NoSnow Vacation

Highway 140 passover the mountain Now that Christmas is behind us, and all the romance of those gorgeous snowy days is a bit dim, we decided it was time to head over the mountain for a break.  We wanted to check on the MoHo, make sure that the space heater Mo set up was working properly, see the new fancy chain drive that was installed on the shed roll up door, and just hang out for a couple of days in a place where snow is a rarity. We also thought it might be fun to see just how much the hole in the kitchen ceiling had grown.

Most of the time when we drive over the snowy pass, we take our toad, the Tracker.  It has studded tires and 4 wheel drive and could probably climb a tree if needed.  But we wanted space and comfort and it was only a 2 hour drive, so we opted instead to take the Lexus.  With something called ECT (a button!) and Overdrive OFF, she did just fine in spite of the dicey conditions on the pass. 
leaving the snow behind usOur Oregon State DOT wrote something up in the newspaper last summer about coming up with a name for our pass.  I sure hope they do it soon.  It is definitely a real pass, with a summit and lots of snow.  For now, we just call it Highway 140, and say we are going “over the pass”.  Sure would be nice to have a name. I am voting for Sky Lakes Pass since it travels just south of the Sky Lakes Wilderness.  Hey, Jeanne, maybe Brown Mountain Pass, or Mt McLoughlin Pass, or Pelican Butte pass?  The road doesn’t go over a single one of those big mountains, but ‘passes’ right in between all of them.
It isn’t much distance from home to Medford.  We are near milepost 44 and the highway starts in Medford at 0.  Probably 25 miles this side of Medford is out of the snow zone, so the pass itself is really only about 15 miles of actually winter pass driving.  Medford and Grants Pass are in zone 7 on the agricultural scale, the same as the foothills of California.  There is occasional snow, and a cold enough winter that tulips and lilacs will bloom, but most of the time there isn’t anything to shovel and the daytime temperatures are almost always above freezing.  Within half an hour of leaving home, we were out of the snow and into the rain and fog that is common this time of year in the Rogue Valley.
Once we arrived at the cottage, we were happy to see the MoHo shed looking shiny and the MoHo all safe and cozy inside.  Mo had a big roll up door installed, and they hadn’t put in the chain drive when we were here last.  Both of us got a big kick out of how incredibly easy it was to open the big door with that fancy drive.  Sure beats trying to push the thing up with a pole.  It is Heavy!
12-28-2012 Summit Loop visit Once we knew that the MoHo was all safe and sound and that the little space heater had kept things just toasty in there, we went inside the chilly damp cottage to see how things were faring.  Funny how something like the hole in the kitchen ceiling just seems interesting instead of devastating when the cottage isn’t a full time proposition. I sure would hate to have this happen in my real house.  Mo found a roofer in the area who seemed reasonably experienced and made an appointment for him to come and give us an estimate for a new or repaired roof. 
well, the first thing to do is tarp it.  Tarp IT?!?!?!?  North Idaho Blue Tarp Roof??? you gotta be kidding meso, how much? This guy was interesting, to say the least, and he really likes to talk, especially in circles.  Hopefully he knows what he is doing.  He said there were at least 4 and maybe 5 layers on that old roof, and that he would take it down to the wood, replace anything that is rotted and start fresh.  Mo decided on shingles instead of metal, since there isn’t any snow to slide off in Grants Pass to speak of anyway. He said that he would tarp the roof until he could get to it.  Tarp??!!  Blue Tarps??!!  I have spent the last 40 years laughing at what my friends and I called “North Idaho Roofing Jobs”, blue tarps everywhere.  Now I am going to have one?  I hope maybe he uses something other than those awful blue tarps. 
We spent the rest of our time enjoying the break from plowing and shoveling snow.  The leaves from the oaks were wet and thick on the ground, but since we can’t seem to coordinate our visits with a legal burn day, Mo thought it was better to just let the leaves wait where they are instead of making a big wet pile of them somewhere else.  I liked that idea a lot, since I am the major leaf raker, and while Mo did puttery house repairs (her favorite hobby), I sat in front of the big south facing window knitting.
Jeremy is unconcerned.  His part of the cottage is dry and warmMo fixing the door that drags We have a nice old fashioned and very good gas stove in the house that had it warmed up and cozy in no time.  Dinner was leftover ham from Christmas on the first night but the second night after running some errands we decided it was time for real pizza.  Living in Rocky Point most of the time, means it is a minimum 40 minutes on a dry good day from town to home.  Hard to get a pizza back from the shop while still hot. 
The cottage, however, is just 3 miles from town, and the Legendary Abby’s Pizza.  I remember eating Abby’s pizzas when I lived in Medford back in 1969!  The store was full but not overcrowded, with lots of happy folks eating pizza and enjoying the big fire in the center of the dining room.  Our pizza was great, the half carafe of Burgundy wine was certainly not fancy, but obviously we had a good time. 
Dang, that pizza was GOOD!  Or was it the wine.12-28-2012 Summit Loop visit1
The best part was the ten minute drive back to the cottage!  We really like this part about living near town.  Grants Pass seems to have some nice stores and restaurants, and even though the population is technically smaller than Klamath Falls, the stores are all bigger, newer, and nicer for some reason.  Home Depot is well stocked and probably 1/3 bigger than our shop in Klamath.  Is it access to the interstate that makes the difference? 
Mamma and her yearling with this year's baby outside the fence again, not quite big enough yet to jump it This morning we woke again to a foggy day and deer in the yard.  The mama looked familiar, with what is probably last year’s yearling and this year’s fawn. The doe and the yearling get over the fence, but the fawn always seems to end up wandering along outside the fence.  I suppose he will eventually get big enough to actually jump with the other two.
all the leaves are finally down, and wet, at the cottage Both of us are getting a bit antsy to get the MoHo out of her pretty shed and on the road. Before mid month January we will be heading south to the desert via the old favorite, I-5.  I really miss that hot springs pool at Catalina Spa in Desert Hot Springs.  I think we owe a nice Palm Springs dinner to Rick and Paulette as well, and I even miss those silly windmills spinning away. 
I also showed Mo some of the reviews that Nina wrote about San Diego, so we are going to give it a try this season after our 7 day Passport America stay at Catalina Spa.  Looking forward to something a bit different that we haven’t done before.  I haven’t been to the San Diego Zoo since I was a kid.  Yippee!!

MoHo Shed and a Scopolamine Withdrawal Warning!

IMG_0409 We knew when we returned from our cruise that life would be incredibly busy for a few days.  What we didn’t know was that the universe had a few surprises for us just to make things a bit more interesting.  Our plan was to get off the ship in time to pick up the car and get to Klamath Falls before the vet closed so we could pick up Jeremy.  Check.  The disembarkation process on Princess this time was probably the slickest I have ever experienced.  We signed up to handle our own luggage, and were off the ship by 8:15, through a non existent customs check (even though we had theoretically been to Mexico), and in our car on the Embarcadero by 8:35.  Incredible.  In spite of the rainy morning, traffic was manageable and there wasn’t a speck of snow on the pass over Mt Shasta, in fact the mountain was incredibly beautiful with a snow capped peak sparkling in the sun contrasting with the dark green forests on her lower flanks. Nope, no photo.  I was pictured out from the cruise and decided to just enjoy the view.
IMG_0406We picked up Jeremy, who after two weeks boarded at the vet was a bit traumatized but in no time he settled into Mo’s lap and snuggled up for the drive home.  What I haven’t talked about is Mo’s bout with a cranky cold, sore throat, cough, and eventually bronchitis that she picked up on the ship.  It made our last few days a lot less than pleasant for her, but she was a trooper and hanging in there.  Mo slept a lot those last few days, slept most of the way home to Klamath, and still isn’t quite up to par.  It isn’t a flu, she had no fever, but it was definitely a nasty thing picked up on that ship somewhere. Not good.
The next part of the plan required a fast trip the next morning to Grants Pass to meet and pay the builder who had completed the MoHo shed.  We were excited to see how it looked on the property and to get the MoHo safely tucked away from winter snows.  The lucky part for us is that there isn’t yet a sign of our usual winter snows, and with just a slight flurry over the 140 pass, we made the trip to Grants Pass easily. 
IMG_0408We were tickled to see the building all bright and shiny, solid and ready for the MoHo.  There was plenty of room to drive directly into the driveway, then reverse and back into the building with room to spare.  Mo had it built bigger than we needed for the Dynamax in case we ever get something bigger, or if someday the property is sold, someone could fit a 40 footer in there.  The building is 21 x 40 with 16 foot ceilings and a 14 foot roll up door.  Plenty of room!  Also plenty of light with the translucent panels at the top, made from some new tech material that won’t discolor.  Once we got the MoHo settled in, we knew it was time to check out the cottage.
IMG_0400We were a bit concerned about the roof of the cottage, which we knew had some problems.  Mo worked on it last month but it is really hard to tell exactly where the leaks might be, and she wondered how things had fared during the recent downpours.  Check.  Well, we knew that eventually we would have to remove this ceiling and find the problem areas, and the rains just helped it along a bit.  We turned on the old fashioned gas heater which works great and settled in to wait for the builder. I called my friend Bel, and was incredibly happy to learn that her sister had never left after coming to help out while Bel was hospitalized.  My visit could be postponed, much to my relief.  I was really having a hard time trying to figure out how I was going to get back on an airplane in two days and go to Florida for a week!  It was all just too much.  If Bel had been alone, I would have done it, but I decided any amount of extra charge for cancelling my ticket was worth it.  Whew!  and Check.
IMG_0401 Next on the list, we had to drive to Lapine where Mo’s brother lives to get Abby.  It is about 115 miles each way, and I knew I would be driving that one as well, since Mo was still pretty sick.  We called and talked to Roger and Nancy, and explained that  I had the Christmas table for the Ladies Luncheon to do and we couldn’t leave until Friday afternoon, and they insisted that instead of us driving up there, they would bring Abby home to us.  Check and Yippee!! So far so good.
I managed to find the glue gun, get the napkin rings made, polish the silver, pack the stemware, and put on a pot of soup for lunch for Roger and Nancy before heading over to the social club to set up the table.  Our annual Ladies Luncheon at Rocky Point is one of the special delights of living in a small community.  Ladies volunteer to do the tables, and some of the men volunteer to cook and serve, and we have a wonderful time.  I was excited to do my first table this year and really looking forward to the day. Check
Saturday morning dawns, and Mo and I are congratulating ourselves on managing to get all the little details handled so well with such a tight schedule and thinking pleasantly about the few days ahead with plenty of time to settle in and actually relax.  That is when the universe threw in a little surprise. 
DSC_0015 At 10:00 am I was happy and fine, getting dressed for the luncheon, and by 10:15 am I was completely and totally incapacitated by vertigo and severe nausea.  Crazy.  I lost my breakfast, and couldn’t raise my head without being sick.  Now what?  Geez.  My sister and niece arrived, and I kept thinking I could maybe get over it and manage to go but I lasted about five minutes before Mo had to bring me back home.  I spent the rest of the day and night in bed with what I discovered to be withdrawal symptoms from the Scopolamine patch! 
I have used the patch before, and had a few bits of dizziness afterward, but attributed it to just getting used to being off the ship, and didn’t realize it was related to the patch.  When I was finally able to raise my head yesterday, I started reading more about it and learned that this can be a huge problem for people using the scop patch, and that there can be symptoms of withdrawal that can last for weeks.  There are all sorts of recommendations  for coming off slowly, using drugs to deal with the nausea that will happen when you come off the scop, and ways to avoid using it altogether.  I used the patch on this cruise as it was prescribed, and had it on for the entire trip after being so sick the first day.  I guess I won’t do that again! Or at least if I do, I’ll try to manage the withdrawal better.  Discussions on the internet talk about people waiting to stop the patch until they have time to handle the vomiting for a few days.  Sheesh!
DSC_0016 I have no idea when we will cruise again but you can bet I will be looking for alternatives to the scopolamine patch. Mo and I were quite a pair today.  We spent all of Sunday on the sofa and in the recliner, doing absolutely nothing.  It is weird being ill, though, and especially weird having Mo be ill since she is so rarely sick.  Makes my world feel all discombobulated and loose. I fell asleep last night at 9, only to wake again at 11 and have been awake ever since.  Decided at 2:30 that I might as well get up and try to remember what I am supposed to be doing! 
Everyone enjoyed the luncheon, Mo said my table was a hit, and everyone pitched in to help collect my dishes, crystal, and silver after it was over.  Some volunteer I am!  Sheesh. 
Mo seems to be coughing less, and I seem to be a bit less disoriented, so maybe life will return to something looking like normal this morning.  I am ready. Christmas is coming and I am pretty sure I am supposed to be doing something important!  Check.

Problem Solved

Tuesday afternoon in Rocky Point 75 degrees F and Sunny

birthday snow_475Just what do you do if you live in snow country, are not a full timer, and are not especially into the half time snow birding thing either?  It is a quandary, one that we have worked with repeatedly in the last few years since we started traveling in the MoHo. There have been several solutions.  For the years prior to my retirement, when I worked in California from 2006 to 2010, we paid the monthly fee to store the MoHo in the gated yard in my mobile home park in the Sierra Foothills.  At least we didn’t have to winterize, and the occasional frosts weren’t too much of a worry.  Mo would drive the 400 miles from Rocky Point to Sonora and we would take off for lakes and deserts both near and far.  I love looking back at our photos of those short little camping trips.

DHS Trip (8)When I retired and moved back to Rocky Point, things got a bit more difficult.  What to do?  If we left the MoHo right here in her big shed we still would have to winterize against the single digit temperatures, plow some pretty deep snow to get out, and then chain up to exit the valley over whichever pass we chose to travel.  In 2011 we decided to rent an RV storage in Redding, California, just a quick 3 hour drive over the mountain, and even when we left here in a blizzard and icy roads, Redding was usually sunny and open. Some of you long time readers may remember the sad result of THAT choice. $179 per month for top notch security didn’t stop the vandals from breaking into our storage bay and ransacking the MoHo.

the ocean is out there, but just a bit too misty to see clearly from space 12Next plan: Winter of 2012 we decided instead to rent another enclosed $180. per month space over on the Oregon Coast.  It was a nice plan, with only 4 hours to get to the MoHo, but still it felt too far away sometimes, and we did get a bit tired of having to drive north or south on winding Highway 101 to get just about anywhere. Jeremy is a good enough traveler we didn’t even have to put a cat box in the Tracker for the trips from home to coast, but still it got pretty tight in that little car with dog, cat, food, washed laundry, firewood, and whatever else we couldn’t keep in the MoHo all the time.

Another plan: Leave in October, head east and then south to Florida and come back in April when the passes open up and the roads are clear.  That is a plan that could still happen one of these years, maybe even next year. But then, what to do about Christmas with the family, which I love, or winter in Rocky Point, which we both actually love as well.  Just not all the time.

Capture new placeNew plan:  Buy a place somewhere over the mountain and store the MoHo there.  Easy access to Interstate 5, which my trucker daughter reminds me also gets snowed in now and then, but still not that often.  We have spent the last several months making an untold number of trips to Grants Pass trying to find the perfect place.  Grants Pass is in Josephine County, and is blessed with a nice winter climate (zone 7 which is almost a perfect match for the Sierra Foothills), and the lowest property tax rates in the state of Oregon. Grants Pass is also just about half way between here and our favorite coastal town of Brookings which is a plus.  We even looked for property in Brookings for awhile but decided that maybe living with the salty damp air could get old.

Grants Pass Place  In March we found a perfect little place on a terrace in Grants Pass, with an old house on a lot just less than an acre. Newbies that we were back then, we thought of course there would be something better, but after many months and many visits to many strange properties, the little house on the little lot with the great big old oak trees won out, and at a better price than the first time we looked at it.

The reason this got to be so difficult had to do with land use laws and building regulations.  We couldn’t buy an empty lot and build an RV shed without actually building a living dwelling with the associated permits.  If you buy a big enough lot with an existing house you can build an RV shed.  Of course, a lot with a house usually costs more than is reasonable to pay for simply an RV storage, right?  So we specifically wanted an OLD house, preferably not completely falling down, but at least old enough to be cheap. 

Grants Pass Place 2Bingo!  The nearly level lot is perfect, the RV shed is in the works, the deal is closed and finished, and all that is left is the WORK!  Oh My.  The old house built in 1926 is basically just an extra, a space that makes the RV shed possible, but it still has some nice qualities, especially the light.  It also has some interesting qualities, like a very old septic tank, a well with only a little over 2 gpm and some salt problems, and a lot of strange old broken down sheds, including something that looks like a chicken coop or maybe a rabbit hutch.  For some reason, the previous owner thought that salvaged carpet made a great outdoor ground cover, and our first job was picking up the dirt encrusted, critter infested pieces of carpet for the first of what I am sure will be many dump loads.

But!  The Big Problem is solved.  No more exorbitant rental fees putting money into someone else’s pocket to store the MoHo.  No worries about winterizing and when we want to get out of the snow in Rocky Point we will just head over the mountain the way we always have.  Except of course, we can stay a day or a week or a month if we want to, sleeping in the MoHo, or in the funky little house, and enjoying all the delights of living on a terrace with a view above town and a short 3 mile jaunt to the grocery store.  Somehow the funkiness of the little house is fun, especially when I know I have my beautiful, clean, comfortable Rocky Point home to return to.  I can enjoy the delights of town living without giving up the dark forest nights of the mountains. 

I know, I know, most folks would have Rocky Point as their summer place and “live” down in town out of the snow.  We are doing just the opposite and it makes me really happy inside.  For a bit of time we considered eventually selling this place and actually moving down the mountain when we got old (or older I should say).  Now that decision is behind us.  No moving down the hill at all.  Rocky Point is home and we will continue traveling in the MoHo as long as we can manage it, which I certainly hope is at least a dozen more years.