04-30-2022 A Sweet April Part 2

Yes, I know, I have yet to write part 1 about April, but when the writer’s block sets in, the only way for me to get started is to begin here and now. This time it isn’t even here and now. It has been more than a week since we returned from our late April foray in the MoHo. I decided last week that instead of trying to remember the entire month of April, I would just write about our most recent trip. Beautiful April memories are lost in a mental mist of rain, sun, snow, and home stuff. I will catch up eventually, but maybe not just yet. It is always easier to write about travels that are different from everyday life.

Our April MoHo trip happened quite late in the month. For a time now, I have tried to get reservations at Silver Falls State Park to no avail. Everything has been booked solid for weeks, and I often checked for cancellations and finally gave up. Mo is the one that will usually follow through on the commitment for a MoHo trip every month, and one morning she said to me, “How about if we go to Silverton and stay at that RV Park that we visited a few years ago?”. Great idea, Mo. She comes up with the ideas, and I follow through with the maps, plans, and reservations.

We have visited Silverton in the past, but searching the memory banks of photos and blog posts, I discovered that it has been ten years since we camped at Silver Spur RV Park. The website was well done, and I made reservations quickly for three nights at the end of the month. Mo did her research and came up with several things for us to do while in the area. We knew that it might be raining for a couple of days, but we could do most of what we wanted to do despite the rainy weather.

Leaving mid-morning on Monday so that we wouldn’t arrive before the 2PM check-in time was a bit challenging. We are used to getting out early, and both of us were at a bit of a loss about how to kill time until our ten AM departure. Almost everything is ready to go pretty quickly with the MoHo loaded and ready the day before.

Premium Site C33 at Silver Spur RV Park

Even with the accompanying rain, the short 200-mile drive to Silverton was easy. When we arrived, I barely recognized the RV park. It has grown considerably in the last ten years. The park owner was training a new person when we arrived, so check-in was slow. When we drove to our site, there was no place to park the car, and it was in between two other rigs, with no apparent picnic table. I went back to the office to try to figure out why. The neighbors had parked their car in our spot. The site seemed quite crowded, and there were several completely empty rows in the park. I asked for a change. When I asked to be moved, the owner said nothing was available because he was booked solid. I also asked about the advertised fire pits and was told they were only in the “premium site.” Surprisingly, he did have a premium site available for an additional $5 per night. We were happy to pay the difference and moved to the new site. The owner couldn’t print a bill for me, so he sent me an email for an extra $35. Um….what?? When I called him, we had a somewhat convoluted conversation about how 5 bucks a night turned into $35 bucks, with him insisting that is what the computer spit out. Eventually, it was settled, and I only paid $15 extra to park in a lovely spot.

When I asked about other premium sites, the designation was somewhat arbitrary, with some having different configurations of amenities, and fire pits aren’t part of all of them. When I asked if he could clarify this on the booking site online, he said that was impossible. He also said we paid less by booking online. Really? So the only way to secure a premium site with a firepit is to call directly and then pay more for the site? It was all quite convoluted, and when we return, I will make a phone call and try to get things clarified before booking my location. Word to the Wise here if you plan to travel to Silverton. Silver Spur RV Park is the only RV park nearby.

We love Silverton. The town has a colorful history with beautifully preserved historic buildings, a medley of boutique galleries, antique shops, creekside restaurants and cafes, and plenty of places to sample craft beer and regional wines. Since 1992, the Silverton Mural Society has added an extra splash of art with 27 murals gracing the town. 
Silver Falls is nearby, just 15 miles south on a decent two-lane highway. Even though we couldn’t camp at Silver Falls, staying in Silverton was terrific because there was so much to see and do nearby.

Our first night in camp was rainy, and a fire was out of the question. The night was dark and quiet, and the road and train noise that I remembered from our previous visit was no longer an issue. We were in a different section last time, closer to the highway, and the train tracks appear to be no longer in use.

The following morning we made our plans for the day based on Mo’s list of to-do’s. First on the agenda was a visit to the local Information Center, and I finally found the center, located at the Oregon Garden. We had visited the gardens before and didn’t plan to do so this time around. The $10 per person fee is OK, but neither of us cared to walk in the rain to view the gardens again, especially since there wasn’t a great deal in bloom. When we arrived, we discovered that the Visitor Center I had found on Google was only for the Oregon Garden, not the town of Silverton. We were pointed in the right direction toward downtown Silverton by the friendly people at the gardens.

The Visitor Center was a delight, with a lovely volunteer who knew a great deal about the town’s history and was very helpful. The second item on our agenda was to visit the local Railroad Museum. However, our friendly visitor center lady told us it was only open at the end of the week. Except she said the volunteers were at the building today and might let us in if asked. That didn’t sound like something we wanted to do, so instead, we were happy simply taking photos of the building.

Third on the agenda was a visit to the local historic park, Coolidge-McLain City Park. When we walked back to the car to pull out google maps to navigate to the park, I looked across the lot to discover it was right behind the visitor center! We walked toward the pathways at the exact moment that a large van deposited a rather large group of 3 and 4-year-olds with their caretakers. The little kids were all excited, yelling and playing and jumping all over the place. We thought that might be a bit much for Mattie and took an alternate path along Silver Creek to get to the park.

The rhododendrons and azaleas were in bloom, the grass was green, and the Silver River rushed over the low cement dam. We walked the trails a bit, found a lovely memorial fountain, and I thought about how nice it would be to picnic in that park on a hot summer day.

Next on our agenda was to find Silver Reservoir. The reservoir is just a mile or so south of town, with a lovely day-use area for fishing and picnicking. We discovered a perfect kayak launch and decided it would be an excellent short-day kayak destination with nooks and crannies that made an attractive, complex shoreline.

By this time, I was ready for a good coffee. On our way through town, I noticed the Main Street Bistro and decided it was an excellent place to try. We parked right in front of the historic Wolf Building, which housed the bistro on the first floor. The weather shifted every moment, with clouds and rain and sunshine viewed through the old windows as we enjoyed our mid-day snack.

I had a coffee that couldn’t technically be called coffee and looked more like dessert. Mo had a delicious champagne cocktail that was not too sweet. We decided we could have a bit of lunch, and the clam chowder was as good as any we have enjoyed on the coast, and the gourmet grilled cheese sandwich was the best I ever ate, hands down. I have no idea why except it was perfect.

After lunch, we walked around a bit, checking out a mural and some of the old buildings. I especially loved the shop called “Apples and Oranges.” I have no idea what the name meant because it specialized in tea, yarn, and puzzles. What a delight. I found my favorite Malabrigo yarn and couldn’t resist buying three full hanks of the yummy stuff. Maybe that will inspire me to knit again, Janna!

The day was moving along perfectly. We returned to the MoHo for a bit of a rest before leaving to search for the Gallon House Covered Bridge, just north of town. Mo had this one on her to-do list before we realized that we had visited this same bridge on our extended MoHo covered bridge tour in 2012. Just a few minutes north of town, it was on a side route that led to our next destination, Mt Angel.

We had traveled through and beyond Mt Angel many times in this area but somehow never took the time to actually see Mt Angel. Just four miles north of Silverton, nestled among the hazelnut and hop fields, Mt Angel celebrates its roots with Bavarian thematic architecture and authentic German cuisine. The Mt Angel Oktoberfest held every year is a four-day celebration that is one of the biggest festivals in Oregon. Our friends Wes and Gayle, who now live in Arizona, told us we definitely need to visit this great festival.

We wanted to be in town for the tolling of the hour at the Glockenspiel. Mount Angel’s Glockenspiel celebrates the German-Swiss-Bavarian heritage of the village. The Glockenspiel plays at 11 a.m., and at 1, 4 and 7 p.m. daily. The clock is large and clearly visible; the bells are sharp and precise in their sound. However, the animated figures are the real traffic stoppers.

The rain came and went, and we took shelter underneath the awning of a building across the street to wait for the chimes. The best part was when a mother with her two young children came to stand underneath the clock so that her little boy could delight in the moving figures that danced in and out of the windows in time to the music. She told us they lived in Silverton but were close by when her little one begged to come and watch the clock.

View from the Benedictine Monastery on Mt Angel where on a sunny day Mt Hood looms in the distance

Mt Angel is also the home of the Mount Angel Abbey and the Benedictine Monastery, where the church tower bells chime for the call to prayer several times a day. We knew that the library and museum would be closed by the time we got to the grounds, but we still thought it would be lovely to walk the abbey pathways. As would be expected, all was very quiet and serene, with only a few men walking in pairs and conversing quietly. I did find a young man in black secular clothing to ask whether we could walk with the dog on the grounds, and he was very accommodating.

Another man in black robes explained to us that there were monks, priests, and seminarians all reside at the Abbey. I did a bit of research and finally figured out the difference. At Mt Angel Abbey, all the members are monks, but only some are ordained priests. A brother-monk is called “Brother,” and a priest-monk is called “Father.” Priests administer to the community, and monks who are not ordained do not. Totally confusing to me, but I have a better idea now than I did before we visited.

We sat on iron benches to the sanctuary’s west to wait for the 5:15 bells. The eight bells in the Abbey are cast in bronze, weighing between 407 to over 8,000 pounds, and are tuned to different scale notes in honor of various saints. As we waited for the bells to ring, we looked into the sanctuary where the monks would gather for vespers. The church was simple but lovely as the sun shone in the southern windows illuminating a small side chapel.

The bells began to ring just as the sun broke through the western sky, lighting up the warm colored stone against the dark storm clouds to the east of the bluff where the Abbey is located. It was a dramatic moment and definitely worth the wait.

We drove back to the RV park and settled in for a quiet evening. I was a bit overwhelmed at all we had seen in just one day. The rain stayed away long enough that Mo built a fire for us, and we sat outside after supper. I was glad that we managed to use that premium fire pit! As you can see in the above photo, there are a considerable number of sites in this park that are used for long term extended stays.  I read recently that many RV parks are becoming de facto mobile home parks. Adequate and available housing seems to be an issue everywhere.

Our next day was much easier but no less beautiful. We waited until the rain clouds cleared a bit before heading back into Silverton to explore some of the murals. There are maps available at the visitor center, but some aren’t particularly easy to understand, with exploding lines going in all directions. Our visitor center volunteer told us about the Red Sox mural in a part of town that isn’t easily seen from the main roads. We found the Red Sox mural and marveled at the character shown in the faces of the ballplayers. Johnny Pesky, whose Boston Red Sox career spanned nearly 60 years, was from Silverton. The Silverton Red Sox team was sponsored by the Silver Falls Timber Company during the 1930s. The mill was owned by Tom Yawkey, who also owned the Boston Red Sox. Pesky stuck with the Red Sox for life.

Our friendly volunteer also told us about the remarkable mural in town for Bobbie, one of the most famous citizens of Silverton. We walked by the mural the previous day and somehow missed it. Instead of being painted on a building, it is a long, low mural painted on a wall parallel to the sidewalk. Bobbie, The Wonder Dog, belonged to the Brazier of Silverton. On vacation to Indiana, where Bobbie was riding on the back of their car, he was attacked by some “curs” and ran off. After many hours, his owners finally gave up the search, sick at heart. Six months later, Bobbie appeared in Silverton after traveling more than 2,800 miles to find his beloved home and family. It was impossible to stitch together the dozen photos I took to capture the full length of this mural. 

There are 27 murals in Silverton, and we didn’t manage to see them all on this trip

We had other plans for the rest of the day. We drove 15 miles south to Silver Falls State Park for our next item on Mo’s list. The Trail of Ten Falls is beautiful and has more than 8 miles of up and down hiking. We have hiked those trails in the past, but this time our goal was to take the short path down to the base of South Falls, where it meanders under the cliffs and behind the falls. On this trip, I was content for a single hike thanks to wonderful memories of a previous trip to Silver Falls State Park in 2010. 

Visiting Silver Falls State Park  Here is a link to our trip when we camped in the park and hiked to all the waterfalls.  Even I had fun looking back at this blog post with tons of photos of waterfalls and hiking with my daughter, and oh my, my days when I was still a redhead!

When we began our walk, the parking lot wasn’t terribly full. Not surprising on this rainy, cloudy mid-week day. It was cool enough to safely leave Mattie in the car while we hiked since dogs aren’t allowed on the trails.

By the time we reached that area behind the falls, there were quite a few hikers laughing and ducking and getting wet from the overspray from the waterfall. It isn’t a challenging hike but a bit slippery and somewhat steep in places.

It was a test for me, and I passed. 2 years since the diagnosis of IBM for me, and so far, I am still managing to get around, and progression is slow enough that I can barely notice much difference over the months in my mobility. Silver Falls made me cry. It was so beautiful, and I was so incredibly grateful that I managed to hike the trail once more, even though it was a short one.

We only spent an hour on the trail, but by the time we got back to the top, we were wet and chilled from the dampness and overspray.

The South Falls Lodge at Silver Falls State Park was built in 1940 and 1941 and is a stunning example of magnificent craftsmanship by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The restaurant and dining room were open, and with only one other small family inside, we had the big Mission style leather sofa and chair in front of the hot crackling fireplace all to ourselves. Once again, we had good coffees and shared a delicious pastry. It was a perfect way to take off the chill and rest our bones.

We left the lodge area and drove down to the campground to check and see how full it was. Driving through the loop, only one site was available, an ADA site, for one night only. Everything else was either full or reserved. As we continued around the loop, it became clear why there was so little available. There is only one loop open in the campground, with all the others closed until after Memorial Day. Now I get it. As we left the park, we talked about how camping at Silver Falls State Park is a pleasant experience, but recreation in the park is limited to hiking the waterfall trails or biking the back trails. We have done both in the past but probably wouldn’t want to spend a lot of time at the park again if we can’t actually do all that hiking and biking. I think some of the trails would accommodate electric bikes, but they aren’t allowed on all the trails. For us, visiting Silver Falls State Park on a day trip from our site near Silverton was perfect.

We returned to the RV park again for a bit of a rest before driving north from Silverton to get a quick view of the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm. We knew that the tulips were still blooming but didn’t want to brave the crowds to go on the property again to walk among the tulips, and I hoped we could see them from the road. We visited the farm during full bloom on a previous trip to Silverton and knew how beautiful it could be.  Here is a link to a LOT of my photos from that trip.  Magnificent Tulips at the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival

Sure enough, by the time we got there, the lines of cars were quite long, even an hour before it was set to close. I caught a couple of photos, and we continued north toward Molalla for the last item on our list.

Mo’s brother and wife, Chere, live just 20 minutes or so from Molalla, less than half an hour north of Silverton. It was a perfect spot for us to get together for supper at Don Taco’s Mexican restaurant. I somehow completely forgot to take photos of our time together, which shows how much fun we had visiting and eating a delicious meal.

By the time we got back to the park, we both were impressed with ourselves for all we had managed to do in just two days. Still, there was plenty of firewood left for another fire, and the rain had dissipated for the evening. We ended our little mini-vacation with another big campfire. I would imagine all those folks in the non-premium sites might have been a little bit jealous.

Here is a map of our meanderings for our time near Silverton.

04-20-2022 A Sweet April Part 1

At last I am getting back to writing about the beautiful month of April.  What I call “Green Leaf Day” burst in its full backlit glory on exactly April First.  The skies were gorgeous early in the month and Mo and I spent several days mowing, weeding, trimming, hauling, and enjoying the beautiful weather.  

Deb and Mo in the Expo court yard at the Oregon Cheese Festival

We began the month of April with a fabulous visit to the Oregon Cheese Festival in nearby Central Point at the Jackson County Fair Expo.  The event has been cancelled for the last two years because of Covid, and in previous years it seemed that we were either traveling, or caught up in something and too busy to attend. Searching the memory banks, I discovered the last time we attended the festival was in 2012!

This time we went with Daughter Deborah and had a great time. In addition to artisan cheeses from all over Oregon, there were wineries, breweries, and distilleries, offering tastes of their specialties.  It was a lovely, sunny day, and I purchased a ridiculous amount of yummy cheese, but Deborah bought even more than I did.

Then on April 9 the snow came, not just flurries, but real snow that actually stuck and turned everything white.  Since that date, the days have been many variations of cold, wet, rainy, a little bit snowy, blustery, and not conducive to doing much outdoor work.  Mo still manages to keep busy with various repair projects around the place, either in her wood shop or in the RV shed.

This part of Oregon has seen more rain this month that we received throughout January, February, and March.  It is a blessed relief to hope that maybe the hot, dry, scary days of summer will be a bit delayed and maybe, just maybe the fires might not come as early as they have in the last few years.  I am writing this on May 10, and we have yet to spread the gravel we ordered at the first of the month or begin setting up the sprinklers.  Last year at this time I was irrigating daily.

We have no problem entertaining ourselves when it is damp and cold.  I spent time quilting, making some placemats for friends.  My favorite part of quilting is playing with my stash of fabrics, deciding what I want to put together into something useful.

I decided to try a mail order meal program called, “Hello Fresh”, and had great fun cooking.  I cook a lot, but like most cooks I have a style of my own.  My tendency to repeat certain seasonings and flavorings and ways of cooking is no doubt similar to most cooks.  I also get bored sometimes with trying to come up with something for dinner…again. 

With the Hello Fresh program, I chose 3 or 4 meals for a week for not much more than it would have cost me to shop and purchase the ingredients.  It was a kick, and I learned some new cooking techniques and alternative seasonings and sauces.  If nothing else, it got me out of my cooking rut.  I won’t continue much longer, but in the mean time, so far, Mo has enjoyed every one of the meals we have chosen.

I let myself get lost in puzzles again, wondering how I spent 75 years of my life without getting addicted to this simple, but engrossing pastime. 

Just before Easter, I got a call from Daughter Deanna, who lives in northern Washington State.  She and husband, Keith, needed to drive south for a quick overnight to pick up some equipment for her company in Central Point.  It was a quick trip, without much time for visiting, but we managed to get all of us together for a delightful afternoon at the local Applebee’s.  Daughter Melody drove south from Eugene for the get-together.  It was the first time in a long time that I have had all three daughters together.  Even for only a few hours, over margueritas and a good meal, it was a special time for me.

The next day the deck chairs that we had ordered from Home Depot arrived.  They turned out beautifully, but thank goodness Mo was around to manage all those screws and bolts.  What a project!!  We are happy to have nice, sturdy, comfortable chairs to share with guests when we dine on the deck in the future.

With the dreary weather I wasn’t inspired much to bring in all the Easter décor, but once I did I was glad I had done it.  All those bunnies and the cute pastel stuff can make even a dreary day seem like spring.

Easter was simple, with our friends Maryruth and Gerald joining us with Daughter Deborah,  and Grandson Matthew.  We made a very traditional meal, with a wonderful ham from our local meat specialty shop and the traditional green beans with bacon and scalloped potatoes.  Deborah made a yummy lemon cake that was so good.

Other sweet times for me included my bi-weekly Tuesday morning coffee date with friend Kristin and her adorable daughter Ruby.  It’s kinda nice when a sweet little girl greets me with big hugs and hellos.  I met Kristin through the book club, and while there are many nice ladies there, Kristin has become a true friend, a delight.

The entire month of April was filled with the fragrance of our huge, old lilac bush.  I have no idea how old it is, and I am sure that it has never received any irrigation or much care over the decades.  I have started attempting to trim the suckers from the base each year.  The long, chilly spring was good for the flowers.  The lilacs lasted for weeks, the tulips opened, and stayed fresh and full without blowing out from the heat as they normally do. 

The grass grew fast enough I had to try to find time to mow in between rains at least once a week and Mo managed to mow the pasture a few times as well.  I am grateful for the cool, moist rains, but I am also very ready for some sunshine and warmth.  The gardens are waiting, the gravel needs spreading and the sprinklers need work!

03-31-2022 Marching Forward

March is a month when everything is changing. Some days feel like winter, and other days are like spring. Sometimes winter and spring can happen on the same day. The remarkable differences between February and March, however, are the flowers. Mid-month primroses are in full bloom, and the daffodils begin to appear and are in full color by the end of the month.

Mo’s birthday is the first of the month, and she usually decides on some kind of travel destination to celebrate. We had only returned a few days earlier from our trip to California, so this time a local celebration was her choice. We went to see “Dog”, a charming and entertaining movie.

Dinner at the Taprock Grill ended the day perfectly. Even with the rain, the view of the river and the Caveman Bridge was delightful.

The rain made days indoors a priority, with puzzles and quilting filling my time. I tried a new technique called “Quilt as you Go” for the first time and enjoyed making cute little mugrugs. I gave a few to friends and family and kept one for my bedside table, and it was an excellent way to use up fabric scraps in my stash.

I spent a considerable amount of time working on our trip plans for this coming August. We are doing a tour of New York City with Adventure Caravans. Traveling cross-country to New York requires more planning than ever with the complexity of reservation requirements. RV Trip Wizard is an app that I use since “Streets and Trips” is no longer available. I am getting used to it, and the annual cost isn’t bad, but remember the old days when we could own software on our computers instead of online??

Prepping for our New York trip with a New York puzzle

While I am fiddling indoors, Mo usually finds something to do in her shop, where a small heater keeps things comfortable. Her big project was cleaning up a beautiful solid oak drop leaf table that she plans to sell. It is another lovely piece of furniture that we couldn’t fit into Sunset House.

In addition to flowers, mid-March is when the grass grows in earnest. Mo had to mow the pasture twice, and I cut the small front lawns a couple of times, much earlier than in years past.

Daughter Melody drove south from Eugene to spend a day with me. Even though we talk and text often, it is a treat to see her in person and get a real Melody hug. Plus is gave her an excuse to take a little trip in her new car. We spent girl time at the Red Lily Vineyard on the Applegate Wine Trail.

The wine is superb, and the Tapas Board a real treat. Even with the sun shining, the March breezes kept us indoors. Those March breezes kicked up quite a storm and blew down power lines across our route back home. I later discovered that it was several hours before the road opened, so our choice to take the long way home through Jacksonville and Medford was good.

Mo and I filled up a few days with a Costco run to Medford, doctor visits, and family visits. After two years of Covid restrictions, I finally got my Coconut Shrimp appetizer fix at Red Lobster in Medford. Even with the virus waning, there is still a shortage of wait staff in most restaurants, and more than half of the restaurant was closed to customers.

Week four brought friends and a camping trip to Brookings, which I wrote about in the previous post. We returned from this trip just in time for a planned outing with Daughter Deborah.  It was spring break and she had a week away from work to do something special. 

She wanted to go wine tasting on the Applegate.  Once again we went to Red Lily for excellent wine and the Tapas Board.  ( This is getting to be a habit!).  The day was beautiful, with sunshine and blue skies. It was still not quite warn enough to sit outside but the tasting room is comfortable and lovely. 

Continuing along the wine trail toward Jacksonville, we visited a winery called “Dancin”.  The grounds were gorgeous, and by the time we arrived, the tasting area was quite crowded.  We were informed that we could have a table for just 45 minutes before the next reservation arrived.  We didn’t need any longer because the wine didn’t appeal to us.  Possibly our choice to taste the pinot noir was a mistake, and someday we may go back and try their more prestigious whites. 

We continued along Old Stage Road in Central Point toward home as we attempted to find the Hummingbird Estate.  This last minute choice made our day perfect.  We loved the wine, the view was gorgeous overlooking the Rogue Valley, and the daughter of the owner of the vineyard was delightful. 

She told us stories about their purchase of the vineyard, their winemaking, their young vines, their family, and the history of the house, built in 1926.  Deborah loved the idea of supporting such a lovely local vineyard, bought several bottles of wine and joined their wine club! 

We still managed one more camping trip in March.

The Rogue River winds through our valley on its meandering journey from Crater Lake to the Pacific Ocean. We are lucky to have several beautiful county parks within a short distance from home. A neighbor who lives down the street from us often talks about camping at Griffin Park. I checked for sites to no avail and then discovered that with a bit of effort, reservations are canceled, and suddenly, a site was available. We snagged site 3, facing the Rogue River, for 3 lovely days at the end of the month.

With only 16 miles to travel and not much to do in the park’s vicinity, we decided to go without the Tracker. I wasn’t sure we could fill three entire days without exploring somewhere, but it was a perfect choice. We settled into our site on the first cloudy day, knowing the sun would be out in full by the following day. 

Mo managed to pack enough wood in a tote for three campfires, one for each night, and the little WeberQ BBQ fit in the aisle of the MoHo for the short trip. When we talked about taking the car, my first thought was how we would manage to haul the BBQ and the firewood!

The second day was a gorgeous, warm, sunny day, and in the morning, I went for a nice hike/walk along the river. The park is surrounded by BLM land on three sides. Even though houses are nearby, the BLM land provides a bit of a barrier between civilization and open space.

The river was gorgeous. Mo and I walked the path again the next day, checking out how far upstream we could paddle our kayaks before encountering rapids.

I walked around the park road to photograph the gorgeous shooting stars Dodecatheon pulchellum in full bloom. In all my days of wildflower viewing, I have never seen such a huge patch of these flowers in full bloom. I tromped into the grass for closeups in my open-toed sandals.

I realized that I was treading through short stems of newly sprouting poison oak a few minutes later. I am horribly allergic to the stuff and went immediately into panic mode. I know about TechNu but haven’t carried it with me since my days working in the California foothills. I walked quickly back to the MoHo, thinking about how to get the oils off my skin. I thought about all those birds and the oil spills. What do the volunteers use to clean the birds? DAWN! I scrubbed my shoes and skin with Dawn and packed my pants into a plastic bag. Success! I didn’t get a single blister on my feet or legs.

We invited our friends Maryruth and Gerald to drive out from Grants Pass to join us for an afternoon of dominoes and a BBQ rib early supper. I came prepared with marshmallows, and Maryruth provided the chocolate for the after-supper treat. I purchased the top brand of marshmallows and was shocked to discover that they are about half the size they used to be. If they sell them by the ounce, what is the purpose of making them so small? They were about halfway between a mini marshmallow and a regular marshmallow. I thought about getting the colossal campfire marshmallows. Still, it was impossible to get them into your mouth the last time I tried that! Such a silly thing, yet it made fitting the mallow on the stick very hard and even harder to get the little bit of chocolate into the tiny mallow!   Such a silly thing.

We decided to take another route back home. I got excited when I realized that our trip would take us past the Rogue Creamery. The main store is located in Central Point, but the dairy is tucked away along Lower River Road, a few miles from Grants Pass. I bought some of the world-famous bleu cheese and enjoyed a grilled cheese sandwich made with sharp cheddar, a bit of bleu, and honey on sourdough bread. Yum! What a great way to end the month of March.

03-22-2022 Sharing a Favorite Spot with Friends

Some people I know have many friends they have known since childhood, and some still maintain contact with friends from grade school, high school, and college days. Maybe I moved around too much throughout my lifetime. Still, I managed to keep some treasured friends for a very long time. It is hard for me to believe that Phil and Joanne have been my friends since 1977. Is it possible that it has been 45 years since Phil and I started working together in soil survey?

Phil and I in 1984 in the St Joe NF

Phil was the first person to take me to the field in Bonner County, Idaho, where we dug pits together and tried to put together the puzzle of soil types in those holes and make a coherent map of how they occurred in the landscape. While mapping soils with Phil, I met and became friends with his wife, Joanne. They were around for so many milestones in my life. When they returned West in 2012 after many decades in the Midwest, I was thrilled to have a chance to again spend time with the two of them.

Here are Phil and Joanne with their firstborn son, at my wedding in 1980.  For blog followers who know daughter Melody and friend Maryruth, they are on the right side of the photo.

Phil and Jo have been campers, hikers, and backpackers for years but only recently made the jump and purchased a motorhome. When Joanne called me a couple of weeks ago and said they were possibly picking up their new rig on March 15, Mo and I were excited. First on the agenda would be overnight at Sunset House, where we could compare RVing notes, and they could enjoy their first night in the Unity. Joanne was excited and wanted to head for the coast after their night here.

Great idea, but as most RVr’s know, getting a last-minute reservation on the Oregon Coast is nearly impossible. I went to Harris Beach State Park campsite reservations on the web and wasn’t surprised to see that all sites were reserved for the next few weeks.

They planned to arrive on Saturday, and on Friday morning, I thought I would check one more time. Sure enough, not only 1 but two sites were available. Even though it was Spring Break, someone had canceled Site A10, front row overlooking the ocean, and Site A7, just across the road from A10. I had 15 minutes to confirm the reservation and took a chance that Phil and Jo would be on board with my choice.

Even though sites in every state park on the Oregon Coast are booked for months in advance, cancellations sometimes appear. It pays to be flexible and vigilant and never give up until the last minute.

Traveling south to Grants Pass from Eugene, our friends arrived mid-afternoon on Saturday. Mattie was thrilled to see Joanne again. When Mo and I traveled to Ireland in 2015, Joanne and Phil kept Mattie for three weeks, saving the trauma of boarding her in a kennel. Joanne and Mattie have a sweet bond. 

The four of us checked out their Unity 25-foot motorhome. We talked about the little details of RV traveling that we so often take for granted. Before supper, there was plenty of time to go uptown to the Weekend Brewing Company, a relatively new spot in Grants Pass. The beer was great, and the location was trendy on this sunny afternoon. Dogs sat indoors with their proud owners, food trucks provided sustenance, and kids and families played on the green lawns in the sunshine. I somehow never thought of a brewery as a place for kids.

Back home, I loaded up a large cod filet with spices and lemons, popped it on the grill, and made coleslaw and roasted veggies. We decided it was a great time to open the bottle of Bokish Verdejo that we purchased on our recent trip to the Lodi wineries.

WeatherUnderground predicted decent weather for Sunday and Monday. The days would be cloudy but with no rain. Sun would arrive in full on Tuesday, but that didn’t matter. Any day at the beach, even cloudy ones, is good. With the park just two hours west and check-in at 2 PM, we had a leisurely morning before leaving Grants Pass around 11:30. The drive was easy. Anyone who has driven Highway 199 knows it is narrow and winding. There are turnouts, but sometimes they are a bit short. I was in the lead and tried to ensure that any turnout I used could accommodate both rigs.

Pulling into the park just before 2, we settled into our respective sites quickly. Even with the cloudy skies, the ocean view was lovely from the A row. A short walk around the park before dinner allowed me to point out the various trails down to the beach and the Bluff Trail.

Here we are in A-7 with Phil and Jo across from us in A-10

Supper was easy, with pre-cooked veggie taco meat for Phil and Joanne and spicy beef taco meat for us. Homemade salsa and lots of condiments rounded out the meal. Before supper, Mo started a campfire, and by the time we finished eating, the coals were almost ready for marshmallows. Lucky for me, Joanne brought chocolate to stuff into the hot marshmallows to melt into gooey goodness.

Here is a photo of A10 one year when Mo and I took that site

Even with the park full of kids celebrating Spring Break, the park was surprisingly quiet all night. Monday morning, low tide was at 8:30, and Mo and I headed for the beach in time to see one of the lowest tide levels we have experienced at Harris Beach. At first, I lamented the lack of sea stars on the rocks, but I discovered many as we walked north along the water’s edge. The sea stars species are at risk, and it was a thrill to see so many of them tucked into the rocks.

Mattie loved her walk, as usual, tearing around in the sand and leaping over the little streams on the beach. She found rocks to climb and enjoyed the ability to run leash-free on the nearly empty beach.

We returned to the park in time to ask a ranger if there was an available site for that night. When we asked on Sunday, they told us to check again around 10 AM on the day we wanted to stay. We were lucky enough to get another canceled reservation site right next to our existing site.

Phil and Jo ran a few shopping errands with our little car before returning to the park to prepare for our afternoon excursion. We planned a walking trip to Chetco Park Trail, where Mo and I had taken Mattie on her first visit to Harris Beach in 2015. The trail isn’t long, paved near the entrance, and reasonably smooth and nearly level in most parts. 

The parking lot is a surprise unless one knows where to walk beyond the sewage facility. Near the trail’s beginning is a nice new dog park where Mattie could run. We saw many dogs on our walk, but there were none at the dog park when we arrived after our walk.

The views from the peninsula are beautiful, with pristine beaches below the rocks, wide-open ocean vistas to the West, and tiny wildflowers tucked among the windblown shrubs and grasses along the trail.

We ended the afternoon with an early supper at Super Fly Martini Bar, a trendy place Mo and I discovered in December when we visited the festival with Maryruth and Gerald. As before, the martinis were stellar, and the food was delicious. We had excellent service, good hot food, and an atmosphere that wasn’t noisy despite the holiday week.

After supper, Mo drove around town a bit, showing Phil and Jo some of the things we love about Brookings. Sadly I got no photos of our lovely walk through Azaela Park, where the rhodies were beginning to bloom. I showed Joanne the Azalea Light Festival pictures from our previous visits in December. Already plans are made for reserving sites for the four of us at Harris Beach during the festival next winter. 

Once again, we concluded our evening with a campfire and marshmallows. Phil and Joanne decided that the park was so wonderful that they wanted to extend their reservation for another night. The following day they walked the beach at low tide, but not before checking with the ranger for a site for the coming night. They were successful!

I learned that even though everything is fully booked, it is sometimes worth it to double-check with the park rangers for possible cancellations or open sites. As I told Phil, I would always have a backup plan if this didn’t work, especially in the summer. There is nothing worse than having no place to go and having to settle in somewhere unknown in the dark.

Mo and I enjoyed Tuesday morning with brilliant sunshine lighting up the skies. We took our time getting ready to leave the park. With check-out time at 1 PM, there was no hurry.

I took a bit of time to hike the short but steep trail up to Harris Bluff.  I went alone so I could test myself a bit but I did take the phone.  The view was worth every slow, careful step!

We watched Phil and Jo drive by to their new site before heading up the hill to wish them goodbye and happy travels.

One last note. Mo and I often hook up the Tracker outside the park at the parking area along the upper trail. We learned that it isn’t smart to expect that area to be empty, and I had to return to the parking lot adjacent to the dumpsite to have room to hook up. Neither of us is comfortable hooking up in the park roadways. 

Our trip home was uneventful, with some traffic and sunny skies. We were parked and unloaded within an hour of arriving at home. I talked with Joanne this morning. They were happy with their decision to stay another night, even though it meant that Joanne had to cancel some necessary appointments. Her last words to me were, “I can see why people want to do this all the time. I want to run away forever.”

02-24-2022 From Lodi to Brookings on Highway 1 and other stuff

Our time in Lodi came to an end on Saturday morning. The temperatures were in the low 50s, and the sun was shining when we departed Flag City RV Resort. Fuel at the nearby Flying J was $4.49 per gallon for regular, and I am glad regular gas works perfectly fine in the MoHo. Another little delight at the Flying J is the Cinnabon kiosk. An excellent sugar rush and oh so sinfully good!

I planned one last visit for our trip. My sister lives in Vallejo, California. We don’t see each other often, but it is always a kick. Sally is a true homebody with no desire to travel anywhere, so a trip to Grants Pass for Sally won’t happen any time soon. Sally has good reasons for staying close to home. At 72 years old, she has chickens, bees, dogs, cats, and a horse that she rides almost daily. Sally also quilts and makes all sorts of lovely goodies that she sells to local shops.

In addition, Sally works full time, at home a couple of days a week, and in an office the other three days. I am in awe of her energy, and visiting is always so much fun.Before her current legal secretarial gig, Sally’s job was driving a semi-truck cross country. She managed that one for a few years before settling back in Vallejo, the town where she was raised and lived much of her life. I am still amazed at how Sally has turned a duplex on a city lot into a small farm. It was a fun visit, and we left with jars of honey, homemade peach jam from her trees, lemons, and giant brown eggs.

We had a great visit before continuing our westward journey toward Bodega Bay. Within minutes of leaving Sally’s house traveling Highway 37, we were at a dead stop. Stuck in traffic for half an hour wasn’t as bad as it could have been. I was driving and had plenty of time to check our route, look up the campground reservation, eat a snack, and recuperate from all the wonderful high-energy time at Sally’s.

We arrived at the Westside Regional Park and Campground around 3, in time to settle in and settle down a bit for the afternoon. The weather was sunny, but the cold wind made walking along the bay somewhat challenging. Even Mattie was ready to go back inside after her walk.

Mo and I paid no attention to the coincidental holiday dates when making our trip plans. We landed at Bodega Bay on President’s Day weekend. In California, we discovered it was also President’s Day Week, with schools suspended for the entire week. Happy families filled the park with lots of kids and a good kind of noise. I enjoyed watching the big extended family come to their joint campsite next to us for huge pots of boiled crabs and clams cooking on the big bbq. The families were loud but not obnoxious, and there wasn’t a single noisy motorized anything disturbing the sound of gulls and laughing kids.

After settling into our supper, we fell asleep to the sounds of people laughing and talking around the campfires. When I woke up to the moonlight at midnight, everything was silent. Unlike some horror stories I have read from other bloggers about holiday weekends at regional parks, this was a pleasing experience.

The following day, Mo took Mattie to walk along the bay before we drove south on the spit. The campground is on the bay, but nearby side roads lead to high cliffs with views of the Pacific Ocean in all its wild glory.

The wind was strong and cold, and the steep trails weren’t very inviting. The view from the cliff was terrific. Whale watchers lined up watching for the migrating blue whales that pass by here daily at this time of year.

The sun was brilliant, and the winds were not too strong when we pulled out of the park. Google wanted us to return inland to Highway 101, but we had other plans. Highway 1 is narrow, winding, and gorgeous. On 101, the ocean is several miles west, but on Highway 1, the route is adjacent to the steep, wild cliffs that make for spectacular views. It also makes for breathtaking driving, especially in a motorhome.

In the past, we drove Highway 1 through rainstorms and road closures due to slides. On this day, our drive was beautiful and easy.

Yes, the road is curvy, the pavement can be rough, the cliffs are close, and sometimes I thought ferns hanging off the rocks on the passenger side were cleaning the rig. However, the most challenging part of the drive isn’t the part along the coast.

The stretch from Westport to Legget is not an easy drive over the coast range. The road is steep, and the cliffs are close and crazy winding. We were worn out by the time we reached Legget, just a few miles south of Richardson Grove. We agreed that maybe we didn’t have to drive Highway 1 again.

We had no plan for our day other than meandering along the highway to our night destination. I couldn’t get a reservation for our park of choice near Richardson Grove, and no one ever answered the phone, and there wasn’t an option to leave a message. We took our chances. Over the years, we have parked at Richardson Grove RV Park without reservations several times.

A church group runs the park in a relatively loose manner. When we arrived at Richardson Grove, the office was closed. We were used to this from past experience. A note on the board stated the price for a site and envelopes and a slot for payment. There wasn’t a soul around until we parked, and I walked back toward the office. A young woman appeared and asked if I needed help. The current price for a spot is $56. I questioned if they were still a Passport America park, and she said no, and the best she could do was $50. for the night. The most we ever paid at this park was $18 with our PPA discount. That is a BIG change, but we paid the price, glad for a place to land for the night after our challenging drive.

The following day we took our time leaving to travel north toward Brookings. When we left Richardson Grove the sun was shining, but as we continued north on 101 the predicted clouds began to appear.

I had a bit of trouble making our Harris Beach State Park reservations back in December. There was nothing available, and we decided to take our chances with first-come, first-served sites or a possible stay at BeachFront RV Park in Harbor. Before leaving in February, I rechecked the ReserveAmerica website and found a vacancy. 

Our site was on a loop toward the back of the park. We have camped in several spots at Harris Beach, but this loop was a first for us. To our surprise, the site was private, and with high trees all around us, we still had late afternoon sunshine. There was no beach view, but we have enjoyed those beach views many times and didn’t mind.

We were awakened by the rain on our first full day at Harris Beach.  Neither of us minded much.  I made a short run to Fred Meyer for a few groceries.  We enjoyed hanging out in the MoHo doing absolutely nothing except catching up on news while I finished a blog post.

The next two days at Harris Beach were relaxing and uneventful. The rains left, the skies were gorgeous, but temperatures in the 40s with the wind weren’t conducive to long hours on the beach. We managed a fantastic walk with Mattie on Tuesday down the South Beach Trail where Mattie could run off leash outside the official boundaries of the park.

On Wednesday we wakened to another very cold, but sunny day.  We followed a leisurely breakfast and computer/tv time with a mid morning walk on the northern portion of Harris Beach.  The tides were out farther than we have seen in several years.  Much of the time we go to Harris Beach it is during the fall and winter during high King Tides.  It was fun to walk around the rocks between sections of the beach that aren’t usually accessible to us so easily.  The wind was cold, but we found a couple of protected spots to warm ourselves in the sunshine.

\We filled the rest of our days with cards, campfires, relaxing, and reading. Our initial plans included driving a few extra miles to buy fish and chips from our favorite spot in Crescent City on the way home to Grants Pass. By the time Wednesday rolled around, that idea didn’t sound as appealing as it did initially. Instead, we decided to try out a restaurant in the Harbor Area that we often frequented a few years ago. 

Catalyst Seafood was preciously known as Chetco Seafood. Mo and I loved Chetco Seafood. The fish was fresh and only lightly breaded, the wine was three bucks a glass, and the coleslaw was perfect. When it changed hands, we never bothered to try it out. 

When we first walked in, the change was noticeable. The place was packed, and the decor was very different. The owners updated the pastel decor to dark woods and tables. There was a bar in the back rather than the fish counter. We opted to be seated at the bar where two young men were sitting. They moved over for us, and we mentioned that we often ate at Chetco Seafood. One of the guys said, “My grandfather owned that restaurant.”  It turns out his grandfather sold the place to the new owner, the young man’s father. It was fun hearing a bit of the history of the business.

I missed the old place a bit. Especially when it came to paying the bill. Our $8.99 fish and chip dinner was now $20.00 if we wanted cod instead of rockfish, and there was no coleslaw. My Lemon Drop was made well and was a reasonable price at $9.00. The fish was good, but not as perfect as we remembered from the old days at Chetco Seafood. Still, I understand that businesses have to change with the times. Judging from the busy bar and restaurant, I imagine that the change has been profitable for the owners.

We had plenty of leftovers for dinner the next day. We were heading home on Thursday morning, and it is always lovely when dinner is easy on homecoming day.

The only tiny bit of entertainment I enjoyed in town was a leisurely exploration at the “Feather Your Nest” shop. I needed absolutely nothing but still wanted to browse a bit. It tickled me to find a little bit of artsy wall decor for the master bath at home. Hopefully, we can figure out a way to put a ladder in the bathtub and hang it up where it will fit perfectly with my beachy bathroom decor.

A great trip! Easy, no problems, no issues, everything worked perfectly.