06-10-2015 Visiting Judy at Harris Beach and something new

Current Location: Rocky Point Oregon 80 degrees F at 7pm  Nice

walking at Chetco Point (12 of 40) I didn’t take my computer with me to the beach on this trip.  Didn’t even take the MiFi for internet, and instead depended on the LTE Verizon signal on the iPad and the 3 bars of AT&T on my phone.  Sometimes I get a bit tired of all the cords and devices and packing up all that stuff.  No photo processing, no writing, nothing completed on the blog while we were playing at the beach.  In fact, some of the photos in this blog were…gasp…taken with my iPhone. Judy said to me that she prefers blogs that are at least somewhat close to “real time”, otherwise what is the point.

I suppose I could agree in some respects, but then again one of my favorite bloggers is currently writing about her Antarctic adventures that took place months ago, and I wouldn’t miss a paragraph.  To me it is every bit as exciting as if it were in real time, probably better, because she has time to flesh out the posts properly.  If I tried to blog with the iPad using Blogsy, I have a feeling it would be more like a hit and miss thing…and of course, no photos.  Can’t get RAW photos from the camera to the iPad without something to process them.

Mattie at the Beach (4 of 22) I am sure you don’t care a whit about all this anyway…you came here to see Judy.  So I am slipping back in my mind to a few days ago, and with a little help from my photos, I will recreate our moments as close to real time as I can manage.

After all the hoopla with the tire thing, we were happy to slip into our site at Harris Beach and settle in for the evening with tasty leftovers for supper.  After walking up to Judy’s site to let her know we had arrived, Mo and I enjoyed the beautiful warm evening.  with Judy at the beach (1 of 13)

In spite of my plans for Tuesday, I somehow lost 24 hours to who knows what that knocked me flat.  With the surgery thing recent enough that I am watching for infection, I was glad that I didn’t have a fever.  Whatever.  The whole thing was frustrating and boring and I hate to even talk about it, but needed to explain since Judy already gave away that we missed her fabulous planned chicken supper.  I think Mo enjoyed my down day, and did not much of anything except truly relax and read and enjoy the gorgeous sunshine, something we don’t often get at the coast.Mattie at the Beach (2 of 22) I think this is the part where Judy is thinking Mattie is a puny pipsqueak.

By Wednesday morning I was fine, although the gorgeous sunlight and warmth of the previous day had returned to June gloom and fog usually expected at the coast before noon.  with Judy at the beach (4 of 13)

We waited till afternoon and then met Judy for a beach walk and then went back to the overlook where Judy set up her scope.  We enjoyed listening to her stories about the birds of Goat/Bird Island, and she even solved a mystery for us.  Last fall when we visited, we saw something that looked like humans on the island where no humans are supposed to be.  Judy trained her scope over there and showed us the regularly spaced wildlife cameras set up to try to document a very rare bird that only comes out at night.  As Judy says, Cool Beans.

with Judy at the beach (6 of 13)I also learned there is no such thing as a “seagull”.  That bird on the post is a “western gull”. 

Supper at Judy’s site was great, although we did decide to leave Mattie at home.  Emma is nothing if not exuberant, and Mattie is about the size of a big cat, and we do remember how Emma got along with Jeremy the first time we met her.  Ha!  I am sure Emma would be fine eventually, but Mattie is still new enough to us that we aren’t exactly sure how she is with other dogs, so it was better to wait for that meeting.  Maybe next time.

with Judy at the beach (8 of 13) The New York chicken was wonderful.  I found out why Judy’s is so much better than mine, even though I followed her recipe.  All except for the poultry seasoning, which somehow didn’t make it to my copy of the marinade.  No Wonder. We had so much fun talking about Judy’s new home base in Jojoba Hills, and our tire adventures, and eating great food, that both Judy and I forgot to take any photos.  I think that is a good thing.

walking at Chetco Point (6 of 40) Thursday morning Mo and I drove to town to pick up a new tire and buy a few groceries. The day was again sunny and gorgeous, without a trace of fog and very little wind.  Amazing!  Leaving Fred Meyer, we just sort of ambled down the road and found a brand new place we had never visited before. You must realize that Mo and I have spent no less than a dozen years visiting Brookings, we even spent a good year looking for property to buy there until we decided on Grants Pass instead for MoHo winter storage. So it was crazy to me that we found not only one, but two brand new places we had never seen in all our explorations of this very small town.  judy mapOur first discovery was Mill Beach, which on a Wednesday morning was quiet and peaceful with only a few folks ambling around.  There was no leash requirement for dogs, so we walked to a deserted portion of the beach and turned Mattie loose.  Oh My!  You have never seen such a frenzy in your life.  That little dog was like a bullet train, loving the soft sand, and running in circles in such happiness and joy it make my heart just sing.

walking at Chetco Point (8 of 40) Mo had taken her to the beach the day before without me, so she knew that Mattie loved that sand.  The other thing she loved a lot was all the smelly things that she could drag around and try to eat.  Especially appetizing to her were the loose clumps of mussels wound up in dirty seaweed.  Yum.

walking at Chetco Point (14 of 40) After hiking around on the beach, we noticed there was a trail above us on the cliff, and I thought it might be the park that Russ and Donna spoke of.  Sure enough, another little drive with the iPhone led us to the parking area for Chetco Point Park just off the road by the sewage plant.  Who would have thought?!  Except I did have a memory of Russ and Donna writing about walking this trail a few years ago.Here Mattie had to be on leash, but we would have had her leashed anyway.  As good as she is, there are moments when her little dog brain gets focused on something that isn’t us and she forgets what “come” means.

walking at Chetco Point (18 of 40) The trail was easy, not to tough for ole slo-poke Sue.  Ack.  I am usually a fast walker with a long stride.  All those years in the mountains of course, but now I toddle along like an old lady, barely able to keep up with Mo, much less the dog.  At least I could walk, and that was heaven, believe me.  Especially with such gorgeous views, warm temperatures, and balmy breezes.  I spent many moments during this day just enjoying the skies and the air and the views.  It is interesting sometimes to be forced to slow down.  I see and feel more it seems.  I hope as I heal and get back to my old ways, I’ll remember to slow down and take it easy now and then.

walking at Chetco Point (20 of 40) On Thursday evening it was our turn to treat Judy to supper at our site.  Unlike Judy’s shady spot, Site A11 on the front row is wide open, with full sunlight until almost 9pm.  I had to wear sunglasses to eat and Judy made sure she was facing away from the sun so she could see.Judy and Mo at dinner (3 of 4) Mo had enough wood for wonderful fires every night and even in the full sunshine of a bright evening, she started up another great campfire.  I managed to eat one marshmallow with melted chocolate inside.  Couldn’t tempt either Judy or Mo to partake of the gooey sweet, neither care much for sweets. It isn’t about eating the marshmallow anyway, it is about roasting it to perfection.  Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I don’t.  Fun either way.

Judy and Mo at dinner (4 of 4) With plans to leave early enough on Friday morning to get to Grants Pass by noon, we were all dumped and ready to roll when Mo noticed the right rear tire was flat.  Oh no…Not again?!?  This truly WAS one of the 2013 tires. We pulled down to the overlook parking area, called Brookings Les Schwab, and waited for them to come and air up the tire so we could get to town for a tire change. 

The best part of this story is yet to come.  The previous night I had received a call from my realtor saying that she may be calling me with an offer for the Klamath house in the morning.  I told her we would be without telephone for a few hours as we traveled back home and she was a bit concerned about it.  At 9:30, while we were still at Les Schwab, she called with a very good offer!  I needed to receive 15 fax pages, sign then and fax them back.

Brookings is a small town, with not much around for office stores, (remember Judy’s story about finding a place to fax her papers!).  Then my realtor suggested that I go talk to the office people inside Les Schwab.  Sure enough, they let me receive the fax, and fax everything back, all for no charge, just a “Thanks for being a Les Schwab customer”.

Another great part to this story is that it wasn’t the tire, it was the valve stem.  That always seems to be the problem.  They fixed the tire, we put the new one on in its place, and the bill for all that work, including coming out to the park to air us up was $10.50.  Amazing how things work out.

walking at Chetco Point (38 of 40) We left for home at 11:30, a bit late, but in time to stop at an icon restaurant along Highway 199 in Gasquet called She She’s.  We have driven by here a bazillion times and never stopped, but today just seemed like a day to celebrate.  Big thick blackberry milkshake, a great burger and home made fries, shared between us, was perfect for the brilliant sunshiny hot and windy day along the Smith River toward home.


2-19-2014 John and Carol share J.N.Ding Darling NWR with us

Currently: Midway Campground at Big Cypress Preserve  71F at six AM and no internet

sunrise at the KOAThe sunrise at our KOA campground was incredible, so I was definitely frustrated that I could find no open sky to actually photograph it!  Giant motorhomes were everywhere and even walking to the end of the campground yielded nothing. 

I had been in contact with Carol and John, of “Our Trip Around the Sun”, since last summer when I first knew when we would be near Sanibel Island.  They are NWR volunteers who suffered through a summer season at the J.N. Ding Darling NWR and as a result were considered and selected for the primo winter positions.  John does heavy maintenance and Carol is responsible for several administrative duties, in addition to giving talks about the alligators and crocodile in the park.

we meet Carol as she is giving her alligator talk at Ding DarlingWe knew Carol’s talk was at 11AM so planned our morning route with enough time to arrive at the park an hour early so that we could see the beautiful Visitor Center before meeting Carol.  Oops.  We knew there would be traffic, but didn’t plan for the congestion to be as bad as it was.  Even with our 8:30 AM departure, it was just a bit after 11 when we walked up to the kiosk where Carol was beginning her talk.

Still makes me smile to remember how warmly Carol greeted us, she seemed genuinely delighted to have us there.  Her talk was wonderful, and I learned more about the Florida alligators and the salt water loving croc that lives at Ding Darling.  Carol is deservedly proud to be working at this primo refuge and does a great job sharing her knowledge about it.

Having a park volunteer offer to do a tour is a genuine treat.  Carol was laughing because she knew I wanted to see spoonbills and she was all worried that she wouldn’t manage it until she saw the spoonbills on my blog that Judy found for me.  Phew…no more pressure!KOA and Ding_045

We didn’t see spoonbills, but Carol took us around the wildlife drive, knowing the right places to stop to see the birds.  Carol is a “real” birder, and when I only watched a bird for a few minutes and gave up on getting the proper pose she laughed and said, “Well, you aren’t a “real” birder yet, but you are close”.  Ha!

snowy egretWe laughed and talked and walked and shared bird sightings until the afternoon got a bit too warm and the birds all went under cover.  Carol invited us to do the same at her shady patio with drinks and snacks while we waited for John to get off work.  Before long, John joined us on the patio and we all decided that a trip to the beach was in order.

tri colored heronKOA and Ding_056There are several beaches on Sanibel and they picked the one they thought would have the best parking and the least crowding. The beach was lovely, with soft sand and gentle lapping waves, and enough space between chairs and umbrellas that we found a nice place to sit and walk and let Abby swim. KOA and Ding_070 KOA and Ding_076

Of course, the highlight of the day was something other than the refuge OR the birds OR the beach.  Insisting that only tourists tried to leave the island before dark, Carol invited us to what she called a “simple” dinner of roast pork loin, (which John cooked to perfection on the grill), roasted potatoes, and fresh salad with ice cream for dessert.  With some tasty wine and delightful conversation we lingered long past dark enjoying their company and hospitality.Great friends, great dinner, great day


September 10 The Banana Belt Delivers

Brookings Day 2_48Clear skies, temperatures in the 80,s and new friends, it was a perfect day on the coast. Mo and I were laughing as I sat down to write this blog, trying to come up with a title.  Titles shouldn’t make a bit of difference, but I have found that they do.  Our blog post last spring titled “Vandalism” has received by far more hits than anything I have ever written.  I sometimes wonder if folks are actually searching that word when they find it.  Other titles, simple ones like “A beautiful day at the ocean” can slip by with not a soul paying any attention at all.  Makes me laugh. Not that post views are the only reason to blog, but of course I can’t help noticing.  I thought about the title, “Shocking!”, and then letting my first sentence be something like, “Shocking that it was 85 degrees at the coast today.”

the fog has lifted on the beach, time to go for a walkThe morning dawned brilliantly, with most of the summer fog lifting even before we were out of bed. We called the storage facility at 8:30 and “Mr. Wilson”, a charming and very accommodating gentleman, said, “If you are a Harris Beach I’ll meet you at the storage facility right now.” Seems as though he made the right purchases at the right time, with several storage facilities and home rentals scattered throughout town.  He drove up in his new Prius, and measured all the door openings to find one that was 12 feet high. We found a great space, with plenty of room to back in, and he was fine with us paying him now and having the rent begin on November 1st. 

Connie and tracy with hungerWith that major chore accomplished, we wandered around town a bit and did some shopping before ambling back home to our lovely sunny spot with a view of the ocean in the distance.  Lunch was simple and we relaxed and waited for Connie and Tracy to appear in mid-afternoon. 

Right on schedule, at 2PM, the two of them walked into our campsite with Hunter, the beautiful greyhound dog with fine manners and an incredibly sweet disposition. Hunter and Abby got along well, and Jeremy who was outside on the step, thought that this large new creature was incredibly interesting.

Abby and Hunter sharing playtimeAs is often the case with RVing friends, we launched right into comfortable conversation at the picnic table.  Comparing notes on coastal weather, campgrounds, RV destinations, rig configurations and all those interesting topics that make my townie, non RVing friends look a bit vague and simply yawn.  A walk down to the southern end of Harris Beach on the South Beach Trail with the dogs was on the agenda, and with a couple of camera toting shutterbugs and two happy dogs we took off walking.

ball time on the beach for AbbyThe time at the beach was great, and the dogs were perfect entertainment.  We laughed and talked some more and did the obligatory time-release camera shots on the beach, propping cameras on near-by rocks to take photos of the four of us together.  It was great fun.  Mo and I are solitary travelers, enjoying our own company and not big socializers, but now and then some companionable friends are a delight.  I know our paths will cross again, and next time we might actually have to get out the dominoes!

there it is Abby, over thereBack at camp, with some good Alaskan Amber and a few snackies, the conversations flowed on till early evening.  The two of them had a couple of hours to drive back to their camp at Cape Blanco and hopefully they made it home before dark.  Mo and I decided that all the excitement was just too much fun and we skipped the campfire for the evening and settled in to watch a delightful little movie called, “Love For Rent”. I think the R rating is for some of the four letter words in the beginning, the most of the movie isn’t R at all.  We both really enjoyed it.


COLD on the Eel River but sunny in Eureka

We woke this morning to more cold fog in Ferndale, and when Mo stepped outside to let Abby do her business, she came back in rubbing her hands saying, “It’s really cold out there!” Our plans today included some kayaking on the Eel River, and after morning tea we thought better of that plan, and decided to explore the surrounding area instead.

morning fog over the Eel River at Fernbridge makes for a dull day We drove north to Fernbridge, crossing the Eel River once again, shrouded in murky skies and fog, and looking quite uninviting.  On the internet last night I found a web page with put-in information,and with the help of the handy iPhone and 5 full bars, we found the road leading west to the ocean and the new boat launch at the eastern edge of the Eel River Estuary. 

more sunlight o n the way but the wind was killer coldOnce on the beach and out of the car, we zipped up our windbreakers and pushed our way into the cold wind.  There was no way either of us would have dropped a boat into that water and tried to paddle anywhere.  Birds couldn’t even fly, and we watched them winging in place in mid air against the gale.

the Eel River Estuary would be wonderful if the winds weren't blowingAfter a very short beach walk while we tried to find an area that was more protected, we gave up and hurried back to the warm safety of the car.  The only good thing about that wind was watching it push the fog back inland.  The sun came out brilliantly, but it’s warmth was completely unavailable to us unless we were closed up tight inside the car and even then it was a thin warmth. 

Let's check out the Loleta Cheese factory.  This great employee gave me the employee discount for my organic white cheddar! We checked out the boat launch, or I should say I checked it out and took a quick photo while Mo waited in the car, and then headed back inland to Loleta and the cheese factory.  We found this quaint little home town cheese making place last fall when we were here and I was excited about getting some more of their fabulous Organic Sharp White Cheddar and a jar of solid gold salsa, in other words, Roasted Pineapple Habanera Salsa, at 9.95 a jar.  A steal at any price. 

Who knows what was in here, by now we were worn out We then drove the fifteen miles or so north on Highway 101 to the town of Eureka, another place where we camped last fall, but somehow with all our kayaking, never managed to check out the Old Downtown Area.  Today we were actually glad that we couldn’t kayak, because the Old Town was delightful.  Eureka is a place filled with old logging and waterfront history and prides itself especially on it’s lovely Victorian buildings.   In spite of the lagging economy, there were many unique, creative shops that seemed to operating in full swing, even in the quiet February season.

sit and knit in heaven I found a knit shop filled with wonderful art yarns and a truly creative, knowledgeable, inspired knitter teaching a young woman her first purl stitches.  This man knew everything about yarn, and shared his knowledge and expertise so willingly that before I knew it, I had a bag of yarn and another new pattern to add to my stash. What a delight!

inside Los Bagels for some great coffees We took a break for cappuccinos and a croissant at Los Bagels and enjoyed the warm sunshine streaming in through the windows while Mo read aloud from a local arts magazine.  It seems that in addition to it’s reputation for growing more weed than anyplace in the country, Humboldt County also boasts more artists per capita than any other place in California. The town has an incredible collection of outdoor sculptures and there are many gorgeous murals throughout the city.

In addition to amazing inspirational landscapes, there is a colorful multi-cultural population of people committed to art and creativity. That is a nice way of saying there are some rather strange folks running around Eureka.  It is a very complex culture of artists, people who once must have been hippies and are still here, homeless people, laid-back students, lots of people with bikes and backpacks, and a few ordinary looking folks, whatever that means.

not too busy on the cold windy day After a bit more shopping and street wandering we found our way to the Eureka Food Co-Op, a truly remarkable store filled with amazing organic produce, grass fed meats from the surrounding valleys, and row upon row of amazing stuff.  I managed to get out of there with one small bag of our favorite green tea that we can’t find anywhere else, a bunch of some really gorgeous strange looking kale, and organic endive.  The giant murals on the outside street wall of the Co-Op are my favorite in the city.

Eureka Old town (30) Eureka Old town (29) Eureka Old town (31) the murals on the food co-op are incredible

By the time we got back to the car the winds were stronger than ever and it was after 4pm.  We thought it turned out to be a perfect day, in spite of the cold and wind. Jeremy was very vocal when we got back to the MoHo, scolding us for being gone so long.  I immediately pulled out all the goodies and built some amazing quesadillas with our wonderful cheese, some spicy poached chicken I brought from home, onions, and jalapenos, all topped off with the sweet hot perfect pineapple salsa. 

Tomorrow if the fog clears and the winds die down we will again attempt a kayak trip, but if not, the day will be filled again with explorations.  The 100 mile Lost Coast trip is calling us, with some coastal explorations of places we haven’t yet seen, campgrounds we haven’t yet tried.  Either way, it will be a good day.

More photos of our day in Eureka are here.


A quiet day in Fort Bragg

Pomo RV Park (18) It rained hard all night, pounding on the MoHo roof and making me really happy that I wasn’t in a tent!  Someone said that there are two kinds of slides, ones that leak and ones that will.  So far, there are no signs of any leaking anywhere in the MoHo, even in the hardest rains and wind.  I guess the Dynamax reputation for solid coaches is holding up for us.

I took my time cooking breakfast this morning while we watched the Sunday news shows.  Mo and I both love Fareed Zakaria, he brings such a different perspective to the world view. Then Mo balances all that out with a good hit of Fox News while I retreat into the computer.  Ha!  Guess you can tell who is ex-military and who used to be a tree hugger! The rain let up after breakfast and we took Abby for a walk around the park.  Fort Bragg day (4)On the way  we met a couple from Victoria, just out on the beginning of a five month journey through the western US.  Wayne and Lynn were very conversational, and we had a great time comparing notes on campgrounds, RV’s, and destinations.  It’s amazing how easy it is to talk with strangers in this RVing world, no such thing as a stranger, really.

I love my new kayak, but there were a couple of little problems with it when it finally arrived.  Somehow the bubble wrap used to protect it caused the paint to discolor on the side exposed to the sunlight and it has a small area of bubble wrap design along one side.  In addition, the rim around the cockpit has a small split that shouldn’t be there.  I called the company as soon as I unwrapped the boat and they called me back to make sure everything is taken care of properly.  Bill Swift is the owner of Swift Canoe and Kayak in Ontario, Canada, and I am so impressed with his customer service.  He is building a new boat for me and paying for the shipping to my home in Oregon.  My boat was a sale boat, with a few minor flaws, so he asked if I wanted to pay a bit more to get a new boat, or if I wanted to send this one back for repairs.  Either way he would pay the shipping, so I decided to opt for the new boat and the chance to pick my own colors.  In the mean time, he said I should use the boat I have now as much as I want to until the new one arrives some time next January.  Great customer service, great product, and great company!  I highly recommend them.

Fort Bragg day (12) We spent the morning walking through the Mendocino Botanical Gardens, senior discount fee was 7.50 each, and well worth it.  The gardens have several areas, with more formal perennial gardens close to the entrance, and then about a half mile of wilder gardens that lead to a great ocean bluff overlook.  At this time of year, the flowers weren’t that exciting, but the plants and foliage were lovely.  The trails were nice too, and we took our time enjoying them even more than the gardens.


 Fort Bragg day (33)

After our walk, we drove to the main part of town, but it didn’t seem to have much to offer, not enough to actually get out of the car to explore.  Nothing caught my eye and Mo isn’t a shopper anyway.  I think we got our fill of browsing back in Ferndale, anyway.  At the northern edge of town is Elm Street, leading down to the hidden Glass Beach.  Once the town dump, it is now covered with beautiful tiny smooth pieces of sea glass.  Somewhere we read that you aren’t supposed to pick up the glass, but once at the beach, it was filled with beachcombers looking for that perfect piece of glass and filling hands and pockets with the tiny treasures.  We took a few as well.  My favorite is the pale light turquoise pieces.  We didn’t find anything particularly fabulous, but had fun looking and enjoying the beach and the surf.

Fort Bragg day (69) We traveled up the Noyo River to check out Liquid Fusion Kayak Company, only to find an open lot with some kayaks and a sign that said to call them if you wanted to rent one.  I had hoped for an actual shop with information, so we later stopped at the dive shop along the highway.  The young man there was really helpful and told us that Big River ten miles south at Mendocino was the best paddle around, with easy access and fewer people.  Big River is listed in the Sea Kayaking Northern California book I bought recently, so after looking it up and reading we decided that for sure this will be tomorrow’s destination.

Fort Bragg day (63)

It was just a napping kind of day, so instead of doing anything else we went back to camp, had a late lunch snack and I took a great nap, snuggled back in the comforters watching the trees outside the window as I fell asleep.  I love the chance that we have had on this trip to actually slow down and relax.  An afternoon nap is just about as decadent as I can imagine!   When I woke up a bit later, it was starting to darken and we took Abby for a walk around the nearly empty park before coming back home to make supper.  I’m really looking forward to getting out in the kayaks tomorrow, it should be a sunny day, and again the tides are with us perfectly.

Photos for our day at the ocean are linked here.

We are staying at a park in Fort Bragg that had many reviews: Pomo RV Park and Campground. It seems it is the best place to stay around here, since most others are merely parking lots. Some of the reviews complained about the rules and policies, but we had no problem with anything. It is a cash only park, and doesn’t honor anything but Good Sam ten percent discount, so at 40 bucks a night it’s not a cheap place to stay. The sites are huge, however, and as private as a good state park. We wonder if maybe at one time it was a state park. I haven’t seen a private RV park anywhere laid out with this kind of luxury of space. CeiPui asked for some photos of the park, so I linked a separate album here.