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

August 7 Riverside State Park and the Oukrop Reunion

Current Location: Rocky Point Oregon.  clear and sunny and a cool 61 degrees F

First let me say this entire post will be all about family and family fun.  Fairly personal stuff here, and fun for us to read and remember as insiders, but probably irrelevant to the bigger community of bloggers and others who manage to find their way to my blog, so bail now if all those family photos get boring.

family camp at Riverside State Park

From the left: Dan’s rig, the MoHo, Roger’s rig, Edna’s rig, with tents for Juli, Angie, and Randi’s families. Don opened up his home to the rest of the folks that didn’t camp at the park.

The logistics of a family reunion are always interesting, and this one was no exception.  Don, (on the left in the photo below) youngest of the 5 siblings that make up the original Oukrop clan, was a jet fighter pilot in the Air Force, retired to continue a career as an ROTC teacher.  His background showed well in his ability to organize and put together a rather ambitious schedule for the four days the family would share.

oukropsDon, Edna, Dan, Sharon (Mo) and Roger

He had the entire program worked out, with barely a moment to rest in between activities.  At the end he said, “Maybe I had us doing too much, had us all too busy?”.  Nope, it was perfect, with no time to get into trouble, especially for an incredibly active bunch like the Oukrop offspring. 

Family came from far and wide to join in the fun.  Here they are:dinner at Ginny and Gabes (1 of 34)

Edna the eldest of the five siblings and her husband Tom from Colorado

Oukrop Reunion Float (11 of 41) Edna’s daughter Susan and her husband Rick from Colorado with their youngest son David (older son Danny is in the canoe with Dan and Chere in another photo)

Oukrop Reunion Float (14 of 41) “the kids” as we called them…Edna’s granddaughter Callie and her sweetie Josh, also from Colorado

playing at Boulder Beach Water Park at SilverwoodDon, Dan, Roger and Mo…a nickname that totally confuses the Oukrop clan, since her name is actually Sharon.  I have to remember to refer to her as Sharon when with the family. 

First night at Riverside Oukrop Reunion (7 of 15)Roger, with his wife Nancy, came from Lapine, Oregon

Family Float (11 of 12) Roger’s offspring: Julie with her husband Hallie came from Albany, Oregon, (their daughter Shelbi couldn’t make it because of work and such)

Oukrop Reunion Float (27 of 41) Juli and Hallie’s son Logan

Oukrop Reunion Float (8 of 41)Randi and her husband Chris with their son Cameron, from Tri-Cities Washington,

Oukrop Reunion Float (10 of 41)Angie all the way from Illinois  with daughter Jessi and her sweetie Dave

Oukrop Reunion Float (9 of 41)Angie’s other two daughters Ashley and Samantha

Family Float (12 of 12)Dan and his wife Chere, from Beavercreek Oregon (their offspring didn’t make it either) but they took Susan’s son Danny in their canoe for the family float

Oukrop Reunion Float (28 of 41)  Don and his wife Wynn, hosts of the celebration this year from Spokane, Washington

Oukrop Reunion Float (26 of 41)  Don’s offspring: Lanson and his wife Mandi, with their kids Ryder and Colbi,

dinner at Ginny and Gabes (18 of 34)Ginny and her husband Gabe  (behind Ginny on the right) and their little girl Alden

Oukrop Reunion (1 of 1)With only a few missing in the action there were still at least 33 people who spent four days eating, floating, swimming, playing, golfing, and generally having a great time together.  As a guest of Mo, I really enjoyed sharing in the festivities. Hopefully I haven’t messed up too badly getting all the names spelled correctly!

Next:  This time I promise to really write about Silverwood and our ride on the infamous Tremors wooden roller coaster!

August 5 Heading North for Mo’s Family Reunion

Current Location: Rocky Point, OR Breezy and Pleasant at 69F

trip north It was just over two weeks ago when we headed north toward Spokane for Mo’s reunion.  Her family manages to get together every two years and with five siblings, Mo’s turn hasn’t rolled around for almost a decade.  Our last reunion in 2012 was north of Denver in Colorado and we added on a great extended trip that time to visit South Dakota and Wyoming.  Loved that trip that we shared with Mo’s brother Roger and his wife Nancy! If you want to check out our travels through the Black Hills and the Big Horn Mountains, the posts start here.

This time we decided to take advantage of the Inland Northwest location and travel north into British Columbia and do the beautiful circle route along Kootenay Lake.  I was really looking forward to the trip.  When I lived in Coeur D Alene, I would make the trip north every once in awhile and have a special place in my heart for Kaslo.

When we were packing up to leave, conditions around the compound here were hot and smoky from so many fires that were burning.  Some are still smoking, but at least the worst of the fires are out.  It was a bit disconcerting to drive off early in the morning accompanied by the strong smell of smoke and a red sun. We looked at each other and said, “Well, fire could come whether we are here or not, so I guess we will just have to trust that it will be OK”.

There is such a mixture of delight and frustration when I know we are heading out for an extended trip.  Although two weeks isn’t anything like the three month sojourn last winter, I still hate to leave the gardens, the sewing machine, all the myriad life things that keep things interesting around here.  Blooming at home (14 of 28)Everything was looking fresh and the tomatoes were just beginning to ripen. Still, the road calls, and I was excited that we were actually getting on the road again, with some great plans waiting.

Blooming at home (11 of 28)Once again we traveled north on Highway 97, though Bend, to the COE campground at the mouth of the John Day River at LePage adjacent to I-84.  We could make the 529 miles to Spokane in a long day, but there is no reason to do that.  LePage waits, with half price using our senior pass, and hookups to manage the hot temperatures that always seem to accompany our trips in that direction.  I think the last time we camped here was on our way to Alaska in 2011, and it was something like 105F.

 Oregon day 1-9 Of course the heat gave us the excuse to stop at the ice cream shop in Shaniko (Where the West Still Lives) for a cool tasty treat.  I think that is some of the best home made ice cream I have ever tasted.  I’ll have to be sure and remind Sherry and David to try it out if they ever get to Oregon. 

Oregon day 1-8 When we arrived at LePage in late afternoon, it was only 104.  Sure do like having hookups for the air conditioner!  Dinner was simple, and indoors, since the hot wind that was whirling around outside made putting out the BBQ too much trouble.  Time for quesadillas, my go-to meal when I want something quick and good.  The hot wind was a great white noise and with the cool air blowing over us I slept very well.

Blooming at home (5 of 9) The next morning we took Abby for an early swim, walked around the park after breakfast, and readied the rig to meet Mo’s brother Dan and wife Chere at the entrance to the campground.  They were right on time and we caravanned north toward Spokane without incident except for a minor miss in Dan’s engine.  Dan’s Class A is 30 some feet and being a great mechanic he takes care of it himself.  He figured out the problem eventually, but in the mean time we stopped a couple of times to check it out.

Blooming at home (2 of 9) Traveling north on 84 to 82, and then 395, crossing the river in Kennewick, and then continuing north towards Spokane is a bit of a puzzle if you aren’t used to the route.  Having done the road a bazillion times, I still have to watch the GPS to remember which lane to be in to make the proper turns.  Mo was sure there had to be a more direct way north, but there isn’t.  Gotta get across the river and across a few interstates before 395 continues toward Spokane.

tricitiesWe never seem to spend much time in Tri Cities, just passing through.  Pasco, Kennewick, and Richland are all clustered along the Columbia and Snake Rivers and are famous for the big jet boat races every year.  The area has grown exponentially, with huge housing developments, lots of big shopping, and lots of traffic.  Good wineries abound, and it can be hot in the summer.  I know there is a lot to see and do in the area, but I have never had the inclination to do so.  Deanna and Keith (trucker daughter and her husband) stay there when they are on home time, with Keith’s brother who has a beautiful house in Kennewick along the river.

Riverside SP (3 of 5) We arrived at Riverside State Park in Spokane around 3, and it was 99 degrees F.  There always is a bit of confusion about exactly how to get to the campground area of the state park, and if you use a GPS, don’t count on it.  If you put in Bowl and Pitcher, you might have better luck, but either way the GPS will try to take you down through the golf course parking lot, down a very narrow street, around a very sharp right turn onto another narrow street to get to the campground.  After being there a few days we discovered it was a LOT easier to go north to Rifle Range road and out Francis Blvd no matter where we wanted to go in town.Riverside State Park

Brother Don and his wife Wynn were in charge of the festivities this year, and they came down to the park as folks began to arrive to make sure we were all settled in comfortably before bringing in something like 20 pizzas for everyone to share.  It was great fun seeing more than 30 Oukrops all together in one place. First night at Riverside Oukrop Reunion (3 of 15) First night at Riverside Oukrop Reunion (4 of 15)

Next:  The Oukrops descend on Silverwood and Boulder Beach Theme Park in Northern Idaho

Abby: Just in case you were wondering

walking Riverside SP (8 of 12)We are on the road, and I won’t be posting any blog updates for a bit of time, but thought it would be nice to give an update on Abby.  So many of you were so kind to offer support and comments.Kootenai Lake and Kaslo (44 of 71)

Abby is on Prednisone and her appetite is back to normal…maybe even better.  She is enjoying herself and some of the lumps feel a bit smaller.  Swimming is high on her agenda and while she doesn’t hike as far or as quickly as she used to, everything seems to be going well.

walking Riverside SP (6 of 12)We are encouraged by all the good information we have received from folks who have been through this and have had some good quality time with their dogs after diagnosis.

Thanks to everyone for the support.