October time

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I love October for many reasons, not the least of which is Halloween.  There is something about the decorations and colors that just make me smile inside.  I grew up in Southern California in the 50’s during a time when neighborhood trick-or-treating was safe and fun, where we all stayed out without our parents hovering late into the night.  That time of year in California is often punctuated by Santa Ana winds, clearing out the smog and bringing the smell of smoke from the wildland fires. As a kid, though, the smoke just smelled like campfires and scented the moonlit nights and hayrides along the dry riverbeds with a pungent sweetness.

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For me, Halloween decorating is one of the delights of this last month before the frosty gray and brown days of November come to the basin. Walking through Fred Meyer, affectionately known as Freddies, (our local mini-mega grocery store) was tempting me at every turn with orange lights and black spiders, but I promised myself that this year, before buying anything, I would take down the bins and put up what I already have. 

This is the first year Mo and I have actually shared a home, and this is a bit of a change for her.  Mo is a very practical person, not particularly prone to collecting random “stuff” and she has just a few simple decorations for fall. Mo just shakes her head at my colored bins of holiday decor, and patiently builds more shelves in the garage. I put up the little village on the side table, hang the witch curtain on the patio doors, and drape all sorts of orange and purple lights on the porch. I don’t even live in a town where kids might show up for trick-or-treat.  My daughter is on the way to visit this afternoon with my grandkids, and a neighbor might drop in now and then, but mostly it’s just for my own pleasure.

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Here in Rocky Point, the colors of the aspens down by the lake are turning gold, but in the yard our maples have a way to go.   While we were traveling last month, I must have received  two dozen “weather warnings” for hard frost and freezing temperatures in this part of the world, and yet the impatiens under the trees are still blooming as if it were high summer.    I have been spending some time in the gardens, pulling the random grass that insists on taking over the flower beds, enjoying the slanting fall light and crisp air. 

In the cool mornings, Mo builds a fire and we watch the news, amazing how things haven’t changed much after six weeks on the road without much television.

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Life is good!

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Bear in the yard

DSCN1985 Rocky Point is nestled in between the east facing slope of the Cascades and the Upper Klamath Lake National Wildlife Refuge.  We are on what is known in Oregon as “the east side”, with sunny skies and much less rainfall than the western part of Oregon.  In fact, much of the landscape east of the Cascades is considered desert, high desert, and dominated by sage and juniper.  If you look at a map of Oregon, you will see that the moist and rainy west side is only about a third of the state.  The major population centers of Oregon, however, are on the west side, the rainy side, and most people who don’t know the state well think of Oregon as green, lush, and rainy.

I happen to think that I have the best of both worlds here in Rocky Point.  We have the brilliant sunny skies of the east side, but since we are right at the base of the Cascades, we have enough rainfall to support a beautiful white fir/ponderosa pine/sugar pine forest.  We also have snow in the winter, much more than the western part of Oregon, in fact, Crater Lake, just a short drive from here has some of the deepest snow packs in the country.

With beautiful forests comes the added benefit of lots of wildlife.  No matter how frustrating it is to see my roses chewed down to the ground, I still enjoy seeing the doe and her fawns slipping around in the woods near the house. Mo built this house in 2002, and in all that time has never seen a bear on the property, although there have been rumors of bears roaming the neighborhoods now and then.

'10 Oct_Backyard bear 002While we were away, our neighbor reported that bears were finding the garbage cans, and roaming about.  Our can was basically empty since we weren’t here, but when we returned home I found a large pile of bear scat in the yard.  I know, of course, that this is the number one rule of living in the woods.  Your garbage MUST be secured against wildlife intrusion.  Instead, we thoughtlessly left the large can out in the yard, forgetting that a bear was possibly roaming about.

Sure enough, last weekend when I was unloading the MoHo, I turned around to see a very large black Newfoundland in the yard, and wondered who in the world had a dog that big around here.  I looked into his face, maybe 10 feet away, and looked again suddenly realizing I was looking right into the eyes of a very shiny, very pretty, young black bear.  He looked back at me, and I tried to figure out how to yell for Mo, who was around in the front of the house, without bringing the dog or scaring off the bear.  I got way too excited, and by the time Mo got around the house and I found the camera, Mr. Bear was gone.

I do hate to admit that we neglected to bring in the garbage can right away, but planned to take care of it this weekend.  Yesterday, while I was at work, Mo called to say she had a surprise.  Mr. Bear had returned, again in broad daylight in mid afternoon, '10 Oct_Backyard bear 001and was happily nosing around in the dumped over can.  Mo had time to find the camera, get the dog inside and then go back to shoo the bear away.  She told me she went out there with a broom.  “A broom??!!” I said.  “You were going to fight off a bear with a broom?!”.  “Well, he was just little and cute and didn’t seem very scary at all”. 

First she threw a couple of rocks to get his attention, and he stamped his foot and woofed at her a little, saying “Don’t bother me”.  She waved the broom at him and he ambled off, not too disturbed by her, even stopping to take a nice long drink from the bird bath before walking off into the forest.  And Mo got photos.  I think she may not be quite as excitable as I am.  Ha!

Needless to say, we did the responsible thing and put the garbage in the shop, locked up tight.  The sweet little bear is probably a 2 year old, just recently sent off by his mother, and is trying to find his way in the world. He will grow up into a nice big bear, and hopefully other folks around here will also keep their garbage put away and he will go off into the woods to make his living. Sweet little bears that get too used to people turn into not so sweet big bears that can be a problem.  I hope he stays wild and forgets that this yard once had a tasty morsel lying around.

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October 2 Cleanup Day

DSCN4840 It’s a gorgeous morning in Rocky Point, with 37 degrees and brilliant sunshine.  The sprinklers are still all hooked up and going, a good thing since daytime temperatures still are in the 80’s.  Sleeping in a big bed in a big house felt strange last night, but with the window open to the dark night, and an evening soak in the hot tub under the stars, I slept really well anyway.  That first coming-home-night always feels a little bit strange after traveling, and even more so after so many weeks in our baby house.  I get so comfortable in the small space, stepping two steps to the bathroom and three to the kitchen sink. 

After hauling in all the food, the clothing, the computers, cords, books, peanuts, and other flotsam of six weeks of travel, I decided to wait a bit before tackling the dirty rugs and bedding.  Today Mo will clean up the outside of the MoHo and I will clean up the inside. DSCN4846 I think I have the better job, judging from the dried bugs on the front of the rig.

The laundry is going, and probably will do so all day.  I couldn’t see paying for a laundromat in the last 10 days of traveling, so it’s a big job.  The accumulated mail was delivered yesterday afternoon, and I was glad that I drove the truck to the mailbox instead of walking. We spent a good deal of time going through it all and throwing out about 90 percent of it. Lots of fun things for me since I turned 65 while we were away.  The best one was an offer of free cremation among all the offers of social security medical supplements.

This morning Mo built a fire and it felt wonderful, helped things to feel a bit less cavernous in the house, and Jeremy thought it was a great idea as well.  This home is heated with wood through the winter, although there are some small electric wall heaters that will kick in when we are traveling when it gets below 50 degrees. Going through the bills was fun too, the electric bill was about a third of what it usually runs. “Gee, Mo, we should just stay gone all the time!”.  Surprising that the money to run the well pump to keep the sprinklers going and the refrigerators is still more than 50 bucks a month.

DSCN4848 I looked around the house this morning, and what struck me first was all the photos and art on the walls.  I am not sure what the difference is, because I look at photos online all the time, but the large format senior picture of my only granddaughter hangs in my bedroom, beside a restored photograph of my grandmother in 1927.  As much as I would love a full time life style, I am not yet ready to give up the “stuff” of living in a stick house with walls. 

Also, it is October, and time to put up the Halloween stuff.  I have a few bins stored high on shelves in the garage, all orange and black, that hold my fall decorations.  Such a silly thing, I know, but I love it.  In the next few days, since it is officially October, I can put up the lights and the pumpkins and the witches that herald one of my favorite months. Among the goodies is a fabulous witch painted gourd that I found in a tiny town in Illinois last month on the road.

In spite of all the good things about settling in to being here, I still am coveting the freedom of life on the road.  When Laurie (Semi-True Tales) and I met last month, I asked if she and Odel might eventually settle somewhere, and she laughed, “well, sure, maybe, but where??”  There are so many amazing places in the country that are incredible for a short time, for a few months of the year, but certainly not all the year long.  However, Rocky Point is a place that is wonderful in October, and I am glad to be here, and in another few days I am sure the nostalgia for the road will fade a bit.

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October 1 Boondocking on 447

Ely to Reservoir (38) Yesterday, as we left Ely, we both thought that our last night out would be a great time to actually boondock. Looking at the map, there were many miles of open range, what looked to be a lot of BLM land, and we imagined that finding a wide place to pull out would be simple. 

What we didn’t count on was the temperatures in late afternoon along our route.  Nevada is hot.  Most of the time, Nevada is hot.  I know this, but after all, it IS the last day of September.  After turning north on 447 from the Sparks area we started looking for a boondock site.  What wasn’t at first noticeable on the map that I was using was that many miles of the route were included in the Pyramid Lake Indian Reservation, not a place to try to camp without specific permission.

Ely to Reservoir (39) The other problem was the temperature.  It was five o’clock in the evening and the gauge read 100 degrees.  Stopping for just a few minutes to take a break and let the dog walk around a bit gave us a pretty good indication that we couldn’t really settle in until the sun went down, or we found a shady side of the hill.  We continued past Gerlock, and after several miles found a wide place in the road that would suffice, but I had a vague memory of a small lake and camping spot where Mo and I had stopped on a day trip in 2003.  There was nothing on my map, but the phone, when it worked sporadically, showed some green areas a bit distant, so we kept going.

Ely to Reservoir (45) The best moment of the day was rounding a steep curve and dropping down to the small reservoir, then realizing that the closed gate wasn’t locked.  The signs indicated private property but allowed recreational use if the rules were followed.  After some maneuvering, we settled the MoHo into a wide spot on a bumpy road, managed to get level, and opened up the fans and doors to the cooling evening breezes.

We camped with the slide closed, but still had plenty of room to cook a good supper and relax with a movie.  I have to thank Laurie Brown once more for helping us to finally understand our inverter!  We have traveled in the MoHo for two years without understanding that the tv and dvd would work if the inverter was on. 

Reservoir to home (1)The night was starlit and perfectly still, and even though we were fairly close to the road, the closed gate and complete absence of traffic made it feel perfectly safe. I watched the sun rise this morning over the basalt hills and felt incredibly grateful for this perfect last night.  Our trip home today through Alturas is on familiar roads and landscapes.  Mt Shasta will rise up in the distance to mark the passage and tell us we are close to home. 

I will call my daughter, we will stop at Fred Meyer for gas and groceries for home, we will dump the tanks at our local city park on the way out to Rocky Point. This trip of 7,714 miles will end, and it will be time to start thinking about the next one.

There are a few more photos for this last day of travel linked here>

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