at a nursery in Southern California.  Yes, I even remember the moment, 1963, when my eldest was an infant and my husband and I were daydreaming about someday having a place to plant flowers.  It was exciting to find the colors we wanted and to dig the holes nice and big, mulch them deeply and give them the perfect site.

I finally transplanted all the hostas, some plants that I brought from my home at Hauser Lake in Idaho back in 2002 when I moved to Klamath Falls.  Others were brought over from Mo’s house in Rocky Point.  We babied them through the incredibly hot summer last year and I know they are also very happy to be on the shaded east side of the house at last.  Rhodies and hostas, another favorite thing of mine.

We started going through the RV shed, purging unneeded “stuff” with the help of the Facebook Marketplace.  That app works great, much better than the local Craiglist.  With facebook I can view the profile of anyone requesting to see our stuff and it is bit easier to be selective about giving out an address or phone number.  With Craiglist, I was immediately bombarded with several fake purchasers offering to send me a check and have it clear before their “shipper” would pick up the item.  A huge scam!!  So glad I didn’t fall for that one.

We moved the BBQ off the back porch, finally deciding that the big black covered thing was getting in the way of our peaceful view

One of my most favorite things about Sunset House is the light.  Morning sunshine streaming into the bedroom is the best part of an east facing bedroom window.

Mid month we took a few days of mini vacation time for a few days of kayaking over on the east side of the mountains, where spring is a bit later arriving, but nonetheless, we were blessed with gorgeous sunny days. We spent the nights in our little apartment, where we now have renters in all the others except the smallest, Apartment B, where I used to do all my quilting during our transition times living at the Apartments in Klamath Falls. 

We have yet to find any kayaking that appeals to us here on the west side of the mountains.  The Rogue River is a bit big and rowdy for us, and the few lakes are actually reservoirs with barren shorelines.  Not our style.  We love the refuges and birds that we find when kayaking in the Klamath Basin.

We launched our kayaks for the first time in all the years we lived in Klamath Falls on Lake Ewauna, the body of water between Upper Klamath Lake and the Link River and the Klamath River. The launch is right in town at Veteran’s Park, and is in a more populated area than we usually kayak, but nevertheless, we were treated to some fabulous birds and great views of Klamath Falls proper from a completely different perspective.

American Avocet

American White pelican, the mascot for Klamath Falls

Klamath Falls from a completely different perspective

The next day we returned to our favorite kayaking spot of all time, our very own Recreation Creek. The mountains in the distance are the ones around the rim caldera of Crater Lake, with Mt Scott on the right.

We launched at Malone Spring and traveled north to Crystal Spring, truly one of the most amazing places to enjoy in the entire Klamath Basin. 

It was still early in the season for the east side, and the wocus lilies were still underwater.  I have taken so many photos of blooming wocus, but this time it was completely different to see the gorgeous colors underwater.  And thank you, daughter Deanna, for the polarizer lens birthday present.  Without it these wonderful colors are just shadows below the water reflections.

Another beautiful view of Mt Scott where my family hiked to the top with me on one of my most memorable birthdays ever.

We began our month of course on April Fools Easter, with Daughter Deborah and Grandson Matthew joining us for all the traditional Easter goodies.  I do love decorating for Easter, with the bunnies and all the energy of emerging springtime.  We invited the neighbors as well, a couple who have been good friends with Deborah from the time she lived here in the cottage, and who spent a previous Easter with us back in Rocky Point a few years ago.

There is that east morning light again!

As soon as Easter was over I packed my bags for a quick solo trip to Nevada City, California where I spent a lovely afternoon and evening with Jimmy and Nickie, from the Intrepid Decrepit Traveler.  They opened their home and guest room to me, took me to dinner in their charming town, and regaled me with stories of their past travels and their excitement about their upcoming trip to Peru, Machu Picchu, and the Amazon.  Such excitement!

The next morning we hiked a gorgeous springtime trail along the South Yuba River where the warming sunshine had us rolling up our sleeves and pant legs.  California is magnificent clothed in that flourescent springtime green, and I loved being there. 

I then traveled back to Oroville for my annual girl-time visit with lifetime best friend, Maryruth.  We are going on 55 years of friendship now and it is something I treasure.  Maryruth loves to cook and she spent several days cooking up tons of goodies so we wouldn’t have to cook much during my visit.  What a treat!  We spent most of the time holed up in her craft room office making cards, a hobby we both have come to love.  We spent a long time anticipating this card making retreat, and actually didn’t leave that room very much during the 3 days I was there. SO much fun. 

Of course I don’t have a lot of photos of this time because I was quite busy, and every time I bring out the camera, Maryruth has a fit, but we did at least manage to get our traditional toe photo.  We have done these photos for a few decades, to prove we were together, back in the days when selfies and tripods weren’t the norm and we couldn’t ever get a photo of the two of us at the same time.

Other days of the month have been filled with making a slide show for Mo’s brother Roger’s Memorial happening in late June.  It was a new thing for me, and of course I had to call on my trusty friend Erin once again.  If you want to get lost in some of the most amazing wildlife and travel photography ever, click on that link.  Erin is always so amazing in her willingness to share and help me when I need to understand anything relating to photography and especially Lightroom.  Her expertise has been invaluable to me over and over again. 

I managed to get the slideshow finished, and ready for the family’s review.  A big job, but also a fun one because reviewing and editing 437 pictures of Mo’s brother Roger gave me a chance to know him in ways I never did in the 15 years or so I actually knew him in real time.

July 23 24 25 Jeanne comes to Visit

Current Location:  Running Y Resort Klamath Falls Oregon Partly cloudy and pleasant

Once again, if you have read my blog in the past, you might recognize the name “Jeanne”.  Jeanne is a friend I made during my soil survey years in the Klamath Basin.  She was a botanist who at the time worked for the Forest Service and we worked together identifying specific soils and the plants that were connected to them.  Our friendship began 15 years ago and in spite of Jeanne leaving Klamath Falls for her native Vermont, it still flourishes.

This is where Jeanne lives now, in a timber frame home that was only a dream when I last visited.

I attended her beautiful wedding with the love of her life in Vermont 3 years ago, and Jeanne manages to get out to Oregon nearly every year for crazy times with her wild bunch of extreme friends, then comes to my house to catch up on some down time.  As you may have noticed over the years, I am a bit in awe of Jeanne.  Her physical prowess is legendary, and she plays like a teenager.  A Jeanne day often includes yoga, a trip to the gym, some laps in the pool, a run, a hike, and maybe a bike ride.  I could never keep up with her or her friends, so I am lucky that Jeanne also likes to go a bit slower, enjoys hanging out and talking and laughing, eating good food, and doing some slow sports.

We had three really great days here at what Jeanne referred to as “La La Land”, the Running Y.  We swam in the pool, walked the path, ate, talked and ate some more.  I cooked a few meals, including some ribs on the BBQ, one of Jeanne’s favorite things that I cook. However, one of the highlights of the week was our second dinner in a week at the Ruddy Duck restaurant.

We planned for dinner a bit later in the evening, hoping the sunny deck would have cooled some by then.  What we didn’t count on was the magnificent thunderstorm that moved in as we were waiting to be served.  The skies got darker and darker and as the huge drops started falling and the thunder boomed all around us with huge bolts of lightning, we decided to at least retreat a bit under the deck overhang.

What a dinner it was!  What a great view, and so incredibly dramatic.  Later, as we retreated to the villa to watch the storm, the sky started turning blood red, with more bolts of lightning streaking across the sky in all directions.  I have never seen a sunset storm quite like this one.  It was Jeanne’s last night in Klamath Falls, and was quite a dramatic sendoff!

Earlier that day, Jeanne’s friend Margo came out to go on a hike on the Skillet Handle, a peninsula that extends northward from the Running Y into Klamath Lake.  Mo and I had kayaked the lake adjacent to the peninsula last month and I was looking forward to seeing the beautiful white oak habitat up close.

It was hot.  Really hot.  The trail was a choice between a gravelly old road and a dusty path through high weeds.  Jeanne and Margo moved quickly, covering a lot of ground once we finally decided to get back on the “real” trail. 

It was way too hot for me, and I bid them farewell about a mile and a half in and walked back slowly trying to keep from getting heat stroke.  Geez, it was hot.  The huge thunderheads above were dramatic, but gave no clue of the show that was waiting in store for us that evening.

On Tuesday, Jeanne and I left early for a morning kayak.  We now have only two boats, and Mo offered to stay home with Mattie while we kayaked.  A week earlier, Mo and I had kayaked the beautiful Spring Creek Run with the Klamath Basin Land Trust.  We have driven to the site in the past, but never actually kayaked the creek.  It was so incredibly gorgeous that I knew it was the place I wanted to take Jeanne for our morning outing.  Jeanne has kayaked Recreation Creek with us many times in the past, so this was a nice change for both of us. 

The morning was just cool enough to be perfect and the skies had just enough clouds to be interesting but not threatening.  It only takes about 2 hours to kayak to the spring and back to the launch.  I think this is the most delightful boat launch I have ever experienced, even if the water was cold enough to put an ache in your feet in just seconds.

We had the entire run completely to ourselves, without another soul on the water the entire time.  On the way back down, a mysterious mist rose from the water, backlit by sunlight, and the coolness was like a river of chill air as we paddled back downstream. 

We took photos of the bubbling springs, of the Mares Eggs, a globular translucent algae that is indigenous to the Basin, of the skies, and of the water which is as clear as any spring run in Florida. 

Such a beautiful morning, such a wonderful experience to share with such a good friend.

Later that day, we took Jeanne to Medford where she checked into a hotel to be ready for her early morning flight.  Mo and I drove back to the MoHo at the new house, checked all the changes that had been accomplished in our absence, and crashed for a nap in the cool dimness of the MoHo for the rest of the evening. 

It was time to pack up the MoHo and head back down with our rig to Valley of the Rogue State Park, where we would meet more friendsfor another few days of fun times in beautiful Oregon, everyone’s favorite summer destination. Next story, Crater Lake with Maryruth and Gerald!

April 19 to 23 A Short Week at Newport and South Beach State Park Oregon

Current Location: Old Fort Road apartment Klamath Falls Oregon

Tuesday April 19

It’s a wonderful day to be driving north on I-5. Traffic is light, no rain for the moment, soft sunshine on leaves that are still in that springtime stage of lime green gorgeousness. Mo is doing most of the driving, giving me time to play around with the new phone. I switched to Verizon from AT&T and so far am incredibly impressed with my reception, at least in my part of Oregon. I was able to talk to my daughter all the way around Klamath Lake and over High Lakes Pass.  No more cut off goodbyes!

We left around 10:30 this morning from Grants Pass. The last few days have been really warm with temperatures almost to 90 in Grants Pass yesterday. It felt wonderful after the long cold winter and chilly spring we’ve had. It’s supposed to get up to at least 68 degrees in Newport today and then it’ll start cooling down again but the predictions for rain are only about 20%. We couldn’t ask for much better on the Oregon coast especially in Newport, a bit farther north than our usual haunt in Brookings.

Looks like our route north was a LOT longer than our route south

We decided to try out a different route this time, thinking the drive straight north to Corvallis and west to Newport would be a bit repetitive. Instead, we decided to get off the Interstate new Drain, and take the Territorial Highway through Eugene and on north to intercept Highway 20 toward the west, entering Newport from the northern edge. We were winding and wandering all over the place from the Territorial Highway first to the Applegate Trail and then around on some other back roads until we hit 99 northwest of Vaneta. All the leaves are bursting with spring, and both the wild and domestic dogwoods are especially beautiful.

We thought it might be fun to take a different route to see something new, but realize that were on most of these roads when we did our covered bridges trip in 2012. Although it was a nice break from the interstate, we decided that we won’t take this route back home. It is a simple thing to buzz over from Newport to the freeway at Corvallis and head south on I-5 getting us home in a lot less time.

We stopped in Philomath, west of Corvallis, with a hot dog craving, but we were not successful. Philomath is a really cute little Oregon town but there are not many places to eat. I did find a small donut shop where I asked directions and discovered some good pastries, soups and salads, but that wasn’t right for our mood and we continued west. We didn’t spend much time walking around the town, since it was over 80 degrees when we stopped. With the air on in the MoHo we had no clue it was that warm out.

While driving along, we entertained ourselves trying to figure out what the difference was between a wine cellar and a winery. We did know that a vineyard is where they grow the grapes, and that most wineries don’t grow their own grapes. Then we saw a sign for a wine cellar and that question entered the mix. I had a good time saying “OK GOOGLE” what is the difference…etc. In no time we had the answers.

It took a bit more than five hours to get from Grants Pass to Newport, where just a mile or so east of town, the bright warm sunshine turned to chilly fog. Ahh, the beach.

The family wagons were all close to each other near the trail to the beach, with reservations handled well by brother Dan, who often spends time at South Beach.

Mo’s youngest brother Don and wife Wynn.  Double camera from the Galaxy Note 5

Mo’s next younger brother Dan and wife ChereMo’s oldest younger brother Roger and wife Nancy

Each family was responsible for a single dinner, with the option of spending a night eating out in Newport. It was unanimous when someone suggested this first night was a great time for fish and chips. Dan and Chere knew a great place in the small old town of Nye Beach, on the west side of Highway 101. In all the times Mo and I have visited Newport, we never discovered Nye Beach. Not only are there some sweet little shops there, the beach is wide and dog friendly and our supper at the Chowder Bowl was wonderful. Fish and chips and chowder were good but I had the special, chipotle shrimp tacos!  ohmygoodness!!!  Heaven in a tortilla for sure.

Wednesday April 20

“Well I’m tired tonight and as usual when I’m tired I have a hard time writing so I’m wondering if I’ll have his herd of time talking as I do trying to write put him tired. But most said you’re better make a list you better make no what did you say mom said you better make your notes tonight so you don’t forget what you did today”

Did you understand that? Me either, but it is what was transcribed by my handy phone assistant as I attempted to verbally write the blog.

We had a great day today. It began early with a beach walk on a cloudy but windless morning. As much as we love Harris Beach and Brookings, the sandy beach at South Beach is long and unbroken by the wild Oregon sea stacks that make the views so spectacular. I love being able to walk long and steady on firm sand without having to turn around until I feel like it. Lots more photos are here.

Mattie had a great time running wildly in the sand. Just south of the trail to the beach, the southern boundary of the state park is marked and we no longer have to keep her on a leash. She bounded and ran, but still really isn’t too happy about the waves if they get too close. She can swim, but really isn’t interested in it.

After our walk, we spent some quality time relaxing and reading at our site until the rest of the crew returned from their town shopping excursion. A kayak afternoon was planned with Mo’s brother Don, and we had researched local kayak locations, deciding on the gentle inland waters of Beaver Creek, about five miles south of the state park.

The put-in was easy, with a nice boat launch and a gentle incline into the silky water. There is a bit of tide current, but it is light, and the current of the stream is light as well, so you can kayak both upstream and downstream without a lot of effort.

We saw some great blue herons, some river otters, and a mama duck with a brood of a dozen babies. We saw a single eagle. I didn’t pack a camera, and used the phone for the photos that I took. It is great for landscapes, but I had a terrible time trying to catch the birds as they flew in the screen.

I think if you click on any of the photos for a larger image, it will take you to my smugmug gallery and you can see the rest of the photos for the kayak trip.

I thought about Direction of our Dreams Sherry a lot on the trip, realizing that she would have kayaked that river in at least twice the time that we spent. Instead, we did and up and down thing, without a lot of time for dawdling. It was my night for dinner, and I was feeling a little stressed.

There was absolutely no reason to feel stressed because everybody is just easy to please they’re not hard to please at all. I had marinated the chicken and made the salad before we left for the kayak, and everything turned out just fine. Best part about taking over one full meal is that I won’t have to cook again! Chere brought a watermelon and Wynn brought a raspberry cake that was yummy. Perfect preamble for lots of laughter as we sat around the fire.

Thursday April 21

While Mo and I were walking and the women were shopping yesterday, Dan and Don and Roger went crabbing. They were out several hours, but our planned crab salad dinner was postponed in favor of my chicken because they didn’t get any crabs big enough to keep.

Mo and I began our day once again on the beach, only this time the sun was shining and the skies were gorgeous. There was no wind to speak of, which seems unheard of on the coast, and I was grateful. We did notice that Mattie was a little bit less wild and crazy on the beach than she was the first day out. She only ran wildly half of the time instead of 100% of the time. We also found some fun things on the beach to look at. There was a truly amazing log that was covered with some kind of shells, each one hanging individually from a long string. They were waving in the wind and sounded like a shell windchime as they bumped against each other.

By 10:30 it was time to go out with Don and Dan to see if we would have better luck at crabbing than they had the day before.

We haven’t been crabbing before, and I was looking forward to seeing what it was like.

We were really lucky because the sun was shining when we left, and even though it was a bit chilly for me, we didn’t have rain or bad weather. It was my first time out crabbing. It was interesting, but I don’t think I’ll ever have to do it again. The little crabs when they’re caught or all crawly and wild and look kind of scary. The guys have to get them out of the rings without getting pinched. The worst part of the whole thing was the bait. Normally they use turkey legs which isn’t too bad. The other options are fish heads which the seals eat. The disturbing option was mink. I had no idea that meant little actual frozen mink bodies. That was extremely creepy. However the crabs really seem to like the mink which eventually became unfrozen and we’re even more disgusting than you could possibly imagine. The gulls were also incredibly interested in both the crabs we threw back and the bait as well.  Funny, I had never seen crabs actually swimming in the water.  Creepy.

It is the same reason I don’t really like fishing, the bait thing! Even fishing for trout with spinners and no bait requires actually killing the fish, which I couldn’t do very well. I’m not very good when it comes to fishing or crabbing or hunting. Totally hypocritical I know because I do eat meat and I love fish.

Still, I was very happy to have had the experience of going crabbing at least once in my life. We got lots of crabs, but they were all too small. Dinner once again was not crab salad, but some rather fantastic tacos made by Brother Don’s wife Wynn.

We had been so very lucky with no rain, but as we all gathered at Don’s place for dinner the rain started pouring down. Mo and I realized that we hadn’t put the covers on the kayaks, and for once we were really happy to have lots of brother help around to take the kayaks down, get the covers on, and hoist them back on top of the Tracker.

Friday April 22

Our last full day at the beach was again supposed to be a rainy one. The women had planned a trip north to the Outlet Mall at Lincoln City. I originally opted out, with mall shopping not big on my list of favorite things to do. But with the predicted rain, I thought better of my choice to stay home and by 9:30 we were on the road north.

It turned out to be an absolutely gorgeous day, with brilliant sunshine and blue skies. I changed my mind about mall shopping when I discovered that there was a Harry and David store (one of my favorites originally from Medford) and a Chico’s. I introduced the women to Chico’s, which they loved, and I think before the day ended I had as many packages as anyone. So much for not liking mall shopping!

When we got back home, with plans for relaxing before dinner bike ride, I was greeted by a very unhappy Mo. Seems as though something had happened in the MoHo and there was water everywhere. All the towels and rugs were spread all over the picnic table and her brothers were attempting to find out why water was pouring out from underneath the rig.

Turns out it was something easy. They had worked on our kitchen faucet, turning off the main water, and then when the water was turned back on, a faucet was open and flooded the bathroom sink and overflowed under the rig. In the process, it filled up the black tank which was also completely full. We unhooked, drove down to the dump, and after dumping all the tanks, everything seemed to be just fine. No more mishaps, in the MoHo at least. We did have a very big carload of wet stuff to haul home to Grants Pass for a full day of laundry when we got there.

Dinner was great, with chicken on the grill and a fabulous salad from Chere and Dan. The campfire was once again ringing with fun and laughter. As you can see, Mattie is a cold blooded little thing, with her southern California puppy roots showing every time there is a chill in the air.  We had to be sure she didn’t catch her fur on fire!

The next morning, Don offered to make omelettes with the leftovers from the tacos, and for the first time on the trip, we had to retreat to the shelter of Don’s awning as the rain started to come down in earnest. Couldn’t have asked for better timing, and we didn’t complain at all about having to drive home in the rain. It isn’t often that April yields up 4 sunny days in a row on the Oregon Coast.

Now, as I have finally completed the translation process from verbally dictated posts to something written, I have decided that maybe that whole process isn’t worth the effort. Reading, I can see that I seem to write a LOT better than I talk! LOL Maybe something in the writing causes me to think more clearly. That might be why I have always kept a journal, a way to keep my thoughts in order. My off the cuff speaking thoughts are really crazy and very repetitive! So much for that. Next blog post will go back to my usual method of typing as I think rather than depending on the phone to figure it out.