08-08-2014 A Day to Celebrate Old Homes and Old Friends

Current Location: home in Rocky Point Oregon

Things get a bit strange for me when I am back home in the Inland Northwest.  I lived there for more than 30 years.  When I moved to Northern Idaho in 1972 the first time I believed it was my spirit soul home and that I would never leave.  I was so incredibly happy to have found the place where I belonged.  It came as a surprise to me that when the time came to leave, in 2002, I was ready to go.  flowers 04

My Hauser Cottage in 2002 I hauled everyone of those rocks from the mountains

It is no longer “home”.  Klamath Falls is now home and I knew it was the moment I arrived 12 years ago.  No clue how that happens, but it does.  Funny though, I grew up in Southern California and it never felt like home, even when I lived there.  As a child I was always dreaming of moving north.  As an adult I started the journey of years, ended it as far north as Prince George BC before finally coming to rest here in Oregon.  North enough.

Homes revisited (8 of 21)The Hauser cottage in 2014 the gardens are gone and so are the rocks

But unlike returning to the San Gabriel Valley in SoCal, when I go back north to the Spokane/Coeur d Alene area I feel the old pull.  I am brought up short over and over with memories of who I was then and who I am now.  I barely recognize myself any more.  There have been too many twists and turns in my life and as I said once before, the sections don’t seem to be all that connected.

08-07-2014 revisiting my old homes

The Hauser cottage in 2014 a lock box on the door but no for sale sign

Collages2My Hauser cottage gardens in 2002

Two of my four children are in Oregon and none are back in Washington or Idaho.  My lifetime soul friend, Maryruth, is in California, and I have other close and wonderful friends all over the US.  Yet there is one friend who shared that life with me who still lives the life we lived back then, right there north of Coeur D Alene in Dalton Gardens.

Friends revisited (3 of 95)My friend Laura in her backyard in Dalton Gardens

She even has the same donkey she had then, who is now 32 years old.  Laura also has chickens, which makes me miss mine, and she has gardens that flourish the way mine used to when I had that great soil and those long days to make things grow.

Friends revisited (22 of 95) I was so happy for a day to spend with Laura on her lush and luscious acre of perfect soil, water, and sunshine and a gardener’s love.  Driving east from Spokane early in the morning, I took a side route through Newman Lake and Hauser Lake, just to see how things had changed, and to see my old homes.

the HauserMy Hauser Farmhouse in 1984 in the first year of gardening there

Especially endearing to see was the old farmhouse where I lived with Lance and my kids for many years.  Melody spent her teenage years here, on her horse most of the time.  My gardens were so magnificent that people would drive by every Sunday to see what was blooming.  It was a lovely life at that time.  The old weeping willow is now so big that I can no longer see the house from the road.  The house itself was the second one built on Hauser Lake, in 1886.  It was tiny, and had only wood heat.  Lots of memories in that place. 

Homes revisited (20 of 21)The old Hauser Farmhouse in 2014 Grandsons birth trees on the right and to the right of the willow

I took photos of my two grandsons’ birth trees which are planted at this old homestead, and they are both thriving.

I then drove by the tiny cottage that belonged to my grandmother, where she died, and where I ended up after becoming almost homeless after my divorce.  For nearly 7 years I worked hard to make this tiny place a home, and the gardens again flourished, although in a much smaller space.  The ceilings were only 6 feet 4 inches high.  Easy to paint, but my son in law used to have trouble walking around inside!

Scan004, October 20, 2001Hauser Cottage in 2002Homes revisited (5 of 21) Hauser Cottage in 2014

The last time I drove by this house I was devastated.  The gardens were gone, most of the huge firs were gone.  The house was abandoned and in shambles.  This time it was a bit different.  Still no gardens, but the house was being loved and repaired.  It was empty, so I walked around and looked inside the windows.  There were new cupboards, new floors, everything remodeled  nicely.  

Homes revisited (15 of 21) The old brick patio I laid was still there, and the wooden bench that Bel made, where I sat for many hours with my cat Caesar, who lived to be 16 years old, was still there.  Someday someone may garden there again, and the huge 100 year old maple and horse chestnut tree still thrive.

Friends revisited (10 of 95)Laura’s gardens

It was a nostalgic drive, and I was very happy to continue east to Laura’s to get some big loving hugs and be treated to my friend’s amazing space. Laura lived that old life with me.  We canned and cooked together, trained our horses together, talked about chickens and eggs and men together.  Raved about “stuff” together, even shared our journals with each other. We understood each other and still do. I am so glad that Laura finally retired from her life of nursing to be home with her gardens and her granddaughters and daughters, and that she had a whole day free to spend with me.

Friends revisited (56 of 95) Laura laughs and calls herself a hoarder, and says her contractor husband is a hoarder as well. 

Friends revisited (81 of 95) Well, she may be right, but Laura is the best kind of hoarder you can imagine.  She hoards “stuff” to make crazy art and it emerges from every nook and cranny in her gardens and her home. 

Friends revisited (74 of 95) Even in early August, her tomatoes were huge, her squashes ripe, beans, fruit, cucumbers, everything you could possibly imagine was huge and lush.  It sure made me miss my old gardens. 

Friends revisited (41 of 95) As hard as I try I can’t make things grow like this in my forest home in the mountains of Oregon.  Laura has flowers everywhere.  She also has a ton of ribbons from the county fair for her flowers from the last few years.  I think I’ll just let the photos speak for themselves.

Friends revisited (15 of 95)Friends revisited (18 of 95)Friends revisited (11 of 95)Friends revisited (20 of 95) I wanted to see another old friend as well, Sandy, but her work schedule made it harder to fit an entire day in. 

Friends revisited (86 of 95)Instead, with Sandy also being a friend of Laura’s, we had a beautiful lunch of fresh picked veggies in Laura’s dining room while we reminisced about old times. 

Friends revisited (88 of 95)Friends revisited (89 of 95) The best kind of day with people I have loved for years from my old life.

Next post: Back to the reunion for fabulous family dinners and floating the Little Spokane River

 

08-07-2014 Silverwood with Thirty People

Current Location: we are home in Rocky Point Oregon

silverwood I have a huge soft spot for Silverwood Theme Park in Northern Idaho.  It didn’t exist when I first moved to the nearby village of Rathdrum in 1972, population 751.  My kids went to grade school, junior high and high school in Rathdrum.  Rathdrum is about half way between Spokane and Athol, where the Silverwood roller coasters now dominate the landscape.  Hate to say it, but say “Athol” out loud and laugh with all the old locals about their town.  I think I read long ago that both names came from somewhere in Ireland.

Henley_ID_87Aug11article When I lived in that area, Silverwood was just a dream, and at the time was simply a funky old train running around the property and a restaurant called the Henley Aerodrome.  I drove by it every day on my way to Bonner County to map soils as a brand new soil scientist.  The theme park didn’t actually open until 1988, and just about everyone from Spokane to Coeur d Alene thought the owner was making a very huge, very expensive mistake.  After all, there wasn’t the population base and it was out in the middle of nowhere!1976 Rathdrum life-007

My house in Rathdrum in the mid 70’s

Well, let me tell you, he was right and we were all wrong.  When I moved to CDA, the population was 14,000.  It now is close to 100K in the surrounding communities and the houses stretch across the Rathdrum Prairie for the entire 35 miles between CDA and Spokane.  Plenty of people to fill the huge parking lot daily and make that man a zillionaire! Our sweet little Rathdrum now boasts more than 6,000 inhabitants! rathdrum 2010

Rathdrum in 2010 with the huge Burlington Northern terminal sitting on top of the Spokane Aquifer

When Don was working on the schedule for the reunion, he had to choose which activity would be most likely to be affected by weekend crowds, and Silverwood won.  As a result, he chose Thursday for the big family day at the park.  We got group rates in addition to senior rates for a few of us, meaning Mo and I only paid $18.09 each for the full day.  Good deal!

What I didn’t realize when Don was talking about swimsuits and lockers was that there was an addition to Silverwood called Boulder Beach, a water park.  Now I used to take my kids to water parks in Spokane…you know…a water slide and a pool, so I wasn’t that excited about that part. 

family to Silverwood I was more excited about having the chance to enter the gate at first opening and then RUN all the way to the line for TREMORS, one of my favorite roller coasters.  You see, I am a roller coaster addict.  I can’t explain why I get seasick on a ship or in a car, but a roller coaster just makes me feel all alive and buzzy.  Like the best hit of whatever that you could imagine.  Go figure.

waiting in line for TremorsI have a dream to do a roller coaster trip and catch all the big ones on the east side of the country, but that entails traveling in the summer since all the big parks close on Labor Day.  Sigh.  Who knows if it will ever happen.

100 foot drop at 60 mph  rated 9 in the country and 17 in the world for wooden coastersIn the mean time, however, unlimited rides on Tremors and my possible alternative favorite, Timber Terror, famous for its “air time” was enough to keep me excited about this particular family activity.

Many folks in the group had other ideas, and the water park was highest on their agenda.  While everyone hurried to the park to snag the best waterside seats, Mo and I and “the kids”, Callie and Josh, ran with us to the roller coasters.  And oh my gosh…it was as good as I remember, although on this supposedly unbusy Thursday morning I only managed about 3 rides before the lines got too long to deal with.

photo of the photo.  I knew where the camera was from past years on this coasterBack in 2001, when I took my then 14 year old grandson to the park, we managed 18 consecutive rides between the two roller coasters.  Mo only opted for one ride on each coaster, but at least we got the photo.  You can tell I know where the camera is on this one!

Mo and I waited almost 45 minutes to take another ride with some cool water splashes, but when the line stopped moving and no one said why, we gave up and headed for the water park.

waiting for the waves at Boulder Beach Water Park at Silverwood I had the surprise of my life.  Probably anyone with young kids in their lives know that water parks aren’t what they used to be, but I had no clue.  We walked in the gates (all included with our Silverwood ticket), and a Disneyland of water opened up before us.  There were several combinations of water slides, a “lazy river” with inner tubes that looked fabulously inviting, and two giant wave pools.  Can you believe I have never actually been in a wave pool?

Boulder Beach Water Park is huge I would have loved to float the river, but we needed to find the family.  No problem…there were at least 20 of them somewhere, right?  For a slow day, I have never seen so many people.  After a bit of wandering and searching, we finally found them all lined up by the first big wave pool.  That water felt fabulous.  Kinda like being in the Caribbean without the sand or the salt.  On a busy day.

Boulder Beach Water Park at Silverwood It was great fun with the family and all the little kids that are now becoming a bigger part of the Oukrop clan.  Neither Mo nor I had brought swim suits but we jumped in anyway.  I have an entirely new concept now of what a water park can be, and if I am in the mood to deal with crowds to get cool I won’t turn my nose up at one again.  Probably wouldn’t go there on our own, but with family or kids it is great.

playing at Boulder Beach Water Park at SilverwoodSilverwood and Boulder Beach (36 of 38) By evening, we all migrated back the two hours to Spokane, with just enough time to dry out and change clothes for the big family dinner at Casa De Oro.  This restaurant on Division has great Mexican food, and a room big enough for all of us. 

I can’t believe that I not only didn’t take my camera, but I didn’t even try to take photos with my phone!  Guess I was just too worn out from all that fun during the day.

dinner photos Thanks to Randi, I got some phone photos to collage to give an idea of what it was like in a restaurant with a big family.  For once, I wasn’t checking my phone, but that wasn’t true of everyone, thank goodness!  At least we got some photos!

What a fabulous day and it was just the beginning.

Next Post: I take some time for myself to revisit old homes and friends in Northern Idaho