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.

Out the Back Door Kayaking Upper Klamath National Wildlife Refuge

Current location: Rocky Point, Oregon Sunny and 50F at 6am, predicted high today 79F

launching at Malone Springs Ah yes, finally.  We managed to walk away from yard and house chores for a day and loaded up the kayaks.  I was appalled when I realized that the last time we had the boats in the water was back in Florida in March.  Sheesh.  As I wrote in the title, some of the very best kayaking in the country is right out our back door.  The Rocky Point boat launch is just a mile from our house, but yesterday we decided to travel a few miles north on Westside Road to launch at Malone Springs.  Crystal Spring_082

Yes, some of you know my last name is Malone, but no, the springs were named long before I arrived in the Klamath Basin in 2002.

Crystal Spring_081 We were on the water by 9:40 AM, and a big surprise was the lack of mosquitoes at Malone Springs.  The Forest Service boat launch site has two free campsites, but the mosquitoes can often be daunting during the early summer.  In fact, most of the east side of the Cascade range in Oregon is plagued with a heavy mosquito population, including some of the more lovely lakeside campgrounds.  Maybe not as bad as Minnesota or Alaska, but definitely something that requires planning.  Don’t forget the mosquito spray for shoreline activities!  However, once out on the water, mosquitoes and bugs are almost never a problem.

Crystal Spring_008 Skies were perfect and the temperature was cool enough that we wouldn’t get overheated out on the water.  Winds were light, coming from the north, so we had a bit of a breeze and a very little bit of current to paddle against on our way north to Crystal Spring.

native sedges in the marsh One of the great pleasures of working soil survey in the Klamath Basin was the opportunity to map the soils in the Upper Klamath National Wildlife Refuge.  With more than 14,000 acres of organic soils supporting wetland plants, the marsh is directly adjacent to the forested lands of the Cascades.  The complex vegetation patterns provided endless riddles of soil and vegetation patterns to decipher.  Crystal Spring_032

Looking north as we paddle along the creek, we are treated to a view of the Crater Lake Caldera, still covered in snow. 

Unlike the spring runs in Florida, the waterway we travel here is fed by hundreds of springs that come from the pumice soils all along the eastern slope of the Cascades.  The water is cold, and there are a few large springs that are named, but many others feed the creek that flows through the marsh, as well as the thousands of acres of natural wetlands that are on the northern side of Klamath Lake.

famous for fly fishing for trout

The refuge canoe trail is famous for fly fishing.  These 3 guys were the only folks we saw on this day on the refuge.

Different kinds of soils support different kinds of vegetation, and this is true of subaqueous organic soils as well. One of my major accomplishments mapping these wetlands was figuring out the complex relationships between different types of organic soil and vegetation patterns.

Crystal Spring_015 Remember that old saying, “out in the toolies”?  These are the real tules, bigstem bulrush, that dominate the marsh.

They provide amazing cover for the many birds that we heard but did not see as we paddled along,  When the tules get tall, they hide the sandhill cranes, great egrets, and blue herons that we heard calling throughout our paddle.

sedgesOther major native plants that occur in the marsh are several species of sedge (carex). 

The sedges seem to like the organic soils that are less weathered, more fibrous, and the willows occur in areas where the fibers are the least weathered, soils that are peaty rather than mucky.  You have no idea how many holes I bored in this marsh to finally figure this out.  As they say “What difference does it make?”  Maybe none to the casual kayaker, but for the refuge managers it is helpful to know how to manage the refuge, and soil information has a big influence on refuge management decisions.

Crystal Spring_016 Other plants have colonized in some parts of the refuge, such as cattails and Canary Reedgrass, beautiful to look at, but not natural to the environment and detrimental to the existing plant communities.

several beaver dams along the way Beaver dams are plentiful along the route.

Crystal Spring_033 No houses along the route except for this vacation property where our fishermen were staying.

Crystal Spring_037 Just a bit more than 4 miles of paddling brings us to beautiful Crystal Springs. 

Traveling along Westside Road by car will lead to a roadside rest area with a trail down to the spring, but launching from this spot would be a bit of a pain.

Crystal Spring_040Crystal Spring_046 North of Crystal Spring is a well known bed and breakfast called Crystalwood Lodge, visible from the channel north of the spring that I am reasonably certain was dredged for spring access.

Crystal Spring_049 We turn around for the paddle down the creek, with current in our favor and no southern wind coming toward us from the lake.  The winds often come up about 2 in the afternoon and on this day we beat them.

Crystal Spring_050 There aren’t many places along the route that are conducive to landing, but back at the area where we saw the teepee, there is a rocky point that provides a place to get out of the boats and give both Abby and Mo and me a bit of a break before we continue back along the meandering route to return to Malone Springs.

Crystal Spring_053The snow is still deep on Pelican Butte.  Our home is at the base of that long slope below the mountain at the left side of the photo. The reflections on the return route are always mesmerizing to me, and I can’t tell you how many photos I have from this spot.

Crystal Spring_062 I paddle slowly, sometimes simply drifting along with the current, taking time to photograph the beautiful wocus, sacred and important plant to the local tribes for centuries.Crystal Spring_061We slide into Malone Spring once again, still quiet with no other campers or paddlers around on this Wednesday afternoon.  It has been a perfect paddle.  Crystal Spring_074

Crystal Spring_075 With the marsh vegetation providing great cover, the birds that we actually saw were a redtail hawk,  redwing  and yellow head blackbirds, and as Carol Herr would say, lots of ‘little brown birds”.  Later in the day I did have one great blue heron fly gracefully across the creek right in front of me, but the camera was in the dry bag by that time so no photo. I made a sound recording of a bird call I didn’t recognize at all, and hopefully I can get Judy or Carol to tell me what the bird might be.  I know the sounds of the herons and the cranes, but this one was completely new to me.  No snakes, turtles, or alligators are in these waters, and I found myself missing them a bit.

June 4 kayak I mapped our route with the Motion GPX app on my phone, just over 4 miles each way.

OR7-Area-of-Known-Wolf-Activity Here is another map that is related only peripherally to the kayak trip.

The black line on this map refers to the known wolf activity zone in the Cascades for OR7 or Journey, as he was named by Oregon schoolchildren.  If you haven’t read about him yet, here is the story.  There are many newspaper articles out there for this event, but I chose to share this one because it was written by the son of a good friend.

I call Journey “my wolf’, not because I have actually seen him, but because one night back in 2011, when he first began his journey to southern Oregon and California, while he was traveling through the Wood River Valley, Mo and I heard his howls during our evening time in the hot tub.  Liz Parrish, owner of the Crystalwood Lodge actually saw him near her place, no doubt interested in her pack of sled dogs.  Crystalwood is probably the most dog friendly lodge I know of!

140604pups-in-log640 “My” wolf is a daddy. 

For the first time in nearly a century pups have been born in the Oregon Cascades.  I believe we need to live in a world that includes predators for balance.  Some of my local Rocky Point friends are all up in arms over this wolf near us.  They are cattlemen, and ranchers, concerned for their livestock.  Journey and his mate are hidden high in the mountains, and in all his travels he has never approached any domestic animal.  I support the right of the wolf to live in Oregon, in this part of Oregon.  There are great ranchers who have figured out how to live with wolves, and I pray that here in the Wood River Valley they don’t ever lose an animal to a wolf.  I pray for Journey’s safety and I celebrate his new family.